Q & A    Archive
Page 59

Name: Scott
E-mail: Lordhtiek@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I know I ought to research this on my own, but all the web pages I check contradict one another. If I were to film a twenty minute short in 16mm, approximately how much would it cost? (I'm asking in terms of equipment costs, not within the context of my screenplay.) What's a good inexpensive used camera that can synch sound and is under $1,000 (or $500)? What's the best and cheapest color film stock to buy? Lastly, what does one use to capture sound? I'm only 7 (plus 10) years old and desperately need help.
PS I read in your past answers that Super 8 is more expensive to shoot than 16mm? But Kodak still sells film and I believe them to be cheaper than the aforementioned 16mm format. Isn't it smarter for an amateur to begin with Super 8? Also, in a recent book Sam Raimi said beginners should opt for Super 8 rather than video.
THANKS...
"You'll like this. It's Fun." - TSNKE

Dear Scott:

I didn't say that 16mm was cheaper than super-8, I said it was more practical and more useful. It's certainly more expensive. You just can't do much with super-8 and very few people deal with it anymore. You can't get a decent video transfer off of super-8 and you can't blow it up, should you want to. As for the prices of film and equipment, that's for you to find out. Call Kodak. It's about $35 for a 100 ft. roll of 16mm film, then another $35 for processing, then another $35 for either printing or video transfer. Therefore, it's about $100 per 2 1/2 minutes of exposed film. Also, you'll never buy a sound 16mm camera for less than $500. I don't think you can get one for $1000. I paid $1000 for a 16mm Bolex and it's silent. Try calling some nearby schools and see if you can borrow one. You record sound with . . . a sound recorder. The older ones are reel-to-reel and were mainly made by Nagra. Newer ones use DAT tapes and record digitally. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Noelle
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Wow new reviews! Thanks I always love reading your opinion. I had a feeling In the Bedroom was pretty awful and now I know.

Anyway you mentioned Tender Mercies as one of your all time favs. I like the scene (I'll try to not spoil it for those who haven't seen it) when he reaches into
the truck and turns off the radio. I don't know why but that scene sticks with me.

Are there any movies you would like to see a commentary track for? I'd like to see one for Rosemary's Baby.

How are the three ladies of the house?

From, Noelle

Dear Noelle:

The three little girls are fine and growing rapidly. I actually saw them messing around with some deer, running at them and backing them up. One of the deer snarled at them. I'd listen to a commentary track on "Rosemary's Baby." They'd have to do it in Europe, though, since Roman Polanski still can't come back to the U.S.

Josh

Name: Brad
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

After taking your advice on writing a script, I decided to. But I have one problem. People tell me that the story sounds too familar and not only that, but I do not know how to start. What do you do, write your scenes before writing? Write your ending before writing?

Dear Brad:

Yes, know all your scenes before you write and absolutely know your ending before you start writing. First write an outline, then write a treatment. And if your story sounds to familiar, come up with another one.

Josh

Name: Jake
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I've got a couple of questions for you:
First- Robert Altman keeps winning directing awards, what do you think of his stuff?
second: Just curious, what movie have you seen the most times ofver the years? What about this film made it so watchable?
Finally- do you own any movie posters, which ones are your favorites?

Dear Jake:

Robert Altman can be good, although frequently his movies just plain old stink. I like "M*A*S*H," "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," "The Long Goodbye" and "The Player" and that's about it. The films I saw most often in the theater were "The Godfather," "Godfather Part II," and "Play it Again, Sam," all about sixteen times. On video I've probably watched "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "Casablanca," and "Tender Mercies" the most, all innumerable times. I've watched these films over and over because I deeply admire them and they never fail to transport me to their world. And regarding movie posters, I have many of them. I'm rather fond of my original 1949 "The Sands of Iwo Jima" poster.

Josh

Name: Andrew F. Moncrieff
E-mail: andrew.moncrieff@virgin.net

Dear Josh:

No question-just got to say I really loved Lunatics:A love story. I first heard of this site in The Evil Dead companion, but after seeing Lunatics, I had to come here. It's a really charming movie, with the same charm as Frank Capra's movies-It's a wonderful life also dealt with suicide in as much detail, but it's a really pleasent movie.

