Q & A    Archive
Page 50

Name: Chris Plante
E-mail: Chrpl320@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Hi. I am an unsold screenwriter and a couple of months ago I joined a screenwriters club. We went through Ideas with the group.

Last month a member of my group sold a screenplay and now I have heard that he is pitching one of my ideas to a major studio. Can I stop this? I am not friends with this person and feel very voilated? Please advise.

Thank you

Dear Chris:

Unless you wrote something down and copyrighted it, I don't think you have a leg to stand on. Even if you did, there's really nothing you can do because whoever it is that stole your idea hasn't made any money with it. It's simply a fact of life in Hollywood, and you ought to take it as a lesson to keep your mouth shut. Or copyright your stuff before discussing it.

Josh

Name: Film Fanatic
E-mail:

Dear Josh

To continue this debate on finding ten films that have been pretty good by pulling off the three act structure in the last twenty years, I compiled ten films that at least I think did the structure a justice. You can disagree. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. Regardless, here is the list: (The films are not ranked in order, btw)

1) Memento
2) Running Time (In my opinion, the best of your films)
3) Arlington Road
4) Rounders
5) Goodfellas
6) Point Break
7) A Bronx Tale
8) American History X
9) The Game
10)Casino

Dear FilmFanatic:

I bailed on "Arlington Road" and "The Game," both of which seemed obnoxious and horrible. I haven't seen "Rounders" or "Memento," which, for whatever it's worth, gets an absolutely terrible review from Maltin ("Pretentious pap plays with storytelling conventions and juggles 'real time,' but adds up to zero"). I really don't want to even bring "Casino" back up as it was so awful it makes me think less of Scorsese, but the structure certainly isn't coming to mind--they're sticking pens in people's eyes and putting their heads in vices from pretty early on, where are the act ends? I'll go along with "Goodfellas," "A Bronx Tale," "Point Break" and "Running Time." "American History X," which hasn't stuck with me very well, didn't seem structurally or dramatically sound.

Josh

P.S. We're skipping a brilliant example of screenwriting from 1992, which was only nine years ago--"Unforgiven." If you want to experience a solid, clean, clear, intelligent, well-structured script (by David Webb Peoples), watch "Unforgiven" a couple of times. The DVD looks terrific, too.

Name: Noelle
E-mail: terrabelle98@aol.com

Dear Josh,

Well I figured that by association with Ted Raimi you would have read Ender's Game since he has mentioned it as his favorite series in interviews... but then again Breakfast Club is one of his fav flicks so I know you two must have divergent tastes!

And from a gal's POV here. I think alot of lack of integrity in the entertainment industry has alot to do with how much responsibility one has for a family. I mean, if one has a spouse and kids to support it is harder to turn stuff down.
But I wholeheartedly support those trying to raise the standards any way they can.

Anyway I have a bit of an off topic question...
Have you saved anything from your films like set pieces or props as keepsakes?

Dear Noelle:

I don't have keepsakes from my films, I have the film's elements, meaning the camera negatives, sound tracks, inter-positives, dupe negatives, etc. I pay monthly to store all of this stuff at Pacific Title Archives. I've never really been much of a collector. I keep what I have to keep.

Josh

Name: Johnathon
E-mail:

Dear Josh

What films have you seen lately on satilite? How much did it cost for you to budget "If I Had A Hammer"? Do you have any regrets for making it? When is it due to come out?

Dear Johnathon:

I watched "The Trip to Bountiful" again the other day, which I quite like. I taped "All Fall Down" today, which I've always wanted to see. Otherwise, I'm busy packing.

Josh

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

Hey, Josh!

Sorry, didn't mean to "diss" the dogs of Oregon. I was just kind of thinking of spooky old houses in the woods with a pack of howling, "Baskerville"-type dogs. But, so long as the people in the houses out there aren't scary, no reason the dogs would be, either. And I also certainly experience your sympathy with many "city dogs" here in Los Angeles -- cramped in small spaces all day, their owners out working and therefore no one to play with them or pay attention, frustrated, no other way to express themselves than howling or other bad behavior.

A kinda funny city-dog story: a friend of mine lived next door to a really bad guy, a drug dealer. The drug dealer had a dog he abused, a big guard dog, but the dog was sad and howling all the time because he hated his life. Well, one morning, police were swarming all over -- someone had come in and killed the drug dealer during the night. No one had heard the dog make a peep all night; he didn't make the slightest effort to protect his nasty master. My friend said she saw the police leading this dog away on a leash -- the dog was wagging his tail, licking the cops, happier than she'd ever seen him. We both assumed that when the killers came in the house, the dog cheerfully showed them where to find the mean drug dealer, and probably peed on the guy once he was dead -- "take that, f*&#$%^!"

