Q & A    Archive
Page 49

Name: S.C.
E-mail: scornett@yahoo.com

Josh,

I know I've asked you this before, in the past, but have you (yet) seen "Caveman's Valentine"? If you have, did you like it? If you have (and didn't like it), what did you find wrong with it? I (personally) think Samuel Adams has, for quite a while, been in a rut, playing the same roles. With "Caveman's Valentine", though, I was very impressed. It was a departure for him as an actor, and an excellent debut (I think) for him as a director. The script and story were very well paced and played out. Very unique, but still maintaining a classic "murder/mystery/drama" appeal. ...Unlike "Red Violin", which was horribly paced and scripted (despite some good film work).

Anyhow, let me know what you think (if you've seen it, yet), or, if you can, see it, and then respond.

Thaaaaaaank ya, Lhard!

TSNKE,

S.C.

Dear S.C.:

No, I still haven't seen it. I'm sure it'll pop up soon on cable. It couldn't get a worse review from Leonard Maltin, not that I pay all that much attention to what he thinks. He gives it one and a half stars and says, "Strange, unappealing film has almost nothing to recommend it."

Josh

Name: David
E-mail: david@dustdevil.com

Josh-

After I saw your list of favorite horror movies, I was wondering what you thought about "the Exorcist." After everyone telling me how scary it was I saw it a few months ago and was disappointed. A friend of mine used to live in St. Louis and walked by the house all this supposedly happened on his way to work every day. Personally, the fact that the Catholic church backs it up holds no water for me. It's not like the Catholic church has never lied before, and I'm sure the Exorcist drove a lot of people back to church every Sunday.

Second, have you noticed that Frank Darabont's only three movies have been Stephen King books? The Shawshank Redemption, the Green Mile, and Hearts in Atlantis. Just saw a commercial for "Hearts in Atlantis" and figured it out. No big deal, just interesting.

David

Dear David:

I like "The Exorcist." I admire that it takes its time to set its story up and doesn't rush right into the effects. By the time Linda Blair pees on the floor, you care about her and Ellen Burstyn and it all matters. I also think that Max Von Sydow and Lee J. Cobb are both terrific. If you read my review of "The Green Mile,' I was making fun of Frank Darabont at that point for only doing Stephen King prison stories. At least he's branched out from there. Bruce is in his next film, which is a comedy with Jim Carrey.

Josh

Name: Noelle
E-mail: terrabelle_98@aol.com

Dear Josh,

Well if you had a requirement that all hate mail you got had a valid email address attached to it you would never have any left to answer, Mr. Eric "I luv Traffic" Williams included.

Anyway, I agree with Diane...get yourself some cats. I used to live in Oregon with three cats. Get used to the idea of dead field mice on your doorstep. Cat paradise.

Take Care, Noelle

Dear Noelle:

Dead field mice would be an improvement over the live mice my old cat Stevie used to bring into the apartment. I used to have a mouse-free enviornment until my cat introduced them. I'd then have to use a mouse trap to get them, and when they were caught, Stevie would pounce on them as though he'd caught them.

Josh

Name: Kevin Mills
E-mail: thespythatshagsu@home.com

Dear Josh:

I've got a couple of questions for you....

First, I'm currently starting a haunted house script based on an old treatment I wrote earlier this year. Thanks to your need for structure essays I've become incredibly self conscious about where my acts begin and end. Without getting into my treatment (as I never reveal the details of my stories to anyone) I wanted to ask about the three acts in another haunted house movie.

The way I see it in Legend of Hell House (my chief influence for writing this script) act one ends when the opening credits end filling about eight minutes, act two ends an hour and ten minutes later when Clive Revell dies and act three starts right after that and fills about twenty minutes. What are your thoughts?

Second, now that I've wasted that much space, a question about raising money for a film.

For someone like me, who has never made a film, would you say it's a good idea to have a short film that precis the longer script (ie: Stryker's War) to show the potential investors instead of expecting them to visualize a script?

----Kevin Mills

Dear Kevin:

I haven't seen "The Legend of Hell House" so I can't comment, but I would have to believe that Richard Matheson would have structured it better than what you're saying. I'll give you a good example of a recent, poorly-structured script that drops dead halfway through due to it -- "High Fidelity." Act 1 is about five minutes long -- his girlfriend splits and he tells her she doesn't even make his top five list of worst break-ups. Act 2 is he remembers the top five and calls them. Act 3 is him getting together with all five and finding out his memory was wrong in every instance. Story's over halfway into the film. From there on out -- Jack Black starting a band, Cusack representing the skateboard kids's band, etc. -- is all padding. Anyway, I think making a short version of your film as a sales tool is a good idea. It worked for "Evil Dead," "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Excpet" and "Blood Simple."

Josh

Name: Fan X
E-mail: resone11@aol.com

Dear Josh:

The academy is never a good gauge of quality.

By the way Eric, "without" is one word and you used "your" it should be "you're." Did you graduate from high school yet?