Dear Andrew:

Well, thank you. Jimmy Stewart really does get his hopes and dreams pounded out of him "It's a Wonderful Life." It's unremitting. Did you know that the film was based on a Christmas card Frank Capra received.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I was just wondering if you could name some films that were well structured that you didn't particularly like. I was also wondering if you have any guilty pleasures. I noticed Point Break was on your list, so I'm asumeing that is one. After reading your most recent reviews, you couldn't be more correct. In the Bedroom was nothing more than a middle class version of Dynasty, and it reminds me of how pathetic the devolpment system is. Josh, correct me if I'm wrong but don't you think the major problem with Hollywood is what execs and agents call the "High concept idea"? For those who don't know, a "high concept idea" is a pitch that is basically one paragraph long, and expresses merely an idea that execs and agents believe could be fleshed out into a story. The term high concept idea in Hollywood is an oxymoron. For example, A pitch that came in to the company that I work for was " The presednt's daughter takes a trip to Europe with her parents, and decides to ditch them and have the time of her life." There is no story there, and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that out. However, the names Brittany Spears and Mandy Moore were brought up, and suddenly everyone thought it was a brilliant idea. The bottom line is that execs need to focus more on developing solid stories as opposed to "high concept ideas", because the high concept idea has turned Hollywood into an international, cinematic, fast food franchise for the mind.

Dear Scott:

Worse still is that the pitch you mentioned is simply "Roman Holiday" very slightly reworked. Hollywood just needs to burn down and the entire film business needs to be re-established somewhere else with all new people running it. As John Gregory Dunne said in his book "Monster," every film executive thinks that they're a writer, they just don't have the time. That the writer actually does have the time makes them an asshole. The writers that keep working are the ones that basically work as stenographers, taking all the dumb, useless ideas from the endless script meetings and putting them on paper. The bottom line is, if you hire a writer, let them write.

Josh

Name: Gene Mason
E-mail: genieofthelamp@telstra.com

Hi Josh,

I'm a 14 year old from Australia and myself, my brother and my next door nighbour have recently made several short films on a non-digital camera. We have discovered the effect where you have the person on film, stop the camera, take the person away and start the camera again. Anyway, we need to add more atmosphere to them but we dont know how to dub music onto them. Do you know how?

Dear Gene:

Every filmmaker discovers that trick pretty early into the game. Georges Melies was doing that stuff (and much more) in the 1890s. The trick now is tell a story that's worth listening to. Regarding putting music on you video, your camera or VCR should have an audio in jack. There should also be a button for the dub mode, where you can put sound on without erasing the picture. Run a cable from your stereo or beatbox to the camera or VCR and lay the music on. Experiment first on something you don't care about to see how it works. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Gunjan Sharma
E-mail: movinglines@yahoo.com

Sir,

Your website is pretty interesting and very interactive.
I am running an animation studio in {Delhi} and making a music video using traditional Rajasthani miniature paintings. This is the first time in India where in our studio we have tried to show the traditional miniature paintings which has always adorned the walls of palaces and hotels, in the form of animation. Care has been taken to give these paintings a new direction, i.e. the beautiful paintings become much more expressive when given a movement –a life, in the form of animation.

India being the land of traditions with rich culture and heritage, this video, which I am trying to make, will definitely be a treat to the eyes. I would like to emphasize through my animation Indian Folklore, stories and themes which are very rich and has not been explored for the international market.

I am running a full-fledged studio for making animation films which are traditional, experimental and unique in themes and technique.

I am looking for prospective animation film producers who would be interested in generating funds for this film {music theme video}. If there are interested individual producers and producing firms, please contact me at the given address. I am also sending you some animation stills from my movie.

I have completed nine minutes of the film and I am looking for funds which would help me to complete the rest of the 25 minutes of my film.

I want to know how your website could help me in finding the financers, who would be able to fund my film and help me find the right market for it, to promote the film.

I am sure that you would be receiving a lot of mail form all over the world but please do give me a response to my mail.

Thanking you
With regards
GUNJAN SHARMA
I-1603, CHITTARANJAN PARK,
NEW DELHI
PIN-110019
INDIA
e-mail: movinglines@yahoo.com / movinglines@rediffmail.com

Dear Gunjan:

My website doesn't generate money for me, why would it make any for you? I wish you all the luck in the world, though.

Josh

Name: Michael
E-mail: juvenilemike@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Hey, I just read your article, 'Kids these days' I think that's what it's called. Well speaking as a kid...I guess (I'm 17) I gotta say that you're pretty spot on. Most of us can't concentrate for more than two seconds, I know I-look at that...;)Seriously though. What we lack in attention we make up for in creativity. Well...some of us. Many kids my age and younger have some of the strangest wackiest ideas out there. But they'd work. I know they'd work. Ideas about films, about inventions..ideas about ideas. See one of the reasons that most kids can't concentrate is that no one pays much attention to them.

Which takes me back to what I see as the cause of Add. Overload. Nowadays kids are fooled into playing computer games, watching tv or generally taking part in some reactive 'thing'. But the people that make these things rarely come up with anything 'new' and thus the market is flooded with thousands of clones. So we, the kids, get bored quicker with each one, enjoying that fraction of a second in which it seems unique and then quickly swap to the next item. Also we get instant gratification. Nothing requires effort or time. We hit the keypad and preform a super stunt move. Even when we're not activly doing something we get gratification. Tv for example: Nothing good on, we'll surf the 500 channels for a couple of mins pretending we're doing something. Catching glimses of a few intresting things for a few intresting seconds...with the stereo on.