Anyway, on to the point. While Chopped Nuts certainly has a point that, yes, we all need to decide whether we are going to pursue our goals or not, and then need to take responsibility for going after them -- as we WELL know, no one hands you your opportunities -- it's not at all like "flipping a light switch." I've been working many years in the industry, gradually moving up, moving sideways, pursuing new jobs that I thought would afford me new opportunity, getting disappointed when they didn't pan out artistically or financially, getting stuck in one spot, switching focus to try to break the logjam, etc. I've been workin' it, y'know? But even when really pursuing one's goal, it's still sometimes hard to succeed.

Now, for example, I'm looking around for new opportunities because the job I took six months ago that promised training and advancement is looking instead like a dead end. Well, unfortunately, all my friends and colleagues that I've checked with are reporting that all the entertainment employers are "downsizing" (a nice word for "firing") people left and right because of uncertainty about how to entertain people at the moment and because of the weakening economy. And Josh hit the nail right on the head -- I *am* in a steadily-paying gig, I *am* paying my rent (hell, I even paid off my car with this gig!), and it *is* really close to what I eventually want to do ("what I really want to do" is produce, with my next step on the way to that goal probably being as an AD [I have some training for it already]; I'm in a job on a series where I work with the production crew and the "DGA team" [director/AD] to get the shows made, so I *can* observe people working at what I want to do, as well as meeting good people I'd happily work with again). It's damn tough to walk away from this package of financial bounty and learning/networking opportunity; the only reason I want to is that this series is very far from the kind of stuff I myself would want to produce. Or even watch.

So I completely admire people like Josh, and like Patrick (whose post had stimulated this discussion in the first place), who have the guts to sacrifice their finances to make something that really expresses what they want to say. In a way, both choices -- taking jobs that pay decently but aren't creatively satisfying, OR ELSE truly saying what you want to say but making yourself halfway destitute to do it -- are absolutely "the right choice," just for different people at different times. Either way, one makes a sacrifice -- either of material security (we're not talking forgoing the purchase of a new Lexus; it might mean wondering, like Patrick is, if one has to declare bankruptcy), or of artistic freedom (that's what I really miss).

So, whaddya gonna do? I'm weighing this heavily. I might stay here, get on my feet financially (actually, I had spent several years previous to this working freelance so I could have more creative jobs and more freedom, but I racked up a lot of debts doing it), or, hell, maybe I'll also pack up for the peaceful, happy/tail-wagging dog-filled forests of Oregon. It certainly sounds like a good idea!

But it ain't like flipping a light switch. I agree with Josh that it's clear that Chopped Nuts meant very well and certainly has a good point about taking action to pursue your goals. . . but "pursuing" doesn't always guarantee "achieving," at least not on any kind of timetable that feels even remotely "fair," or "reasonable."

Reminds me of a saying I like: "We plan, God laughs."

OK, no question here, but it seems like a decent topic to discuss. Right? (Aha! *There's* my question!)

Hoping we all get some good breaks on the way to our goals. . .
cheers,
F. R.

Dear F.R.:

I do think this is an interesting topic as it directly affects me. All I've ever wanted to do is make movies. But should I piss away my whole life in an unfriendly atmosphere, where no one has made a decent film in ten years, trying vainly to get them to see the error of their ways? I can't even get anyone here to watch my last film, let alone release it. This is not a creative enviornment. I don't hold it against anyone who has figured out how to live and work here. I can't do it anymore. I assure you that I'll continue to make movies, but not in Hollywood. It's one thing to actually attempt to make it in Hollywood, and yet a whole different thing to have never tried and just comment on other's actions. If you've never actually fought the fight here, then you know NOTHING about it. No logic applies.

Josh

Name: JT
E-mail: jcarroll@austin.rr.com

Josh,

On editing and lighting, you said --> "That you want to do everything yourself is admirable, and you certainly can do it if you want, but don't think you'll be anywhere near as good as someone who's been doing to for years."

Which made me wonder: have you ever specifically tried to hire someone based on work you'd seen them do? Like, "wow, this film is incredibly well shot. I wonder how much it would cost to work with them?" -- or do you always tend towards people you've worked with before on other projects?