Dear Fan X:

The Academy used to be a good guage of quality, back when there were quality films to choose from. Frequently, they actually did choose the best film of the year, like "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia." Now, there's nothing to choose between. Also, picking on people's spelling and grammer on the internet seems like a truly lost cause.

Josh

Name: Ray-The Screenwriter
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I am sorry but I just have to but in about this whole Traffic thing. Traffic has to be one of the most boring and pointless, less effective films of 2000. I mean come on here, fellows, does every damn film that is a popular feature has to be labeled a genuine film? Josh, I think you have said this yourself if I am not mistaken. I am not sure what you said exactly but I recall you saying something like, "Films that are like Gladiator, Traffic and Almost Famous are like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Ricky Martin." Yeah, you did mention that in your "A Lesson Form" essay. I mean, I saw "Fast And The Furious", "The Matrix" and so many other films that people think are wonderful. I have to argue this whenever someone says that. That is not good taste. People that do not know of filmmaking or atleast good taste should just but out with their opinions. Though, they have a right to their own opinions, there is times when they just have to stop because then they take it way too far. Now, I will admit I can mention some films that I like that you or others may not. But the films that I can very well mention are not over-popular, but liked. There is a difference, I think. Traffic won an award, right? Wow, that is a great accomplishment. But just because of that, are we as viewers sussposed to like the film? No, that is insane.

Well, not to get off the subject, I needed to ask you a question. Alright then, Josh, who do you call good actors and good actresses these days? I personally love Robert DeNiro. I think he is amazing. As an actress, I am stuck between comparisons. What do you think of when you hear of good actors and actresses?

Also, how can I get ahold of producers?

P.S.: Thanks for your time, you have always been helpful. :)

Dear Ray:

There's a whole book of producers and their addresses available at the book store, which I have, but it's packed and I can't get at it to give you the information. The same company has a book on distributors and agents. I know they have it at Midnight Special Bookstore here in Santa Monica (310 393-2923). I also think that Robert DeNiro is a fine actor, although he hasn't been in a good film in a long time. No one has. There's other good actors out there, I just can't think of them. I keep thinking about Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in "Pride and Prejudice."

Josh

Name: Eric
E-mail: ericmann@cgocable.net

Dear Josh:

I wasn't saying that the more money a film makes the better it is, hell Pearl Harbour made over 150 mill and it's pure fluff and computer effects. But the difference between the Harbour and Traffic is that PH wasn't made to tell a good story it was made to bring in the bucks, while Traffic was made to both entertain (most of us at least) as well as inform the audience about the world of drug trafficing and how it effects many different people in many different ways. And just to point out most of my favorite movies weren't blockbusters, hell I haven't even seen Titanic and I don't plan on ever doing so. I'm not a Spielberg fan at all, I have no respect for mr. Lucas after Episode one, I hate movies the relie on computer fx, I prefer small movies that focus more on telling an interesting story (often in a interesting way) that most people many never hear about, (example: Running Time). Now that I think about it, have you seen Memento yet? If not you should, it's a great film, but I'll bet $100 that you hate it, even though it's one of the best films to come around in a while. If you hate films so much why are you even in the business? Maybe you should sell furnature or something instead. JK. I'm not trying to start a fued or anything, but mnore like a debate I guess. One more thing, after watching Running Time a few times I kinda think that you're a better director than you are a writer, it was your directing that made RT work (Along with Bruce Campbell's great acting). So well once again I wish you the best of luck in your career and hope a film finally will come out that you don't hate. C-ya later, bye

Dear Eric:

What is it that you want to debate? That I'm a better director than I am a writer? Stop throwing out generalities. You obviously read my review of "Traffic" and I think I made my points rather clearly. So far, you haven't made one clear point in return as to why you like the stupid movie. Think about what you're saying, don't just push keys on the keyboard. You want to start a debate, then defend your position.

Josh

Name: Eric Williams
E-mail: ericmann@cgocable.ent

Dear Josh:

I was just checking out your review of "Traffic" and I must say, it put a grin on my face. I mean in your review you call the screenplay for "Traffic" "WRONG" because it doesn't follow what you believe makes a good filmscript. That's funny because it seems like the theatre going audince thought it was RIGHT, there's over 100 million pieces of proof. And it also seems like the Academy thought that the screenplay was RIGHT when the script won best adapted Screenplay last year. So I guess all these people are WRONG. Oh, by the way, how many Oscars have you won? When was the last time you watched a movie with out a critical POV? When was the last time you just let yourself fall in to the movie and just let yourself forget about the out side world and everything else. I must say that I own a copy of Running Time and I enjoyed it a fair bit (but I love everything your old pal Bruce does)so I understand that you do have a good idea of what your talking about but in this case I'm gonna have say that you're WRONG about TRAFFIC. No hard feelings, and I wish you good luck with your next film.

Dear Eric:

You're allowed to like anything you want, as am I. If making money is the whole criteria, then "Titanic" is the best movie ever made. Since I've really hated most of the big money-makers of the past 20 years, how much a film grosses doesn't mean much to me. As far as well-told stories go, "Traffic" isn't one of them. You like it, God Bless you. By my standards, it was inept shit.

