Q & A    Archive
Page 55

Name: Casey
E-mail: youreviltwin64@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

I'm really interested in getting into film making when i get older, but im not sure where to start. I have a friend whose uncle produced some indie movies, also Rumble In The Bronx. And she said I could get a job as a PA or something this summer on her uncle's set, if he gets out of this trial he's in cuz some chinese guys are ripping his movies onto DVD.
Anyways, I hope I can get a job on that set this summer, but what after that??? I have TONS of ideas for sketches and movies, but I'm just too busy as it is to really start anything big. But I'm wondering right now if I should bother going to film school after High School. I know Bruce hated it, since he said so in his book, but what should I do?
Anyways, I just want to let you know of a nice little indie movie that was on CBC a few years back. (That's right; way up here in Canada.) Anyways, this guy I knew in Grade 4 was in it. It's called 'Little Criminals'. I know you're busy and all, but if you get a chance, check it out. It's amazing. I'm not going to say alot about the movie, but it's great how Canada, of all places, decided to finance a GOOD movie. It's about this kid whose in a gang, and he came from the wrong side of the tracks. My jaw dropped when I saw what was going on in this. This guy I knew in Grade 4 gets payed to swear at people and light houses on fire! SWEET! It's really dramatic and intense, so you should take a peek if you ever get the chance. (Good luck though, because, being from up here in Canada and all, the tapes made of ice or something, and it probably melted a long time ago.....)
Anyways, just want to tell you you rule, and keep doing what youre doing. Anyways, I'll cya later Josh.

-Casey "I hate McDonalds" Jones

Dear Casey:

I'll keep my eyes peeled for it. I grew up watching CBC in Detroit. Back in the 1960s when everyone else in the U.S. only had three channels -- ABC, NBC, and CBS -- we in Detroit felt very lucky to also have CBC. Anyway, take the PA job and see where it leads. Being a PA is good training.


Name: Diane & Jeffrey Heinz
E-mail: Princessdph@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

It seems that you know so much about .99 cents stores as indicated by your enlighting and humorous monologue. Would you happen to know how to get one off the ground. Where do they find the products they sell? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Diane & Jeff

Dear D&J:

I don't officially know anything about them, it was all based on observation. I do think they're a good idea and the one I lived across the street from was always jammed. They finally had to start opening an hour earlier and staying open later to accommodate all the customers. That seems like a good business. Good luck to both you.


Name: What'sInAName??
E-mail: not important

hey Josh ....

I just read your comments to "stephanie". Is it a figment of my imagination, or isn't the oldest Raimi a female? And... is it true (or not) that she has a bit part in Spidey?

Dear What's:

Yes, Andrea is the oldest of the Raimi kids. Andrea and my older sister Ricki were good buddies in high school and were two of the biggest troublemakers in the neighborhood. I don't know if Andrea is in "Spiderman" or not.


Name: Sean


I saw "The Quiet Man" on your list of films you watched the most and was wondering if you've ever seen a good print of the film. I got the DVD and it looked like a second generation VHS copy. So I rented the VHS and it looked even worse; ditto for it on television.

Is the negative destroyed or something? It's a really beautiful film and I'd love to see a clean print of it someday. Hopefully it'll be restored for it's 50th anniversary and given a limited theatrical release but I doubt it.

P.S. I really think you should just delete all questions about "Memento" until you actually see the film. I don't know what kind of answer people are expecting from you but if someone feels the need to write about the film, they should at least spell the title correctly since their statement loses all credibility if they don't. Also, try to see it in wide screen if you can because it was filmed in scope and looses some of it's effect (and a lot of picture) panned and scanned.

Dear Sean:

I have seen good prints of "The Quiet Man." It's a bitch that the DVD doesn't look very good. I checked if there was a Criterion version, but didn't see one. Meanwhile, every film looks bad panned and scanned and I avoid them all like the plague.


Name: Slater
E-mail: Slater

dear josh,

Do you think "Diabolique", the 1955 can be considered a classic? have you seen it? if so, can you tell me what you think?

What is this Soul Possession that people talk about? I am just curious on what it is about and details about it because I haven't heard of it before I went to this site and the archives.


Dear Slater:

You know, I haven't seen "Diabolique," either version. I do like "Wages of Fear," though, which is by the same director, Henri-Georges Clouzot. "Soul Possession," by the way, was the last episode of "Xena" that I directed.