JT

Dear JT:

Well, I've never been in a position to hire people whose work I've admired from other films because I've never had that kind of dough. I would certainly like to work with some of the great cinematographers out there like Vilmos Zsigmond, Vittorio Storaro, Roger Deakins, Owen Roizman, Laszlo Kovacks, on and on. I wouldn't mind working with some of the great composers like Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein or Ennio Morricone. But I must say that I am very pleased to have Joe LoDuca composing my scores (all four so far) and Kurt Rauf shooting my films (two so far). We get along terrifically and I enjoy their work very much. Along with Kaye Davis, who has cut three of my films, and Jane Goe, who has produced two of them, I really have a wonderful stock company to work with. If someone gave me unlimited funds I still think I'd work with Joe, Kaye, Kurt and Jane. They make my life very easy and do great work.

Josh

Name: Patrick Coupe
E-mail:

Thank you Josh. And to all of you that have said some encouraging things, I appreciate it very much. This is not a matter of life or death and I'm going to be fine. I just watched a documentary about F.Scott Fitzgerald. He made $13.14 in royalties the year he died. I'm not comparing myself to Fitzgerald in any way, shape, or form. It just puts things into a healthy perspective. I need a healthy perspective. I may not make another film but this is an experience that has made me a better human being.

Dear Patrick:

Try looking at it this way (I do): the folks that are making a lot of money in the film biz are the ones making, for the most part, disgraceful crap. If you're trying to do anything different or unique or intelligent, you're not going to make it in Hollywood right now. I think it's more honorable to be an independent doing what you want, successful or not, than being a Hollywood ass-kisser doing what everybody else wants. Don't give up. I'll bet you're a 90% better filmmaker now than you were before making your first film. Keep the faith.

Josh

Name: Andrew Bland
E-mail: blando3@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I am really interested in seeing Running Time, but I only just read about it in Bill Warren's "The Evil Dead Companion" and don't know where to look. Will I be able to find it at video stores, or should I look for it online, etc...? Thanks a lot.

Dear Andrew:

Try looking anywhere. You can click on the link on the main page here and get it. You can go to any one of a hundred places on the web, like Amazon.com or Reel.com, you can go to Best Buy.

Josh

Name: Chopped Nuts
E-mail: danjfox@home.com

Dear Josh:

Regarding your comment to my comment, umm... and so on...

"Commenting on your comment to F.R., it's not quite as easy as you make it out. When you've got a gig, in the business you want to be in, that pays pretty well, it's not so easy to quit. You're a lot closer to your goals than most people have gotten, but not quite there. That's a tough situation. Much tougher than "flicking a light switch." "

It's simplified stuff to say you go for it or you don't, but I think it applies. You yourself are an example of using the job to pursue what you're really after. The rest is justification for not trying. F.R. didn't say what he/she does in the industry, so I don't know if there's a creative aspect or not. Still, it sounded like there was uninteresting material involved. If F.R. wants better, F.R. will have to get it.

On to Rosemary's baby: there's a bit of a blurb on it in Cassavettes On Cassavettes. Not Cassavettes favourite film or experience, but then I don't think he enjoyed much of his work outside his own. It's a good book though, outside of being a little naive when it comes to filmmaking. I hope you like it.

Bye!

Dear Chopped Nuts:

I think your advice is appropriate and given sincerely, but it still ain't that easy dropping out of what you do when you make a living at it, and you aren't sure you'll make a living at anything else. Luckily for me, "Xena" was cancelled so I didn't have to make that decision, it was made for me. If "Xena" was still being made I'd probably not be moving. I simply decided to not pursue any other TV shows. I did, by the way, just recently work on a new show called "Worst Case Scenario," but quit after two days. This was the deciding factor that that is not what I want to do. What I will do now remains to be seen.

Josh

Name: Noelle
E-mail: terrabelle98@aol.com

Josh,

I was casually browsing through Orson Scott Card's official website when I stumbled across this tidbit which nearly caused me to fall out of my chair...

"Meanwhile, Ender's Game is being developed for film by Robert Chartoff, co-producer of The Right Stuff, Raging Bull, and the Rocky series, with Card writing the screenplay."

Do you think Ender's Game will make a good movie? Personally I'll take Ender over Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings anytime. Do you know anything about Robert Chartoff?