All of which leads to us:
a) Not communicating with others too well
b) Not being able concentrate on any one thing for more than a few minutes.

So how do we get out of this rut? Who's going to save us? Well people like you actually...and ourselves. I swear I must've had forty-million great ideas. Really. But I forgot them or dismissed them all, as stupid, after not spending enough time developing them. But if there was someone there. Someone to say 'Oh hey that's a really great idea, why don't you try...' or 'So how's that thing coming on? You're not doing it anymore, darn that rocked.' then I'm sure the modern youth would be more than happy to be (what's the opposite of ADD, SUBTRACT? sorry cheap joke).

Obviously I wouldn't blame it on this, but I think the fact that where I grew up kids went to school and then went to their own home...alone. Has a major impact. Gone are the best friends spending every afternoon with each other. I wonder how many parents even know their kids' best friends names?

I think in order for kids to start being more creative and positive they need to have good role models, and more importanly a goal. The feeling that there is some point in trying to try. All too often nowadays things that are wrong are given a lable and then it's ok to be like that. We're so affraid of hurting people's feelings that our nations are becoming a joke. Teenage pregnancy, obsceity, illiteracy ;>, and don't even get me started on my countries (the Uk) stupid Pub Culture.

So what was this whole rant about? Just to say thanks, for such a good site and to explain a bit about us Zany kids.

Mike

Dear Mike:

I'm pleased you agree with my assessment. Ultimately, though, a lack of attention can 't really be blamed on society or TV or video games, each individual has to take responsibility for their own life. Nobody owes you anything. If you want to be interested in something then go for it, nobody will do it for you. By the time I was seventeen I had already read a lot of books and seen a lot of movies, all because I wanted to, not due to anyone else. And the people I respect know as much or more about all of this as I do. Just because you dream a dream doesn't mean it will come true. But if you work really hard at it, then perhaps it will, but not necessarily.

Josh

Name: Court
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I hope to, one day, be a film director as well. Yet i was thinking about certain things. I love film, and am very open-minded, yet are film schools the way to go? Are they really nessasary, as much as people tend to think they are? Thanks Josh.

Dear Court:

None of us in this little Detroit group -- meaning myself, Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Scott Spiegel or John Cameron -- went to film school. If you can afford it I'm sure it wouldn't hurt, but I don't think it's necessary by any means.

Josh

Name: Rob Gordon
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I read your reviews on In The Bedroom and Black Hawk Down and your are correct and most of it. But Black Hawk Down is not an okay effort. It is dull! It shouldn't be considered a comeback at any means for the filmmakers. It just stunk. It is terrible at every level.

Okay, with that said... Are you fond of Barbet Schroeder? You do like Barfly, right? I just caught Single White Female on TV, which I have never viewed before and I was wondering what you thought about it. I thought it had great acting, great character development and a three act structure. Believable characters and the whole nine yards. I just thought that some stuff was unnecessary, thats all.

What did you think?

Dear Rob:

I thought "Single White Female" was okay, but once it turned into a slasher film I lost interest. I did like the moment when Jenneifer Jason Leigh came out with the same hairdo as Bridget Fonda. I liked "Barfly" much better, though.

Josh

Name: August
E-mail: joxerfan@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Don't know if you have a lot of British fans visit your site or not, but thought I'd share that "Lunatics: A Love Story" is on Sky Cinema on Tuesday, Jan. 29th at 1:20 AM.

Also, do I recall correctly that someone was urging you to check out "eXistenZ?" Caught it a couple of days ago, and it truly was the most worthless piece of crap I've seen since the R-rated "Caligula."
OK, I guess it was a better take on the virtual reality idea than "The Matrix," and it certainly proved you on't need special effects to make a sci-fi film, but the plot twist became pretty obvious about 5 minutes into it, at least to anyone who ever watched "The Twilight Zone." Spare yourself the pain - Jennifer Jason Leigh doesn't even take her clothes off or anything.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I'm not sure I want to see Jennifer Jason Leigh take her clothes off anymore. Should I have the urge I think I'd rather watch "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" when she was quite a bit younger. Thanks for the tip about "Lunatics."

Josh

Name: August
E-mail: joxerfan@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Two quick questions about your friend and colleague Joe LoDuca. I just now read that he does a good bit of commercial work for some of the biggies - NBC, Heinz, Ford, Kmart, etc. Any idea which commercials might have feautured his music?

I also read that he used to play with a jazz combo in New York City. Does he still do that? If so, any idea of what clubs, or what name the group uses, so that NYC fans might look for club listings?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I have no idea what national spots Joe has done. He was king shit of local Detroit TV for years before Herc and Xena. He lived in NYC for a while as a young man, but has been back in Detroit for many years, since before "Evil Dead" which he scored in 1980. His jazz bands, which I used to go and see pretty regularly way back when, were variously The Joe LoDuca Quartet or the The Joe LoDuca Quintet or The Joe LoDuca Trio, depending on who else he got for the gig. Frequently his group includes the horn players he used on the "Lunatics" score.