Name: Ray Rantuccio
E-mail: ray3259@excite.com

Dear Josh and Bill,

I personally think that Memento is a film that simply does not need to be a film that has to be using the house analogy. I do not even think that structure should be used in a film like Memento. What I am trying to make clear is, if it used the structure, the film would of been practically boring and dull. The premise for it has been used over and over again. And frankly, I am tired of it. I am sure that Christopher Nolan knew himself that it would have been pointless to use the structure because it would have been just another film. When he put things upside down, he used a sort of style that is never ever used. The backward/reverse style. He stunned the viewer, pure and simple. He surprised the viewer, that is all I have to say. Films like that are sussposed to be without the structure with roofs four walls and a foundation for a ceiling. As far as the the film consisting of the same scene being repeated over and over for 90 minutes. That is an untrue statement. Like I said, Christopher Nolan used his own style to put the story to screen. He wanted the audience to think and think over again. Because that is what you got to do, you have to think. I can gaurentee that watching that film once is not enough. You will miss out on everything if you view it once. So many things go on, that it is impossible to catch it all. If you have watched it only once and understood every aspect, I will have to give you credit. Along with that, Christopher's independent debut, Following, Dead Ringers and Insomnia, they are films that are just wholly original, untouchable, and deserbed to be considered fantastic in every sense.

Dear ray:

I love this whole raging debate over "Memento," which I haven't even seen. I personally don't think any film is "untouchable." If it can't stand up to criticism, it's got problems. Nevertheless, clearly you like the picture and that's nice. However, since I haven't seen the film, this is probably an inappropriate place to be discussing it.


Name: Richard Gustafson
E-mail: rgustafson@earthlink.net

Dear Josh:

Interesting non-fiction list, but the fiction list is highly idiosyncratic and mostly looks like it was referenced from films made out of the books. Now, what I'd really like to see is a film made out of Gravity's Rainbow. It would have to be on a scale like Berlin Alexanderplatz, however! Maybe then the book would make your list...

Anyway, I found your web site because I was looking up info on the battle of Belleau Wood for my ex-father-in-law. His father, and therefore my daughter's great grandfather, was D.E. Gardner, said to be one of the higher ranking U.S. soldiers who survived Belleau Wood. D.E. was a personal favorite of Gen. Pershing. I am hoping to learn more about him for the family archives. So how did you get interested in that particular battle? What do you think are the best research sources? I have been to Verdun and other battle sites (Normandy on the 50th anniversary in '94 was unbelievable) but not Belleau Wood. I hope to get over there in the next couple of years. Enjoyed your screenplay. --Richard G.

Dear Richard:

I haven't read "Gravity's Rainbow." The only Pynchon I've read was "The Crying of Lot 59" and I didn't like it, so I wasn't about to approach his other enormous tomes. The best book I found about Belleau Wood, as well as being the only book specifically about it, was "At Belleau Wood" by Robert Asprey. I found a surprising lack of information about that battle in all the major books on WWI. The whole thing is generally shrugged off in a page or two. My interest in that battle began many years ago when I ran across a reference to it in some other book. It's a very important battle, nobody knows anything about it, and there's never been a film on the subject (King Vidor's silent classic, "The Big Parade," is supposedly set at Belleau Wood, but you wouldn't necessarily know that from watching it). I say it was the turning point of WWI, but that's my assessment.


Name: Stephanie
E-mail: Have it already:)

Hi Josh~

I looved your "anserr" to Ben (you are too funny!). I have emailed before and just wanted to say that I just saw Running Time and loved it! Well done! The cast couldn't have been better! Now I have seen it and Lunatics, and a few episodes of Xena. I must say-I do like you as an actor though. I saw "Mosquito" purely by accident once and though I didn't care for the film-I thought you were a doll!:) And I usually don't like older men (I'm only 23). Anyway, I have a few questions-I hope you don't mind. Some may be dumb to you but I am so so curious. How old is Ivan (I know he is the oldest-I think) Raimi and what sort of doctor is he? Does he practice currently or is he "in the business" (writing, etc.)??? Has Bruce's wife, Ida ever done any acting? Just wondering because I have never even seen a picture of her and can't help but wonder since I've read so much about her. Do you know when Lucy is due (pregnancy)? And last (I don't mean to "stir" anything up either and hope you don't get bombarded now) but is there a way to obtain an autograph from you? Anyway at all??? I have looked on ebay before and never come up with anything. Please let me know. Ok, that's it... Thanks bunches!:)


Dear Stephanie:

Thanks for the kind words. Let's see, Ivan is two years older than me, so he's 45. He is an emergency room doctor, and is presently living in North Carolina with his wife and two children. Ivan and Sam still write together occasionally, too. Bruce's wife Ida was a costume designer, which is how they met. She's now back in school and running their lavender farm. Bruce is the actor in the family. I'm not sure when Lucy is due, maybe four or five months. Regarding an autograph, when this has arisen before Shirley, the webmaster here, has supplied an address for you to send a SASE, which she'll forward to me and I'll send you an autograph.