Dear Noelle:

I haven't read "Ender's Game," although I have read various stories of Mr. Card's in SF collections over the years. Robert Chartoff used to be, and may still be, partners with Irwin Winkler. They are best known for "Raging Bull" and the Rocky movies. I don't think either one has been involved with a decent film since "Rocky III" in 1982. Winkler went into directing and has made some truly unmemeorable films like "Guilty by Suspicion" and the lousy remake of "Night and the City." I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a good film out of these guys now.

Josh

Name: Bobby Graham
E-mail: ironbob_6sic6@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

First of all, I love your work. I too am an amature film maker/director, so I appriciate what you do. I am also a Band teacher and would love to perform a piece from Joe LoDuca. Does he have any sheet music for sale or would he sell any? I, as I enjoy your work, enjoy the musical work of Joe LoDuca; from The Evil Dead Trilogy to Xena and Hercules. Please, if you have any information on the subject let me know. Thank you for your time and sorry about this question if it is not the kind you are interested in.

Dear Bobby:

I just called and left a message for Joe and read him your letter.

Josh

Name: Carly S.
E-mail:

Dear Josh Becker:

I would just like to stop by and say sorry for the rude behavior of "Tony" or "Chakram 712" as he goes by on Mary D's site. You are the only connection alot of people have to the show and I think many have abused this privelege. As a long time EZ Board user my advice is to not answer them at all...believe me nothing gets their goats more than being ignored!!!

Peace,
Carly

U dont have to write back.

Dear Carly:

And so it shall be.

Josh

Name: Justin
E-mail: jsalibri@radford.edu

Hey Josh,

Your essay on short films is excellent, probably the best yet. I'm getting ready to start production on my biggest short film yet, which isn't really all that big, but at least I don't have to worry so much about synching sound.

Since you've been out of the short film game for so long, I was wondering what you do with an idea that won't develop into a feature. Do you just toss it, or do you just not come up with many ideas like that anymore. You'll be living so close to Bruce Campbell, that you just go out in the backyard and shoot something for the heck of it.

Oh, and I was wondering if you've bothered to watch "Blood Money", which has been playing on one of the movie stations lately.

Justin

Dear Justin:

I don't come up with short film ideas anymore. When I think of stories now they're always full-length. I'm just finishing a book about the 1908 Jack Johnson/Tommy Burns World Heavyweight Championship fight, which could well be a movie if one could impose dramatic structure onto the events. My mind goes to, what would be the first act of this story? What would be the second act? Who is the lead? Is it Jack Johnson or is it Tommy Burns or is it Hugh MacIntosh, the promoter? As a little historical note, the Johnson/Burns fight was the first time the "color line" was broken and a black and a white fought for a championship, and Jack Johnson, the black man, won. This was really this first big step toward equality, 30 years before jazz bands were integrated and 40 years before baseball or the U.S. military became integrated.

Josh

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

Josh,

Is there a reason why you (or any) director would choose not to edit their own film? Is it purely a function of time and skill (i.e., pros know the equipment much better, and can get a film cut much more quickly), or is there an artistic reason for it? I come from the philosophy that the less people that work on a film, the better. I'm kind of against the idea of film as a collaborative medium, and I've gotten into arguments with fellow film students about this before. I don't necessarily get into that right now, but I would like to know why you feel the need for an editor. (And perhaps for a DP as well).

Jim

Dear Jim:

Because the DP and editor are specialists. I know how to edit and I know how to light, but not as well as the people I work with. If I could do those things brilliantly perhaps I'd do them, too, but I'm nearly as experienced as the editor and DP I work with. Just knowing the equipment is a very small part of editing. There are a thousand little techniques in editing that you'll only learn by cutting a lot of footage over a long span of time. The same goes for the DP. After you've handled the lighting in a thousand different situations, you pick up cool tricks. That you want to do everything yourself is admirable, and you certainly can do it if you want, but don't think you'll be anywhere near as good as someone who's been doing to for years. On the other hand, I won't collaborate in the writing anymore, and haven't for quite a few years. But that's just me. Many writers work in teams.

Josh

Name: XenaHerc
E-mail:

Hi Josh.

About Tony.

He tried to rile you up on purpose with his note to you and has said so in a post on Mary D's Xena website.

He wanted to see the reaction he could get out of you and posted "Having Fun With Josh Becker".

The moderator at Mary D's locked his post rather quickly so no one can respond to it.

I think he deserved your response.

You are a fine director; with "Lunatics a Love Story" and "Running Time" a couple of my favorite movies; as well as the Xena episodes you directed.