Josh

Name: Josh Becker Fan 2001
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I read most of your essay's and what not. I am a fan of most of your reviews on feature films. But I am kinda waiting for the next review that bashes an insanely stupid film. Anyway, I read one of your essay's and it was on how you like making short films. I am wondering how it gets done. Do you write a short screenplay for the film? If so, then how long does a short does it have to be in order for it to be a short film? Or do you just make a story and adlib the rest? I know for Strykers War, you wrote the screenplay for it. But for the rest of them, did you write anything for them? And how long do they need to be? or how long was yours?

Dear JB Fan 2001:

All the short films I ever made had scripts, just like feature films. Many of my short films were written with Scott Spiegel. It works the same way as a feature -- you get an idea, write a script, then make the film. The nice thing with shorts is that it takes a lot less time and money. By Academy rules, a film is a short up to 59 minutes, and is a feature at 60 minutes and over.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

So you've moved to an out of the way, quiet spot, eh?

Josh! Do you realize what this means?...
you can now adopt cats again! haHAH!

Now, here's what I want you to do (bossy, aren't I?): take a day soon and visit a local shelter, and pick out two sibling kittens. You won't regret it! Plus, they'll be a hit with Bruce's kids visiting, and the ladies! I'd love to read another essay of yours about their antics those first few months.
Fans here could submit name suggestions:
Hammer and Gabby, or
Joxer and Doobie!

(Speaking of doobies, did you hear about Switzerland considering legalizing marijuana?)

Dear Diana:

I'm definitely going to get cats, a boy and a girl. I was thinking of possibly naming them Jack and Diane, but we'll see. yes, I heard about Switzerland. Also, the U.K., Belgium, and Jamaica are close, too. As well as New Zealand. Once we get rid of the terrorists and open all the coffeeshops it will be a much better world.

Josh

Name: Fabio
E-mail: longtom@oeste.com.ar

dear Josh:

oops! You're right. I was unkind with Doris. I like very much his movies. My mistake was quoting the press who did talk about these movies like innofensive movies. Sorry, the press don't watch movies. They lose'm. :)

Dear Fabio:

OK. I like Doris Day, and when she was young, she was sexy. As Groucho Marx once said, "I've been Hollywood so long, I've been here since before Doris Day was a virgin." For me, in say 1949, the biggest babes in movies were Janet Leigh and Doris Day. I also like Jeanne Crain from that time. Let's not forget the very young Marylin Monroe, either, who was just starting then.

Josh

Name: Michael Anthony Lee
E-mail: mal@kingston.net

Josh,

Just wondering of you ever read any books by Stephen King. If so, what do you think of his style, and what do you think of the often shitty films based on those books? Do you like any of them besides Carrie?

Thanks,

Michael

Dear Michael:

I was an early Stephen King fan, from "Carrie," his first book, up to "Christine," that ridiculous piece of crap about a haunted car. That was probably 1981 or 1982, and I haven't been interested ever since. As far as movies made from his books, the best by far is "Carrie," then "The Shawshank Redemption." "Misery" and "The Dead Zone" were OK, too.

Josh

Name: F. R.
E-mail: swanlandprods@yahoo.com

Hi, Josh!

Wish I were in the Oregon wilderness, too. Big cities certainly lost their charm in a big hurry, didn't they? Of course, that was assuming they had any charm in the first place.

A couple of things: First of all, adding to the answer about how one qualifies for Academy membership (as in "The Academy Awards"), all nominees automatically become members, which is why the Academy's actors branch is the largest (up to 20 new members every year based on nominations alone). And, of course, the "Water Buffalo" way in (being sponsored by some old crony friends)is still very viable (thank you for that description -- I certainly needed the laugh!!). You just have to meet certain minimum requirements -- X number of years in your particular line of work, credits on X number of films, etc.

Getting into the TV Academy (as in "The Emmys," which we'll probably never see at this rate [just as well!]) is laughably easier. You only have to be in the industry about three years, get three people who are current members to sponsor you, have your name on X number of productions (which can include national commercials, I believe). The TV Academy is just huge; they must make a lot of income on those dues.

But just think of all the free videocassettes you get at awards nomination time when you're a member of either academy! Oh, joy, oh, rapture. Amaze your friends! Acquire enough reusable tape to capture every moment of the playoffs in your favorite professional sport!