Dear Stephanie:

Just have the Postal Service deliver it to:

Shirley Robbins LeVasseur
c/o P.O. Box 86
East Vassalboro, ME 04935

and I'll forward it to Josh.


Name: hung dong

dear josh,

i am an asian american. I would like to know what you think about all the recent films using kung-fu action scenes. I'm tired of movies with no plot but lots of huge big-budget action scenes. i apreciate your time
-hung dong

Dear Hung:

All that Kung-fu crap bores me to tears. I never cared for it to start with, but after shooting a hundred Kung-fu style fights on Herc and Xena, I now really, really don't care. I like the films of Akira Kurosawa and Zhang Yimou.


Name: Laura
E-mail: ...

Hey there Josh!

Would you please tell me what are some good indepedent films that you would recommend (short list here, something good)? Keep on making the movies and essays...they're awesome! Thank you

Dear Laura:

I liked "Pi." I just saw "The Incident," and interesting independent from 1967 that was Martin Sheen's film debut. Two thugs take over a subway train car and terrorize everybody in pretty much real time. Otherwise, I've got no recent recommendations.


Name: Bill


Contrary to what many have said, Momento is not the masterpiece that everyone is saying it is. First of all, if your using the house analogy, Momento is a structure with roofs for walls and a foundation for a ceiling. The film consists of the same scene being repeated over and over for 90 minutes; with slight variations that do little to propel the story. Guy pierce is also one of the worst actors I have ever seen. He couldn't hold an American accent to save his life, and he is as dull as a rice cake. through out the entire film, Pierce's character doesn't change, grow, or evolve. In the opening frame of the film, his character has already passed the point of no return,thus he never changes or has a need to. Finally,the repetition of the same three scenes is just annoying. If you must see this trash, then definitly wait for cable, but I can almost garantee that you will hate it and Chris Nolan.

Secondly, I was watching the Billboard Music Awards and saw Scott Speigel's name in the credits. Do you have any idea what he might have done for it? I didn't catch the actual position credit, just his name. Take care.


Dear Bill:

I have no idea what Scott might have done on an awards show. Perhaps he was one of the writers. I'll catch "Memento" on cable and not a second before. Quite frankly, it sounds awful to me.


Name: Lee A. Chrimes
E-mail: darkheart-guitars@another.com

Dear Josh:

No real questions, just saying that I spent a day reading pretty much every script on your site and thought they were pretty good! I particularly liked "Running Time, " "Lunatics" and "Cleveland Smith." Hopefully we'll see "Cycles" on a screen and not left in a studio somewhere, too..
You're an inspiration to indie filmwriters and makers everywhere, Josh, keep it up!

Dear Lee:

I fear that "Cycles" is in a shit-heap somewhere and will never be resurrected. I'm glad you enjoyed the scripts.


Name: gilbert ramirez
E-mail: gabrieldariz@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

In your Q&A, you said you've used the Canon Scoopic 16 and you made 2 movies with it. What's the tiles of those movies and how can I obtain them.

Dear Gilbert:

I shot both "Torro, Torro, Torro!" and "Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter" with the Canon Scoopic, and neither film is officially available except for bootleg copies at conventions. Sorry. I also shot a few pickup scenes for my film TSNKE with the Scoopic. I think it's a good camera, with a sharp lens (that's not changable), and good movement for animation.


Name: Aaron
E-mail: agraham83@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

After recently reading a Bob Dylan biography, and especially enjoying the parts about the folk movement of the early 1960's. Anyway, I then got to thinking about your film and I highly am looking forward to whenever (and if ever) it should be released.

So, anyway, my questions. What kind of research did you do before writing the screenplay to "If I Had A Hammer"? (if any) and are you in, any respect, a fan of Dylan's music?

It's such an original idea to set it in that time period, lots of drama and I really don't think i've seen a film that took a look at that particular folk scene of those early 60s years.

Anyway, take care, and though i've not asked many questions within the last few months (mainly because all the good ones were asked), I still check the site usually weekly.

Dear Aaron:

Yes, I am a fan of Bob Dylan. My alternate title was "The Times They Are A-Changin'," which is a Dylan song, but a tad too on the nose for the film's title. Dylan is made reference to several times in the film, and a song he covered on his first album, "In My Time of Dyin'," is also performed in the film. Since I happen to be a fan of that music and have a number of folk records, like The Weavers; Peter, Paul & Mary; The Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, etc., as well as the fact that I was alive in 1964 and remember it, researching the time period was easy. I spoke with the kind folks at Anchor Bay the other day and they said they were ready to do the deal on "If I Had a Hammer." I'll let everyone know when it happens.