Josh

Name: paul
E-mail: paul@hotmail.com

Hi josh, thanks for the advice on "Summer Lover". I will track it down and have a good five knuckle shuffle. I was just wrtting in to say thanks. Been watching some films lately. Saw EdGein, which was ok, nothing great, look like it was made for t.v., Gods and Monsters, which is great, some great acting by Ian McKellen, Llord of the Rings which was excellent, but im a Peter Jackson fan, Menace 2 Society, which has some great acting and wonderful intresting directing, and a graet film King King, the original black and white classic, not that 1977 shit with Jeff Bbridges.

What music you into, for me the best bands are Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Beach Boys, Jellyfish David Bowie and King Ccrimson.

Take Ccare and catch you later

Dear Paul:

I like Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and King Crimson's first album (with Greg Lake). Regarding older rock & roll, I also like: The Beatles, the Allman Brothers, Dire Straits, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Natalie Merchant, the Moody Blues, Prince, Smokey Robinson, the Rolling Stones, Santana, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, the Temptations, Ten Thousand Maniacs, Traffic, U2, and Yes.

Josh

Name: Maria Lopez
E-mail: mariareynalopez@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I share your fascination for writing instruments. Right now I own the
the following:
1. Royal Quiet de Luxe Manual Typewriter
2. Royal Model FP Manual Typewriter
3. Corona Folding Typewriter
4. Four-Row-Keyboard Corona Typewriter
5. Tandy WP-101 Word Processor/Typewriter
6. RadioShack Model 100 Computer
7. Tandy Model 200 Computer
8. Tandy WP-2 Word Processor
9. Brother EP-22 Word Processor/Typewriter
10.Toshiba T1950 486 Laptop

Did you ever use any of the above items, and what was your
opinion of them? I'm surprised you never mention the TRS-80s.

Dear Maria:

That's quite a collection. I still work on a Toshiba 486. I also worked with a whole variety of manual typewriters. I remember the TRS-80, but I never had one or worked with one. I did have a Radio Shack stereo, which you can see getting destroyed in the film "Lunatics."

Josh

Name: Court
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I was wondering, while being a huge huge fan of Sam as well, how was he to work with in TSNKE? Was he a goofball like they show him being in the Evil Dead 2 DVD behind the scenes? Or was he serious when it came down to acting. He seems like such a great guy to work with, and from what i hear, is quite a character to be directed by. Did he have a great sense of humor while working with you, or was he strictly busniness? Thanks Josh

Dear Court:

For quite a few years Sam was unquestionably the funniest guy in the group and kept us all laughing all the time. Somewhere around ED2 I think he started to get very serious, when he decided he was going to move up to the top ranks of Hollywood. Well, he succeeded quite admirably, but he's still pretty serious, as I guess a person would have to be to direct gigantic pictures like he's doing. Directing Sam as an actor was always terrific -- he'd always arrive with his performance entirely worked out, tons of energy, and would just be hysterically funny all day long. As a director, though, he was very uncompromising and exacting to work with. Making ED still stands as the most difficult shoot I've ever worked on. Luckily, it came so early in the deal that it's made every other film since then seem easy. My couple of days on ED2 and AOD were also very tough shooting days.

Josh

Name: Marvin
E-mail: justmarvn@hotmail.com

Hey Josh!

I think you've done some directing, and I was wondering what your first experience was like.

I was assigned as the director for our upcoming senior class play and it doesn't look like the cast and crew aren't too into it. The technical director (in charge of crew and the set design) is great at communicating, and when he gets up to speak he has the people's ear; that's an area I seemed to have failed on (especially communicating my ideas--since most of them were not prepared beforehand and just spawned in the spur-of-the-moment). This just goes to show me that organization is an important factor -- gotta know what you're gonna do beforehand right?

I haven't been too confident with myself in directing this play.

Any suggestions on building raport and getting the cast and crew to be excited and actually wanting to do a good job? Maybe simply getting my ideas beforehand--before our 30-40min. rehearsal (which takes the place of Speech class). Well, directing a play and directing in the movie biz...is still directing either way? But somehow, even though I have yet to relish this experience, I feel more at home at the idea of directing a movie--because I see things at different angles, close-ups, "feelings", mood, etc. which could be conveyed in the realm of cinematography and film.

Well, i have a feeling the senior play will start coming together soon. Thanks, take care Josh.