Anyway. Time to complain about two "film" related items that are really pissin' me off. First is the hideous practice from those guardians of P.C. at the studios who are rushing to the editing room with all their films set in New York to CGI-out all glimpses of the late Twin Towers. For heaven's sake! They existed, they were stately, they said "New York" for over 30 years; I had been visiting in New York for two weeks ending on September 8th, and the Towers were both a landmark and a work of steel-and-glass beauty. Even in their simplicity -- two straight, tall buildings, no frills -- they were really graceful. But now, if you go to a movie, you wouldn't be able to see that they ever were there. Does this mean that someone will go back to the master of "Casablanca" and CGI-out Humphrey Bogart because he's dead? OK, I'm ranting, but I'm really angry that the censorship police are deciding that it would make us all sad to see the World Trade Center again. It makes me sad NOT to see it! To erase the towers from movies. . . well, just because they were erased from the skyline doesn't mean they should be erased from our memories. If you ask me. Although, of course, there was that amazing trailer for "Spider-man," where the Twin Towers were the "punch line" -- OK, maybe that would have been too painful to see again. . . but now, 4 weeks later. . . I think I'd really like to see images of the buildings again, remember them in all their urban glory. Before they were on fire, and dying. (*Those* pictures, I've seen enough times, thank you.)

What do you think?

Second rant, somewhat related: I am just furious about how many businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and found ways to hitch buying their stinkin' products to some sense of patriotism. Both Ford and Chevy have commercials that basically say, "Gee, we're big American companies, come buy a car to make America strong." And the broadcast networks have put the stars and stripes into their "bug" logos in the lower right corner to show how patriotic it is to watch the "Law & Order SVU" people catch some rapist, or watch the doofuses of "The Amazing Race" remind people around the globe how obnoxious Americans can be. I mean, are people really falling for these cases of fake patriotism? Do you want to go out and buy AT&T Wireless services because their commercials list the main streets of the cities afflicted by the terrorist attacks while a heavenly choir "oohs" and "aahs"?

Frustrating how fast some people are cashing in on this no-win situation. But, I guess that is balanced by the huge number of people who are really giving of themselves to provide aid for the families of those killed by these hideously hateful and misguided acts of murder. I must admit, I'm genuinely moved by the number of people who have been so kind and so generous in finding ways to help financially or with emotional support.

Well, thanks for the opportunity to voice my frustration. I really think that film and television can be really important right now, both to help us to forget our worries for a while -- just as there were some really great films during World War II -- and to inform us -- there were newsreels, and also propaganda of course, during WW2 -- and since we're all "film geeks" here, I hope we keep looking for -- demanding! -- really good films, with really entertaining stories and real characters (and firm structure!), and really well-made and balanced documentaries (on film or TV or cable), no matter what is "politcally correct" at the moment.

Be well and be kind, everyone,
F. R.

Dear F.R.:

I like that Ford and Chevy in their lame attempt to be patriotic are saying, "buy now with no interest," then you look at the small print and that's until Oct. 31. Big stinkin' deal! Of course, I don't give a shit about P.C. at all. Thanks for the detailed descriptions of getting into the motion picture and TV academies.

Josh

Name: Fabio
E-mail: longtom@oeste.com.ar

Dear Josh:

The news (the rumors) here in Argentina are that a new age of sissy movies or "white comedies" or "Doris Day movies" are coming to the USA cinema... Is that true? Has you thinking about the item? By the way, I would like see new reviews or articles, I like a lot your stuff!
Saludos
Fabio (from a rainy Buenos Aires)

Dear Fabio:

You're talking about a business that's had absolutely no idea what it was doing for years, always trying to appeal to the lowest common demoninator, gearing all their films for eight-year-olds. Sadly, a single big tragedy is not enough to straighten these folks out as to what is a good story. There is still the belief that everything must be put through a big committee until it's inoffensive to everybody, and therefore uninteresting to everybody as well. I think you're being unkind to Doris Day, who made a number of very good films, like: "Young Man With a Horn," "Storm Warning," "Love Me or Leave Me," "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "The Pajama Game," "Teacher's Pet," "Pillow Talk," and "The Thrill of It All." Hollywood only wishes it could make movies that good now.

Josh

Name: S.C.
E-mail: scornett@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

Has Tobe Hooper (I think that's his name) done any good films since "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"? I saw on of his other films, recently (something about an annoying kid who has aliens land in his backyard), and thought it was beyond awfull. Annoying characters, stupid story, and generally un-interesting and pathetic. Either way, can you recommend some real good, nail-biting horror/suspense films?

Thanks, as always, for your time.

TSNKE,

S.C.

Dear S.C.:

The only other watchable film Tobe Hooper ever made was "Poltergeist," which is really a Spielberg film (apparently Hooper freaked out and Spielberg took over), and isn't nearly as good as TCM. Otherwise, all his films are indeed "beyond awful." Here are my favorite horror films:
1. Rosemary's Baby
2. Carrie
3. Aliens
4. Alien
5. Dead of Night (1945)
6. The Body Snatcher (1945)
7. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
8. The Tenant
9. Repulsion
10. Frankenstein (1931)
11. The Bride of Frankenstein

Josh

Name: Stephen
E-mail: Kerrsed@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I was wondering if you could help me get a shot. I have been trying to get a shot of a man looking in a mirror dead on and haven't found a way to do this with out being able to see the camera. Any tips?

Dear Stephen:

You have to be at a slight angle, not straight on. It's really no big deal.

Josh

Name: Matt
E-mail: mattheworobko@hotmail.com

Josh,

I just want to say that you write the best screenplasy ever!