Take care,

XenaHerc (Linda)

Dear Linda;

My last post answers this one, too. Thanks for the support.

Josh

Name: Diana
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

I see "Gutless Tony" has a stirring in his weenie again. This is the same stellar individual who wished rape upon me for being a fan of the character Ares, and promised to beat the crap out of August if he ever met him at a convention...Oh yea, and he's posted endlessly about Renee O'Conner's feet and keeps asking about her marrage. He's bragging about trying to get a rise out of you on a fan message board even as we speak.

It would be a delightful "up your's" if there existed a scene, directed by Josh Becker, of Ares fucking Gabrielle's brains out while Joxer sucked her toes.

Dear Diana:

I'm a tad ashamed of myself for over-reacting to Tony. I shouldn't be so easy to get a rise out of. For everyone's peace of mind I'll just ignore old Tony for now on. Bye-bye, Tony, you're permanently banned from this site.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: 2112st@fc.vm.com

How's it going?

I just wanted to know what your thoughts were on Bruce's book. I thought it was an eye-opener. There should be more books out there on the realities on the film business. Do you know of any others?

Man-seems like you had a hell of a time on EVIL DEAD. Could you tell us your take on the story Bruce mentioned-the spike that went through your foot?

Thanks - and BTW, like you, I've encountered that moron, "Tony" on other forums before. I pretty much agree with your comments about him - he's good at insulting folks, as long as he hides behind a handle or a first name. Keep giving him hell.

Saul Trabal

Dear Saul:

As far as Bruce's book being an "eye-opener," I feel like Pee Wee at the end of his "Big Adventure," at the drive-in movie, when his girlfriend asks, "Don't you want to see the movie?" and Pee Wee replies, "No thanks, I lived it." I'm glad Bruce bothered to write it all down, then got it published. Regarding other good movie books, check out my recommended reading list. I'm a fan of anyone telling their own story. A really good one, just off hand, is "This is Orson Welles" by Welles and Peter Bogdanovich. I really don't have anymore "Evil Dead" reminisces to add. It was a long time ago. Stepping on that nail sure messed up my world, though.

Josh

Name: Eric Rosenthal
E-mail: eric3020@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

I'm happy to see Robocop on your list of favorite films; It's one of just wish more action movies like that would get made. Do you think its success was more due to the writer (I forget who) or director Paul Verhoeven?

Another question: If the director makes the decisions about which shots to use and their order both before and after shooting, what exactly does an editor do? Does he handle the details of putting sequences together because the director is busy in post?

If your book still isn't published, maybe you could get the fans on your web site to pre-order it or write messages to the publisher (although that might get out of hand), just to show that there is interest in it.

By the way, I met Bruce Campbell at a screening of Army of Darkness in '97; I asked a question and he pointed me out because I was wearing an Evil Dead T-shirt. The guy's a riot; he had a bunch of snappy answers to everyone's fairly obnoxious questions (such as regarding the sexual orientation of various Herc/Xena characters)

Keep up the good work with your site.

Eric

Dear Eric:

Since I happen to know the guy that wrote "Robocop" (Ed Neumeier), I definitely believe it's a combination of the script and the direction. It really is a darn good script, too. The transitional sequence when robocop is being put together and we're seeing it all from his POV, which keeps shutting down, then coming back on at a later point, is really well-conceived. The whole film is. And it's the last decent thing that Verhoven directed. His early Dutch films, though, are all worth seeing. Regarding editors, the first cut of all TV shows, and some movies, are done entirely by the editor. Working with a good editor, like Kaye Davis who cut my last three films (as well as "Evil Dead 2"), I don't change all that much when I come in. Keep in mind that there are 24 possible cuts to be made every second. Where an editor decides to make the cuts is a big deal. The difference in editors is vast. Some, like Kaye, just naturally have a good pace and rhythm. Other don't. When Kaye cuts a dialog scene, that's generally how it stays cut. Well, cutting dialog ain't easy. If you really want to see the difference, watch "Evil Dead 2" and "Army of Darkness" together. ED2 has a much better pace, although quite a bit slower than AOD. Fast cutting, for the most part, doesn't make for a good pace.

Josh

Name: Chopped Nuts
E-mail: danjfox@home.com

Hi there, this is more of a comment for F.R. who said (about Patrick):

"I've gone the other route in "the biz," taking jobs for the money no matter what the program content, and I regret it almost every day. I'm not at all proud of the stuff I'm working on -- warn people not to see it, in fact -- and there's so little of my heart and enthusiasm in it that, frankly, I'm thinking about quitting the business and doing something "really useful" with myself, like studying medicine or working for a charity."