Name: Ray Rantuccio
E-mail: ray3259@excite.com

Dear Josh,

I am sure you have heard this question before, if not, then I will shoot it to you, if you do not mind.

I am postive that my two ideas for films are pretty good ones. Now, in order to share these ideas with producers, how must I do it? Do I have to present them with a first draft screenplay of the ideas? Or do I have to present them with the idea and if they like the idea, then do they give me the go ahead to start writing? I am sorry, I just do not know how it works. And I thought if I went to someone who does know, it would be more informative.

Dear Ray:

You've got to write the script. Nobody will do any deals based on a treatment or a synopsis anymore -- that's called a development deal. They might with very well-established people, but certainly not an unknown. So, good luck with the writing.


Name: John

Dear Josh,

I was just wondering if you could narrow down your favorite films. I know you've got the other list, but do you have a top ten or maybe even an all time favorite?
P.S. Has there ever been a film that you once loved but now absolutely hate?

Dear John:

I'm actually constantly impressed with my own taste at younger ages. If I liked a film when I was 12, I will generally still like it when I see it again. This just happened with a film called "Popi," which I saw when it came out in 1969 when I was eleven and quite liked. I saw it again last year and it was pretty good. I am, however, ready to remove "Jurassic Park" and "ET" from my fav list, which I don't think hold up. Meanwhile, here is a list of films I've seen more than any others:
1. The Godfather
2. The Godfather Part 2
3. Lawrence of Arabia
4. The Bridge on the River Kwai
5. The Best Years of Our Lives
6. The Big Country
7. Friendly Persuasion
8. Black Narcissus
9. Marty
10. From Here to Eternity
11. Casablanca
12. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
13. The Member of the Wedding
14. The Quiet Man
15. How Green Was My Valley

The list goes on and on . . .


Name: stace
E-mail: u already have it


in 1 of ur epps fins fems and gems gabrielle was lying on the ground and xena was about 2 give her mouth to mouth. it looked like rennee spat in2 lucy's mouth. did either of them comment on this? plus r u always present in readthroughs of epps that u have made.
thanx sooooo much

Dear Stace:

That was business that Lucy and Renee worked out. I must say that I really do like that episode, it has many good laughs. And yes, I was at all the read-throughs of all my eps. I don't know about other directors, but I really ran my read-throughs, as I read all the stage directions and the parts of any actors not present. We would also quickly discuss each scene after reading it, which is when I'd make many of my suggestions for changes.


Name: Glenn Davis
E-mail: glenndavis@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

I got this Rob Tapert quote he said at the Anchorbay Evil Dead reunion:
"I've sort of been authorized to make some sort of statement... and Sam, Bruce and I want to make a good, old fashioned independent film. Sam directing, Bruce starring. Whether or not that will be an Evil Dead sequel, I don't know if any of us know that. But this project is something we are definately moving forward with."
Will you be involved w/ this project? It's very cool that you guys are still in touch and able to speak well of each other. That is very rare.

Thank you

Dear Glenn:

I don't know what he's talking about, and he didn't mention my name, did he? If they ever do make ED4 it's got nothing to do with me, I didn't work on 2 or 3.


Name: Daniel B. McMillan
E-mail: daniel@cosmicorigins.com

Dear Josh,

I'm not sure whether to be sorry, or appreciative of you leaving LA. You see I had the same dream, worked for 10 years in Detroit doing FX, looking for a way to become a Director on other peoples money. I met Bruce and Sam in 1981, and met you at a pajama party in Bloofield Hills. Nathan White, many others. In about 1991 I took a sabatical from art, design and FX and joined IATSE in Reno. Then went on to work in computer games. However, the old love never dies - if in fact it was true love. Never give up, in fact, it is time to re-invent Hollywood (the best things about the craft) all over the states now. Technology has provided the path, and DV has provided the low-cost high quality method. Now it's just finding the funds which, no matter where/who you are is always the staple challenge. I have periodicall looked at your aite over time, because you were a name I remeber, and a friend of Bruce (who I like to think of is my friend also - I mean at least he still keeps in touch) and hey, if you ever get a chance - I've got a project that is gaining some momentum, as continue to develop marketing for it, check out http://cosmicorigins.com (click on Film Development). As you will see, I never did the LA circuit. Decided to find another path less travelled.