Dear Matt:

Thanks, I'm proud of my screenplasys.

Josh

Name: Geekenstein
E-mail: vangeekenstein@aol.com

WAZ UP J dAWG!

What's your advice on becoming an independent director? Where does one start? Also, what's your opinon on Woody Allen? I think he's horrrrible! I hate how every1 in hollywood is scared of him and kisses his ass. PEACE OUT...

Dear Geekenstein:

Come up with a good story that's about people in average places, like the locations you can get for free, and make sure you write a decent script. Then borrow money from everyone you know (and everyone they know), and make your movie. If you actually write a decent script, meaning well-structured, with believable characters, and, God willing, a point, you'll be miles ahead of everybody else. Regarding Woody Allen, I was a big fan from the beginning of his career up to "Annie Hall." However, once he won his Oscars, he has not only become dull and pretentious, he's lost the basis of his humor, which was based on him being a little ugly creep. The last thing on earth I want to see is Woody Allen with Elizabeth Shue, Barbra Hershey, or Charlize Theron. My favorite film of his is "Love & Death."

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

A couple of questions for ya:

Have you ever had to settle for a performance from an actor that was either below the standards you set for your work or simply them not using their full potential? (I think I could've worded that a little better, but oh well) I figure that trying to get better performances out of actors is probably a fairly common situation, but how often, if ever, is it a good idea just to forget it and move on?

Secondly, what do you think of Christopher Guest's work, either as an actor or a director?

Cheers,
Lucas

Dear Lucas:

Yes, I have had actors that turned out to not be very good. Ultimately, I myself must take the responsibility since I cast them in the part. Sadly, the way movies and TV are shot, it's nearly impossible to replace an actor once you've begun shooting with them because you'd then have to reshoot all their footage, and no one is either willing or can afford to spend the money. You simply have to bite the bullet and live with it. Sometimes you end up having another actor replace all their dialog, something I did in my last film. I like Christopher Guest a lot in "This is Spinal Tap." I didn't like "Waiting for Guffman" at all. I found it demeaning and stupid. I haven't seen "Best of Show."

Josh

Name: S.C.
E-mail: scornett@yahoo.com

Dear Dr. Becker,

I just saw "Moby Dick" (the one with Gregory Peck) for the 1st time since I was a kid, and really enjoyed it. I noticed it wasn't on your "favorite films" list, and was wondering if you'd seen it, and if so, what you didn't/did like about it.

Thanks for time (as always).

TSNKE,

S.C.

Dear S.C.:

I've seen it several times. It's a pretty stiff adaptation, Richard Basehart is an old Ishmael, Gregory Peck is overacting throughout and seems kind of silly as Ahab, and the whale is just fake. The screenplay, BTW, was by a very young Ray Bradbury. Although Huston's film is far superior, there are some interesting things in the 1926 version called "The Sea Beast" with John Barrymore. There's also a 1930 version, called "Moby Dick," also with John Barrymore. Both older versions have a pointless love story with Ahab, but some cool rear-screen while chasing the whale, and Barrymore makes a good Ahab.

Josh

Name: Louis
E-mail:

Dear josh,

I just have to start with thanking you on how great you did Running Time. It is the most well structured film I have seen in a long time. "Nick Of Time" starring Johnny Depp was in real time and it failed with a dozen of mistakes. With your film, INDEPENDENT MAY I ADD, had only one mistake in the whole film. The movie is the terrific and so are you for making it. I just thought you should know that.

I have a question that I know you could help me. I have a story that I wrote down last night before I went to bed. The story has a strange nod to it and I am working it to have an unexpecting plot twist at the end of the script when I am done writing it. I just need to know what to do in terms of building to that plot twist. I know it sounds stupid but I am a first time filmmaker and I need all the help I can get. Plus, since this story, I think, is pretty interesting and has never been done I am wondering if you can give me some tips on how to start the story or what I would do to start the story. Thanks

Dear Louis:

Read my structure essays, all available right here. Once you've digested that information, then try outlining your story and figuring out where your act breaks are.

Josh

Name: Mr. Todd
E-mail: skoochpooch@aol.com

October 5, 1902: Larry Fine's Birthday!!! Have a very Larry day everyone!!!

MOE:(Looking at the bear trap)"What's that thing for?"
LARRY:"Never can tell, we might meet up with a bear."
MOE:"Yeah...meet my bare hand"

Dear Mr. Todd:

Thanks for the info. It's good to know. Happy birthday to Larry Fine. When I was a kid out local Detroit movie host, Bill Kennedy, called Larry at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills and interviewed Larry. He asked, didn't you guys get hurt doing those crazy stunts? Larry replied, "Oh, sure, you gotta get hurt. But the pain went away on payday."

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail: JEaganFilm@aol.com

Josh,

I seem to recall you wrote (and sold?) a script called Cycles about a motorcycle gang. Well, I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that, according to the Coming Attraction website, "Tony Scott (Top Gun) is attached to direct a movie about the origin of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang." Can't wait for that one, eh? I do wonder if that might spark interest in your script though.