Dear Marvin:

If you haven't done your homework and you show up at rehearsals unprepared, why should anyone listen to you? When I show up on the set to direct I assure you I'm the most prepared person there -- I know all the blocking, I have all of my suggestions ready for each scene, and I've read and studied the script far more than anyone else. Why you think you'd do better directing film, where there are even more variables, is ridiculous. Sit down and read the entire play 25 times and you'll get some ideas.

Josh

Name: Court
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

In "TSNKE",does Sam do his own stunts? I.E., like ride the motorbike, and do all those awsome kicks? Also, have you ever thought of creating a sequel towards it?

Dear Court:

That's Sam doing those kicks, and when you can see his face that's him on the motorcycle. When you can't see his face it's Danny Merritt, the assistant director. When Sam gets shot it cuts between Sam in front, me behind, and Danny falling down the hill.

Josh

Name: Chad
E-mail: dr_midnight32@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I was just wondering if that Western that you and Bruce Campbell were planning to make ever got made? I know that Bruce has been busy as of late and finding funding for independent features is rough, but I was just curious if there was any movement on the idea.

Also, as I've poked around the site a bit, I have to say that you come off as a bit bitter. Believe me I can fully understand what it's like to have a dream quashed like a bug, and I just hope things start looking better for you. I loved Running Time and I hope to see more of you work.

Dear Chad:

No, the western hasn't been made yet, but it could be coming together in a different form. We'll see. And yes, I am kind of bitter, although it's not the ruling emotion of my life. I'm mainly bitter as an extreme movie fan who has watched the film industry go into the toilet over the past 20 years so that they no longer make decent movies. That I don't get to make the shitty movies doesn't bother me very much. That there's no hope of actually seeing a good movie bothers me a lot.

Josh

Name: Rob Gordon
E-mail: RobEGordon@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Hello, Josh, hows it going? Well, guess what I just did? I was duped into seeing "Black Hawk Down" yesterday. I almost left. Man, what a mess. I haven't seen a worst film than that since "Lord Of The Rings". First off, "Black Hawk Down" has no main character, so the three act structure is not applied there. There is no story, it is just nothing the whole way through. To my surprise, there was shooting and nonstop gunfire past ten minutes. It was a dissapointment. Also, you are correct with your review of "Gladiator". Ridley Scott cannot direct a battle scene. I didn't even know what was going on. I got sick because of the camera going up and down, left and right. I thought I was going to sleep with the "action" scenes. It made me doze off. Josh, I don't want to insult your intelligence, but let me just say this. (I have been saying this to a lot of people I know, so I am used to asking it by now)... Don't see it, even though I am positive you have no desire to.

I am wondering this, after reading your "Buds" screenplay and plus I began reading "Delirious". Anyway, in comedy scripts, do I have to use the three act structure? I did find it in "Buds", but it is comedy, it isn't a dramatic story.

Dear Rob:

You're being too literal with the term drama. Comedy is a form of drama, not the opposite of it. All of the rules of dramatic structure apply equally to comedy. Dramatic structure is the way to tell a story so that it's compelling and interesting, no matter what the story is, serious or funny. Using a car as a metaphor, the three-act structure is the wheels, the chassis, and the body. Those components will make a VW or Rolls Royce, but they still go in the same configuration. If you put the wheels on top of the body it may look unique, but it's not going to go anywhere.

Josh

Name: Ainhoa
E-mail: ainhoapm@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I'm from Spain and was just wondering if any of your films have been distributed around here, just to watch them 'cause I haven't. By the way, I'm glad to see you live in Oregon. That's where my brother is living (in Talent). But, are you sure you could work easily being so far from where the resources are? And I'm not refering just Hollywood and all that stuff (I understand your opinion about the business)...I mean...are you sure you can do the kind of films you like more easily? It's hard to imagine. Anyway, I really understand your position, and your decition is completely yours. But after living 25(?) years in Hollywood I guess you are proud to live from what you enjoy doing (directing). OK, you haven't reached the glory, the whole fame and amount of money that maybe you have always wished, but, at least, what I said, you can live of your work which you love so...what else?

Dear Ainhoa:

What resources? The labs and post-production facilities? They've got those in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, I don't need to deal with the snotty pricks in Hollywood (with all due respect to Deluxe Labs, which is a great place). If I never have to go through the negative cutting process in Hollywood again it will be too soon. Since no Hollywood company ever financed any of my films, I'm not sure what I'd be missing. And since I'm not interested in directing series TV anymore, I don't need to be there. Talent, BTW, is right near here. And so far no, my films haven't been distributed in Spain. Sorry.