I wanted to thank you for posting your heart here, so that I could realize perhaps I did make the right choice. There really needs to be an awakening of intelligence, and by slap or by being dilluted it is coming (and has been for quite some time). It's never really been about power or money. It all started with simple inspiration. Someone was first, and the rest didn't want to be left out. But the heart of the matter, please don't lose heart, or if you do for a little while, re-group, and look for another open door. God pours out his blessings upon all. Peace, and Happy Holidays.

Dear Daniel:

I remember the pajama party, that's where everybody's wallets got stolen, if I recall correctly. I do agree that it's time for Hollywood to be reinvented, although I don't think digital video has anything to do with it. Anyway, I haven't lost heart. I'm just doing my own thing in my own way. Good luck to you on your project.


Name: CooperScooper

Dear Josh,

Hows it going over there? I wish you the best of luck with "Warpath". Anything new about it? Is it the project definite? If so, I really would not be able to wait. I mean, come on, its Josh Becker taking on a Western. It does sound like it would be an appealing mix.

Dear CooperScooper:

There's absolutely nothing definite about it. It's simply an idea right now. The script isn't even finished. There's a good, solid chance it may never happen. We'll have to see.


Name: Benjamin Chang

Dear B,

I was asking question abot yur work and how much munney you make for jobs?
thanyou for anserring

Dear Ben:

I sometimes make many munneys, then other times I make not so many munneys. That's my anserr.


Name: Dan Issacs
E-mail: snakeeyes243@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I just want to start with saying that I am a big fan of your work and you have really inspired me to become a screenwriter and directer.

I was just thinking about this not so long ago and I have this theory that I cannot explain but maybe you can help me with my ideas.

I recently watched "Death Wish", "Death Wish II", and "Death Wish III". "Death Wish", the original was okay, but nothing great. And I know the rest are nothing special. But it did make me start thinking. While I viewed I & II, I realized that there were very, very interesting camera-angles and shots. I was surprised because if someone can direct shots and everything that perfect, then how come they do not work well with other aspects of directing. Yeah, my thoughts are nothing much, but I just felt that was a bit of something interesting thing, so I shared it. I hope I didn't annoy you with it.

What do you think about foreigner filmmakers? Some say that they can make the best films if they wanted to. What would you say?

Dear Dan:

Like who, for instance? There have certainly been great foreign filmmakers over the course of time. Now, however, I think that's just a standard response when someone says movies stink, someone else will say, but the independents and foreign films are still good. Admittedly, I haven't seen many foreign films lately, but the independents are no better than Hollywood dreck, and I don't think there's very much going on in foreign cinema, either. And I must say that I don't really know what the heck you're talking about regarding the "Death Wish" movies. The first one is an okay if somewhat simple-minded film. The others are complete shit. That they have decent photography is no big surprise, they're Hollywood pictures with real cinematographers, why wouldn't they look professional?


Name: ben
E-mail: chang

dear josh,

i know this might be completly random, but do you ever get horribly stupid questions that you just wish whoever wrote the question would spontaneously combust? i'm sure you have but have any been funny in anyway? or just annoying

Dear Ben:

Every question that was worth answering, and many that weren't, are all available in the Q&A archives. If I don't answer a question it's generally because it's stupidly insulting or just plain dumb, meaning there probably wasn't a question there.


Name: Jason
E-mail: haydenj@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Great site. Love the writings. Maybe its just me but as I see it the only good thing to come out of today's entertainment industry is the commentary tracks on DVDs. For instance take Willy Wonka , a pretty entertaining movie but not one I'd really go out of my way to see again. However the commentary track by the five kids who starred in it is surprisingly entertaining and funny. I enjoyed the commentaries on your Thou Shalt Not Kill Except, which I think is one of the craziest movies I've ever seen (I mean that in a good way)... glancing thru your movie selections I would like to see commentary tracks for Year of Living Dangerously--Harold and Maude--Ghost and Mr. Chicken--Rosemary's Baby--mainly ones with at least one main star still living.


Dear Jason:

You wouldn't care to elaborate on your "one of the craziest movies I've ever seen" comment, I'm interested to know why.


Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Josh and his "Peaceable Kingdom" !

I am so smitten with you and your little feline minions right now! I flatter myself to think you went ahead with getting all 3 siblings 'cause my pesky post was in the back of your mind, heheh. Tell us about their first day home. Were they nervous, or confidently curious from the get-go? Do they jump on your lap while you're typing, or plop themselves on your papers when you try to work?
Bridget's little white slip on her nose is sweetly ridiculous, the perfect bullseye for smooching. And that Anna's got a gleam in her eye, I'd keep watch with her.
So, is a Staywell pet door in the cards for them?