Dear Jim:

Who knows, it might even be my script. Phil Kaufman was attached to it for a while.

Josh

Name: Patrick
E-mail: banfield@wsu.edu

Dear Mr. Becker:

I last wrote to you a long time ago. You wouldn't remember but I was the guy who requested a text-only version of the Fav Film list. I'm writing because I watched The Tenant by Roman Polanski and I liked it alot, pretty damn creepy. I'm not sure that I understood it entirely. Was all the stuff that happened in the movie a psychic vision by the girl dying in the bed? Did this film strike you as being too long? Maybe it's been awhile since you saw it so if you don't recall that's understandable.

Sincerely,
Patrick

Dear Patrick:

I've seen "The Tenant" many, many times, and I'm quite familiar with it. I don't think it's all a psychic vision of the girl, nor did I find it too long. It has images in it, like the hieroglyphics in the bathroom, and the tooth in the the hole in the wall, that have really stuck with me for 25 years. Great photography, too, by Sven Nykvist.

Josh

Name: Gareth
E-mail: GAZZ@aol.com

Dear Josh:

After finding this site a few months ago, reading a lot of what you had to say then going away again and watching a lot of films, i have to agree with your shit and steak theory (saving private ryan review, even though i like that film). It's almost like audiences are being told what to like, and just obeying orders.

Also, i have Savior on video and was glad you didn't rip the piss out of that one because it really is a good film that is easy to watch. (although when you rip the piss it is quite funny)

Second to last question, Saving private Ryan is a film i really like, what was it about the film that you didn't like? I'm not a huge fan of Spielberg or anything but i enjoyed the film, and my Grandad who was in WW2 said it was the most true to life film he had seen of the war. I think he meant in terms of how it looked/how they fought etc though, because i know its a fictisious (spelling?) story.

Ok last, i'm writing at the moment a screen play that is about something i know very well. I'm very much drawing on my own experience, real people and real events but obviously expanding them to make them interesting (or so goes the theory). What i want to know is how can i avoid making it sound too much like real life, in other words useless boring chit chat between characters. I find myself re creating conversations i have had with these people and adding little in jokes and i know that is wrong.
Thanks

Gareth

Dear Gareth:

If you read my review of "Saving Private Ryan" then you know why I don't like it. Beyond its idiotic premise and lying structure, it has dull, flat characters, just like "Band of Brothers." If you don't care about the characters, then who cares when they get killed? Regarding your script, there's nothing wrong with basing your story on real life, but you must still use dramatic structure. Therefore, first figure out the act ends -- what in act 1 is causing the lead character to arrive at a point of no return at the end of the act, and also what's causing them to get to another point of no return at the end of the second act? Also, if you have a theme, then no one will be making idle chit-chat, everything will relate to and reinforce your theme. Good luck, young man. Also, good spelling and punctuation won't hurt.

Josh

Name: Josh
E-mail:

Josh,

I do hope that even though you have moved to Oregan that you still plan to make films. Do you plan on making Oregan your home? Or do you eventually plan to move back to Michigan where your family is? Whatever you do, best of luck to you. :-)

Dear Josh:

No, I'll never be moving back to Michigan. I don't know that I'll spend the rest of my life in Oregon, but I may. I am a filmmaker and where I live has no impact on that. It's not like an independent filmmaker gets any support at all by living in LA. In fact, the post houses and film facilities here don't even like indie films.

Josh

Name: Fan X
E-mail:

Josh,

Congrats on the new home.

The classical music in 2001 was not the original concept. I pulled htis from a 2001 review to explain since I'm too lazy to write it out myself.

"Although Kubrick originally commissioned an original score from Alex North, he used classical recordings as a temporary track while editing the film, and they worked so well that he kept them. This was a crucial decision. North's score, which is available on a recording, is a good job of film composition, but would have been wrong for ``2001'' because, like all scores, it attempts to underline the action--to give us emotional cues."

And hey look I even posted my email address, so use it don't abuse it you internet people.

Dear Fan X:

You are absolutely correct about the Alex North score. What I meant was, those were Kubrick's first choices of classical music and I don't believe he ever had any music by Pink Floyd (certainly not "Echoes" which hadn't come yet). I'll delete your email address.

Josh

Name: Biscuit
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Real simple question for you this time.

Since you directed many Xena episodes and I assume spentmuch time on set with Lucy and Renee...were Lucy and/or Renee ever smokers, and if so did either quit before the end of the show?

Just curious.

Biscuit

Dear Biscuit:

Neither one is a smoker. I am, though.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: snoogans@softhome.net

Dear Josh,

I finally found a copy of "Running Time" on VHS in a record store up here in the Great White North. I've watched it a couple of times so far, and I think you made a really cool movie.

Bruce gave the best dramatic performance I've ever seen him give, the guy who played the junkie (can't recall his name off-hand) was outstanding, and JOe LoDuca's score, especially the sparse guitar "love theme" at the end, was great as usual.