The only one who can change this for you is you, so fix it. :) Easier said than done really... actually that's not true. Turning out something you're going to be proud of might be a challenge, but starting in on that effort is as easy as flicking a light switch.

As for everybody else here, since Halloween is a-comin', I'd be interested to know what everybody thinks makes for a good horror movie.

One thing that I find doesn't work is that many of them have the problem of a bark worse than the bite: the villain's naughty deeds before we actually see him/her/it/them are scarier than the moment you actually see the guy in the rubber suit.

Dear Chopped Nuts:

Commenting on your comment to F.R., it's not quite as easy as you make it out. When you've got a gig, in the business you want to be in, that pays pretty well, it's not so easy to quit. You're a lot closer to your goals than most people have gotten, but not quite there. That's a tough situation. Much tougher than "flicking a light switch." It's akin to me directing TV, which isn't what I want to do, but close. I commiserate with F.R. Regarding your question about horror films, the best for me is "Rosemary's Baby" where you don't see any monsters at all.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I should acknowledge that F.R. is right. I don't know why I thought Darabont was attached to Hearts in Atl.

Anyway, Josh are you a fan of Nichols and May as a comedy team from way back? What do you think of their film work?

Fan X

Dear Fan X:

They were an amusing comedy team, although not tremendously memorable to me. I do think that Mike Nichols is one of the very best directors working. That last film he made for HBO with Emma Thompson was very well done and quite moving. I don't care about anything Elaine May has ever done in film, although I did laugh a few times at the beginning of "Ishtar."

Josh

Name: FilmFanatic
E-mail:

Dear Josh

You absolutely have a solid point. I cannot really name ten films with the three act structure. I know I can name a few. I am not sure if I can name the new film, Memento. The reason why I cannot is because it is shot and written in a different form. It has a reverse effect to it, but I still think it can be called to have the three act structure. I just think it accomplishes it in its own unique way. I do suggest this to you because I do believe you would find it interesting as far as the directing, writing and the acting goes. If not, sorry I mentioned it. I felt somewhat pleased with Rounders, with Matt Damon and Edward Norton. It is a good story about life and peoples choices. But if anything, Memento is one of the best movies I have seen this year. Fresh, original, etc. I can't even start with talking about it. I found it to be very entertaining. You are right, though, I can't name more than a couple of films that did the three act justice in a good twenty years.

Dear FilmFanatic:

"Memento" has now been recommended by quite a few people. When it pops up on satellite, there on my mountaintop retreat, I will certainly watch it. I did just see (most of) "Tigerland" which I thought was pretty good. I don't know that it was structurally correct (I need to see the whole film), but it had an interesting situation, believable characters, and an compelling lead. That it was directed by that hack Joel Schumacher is surprising and impressive. I have new found respect for the guy. It reminded me of a TV movie from the 70s called "Tribes."

Josh

Name: Tony
E-mail:

Just curious.

Do you plan on getting a job anytime soon, or are you just going to sit on your hind parts and wait for you buddies(Sam, Rob, Bruce, etc.) to come to your rescue and set something up for you.

Just wondering.

Dear Tony:

And what was it that you think they set up for me previously? You're obviously trying to be insulting, but don't even have the balls to give your actual name or email address in the fear that someone may write back and insult you. Oh, the poor little baby. You're the same sort of asshole that becomes a terrorist -- a spineless worm that enjoys stabbing people in the back. Fuck you, eat shit and drop dead.

Josh

 

Tony,

Do you plan on getting a life sometime soon, or are you just going to sit behind your computer screen harassing directors of cancelled TV shows? I understand these are stressful times for all, but dude get a grip. Seriously.

Shirley

Name: Buddy
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I am new to this site. I havent read all of your work yet, but I am going to when I first get the chance. So far, I read three of your essays already. Good work.

Anyway, I am curious: What is the timeline of your scripts on this site?

Dear Buddy:

The earliest script posted is "Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except," the final draft having been written in 1984. The newest script is "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood," the final draft of which was written in 2000, although I started writing in 1998, I believe. All the others are from somewhere in between. I haven't posted my last script yet, "If I Had a Hammer," because I'm waiting until the film is released.