I'm glad to see we're talking about Soul Poss. again. I'd had some questions about what you mentioned, the issue of filling in plot holes. But, then thought you wouldn't want to be bothered because you'd requested no trivia, and you were only shown Sacrifice and Deja Vu (as I recall?) for primers, so you wouldn't particularly be knowledgeable about the die hard fans' continued puzzlement. After all you didn't write the ep. LOL, you've probably gotten some crazed vicious mail @ it anyway. I loved the comedy of it.

Oh, my guesses for the improved lines:
--Josh wrote on the set: "Well, we asked for Bruce Campbell but he wanted too much $$$." (by the way, did you tell him about that, and did he laugh?)
--Joxer: "Hey Jelly Butt..." (my guess is several nastier terms were tried in rehearsal!)
--Meg: "Hey these cherries cost 2 dinars a bushel !" (by the way, her whip cream bikini went for auction online, minus the cherries nipples! I guess they were indeed valuable!)
--Mattie checking the mail: "...S & M catalogs..."
--Annie: "Harry and Harry's Ho"

Dear Diana:

Yes, the cat door is coming. I was looking at them yesterday, but it's so cold and rainy I don't want to work on it now. Besides, I only let them out for a few hours a day at this point because they're still babies. They are on the table in front of me at this very second. The best spot it appears is on the shelf on top of the scanner, right in front of my face -- it's warm, they're right near me, and they can see out the window, too. Meanwhile, your guesses at some of the improvised lines is very accurate, although they're not all mine. The BC line was, of course. I never told him about it, so I don't know if he's aware of it. Ted and I worked out the "Jelly butt, I mean buns of steel" line. Kevin Smith had another funny improv line there that got cut. He appeared and said, "Why are you talking about my ass?" Yes, the "Cherries are 2 dinars a bushel" was my line, as was the use of the cherries to start with. When Rob Tapert saw it he nixed the cherries, then Lucy demanded they be put back, God bless her. The S&M catalogs line was Renee's, and the Harry ho line was Lucy's, but you're very right, they were all additions to the script.


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

Dear Josh,

After reading your statement on Soderbergh's "jerking off," ("Out of Sight," being the Clooney film I believe you are referring to) I have a comment for you. Some filmmakers, like Peter Greenaway, think of film as yet another art form, literally. Like Andy Warhol's "Sleep," or recent pieces being shown in art galleries in New York and San Francisco, where the film itself is like a painting. Greenaway feels that American filmmakers are obsessed with 'story,' and that isn't always the only thing that exists. As such, some people working today (Aronofsky, for one, and Soderbergh--see "Schizopolis" for a pure version of his "jerking off") think that blending 'art' and 'story' are acceptable. As a visual artist, I yearn for moments of art in film, and wonder where they are most of the time, particularly in American cinema, independent or otherwise.

I understand your view. You remind me of my filmmaking teacher in college, a realism fan who loved Cassavetes. He hated Greenaway for the exact same reason I love him: 'too theatrical.' Sometimes, I WANT to know that I'm watching a movie, just like I WANT to know that I'm looking at a painting. Sometimes I like freeze frames, extreme close-ups, and the like. I don't know if it's good storytelling, but I do consider it to be art, when it's done well.

thanks as always,


Dear Cindy:

Look, I think it's perfectly fine to make five or ten minute films that do absolutely anything, like the artsy-fartsy films of Stan Brakhage or Norman McLaren. I'm referring to the feature film form, meaning over an hour long. Artsy-fartsiness will NOT carry a feature. The feature film form is about story. Within that one can get arty, but it must serve the story. When someone like Soderbergh is telling us an utterly run-of-the-mill Elmore Leonard story like "Out of Sight," then does dumb crap like freeze-frames for no good reason, that's called pretentiousness. To me there's nothing worse than being pretentious, I think it's worse than being inept; at least there's an honesty in ineptitude. I personally can't stand the films of Peter Greenaway, which I find pretentious and dull in the extreme. My one absolute contention is that being dull is being bad and a failure. Period. Dullness is the easist affect to achieve in film and the worst filmmakers achieve regularly. A friend of mine wrote a script, which I read and commented that it was pointless. He lit up and said, "That's the point! There is no point." Well, whether you arrive at pointlessness on purpose or by mistake, you've arrived in the same place. And pointlessness and dullness are for the birds. A true film artist was David Lean--he could tell great stories witt a tremendous visual flair that aided in the storytelling. I'll take "Lawrence of Arabia" over all the artsy-fartsy films any day of the week. Lean actually achieved art in film; Greenaway is pretending.


Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail: bseckard@hotmail.com


Heading for the wooded north lands of OR Monday. Looking forward to life in the Cascades. Weather gonna kill us on the way out? Heard 84 is full of snow around Pendelton.

By the way, do you have any distribution ideas for "Warpath" or are you just making another movie to keep your sanity? Perhaps with Bruce in it that'll bring it a little extra something. Also, I'm curious, you said with "Hammer" the one picture that got you up and writting the story was Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons" and that with "Running Time" it was Hitchcock's "Rope". Is there a picture that inspired "Warpath"?

Have a good one.


Dear Blake:

There sure is a lot of weather up here. It's been four different days already -- pouring, drizzling, clear & gorgeous, and pouring again -- and it's only 10:00 AM. The inspiration for "Warpath" is Anthony Mann's "The Naked Spur," although the stories bear very little resemblance. Basically, though, they're both the story of three people out in the middle of nowhere in the old west. Three people is more than sufficient for plenty of good drama, and the rest is beautiful scenery. In "Warpath" we're implying that there is a huge Indian war going on just outside our frame, but we don't get to see it, just remnants of it: arrows in trees, a burnt-out wagon, smoke on the horizon, distant drumbeats, etc. The idea is to make a high quality, seemingly high-budget, picture with no money. It's an interesting challenge, I think.


Name: Mark Sawicki
E-mail: biztoon@yahoo.com

Dear Josh

I read your piece on bailing out and I sympathize completely. I made most of my living doing visual effects and I agree totally that there is a tail wagging the dog approach with effects that has nearly destroyed the cinema. What is worse for the effects artisans is that they are no longer regarded as craftspeople who take pride in there work. The corporitization of this business has dehuminized a lot of very talented people. Young people who want to get into effects at ILM have to understand that it has turned into putting hubcaps on fords and the days of the lone animator slaving away to contribute to a good film has become a romantic notion of the past. You and I are contemporaries that entered Hollywood at the same time and I feel that I've seen the best of it ,in my field anyway, in the late 70s. People could express themselves, be artisans have a pride of authorship and most importantly BE APPRECIATED!

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed being in your film. As you know acting is allways a struggle to get parts and I lucked out with you. it was a pleasure to me to get the chance to act in a well planned and thought out feature. While I was doing it I couldn't help but think to myself how lucky I am to be doing this becouse I knew that this method of making film was quickly vanishing in Hollywood and I felt I was in on the tail end of a great era. On the bright side I do know that films can be made anywhere. John Hancock who directed Weeds with Nick Nolte now is based in his home town of Indiana and continues to make films with far more freedom than is possible here. I am confident that you will do the same. I am dismayed that distribution is so sown up for the independent. Maybe the answer is to burn your own DVDs and do it yourself as many recording artists are doing with music.

At any rate I do hope Hammer gets to be seen by the public because it is a worthwhile film that has things to say. Keep us all posted on your progress.

All the best.


Dear Mark:

It was a total pleasure working with you. The expression on your face while you listen to your son badly play "If I Had a Hammer" is priceless. I really and truly wish I could get the film released if, for no other reason, to bring a sense of completion to the project. I also think it ought to be seen, and that it actually has a relevant point. Oh well. Thanks for writing in. All the best.



Dear Mark,

I disliked your character in the script, but I liked him in the film. It must be what you brought to the role. Best of luck to you in your future projects.

Shirley (the webmaster)

Name: Darryl Jenner
E-mail: snakeyes@excite.com

Dear Josh,

If you don't mind, Josh, I would like to mention some films that I think I thought were enjoyable and I do not know if you have seen them or heard of them.

I am a big fan of foreign films. I like John Woo's early Chinese pictures. Namely, "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled", I think that they are spectacular on every level. Directing, writing, and acting.

Another foreign film that I love is "The Vanishing" aka "Spoorloos". This was George Sluizer early version of his remade film, also entitled "The Vanishing". It was horrible, terrible and tedious. Very bad. The original was better.

Speaking of GREAT films, have you seen "Deliverance". I have to say, it is not only a very disturbing film (In addition to the disturbing list btw) but it has a great character study and a well written premise that a moviegoer should be interested in, immediately. Well, that is what I think. What is it that you think about my examples of great films.

Dear Darryl:

I absolutely agree with "Deliverance." It's a great film on every level, and very disturbing too ("you got a pretty mouth, boy"). I also quite liked the original version of "The Vanishing," although I wouldn't say it was a great film (although far superior to the stupid Hollywood remake). However, I do not like John Woo's films, the old ones or the new ones. To say that "The Killer" or "Hard Boiled" are well-written is a joke. They are dumb scripts that make very little sense that are riddled with cliches and weak character development. Here's where I really run into problems with modern viewers, I don't like the way John Woo directs. He's totally self-conscious, you're always aware that there's a director at work, his use of slow-motion is painfully pretentious, and everybody gets to shoot a million times with six-shooters and never has to reload. His films just put me to sleep. John himself is a very nice guy, though.