A couple of questions:

First, was the blood on the camera during the getaway scene intentional? Second, which part did you offer Ted Raimi? And regarding the score, do you have any idea what sort of equipment Mr. LoDuca used?

Have a good one,
Lucas

Dear Lucas:

The blood on the lens was only intentional to the level that after we'd shot the scene a few times I was unimpressed with the blood squib, so I asked the pyro guy to give me the biggest squib he had. He said, "It'll be like he's being shot with a 12-gauge shotgun." I said, "Right. That's what I want." And when it blew it sprayed everything in the vicinity, including the lens. Meanwhile, Joe LoDuca has the most advanced music studio on the planet Earth. The main instruments of the RT score are electric guitar and bass guitar, with a bunch of synthesizer overlays.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

Man oh man, is today ever going slow here in PA. My mind is a-wandering. Figured I would hop over to your site and toss out a few of those extra Soul Possession questions I never got around to asking.

1--Did you really film Smith catching Lucy in the lava pit scene? Now, the close-up seems like it was that trick where Kevin was already holding Lucy, and when you yell "action", he hoists her up a bit so that in editing, you make it appear as though her body weight was just falling into his arms (I think I also caught that trick when they materialize in the woods afterword and he puts her down) ...but that shot farther away, damn if that wasn't someone outright catching her, from like 7 ft. up or more! Second unit with stunt peeps?

2--Did you have the camera on tracks in the interrogation scene in the woods, after he puts her down, or did the camera man have a steady cam? I kept thinking -How did the camera guy avoid bonking into a tree while filming that? It looked so crowded with pole sized trees. Anyway, it was cool they way it seemed to circle around them as Xena herself was circling Ares, she unfolding the scheme and Ares playing his last card.

3--Maybe I'm just looking through my shipper goggles, but during the vows-exchange scene, Lucy plays Xena with a troubled, sad face, and then when Ares says "Yes, yes I do", there's a reaction shot of her face, a wee bit softer, torn, conflicted there for a second. Did you direct her to do that, or was it just something Lucy put in there?

4--Was there some sort of cricket plague going on at the time of filming the outdoor scenes?

O.K., crap- I gotta get back to work.

Dear Diana:

Every summer the cicadas go crazy in the woods in NZ and ruin all the sound. The same thing occurred on my ep "Blind Faith." As far as Xena dropping into Kevin's arms, the big drop was a stunt girl on a wire, then it cuts in to Lucy for the final second. The camera was on a Steadi-cam for the entire scene in the woods. Lucy's reactions were entirely her own.

Josh

Name: Danny Cork
E-mail: dannycork@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Did you know Alex North was first hired to score 2001? He actually went to the premiere thinking his music was in it. Kubrick never told him he ditched the score. Anyway just wondering if you've heard it. I heard it a few years ago, I recall it being good, but couldn't really imagine the film any other way.

Danny

Dear Danny:

Okay, Okay. I just forgot. You guys are real movie geeks and I admire you, and I'd have corrected me the same way.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthiaejones@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Hey, how's it going in Los Angeles? Is everyone being nicer to each other now that the Trade Centers are down? Or is everyone just back to their same LA-jerk-type selves? Or have you been hiding in your apartment so you wouldn't know?

Well, here's my question, completely un-related to anything except a "2001" mention a while ago: Have you ever watched the final "To Jupiter and Beyond" sequence while listening to Pink Floyd's "Echoes?" Apparently, the music was chosen by Kubrick to be the score, but he replaced it in the final edit. It works perfectly, all the way up to the "star baby" part and the fade to black. And...it's exactly 23 minutes. Ooh. Weird.

Okay, have a great day.

--cindy

p.s. I'm moving back to California. New York is too scary now.

Dear Cindy:

I'm actually in Oregon where I've just rented a place in the woods to hide, right up the road from my good buddy Bruce Campbell. I'm heading back to LA today, but that's just to pack up and split. Meanwhile, I've never heard that about "Echoes" and "2001," but I may try it since I have both. It would have been difficult for Kubrick to have had it mind for the film, however, since the movie came out several years before the record. I really do believe we're getting Kubrick's first choices on music in "2001."

Josh

Name: Biscuit
E-mail:

Yo.

A dumb question here, but should be an easy one for you to answer since you directed Xena's every season and I assume you had read-through's for each of those episodes and got to see Renee out of costume/make-up for each of your episodes.

The question is this. As someone who watched Xena each season, it seemed in Season one Renee looked like a teenager and in later seasons her look totally changed and she grew up to look her normal age.

I know they do many things with make-up, so I was wondering, did Renee's actual look change in those 6 years as much as the character, or did the make-up people account for much of the change? For example, in Season 1, did Renee(as herself) look as young as her character actually appeared on screen, or did the make-up crew try and make her look younger than her actual age?

Biscuit

Dear Biscuit:

Renee was really young when the show started. She's still really young as far as I'm concerned. Her outfit and hair style were changed several times over the years, which is what I think you're referring to. Otherwise, it's just and issue of going from about 22 years old to 28 years old, just like everybody else.