Josh

Name: Marvin
E-mail: justmarvn@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Ok I don't get it. Does hype and association and viewer expectation have so much power to turn a bad movie good? Is it them, or is it us? Maybe, we, the critics have forgotten how to be an audience? Or maybe we watch the movie in the wrong time and place... Josh, you have to watch Lord of the Rings and tell me that i'm not the only one that thought it was...putting it nicely, it lacked soul. It was all visuals and that's not what a movie is all about, yeah? The characters were so perfunctory I did not care who died or lived. The plot was so PLAIN, drab, ordinary... There were no twists, no surprises, and it just kept going on and on. The first five minutes seemed ok, but then it became the same OLD thing over and over and over again, as one person said "sword fight after sword fight, chase after chase, it became the same thing over and over that i just wished the evil empire (or whatever it was!) would get the ring and kill the darn midgets already." It was just your regular "magical" holywood hack and slash. I was so dissapointed~~i had not read the lord of the rings series, but I expected at least the plot and storyline to be exceptionally good coming from the father of fantasy but I was left dissapointed. The characters were like cardboard cutouts, and I'd go as far to say that they do more justice on the taco-bell and burger king cups then immortalized on the movie screen. The motivation for the fellowship group was either poorly conveyed or just trite and lame altogether. As you mentioned josh, there are only two movies in the world, one that burns your butt and one that doesn't burn your butt. I found this movie painful to sit through and i often caught myself wondering when this film was going to end...and when it DID end, Oh don't even get me started on how a good movie should end. I could go on and on, I actually wrote a full page or so review on Lord of the Rings if you're interested in seeing it. Well, here's to us critics! Also I found that what appeals to the critics doesn't really appeal to the audience, I guess that goes to show that "one man's favorite movie is another man's trash." Well, just my two cents. Cya josh.

Dear Marvin:

This reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom would serve dinner (this is an old memory) and if it wasn't good you'd hold the fork out to her and say, "Here, this is bad, taste it." If you had a miserable time at "Lord of the Rings," why would I want to see it? It looks awful to me. The books seemed awful to me, too, so I'm really the wrong guy for the film. As for the critics, I don't know why people won't get it through their heads that film critics cannot be trusted at all anymore -- they're all on the Hollywood payroll. I've only seen one of the Golden Globe best film nominees -- which I'm sure will be similar or the same as the Oscars -- "In the Bedroom," and it's a complete piece of shit. It's a bad TV movie, and Sissy Spacek, whom I like, does absolutely nothing special in it. But all the critics have given it brilliant reviews. I understand your dilemma. It's a funky time period, that's all I can say.

Josh

Name: Clint
E-mail: cjnb@ihug.com.au

Hey,

Josh! any more films on the way?

Dear Clint:

There certainly will be, but right now I don't know what. I'm cogitating.

Josh

Name: Court
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I was reading about your first film about the super-student. It sounds pretty interesting, especially with Sam in the background, with his hat on. Ha, i would pay anything to see that. Anyways, in one section of the article, you say you add in audio or something like that. I may be mixing up 2 of your early films, and if so, im truly sorry. yet, i was wondering how you did add the audio into your early work out of a cassette recorder, because i am trying to do the same in one of my new films, and am having difficulties. Thanks Josh.

Dear Court:

We shot single-system sync sound super-8 film, then added music and sound effects onto the balance track through a sound projector. If there was no dialog in the scene then we'd use the main track, too. Sometimes we'd lay off the sync sound to a tape recorder, then put it back onto the balance track, thus leaving the main track open. If you had enough sound going you sometimes had to premix on the tape recorder, then add it back to the film. It was all very crude and time-consuming, and only worked so well. If you're using digital video it's got to be a lot easier I would think.

Josh

Name: Geoff
E-mail: thrakkorzog79@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I may seem like a jerk, but that's what I am so I'll just go ahead and say it. I think it's quite funny that you mentioned "Magnolia" and "O Brother Where Art Thou" as being "structureless crap." I don't see either as being one nor the other. Now, I see "Xena" and "Hercules" as being crap. I have lost loads after loads or respect for Sam Rami afer his stint in T.V. and his baseball Kevin Cost(More than he's worth)ner movie. And for anyone to insult the Coen brothers films while having made what you made makes me sick. I agree that "Schindlers List" was extremely exploitive, but so is "Xena." That show and "Hercules" has no merit what-so-ever, and is made for the reason of making money. You have exploited a cultures history(Greece) to make some fast cash. I don't see how you can say what you say when you do what you do. I'm ranting now. Thanks for haveing your assistant read this to you because I'm sure you're much to busy to read for yourself anymore.

Dear Geoff:

A. I don't have an assistant. I do have three cats, but as hard as I try to train them they won't read me anything; B. I just worked on Hercules and Xena, I didn't create them. And I don't think they're any more exploitive than any other TV shows. Don't kid yourself, all TV is made strictly for money. That's the point. All TV shows are simply filler that goes between the commercials. My opinion of various movies has nothing to do with having worked on Herc and Xena. I've studied movies my whole life, I've made four features, and I've written 28 feature film scripts -- that's what my opinion is based on. It seems like it makes you and many other people sick that there is one person left on this planet with his own opinion that's not on the Hollywood payroll and isn't just accepting recent garbage as art. To me "Magnolia" encompasses everything wrong with modern movies -- there isn't a decent character, a believable storyline, it goes on FOREVER, it has one of the most overbearing music scores ever written, and just when you think it can't get any dumber, frogs drop out of the sky. Yes, both it and the Coen bros. films have nice photography. So what? If you've got millions of dollars why wouldn't you have nice photography? Just because all of the paid-off critics are telling you a film is great doesn't make it great, or even good for that matter.