Name: John
E-mail: jforde40@hotmail.com


What's up w/ 'Hammer?' When is Anchorbay going to release it?
I play guitar and nothing screws up a movie more than when actors are faking playing. It's so obvious when soembody can't play. I especially like when they show a close up of their face and then cut to somebody elses hands playing. Or when directors assume that nobody will notice so the actor just strums away like they know what they are doing.
Another dead give away is wrong era instruments. If a movie is set in the 50's they better not be playing modern guitars that were made a few years ago. Did you spot check the guitars to make sure they fit the correct era? I know this is just me being a vintage guitar snob but it's so very noticable and just doesn't help suspend my disbelief.


Dear John:

I don't know when Anchor Bay will release "Hammer," I still haven't received the contract. I really like those guys, but they've become somewhat difficult to deal with in the past year or so. It seems the the home video/DVD business has been going through some severe difficulties -- almsot everything switched to DVD, but people aren't really buying the machines, nor do they seemingly want to own any of the new movies on DVD (they call this "a content problem," which means Hollywood just makes shit now and no one wants to own these lousy films). Anyway, regarding the musical instruments, I may have screwed that up a bit. There's a scene in a music store where we went out of our way to try and make sure there were no overly-contemporary guitars showing, but the actor/musicians are mainly using their own guitars. Look, I had very little money. I went with what I had.


Name: Mike Mercer
E-mail: insaneone31@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I am a real big fan of your essays and your scripts. I have not read all of your scripts but I am going to try to read every one. I have a good question for you. Nowm I now you can't stress enough of the three-act structure and I cannot agree more about that. I just have a question about this and I do not think you encountered it before. Okay, I am starting to write a screenplay and it involves me to totally forget about the three-act structure because it relies on a plot that is mindbending and puzzling. This is sort of like "memento" and "following", two Christopher Nolan films. Is this a bad idea? Can it make the film be a bad one??

Oh, and another question came to mind.. Do you think leaving a lot of questions at the ending of a film is a bad idea?

Dear Mike:

Leaving questions in the viewer's mind is one thing, leaving untied plot threads is another. The former is fine, the latter is a bad idea. I will state this for the millionth time: if you don't know how to work with the three-act structure you cannot move beyond it. You cannot begin with deconstruction; you must first understand construction before you deconstruct.


Name: Kevin Kindel
E-mail: rattlesnake_voodoo@yahoo.com


I heartily agree with you about Hollywood movies. It's nice to know that there is at least one artist in the movie industry still concerned about the finished product, and not just trying to push some explosive, no brainer on us to line their own pockets. I am also a filmmaker, trying to get my first project around. I am from Michigan as well, so I got a kick outta reading "The Happiest Guy in Town" and "The Winds of Fate".

Have you noticed that a lot of "big time" Hollywood directors are not concerned about how their shots look as long as they get them in the can? I have seen off-center and close-up shots in movies that didn't give the actors enough room to move, thereby they would bob in and out of camera view, and these are the films that had budgets big enough to feed some third world countries.

Kevin Kindel

Dear Kevin:

Many Hollywood directors are trying so desperately to appear hip, young, and with-it that they'll do anything they see in commercials or music videos to try and prove it, whether it's good for the scene or not. I feel like everything Steven Soderbergh does is for this reason. All the stupid freeze-frames and jump cuts in that stupid George Clooney picture, or everything he did in "Traffic." It's all jerk-off filmmaking.


Name: stace


what is the best(or most humourous) peice of improv u have heard. and which actor and actress do u most enjoy working with, thanx :D

Dear Stace:

I've been doing this stuff for a long time now and I've heard and seen a lot of funny improvs, most of which I can no longer remember. Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell have each made me laugh a million times with funny, made-up lines. Kevin Smith made me laugh a bunch of times on the last Xena ep we did with his improvised lines. When Xena kicks him in the head during a fight he reaches up, checks for blood and says, "That's gonna leave a mark." There are too many actors I've completely enjoyed working with, like Bruce, Ted, Lucy, Renee, Michael Hurst, Kevin Sorbo, Angela Dotchin, Stuart Devinie (both from "Jack of All Trades"), the entire cast of "Running Time" and "If I Had a Hammer." I just like actors, most of them are funny, outgoing people.


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