Josh

Name:
E-mail: t_cheam@hotmail.com

Hey,

Do u believe in each person to their own??

Dear Nobody:

No, I'm against it. Each person to my own.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail: david@dustdevil.com

Hey Josh,

I just finished reading your essay "Reduced Expectations" and was surprised that you knew of Frank Miller and "The Dark Knight Returns," because you've said before you weren't into comics. There's a new movie coming out based on Miller's "Batman: Year One" that is co-written by Frank Miller and Pi's Darren Aronofsky, but Joel Schumacher is still directing! Okay, I don't know what to expect when Aronofsky writes for a franchise, but when you know that either one of the writers could do a better directing job than Schumacher, the guy who bombed the last movie, why are they still hiring Schumaker?
I don't know here, I hope that it turns out good, but Aronofsky or not, it's still a franchise picture and all it would take is horrible direction/editing to kill it.

Also, any news on your book yet?

David

Dear David:

I've met Frank Miller and his wife and had a very nice time talking with them at a dinner party. Sadly, however, with Schumacher directing you can write it off. It will be shit; you know it and I know it. I spoke with the publisher in LA and he sent my book off to NY, where "it's being looked at." We'll see . . .

Josh

Name: Annie
E-mail: Annie7Owls@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Thanks for getting the word out quickly about the Sam impersonator. I've also heard that some girl has been claiming that she met Sam in a chat room and then he called her up and talked to her. After checking some more, I want everyone to know - and spread the word - that is also bogus. You can count on this: Sam is not going to chat rooms and meeting fans and calling them on the phone to talk. Apparently some sickos are getting a thrill out of either pretending to be Sam or pretending to know him. People might want to be careful about who and what they believe.

On a happier note, Andrea spoke very highly of "If I Had a Hammer," Josh. And she's not an easy one to please when it comes to movies. She showed me a photo of you at the screening in Detroit and made me wish I'd been there to see the film.

The only film of yours I've seen so far is Lunatics. I guess I'm not much of a movie geek. I just watch 'em, I don't get into making them. If my life depended on it, I couldn't tell the difference between great acting and great directing - but I know what I like when I see it. And I did enjoy Lunatics because it was fun and interesting and made me laugh - repeatedly.

So... how DO you tell the difference between a film that is brilliantly directed vs a film that has great acting talent but ineffective directing? Can you give examples of each scenario?

Annie
(PS: I changed my email because that other service has been down a lot lately. I posted before as annieknowsbest@usa.com. Didn't mean to confuse anyone.)

Dear Annie:

I certainly don't like being suckered, that's for sure. Regarding well-directed films, if a film has consistently good acting, it's well-directed. Actors don't often get there on their own; certainly not a whole cast. Another way to tell a well-directed movie is that you never feel lost. You always know where you are and where the characters are. Anytime you are forced out of the drama due to excessively shaky camerawork, too-fast editing, or weird angles that don't help the scene, that's bad direction.

Josh

Name: Noelle
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Hey there. As a regular visitor I respect that you take the time to reply to all kinds of email, even stuff that is critical of you. But maybe you could filter out some of the obvious nonsense and save yourself some time and aggravation. That's just my humble opinion.

OK enough of my rambling here's my question: How are people chosen to become a member of the Motion Picture Academy (the folks who vote for the Oscars)? If you win an Oscar do you automatically become a voting member? Just curious.

Best,
Noelle

Dear Noelle:

It's like a fraternal order (like the Waterbuffaloes),you have to ask to join, then other members have to sign your form. Something like that. It's mainly older, retired member of the film community.

Josh

Name: Ray-The Screenwriter
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I just got done watching Memento for the fourth time and I just rented it yesterday. Damn, it's good. When it comes on cable or something, you just have to check it out. I don't think you'd be displeased.

I was just going to ask you two quick questions. One, how you think of your ideas for scripts? Two, I am going to make my first film and I am clueless on how to get it budgeted? What would you do?

Dear Ray:

Story ideas come from all over the place, there's no one way, at least not for me. As I mentioned before, reading history frequently fires my imagination. I have several historical dramas I'm thinking of writing right now, all based on cool, little known pieces of history. As for budgeting, you ought to buy yourself a book on the subject, and there are several I've seen. Basically, though, a budget is done after you've done a script break-down, which will tell you what locations you need, props, actors, vehicles, special effects, etc. Until you have that you can't do a real budget. As a little note, it's not rational to schedule more than seven script pages a day during shooting. Five would be better.

Josh


BACK TO Main Archive Page

BACK TO Current Q&A




Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments



BECKERFILMS SITE MENU

[ Main ]  [ Film & TV Work ]  [ Screenplays ] 
[
Reviews ]  [ Articles, Essays & Stories ]  [ Ask the Director ] 
[
Favorite Films ]  [ Scrapbook ]  [ Links (& Afterword) ]  [ Web Team ]

This site is the property of Josh Becker Copyright © 2001 Panoramic Pictures, All Rights Reserved.
Panoramic Pictures Logo