Josh

Name: FilmFanatic
E-mail:

Dear Josh

I was going over your list of favorite films and I was going over your L-List and I noticed that there wasn't any sign of, "The Lady Vanishes". When I say, "The Lady Vanishes", I mean the Hitchcock version. I am still wondering why it wasnt on your list. Why is this?

And Josh, can you list five or ten films off the top of your head that fail pulling off the Act 1,2,3 structure? I know I can name a lot!

Dear FimFantic:

I like "The Lady Vanishes," but it's not one of my favorites. I'm not really seriously impressed with Hitchcock until he got to Hollywood. I do respect his British pictures, they just aren't my favs. The earliest film of his I really love is "Notorious," although I like "The 39 Steps" enough to have it on my list. Regarding the failure to pull of a three-act structure, how about most films of the past 20 years. Trying to think of any that do pull it off in the last 20 years is much more difficult. I just finished watching "The Trip to Bountiful" again and Horton Foote certainly knows how to do it (that was 1985, so it was within the last 20 years). But I'd be much more impressed if you name 10 films in the last 20 years that you feel do pull of the three-act structure.

Josh

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

Hi, Josh!

Glad to read that cats will be part of your "getting back to nature" scene. Somehow, the image of moving into the Oregon wilderness and filling one's yard with *dogs* seems a little sinister, but cats seem very peaceful and happy. Unless you're a mouse, of course.

I felt so much sympathy for Patrick, who said he's lost body, soul and sleep over his indie film. Yes, maybe declaring bankruptcy is the way to go, but I hope that neither he, nor you, feel like it's been "a waste of time." You've still made something that had your heart in it, much as it may be heart-breaking that the audience hasn't had a chance to see it yet. At least you've been working at things you love; trust me -- I've gone the other route in "the biz," taking jobs for the money no matter what the program content, and I regret it almost every day. I'm not at all proud of the stuff I'm working on -- warn people not to see it, in fact -- and there's so little of my heart and enthusiasm in it that, frankly, I'm thinking about quitting the business and doing something "really useful" with myself, like studying medicine or working for a charity. So, Patrick, don't think that just because you're broke or near broke that you've "failed" in any way whatsoever; artistic fulfillment really does mean something at the end of the day, even if you can't pay rent with it. Like Josh said, in the long run, money is just bullshit -- he's totally right.

BTW, I was just forced to see the execrable "Hearts in Atlantis," a "family film" that's full of violence against women and children. How happy! The one thing it is NOT guilty of is being made by Frank Darabont; let's not "rush to judgement" here. The guilty parties are William Goldman (who should know better) for writing the script, Scott Hicks (who directed the most grey and depressing film imaginable this side of Scandinavia, i.e., "Snow Falling on Cedars") for directing it, and "Hannibal" Hopkins for being so completely bored that he couldn't bother creating a character for the film; he just kinda read lines in a spooky/knowing way. Yucky, yes, but not Darabont's fault; he had nothing to do with this train wreck.

Eighteen boxes of books, and counting? Holy cow, Josh; I'm going to be moving at the end of the year and was dreading packing my stuff, but you just made me feel like it's going to be a walk in the park, relatively speaking. Thanks for cheering me up, my friend; I needed it!

Everything irie, mon,
F. R.

Dear F.R.:

Oh, come on, dogs aren't sinister. As I looked at houses in Oregon, every person I met had at least three dogs and they were all very nice. I have a problem with dogs in my neighborhood here because they are mistreated, locked into small areas and ignored so they bark all night. It's distressing and I don't want to be around it anymore. I agree with you regarding Patrick and I should have said something. Now I will. Patrick, you pulled off a very difficult feat. Many, many people talk about making a film, but very few ever do. That the first one nearly broke you, well, that's par for the course. The first film nearly killed most filmmakers. I still haven't broken even on TSNKE and we shot that in 1984. This is the true test of your mettle -- will you make a second film? That's why I so seriously resent this first-film crap that occurs at many film festivals, like Slamdance, where they only show people's first films. Second films are much more important than first films. Keep a-going.

Josh

Name: becker
E-mail:

josh,

Are you still as fascinated by films and filmmaking as you were when you first got turned on by it as a teenager?

Is that passion and unflinching focus still there? If there was one quality about yourself (with regards to filmmaking) that you could change, what would it be, and why?

Dear Becker:

Yes, I'm still fascinated with filmmaking, storytelling, the history of cinema, as well as digging out cool old movies. Twenty-five years of bad films have seriously dampened my enthusiasm for anything recent, but I can live with that.