Josh

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

Dear Josh...

Thanks for the nice words from you and Shirley the last time. I am here again with a question that is like a petition. You know that crazy politics about zones for DVD. Well, here in Argentina we have Zone 4, the discs have subtitles in spanish and some another language. I am looking for pictures hard to find in zone 4 like your pictures. Sometimes I find that the dvd films from USA don't have subtitles in spanish, but have in english for the deaf and mute. Thats fine, because is very easy read english that understand the accent from Columbus, Ohio ;). Sadly I dont see subtitles in the dvd edition of your movies. So please, if you have some power about that matter, would be great some subtitles in If I have a Hammer.
I cant understand why USA dvd's dont have subtitles in Spanish. Not is a language of great lenght there?. Well, let me say that subtitles or not, I think search and buy your movies...
Best Regards,
Fabio

Dear Fabio:

I don't have a thing to say about subtitling. And I don't think distributors have a choice about this zone business, either. It's set up, I believe, so that distributors don't step on each other's toes. This allows foreign distributors to stay in business. They now sell multi-zone DVD players, which many folks in New Zealand have. At this point I would just be happy to get "Hammer" out in any zone. I've been sitting on the completed film for a year.

Josh

Name: Court
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I think your right about the money aspect of films. Films seem to be no longer art, but just money makers, which truly sucks. Anywho, i would like to ask you something about one of my favorite artists. Andy Warhol. What do you think of him? The reason i ask you this, because of what seems to be your appreciation to art. You seem to love the art aspect of films, which is awsome. but back to the question? Do you enjoy any Andy Warhol work? I think its great, because of its unusual art, and Andy, as much as he had, never seemed to be doing his stuff for money, only out of his feelings, and heart, so were you ever into him?. Hope to hear from ya, Thanks Josh.

Dear Court:

I think Warhol was a lot about money. He's the guy who figured out how to mass produce fine art, using printing techniques and Xerox copiers. I always liked his attitude, and I enjoyed what I read of his diaries, but his movies aren't very good. They are experimental, but in most cases, I think the experiments failed. The only film of his I like is "Bad," which he neither wrote nor directed.

Josh

Name: Ray
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I think it is funny how how many people on those damn message boards can actually stick up for "Lord Of The Rings". Am I right or wrong? Was that made for art? Or was it made for the big cash? I would say cash, all the way.

Now I know this sounds odd, but I, personally, would want to make money as a filmmaker, BUT, if I had to choose between making films for money or films that are art, I would choose art. I dont know why these people think "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski" are classics. It blows my mind. That just isnt it. They claim every film that is made HAS TO have the three act structure. Please, Josh, correct me if I am wrong. Is the three act structure this:

1) Introducing Things
2) Conflict
3) Conclusion

Yeah, it maybe. But isnt there more to that? Yes, that is what I tried to say but no one would listen to me.

Now that that is said, I was thinking about this the other day. I recently watched "Rope" and "Strangers On A Train", two Hitchcock films. Now, it made me think about Hitchcock. Do you think the performances of the characters was because of his urge to think of actors as dirt? Or was it because mainly they were good actors? I think it is amusing how Hitchcock treated his actors. What do you think?

Dear Ray:

Slow down, man. You're putting too much effort into this Q&A which you ought to be putting into your screenwriting (I notice you no longer bill yourself as Ray the Screenwriter). You've got the three acts correct, although I'd say resolution instead of conclusion. But just knowing what the three acts are is a whole lot different than actually being able to do it. What structure brings you, which you absolutely will not achieve otherwise, is a compelling story -- a story you want to keep watching, where you want to find out what happens next. Structureless crap like "Magnolia" or "O Brother Where Art Thou" can be turned off at any point because they are flatly not compelling. Stuff just happens and keeps happening, until finally, mercifully, the film is over. But watch something like "Casablanca," which is tremendously well-written. By the time Rick has met Ilsa again, knows the situation she and her husband are in, then has the letters of transit and Peter Lorre is killed, he is really set up. What's he going to do? That's exactly what you want the audience asking themselves at the end of each act. What happens next? You simply won't achieve this without structure. Also, Hitchcock treating actors badly is just a story -- propagated by him -- that's just not true. He was a little rough on Tippi Hedren, but she wasn't an actress and needed to be leaned on a bit. Why would a nice guy like James Stewart keep working with him if he was an asshole? I just read Arthur Laurents's autobiography ("Original Story By"), and he worked with Hitchcock on "Rope." Laurents only had the kindest things to say about Hitchcock, his wife, and his daughter. Janet Leigh only says nice things about him. His treating actors badly is nonsense.