Josh

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

Josh-

I have both a question and a comment. First the question: Is the script format for television shows exactly the same as it is for movies?

Secondly, my father is a small town lawyer, and all this talk of bankruptcy reminded me of something he told me once. He said he stopped doing bankruptcy's after his first few years of practicing law because his clients would never pay him. I guess that's a catch-22.

David

Dear David:

The basic concept is the same, with INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY and EXT. MANSION - NIGHT, but a one-hour TV show script is 45-50 pages and broken up into four acts, sometimes with short set-up scene at the beginning called a Teaser, and sometimes with a little tie-up scene at the end called a Tag, but freqeuntly not.

Josh

Name: Diana--sorry me again
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Oh crap!
I was writing this question to you a while ago, my computer crashed and I forgot to re-submit it, its almost too late now but anyway, I don't suppose you're visiting family in Michigan this weekend!

There is a Convention in Dearborne (south of Detroit?) 13th and 14th. Kevin Smith is in the country and is a highlight. I thought there'd be a slim chance you'd check it out if you were in Detroit anyway.

I would have gone if you'd been there too, but I do know a few folks going and wondered if you'd care to give us a behind the scenes question or comment that would throw K.S. for a loop, make him laugh, ya know, to make us look cool (as if convention geeks could look like anything short of geekly).

I was also going to try to search for one of Mother Raimi's lingerie stores! O.K. that approaches stalking.

Dear Diana:

Well, while were shooting "Soul Possession" Kevin was simultaneously shooting a movie directed by Michael Hurst. First it was called "Love Muscle," which got changed to "Squishy Fish," I believe. You could ask what the hell they're calling it now. Mrs. Raimi's lingerie stores are called Lulu's Lingerie, BTW.

Josh

Name: Fan X
E-mail: resone 11@aol.com

To Josh:

True enough...its just that hate mail with poor grammar is so hard to take seriously.

Someone wrote you about Darabont's latest Stephen King film Hearts in Atlantis. It's awful. If you've seen Stand By Me and The Green Mile then you've already seen everything in Hearts. Hopkins is clearly phoning this one in.

Sounds like you're settling in pretty well up yonder.

Take it easy.

Dear Fan X:

Well, I haven't moved yet. I'm still packing. I've got 18 boxes of books packed, which includes Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, movie books, and fiction/non-fiction through M. I bet I have more movie books than anyone else in southern Oregon. I just bought "Cassavettes on Cassavettes," which looks fascinating. I just finished Arthur Laurents's autobiography, which was interesting. Laurents wrote "Home of the Brave," "Rope" (for Hitchcock), "West Side Story," "Gypsy" and "The Way We Were" among many others.

Josh

Name: Patrick Coupe
E-mail: pcoupe12@yahoo.com

Josh-

I'm new to your site and it's great. I appreciate your honesty. I have come to the conclusion that the film I financed (and starred in) will never make a dime. We've gotten into a few film fests which have lead us nowhere (why do they screen major multi-million dollar pictures along low-budget indie films AT THE SAME TIME!?!?). I've met more liars, fools, and scam artists trying to get this film distributed than I care to mention. I've lost a considerable sum of money. Is there a silver lining to this? Do you recommend talking to an attorney or accountant about bankruptcy? I don't know what to do next as I've only recently realized that 4 1/2 years of hard work, sacrifice, and sweat are down the drain. I'm wiser, that's for sure, and I'll use these lessons to my advantage but I'm worried that I'll be in debtors prison soon. I haven't slept an entire night in years without waking up covered in sweat worried about this. Any advice is appreciated.

Dear Patrick:

Have you considered changing your name and moving to a South Seas island? They'd never find you in Pago Pago or Yap. You could make a movie camera out of bamboo and start a new religion. Sorry, just kidding. First of all, I know exactly how you feel, for whatever that's worth. I came very close to sinking myself permenantly from my last film. Bankruptcy is certainly a possiblity, and one that you could actually live through, too. You won't be able to get a credit card or credit for a while, but that doesn't last. I personally did not declare bankruptcy, but my good buddy did, and he's fine. He even had credit cards again. I'd recommend bankruptcy over losing another four years of sleep. Interestingly, the bank will probably not even sieze your film as it has no inherent value to them. Nevertheless, I'd make sure it's squirreled away somewhere under someone else's name.

I wish you all the luck in the world, and any other advice I can help out with I'd be happy to give. It's a tough situation, but it's only money, and money is ultimately bullshit, and not worthy of ruining your health.

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