Josh

Name: Drew
E-mail: DrewBaumer77@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I have heard you say that if you want to become a director you should film shorts that will display your ability. Right?
I have a completed script, and I want to begin filming a 15 minute short. What camera format is best suited for someone who is financially challenged? Do you recommend Super 8 or 16mm or digital video? Suppose I do finish a short, to whom do you show it?
Secondly, did you steal any jokes for Blind Waiter? It was amazing.
Also, have you ever considered selling copies of the Stryer's War short? I know I'd buy that. Thanks.

Dear Drew:

Shooting digital video would undoubtedly be the cheapest route, although not the best looking. My feeling is, you want to be a filmmaker? Shoot film. Definitely 16mm over super-8; it looks much better and you can do a lot more with it -- like make a good-looking video transfer or blow it up to 35mm. Part of being a filmmaker is the ability to wrangle up financing. Whom you show it to is your business. There is no logical route for getting into Hollywood, you've also got to figure that out on your own. Good luck.

Did "The Blind Waiter" have any stolen gags? Probably, although I can't recall which ones.

Josh

Name: Court
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

In film class today, we watched "Citizen Kane". I have seen it before, and enjoyed it totally. I think Welle's is a complete genius for all he has done, a true pioneer. Yet, the second time around watching it, i was slightly discouraged. In my mind, i was thinking how this is supposedly the "Best Film" ever made. But while i was watching it, i didnt feel the same way, as i guess those critics did. Its a truly awsome film, one that def. deserves some sort of great title, but i am just not sure if it deserves "number one" best film ever made. I almost see the Godfather, or Schindlers List being number one. What do you think? Would you say Kane deserves number one? Or is it just holding that title because of past reviews? Thanks Josh

Dear Court:

"Citizen Kane" is a great film, but it's not my favorite. I personally don't give the slightest crap about people's 100 best film lists, or songs, for that matter (is "Satisfaction" the best rock song ever, as VH-1 would have us believe? It's a good song, but the best ever?). I personally like "The Magnificent Ambersons" better than "Kane" (no, I didn't watch the TV version). I'd say I personally have enjoyed "The Godfather" more than "Kane." Of course, I think "Schindler's List" is a big piece of shit and the most exploitive movie I've ever seen, so it would only be on my 100 worst films of all time list. It might even make number one on that list. Also, I've found that "Kane" gets better and worse the more you see it. There was a while when I didn't think it held up all that well, then I saw a new, 35mm print and felt that I was seeing it again for the first time.

Josh

Name: Rob Gordon
E-mail: RobEGordon@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Since "Warpath" has been mentioned, I am wondering, is that the only film that you are thinking about making as your next feature film? Is there any other films that you plan on making? If so, may I ask, which ones? What ideas? The reason why I am asking is because I am thinking about making my next film, but I am torn between two ideas. How do you finally choose which idea you want to shoot?

Dear Rob:

I'm in the midst of coming up with something new. "Warpath" is a solid, complete story, with a theme and a point, but it just doesn't move me. When I do have something that moves me, I know it. Considering the sheer amount of crap one has to go through to get an independent feature made, you'd better love your story or by the end of post-production you'll hate it. At this point, I have to believe that the film I'm making will be something special, even if it doesn't turn out that way. To make one more run-of-the-mill movie seems pointless to me. As has been said, your story must sing to you.

Josh

Name: Ray
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Thank you for replying. "Wall Street" was mentioned by a friend, so I thought it would be best to double check by someone who has seen it. I will probably rent it or something. Speaking of Michael Douglas, I have not seen him act good in a while. I am not sure if I you will agree with me, but I recall watching "Falling Down". He was okay in it. He played a good maniac, I thought. The film was okay, too. It was nothing special.

A little update on Greenlight. If you don't mind, I gave you a little mention when I was discussing what a good script is. For your scripts, I believe I mentioned "Cycles", "Running Time", and "The Winds Of Fate", my three favorites. Since I mentioned you and said that I enjoued your scripts and theories, the assholes that they are insulted you. They said, maybe I shouldn't take my advice from a Xena director who has sold one script.

As you can tell, I will never go back there.

Dear Ray:

Maybe they're right. Worse still, I'm a former Xena director who has sold one script that's still unproduced. Oh yeah, I made those four indie features, too. But I haven't made the big, big money and that's what it's all about, right? Movies are no longer an art form, they're an alternative to the lottery, that's why every news show now has to tell us the weekend grosses. As Khan said on "Star Trek," "I grow fatigued."

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 © 2002 Panoramic Pictures, All Rights Reserved.
Panoramic Pictures Logo