you have running time available on your website to buy
while you were waiting for a distributor a few years
ago? could you do this with hammer? i'm not sure what
the legistics are of making copies but i was just curious,
whole process of selling video tapes on the website
was a pain in the ass, and that's why I'm not doing
have read your Blackhawk down review a couple of times
and don't get me wrong, i couldn't tell most of those
soldiers apart either only one or two of them. However,
i did enjoy the film. I sat through it quite easily
probably because of all the action. What i want to know
is do you actually think it was a bad film or just bad
writing? I suppose you could say bad writing makes a
bad film, but i was entertained. Were you actually bored
through the film?
I did agree with most of your review, but i wouldn't
call it a bad movie, it was just not very thought provoking.
Do you think all films should have some deep meaning
to make them good?
P.S Platoon DOES kick ass.
don't think a film has to have deep meaning, but I do
think it should have some meaning. And yes, I do think
it's a bad movie, and yes, I do think that a bad script
makes a bad movie. If I don't care about any of the
characters, as I didn't in BHD, then I don't care about
the film and I'm bored. As I said in the review, to
not deal with the one obvious irony in the situation,
that they keep repeating "Leave no man behind,"
then they did leave a man behind, and that became the
main image of the whole battle, is important, and to
skip it makes the filmmakers knuckleheads.
light of the extensive work you did on " The Evil
Dead ", did you receive a share of the profits
when the film became a commercial success?
I wasn't in a profit-participation position. I did receive
a bonus of a couple hundred bucks, which was nice to
saw your movie "Running Time" the other day
and really liked it. It was much better than I expected.
You did a great job in cutting it all together so that
it looked like one take. After going back and watching
it again I tried to catch as many cuts as I could. I
counted 30. How many are actually in the film?
Thanks for your time,
Dry Fork, VA
are 32 cuts, so you got most of them. Glad you liked
did you think about all the hoopla at the Academy Awards
this year for the Best Actor and Best Actress categories?
It personally made me sick considering so many other
minority groups are totally unrepresented or barely
represented in filmmaking: such as American-Indians,
Chinease-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Greek-Americans,
Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Cuban-Americans,
and so on and so on. I mean, it's one thing for a person
to win an award because they totally deserve it (like
Hally B. did), but for the media and practically everyone
else to totally go on and on about the glass ceiling
being shattered just because a couple of African-Americans
won is absolutely rediculous. What about the rest of
the minority groups? The world isn't just black and
white. What do you think, Josh?
didn't even watch the Oscars this year, for the first
time in my life. If anyone ever suspected that the Oscars
weren't fixed, they ought to know better this year.
Was it just a coincidence that Denzel Washington, Halle
Berry, and Sidney Poitier all got it, or did you suppose
they planned for it?
I find it somewhat ironic that as movies get worse,
the awards multiply.
Yes, Josh. You are a completely arrogant asshole. Just
read your review of American Movie. Oh my gosh how sad
it would be to be you! I now will be ordering a copy
of Coven. 15 dollars of mine you will never have. Fuck
off and Die, Sam Dobson, D.O.
hearing from you. Enjoy "Coven."
very interesting and eye opening story. I hope you don't
I've concieved an idea for a tv sit-com, written a treatment,
and sent for copyright. (For reasons you've experienced,
the writer's guild just seemed like a good opportunity
to give somebody $20 for doing nothing.)
My question is for advice on my next move... Write the
script of the pilot, begin cold-calling agents, or both
at the same time?
Thanks, and good luck with your art.
was an interesting and eye-opening story? You want to
send the script out for copyright, not the treatment,
so write the script first, in the proper form: teaser:
1 page, act one: 10-12 pages, act two: 10-12 pages,
tag: 1 page, equalling approximately 25 pages. For a
pilot you also need a "bible" for the show,
which is a detailed description of the show, the characters,
and all the possibilities of where this might go in
22 more episodes. Then start calling agents. If you
don't have the proper items when you call you'll look
foolish. Good luck.
does "development" become "pre-production"
in the movie making process? And is "filmmaking"
now a term that includes video production, or is it
inexcusable to call yourself a filmmaker if you've only
a filmmaker is a state of mind, not a technical issue.
If you think you're a filmmaker, and you shoot movies
in whatever format, then I guess you're a filmmaker.
Meanwhile, development becomes pre-production when you
get the green light and the financing has come through.
Many, many projects are developed, few are actually
I got a copy of "Running Time" in the mail.
It is undeniably one of my favorite films of all time.
It is just amazing. I would love to tell you what I
thought about it but it would take me all day expressing
my love for it.
would it be possible if you autographed it? I would
be grateful and it would be an honor.
glad you liked it. Shirley, the webmaster, will give
you an address where you can send the cover and I'll
be happy to sign it. Please include a self-addressed
may send it to:
c/o P.O.Box 86
East Vassalboro, ME 04935
reading some of your reviews and articles, it seems
you have a problem with movies that are over 2 hours
Do you feel that movies must be 90 minutes long, or
just that most long movies don't justify their length?
feel that most movies over two hours don't justify their
lengths. It was discovered very early on in filmmaking
(by Adolph Zukor, cofounder of Paramount) that the average
human being can sit for about 90 minutes to two hours
before having to get up and urinate, so you either have
to keep your film down to that length, or put in an
intermission. Beyond that, two hours is a long time,
and if you can't tell your story in that amount of time,
you're probably dawdling. Sure, if you've got a big,
spectacular story to tell, like "Lawrence of Arabia"
(which has an intermission), but to have to sit through
three hours of something as insignificant as "Magnolia"
or "Titanic" is absurd. I think that contemporary
filmmakers use ecessive length to indicate significance
-- it's three hours long, it must be important.
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Greetings from Video Bimi Production
name's Josh Becker, not Jay Bernstein.
couple of things...
you ever had a dream so vivid that it played out as
a film unto itself? I have and plan to go ahead and
write it out. It's about an film director who makes
films full of heavy handed symbolism. He's muling his
film to a festival himself (much like the early days
of John Waters) and ends up in a town that seems like
one of his movies. And somehow, a sea lion is the jel
that holds it all together.....(yes I actually dreamt
this and yes I have enough issues to fill a newstand)
do you think that to be a good director (on set, not
necessarily on the creative end) one has to be a charismatic
despot....much like Hitler in his early days (a right
asshole but much beloved by his people)
I do not think a director needs to be a "charismatic
despot." I think a director has to have a vision
of the script, and the ability to convey this vision
to the cast and crew. I think a director is a benign
dictator, but I don't know that charisma has much to
do with it.
I wanted to know your opinion on clockwork orange? I
just saw it for the first time and dont know what to
really think. I thought it was real strong at some points
and then in some areas awful. Was it really just Kubrik
on drugs back then or was he trying to make a statement
with this picture?
don't think Kubrick was ever much of a drug-taker (maybe
he smoked pot in the 50s when he was a NY hipster).
You didn't get a sense of a statement from "A Clockwork
Orange"? Like maybe the future will be a crummy,
tough, violent place to live? Has anyone made a more
adult, intelligent sci-fi movie since then? Please tell
me. My problem with the film is that act three is predictable,
and way too long. I've always felt that the prison section
of the film ("This is the weepy part of the story,
oh my brothers . . .") should have been about two
minutes long instead of thirty minutes, then get him
back outside to work its way through its plot-payoffs.
found this great site http://www.formovies.com/
You can put in a movie you want to rent and ur zip code
and the site will tell u a store nearby that stocks
that movie. I put in Running Time. Unfortunately the
nearest video store is in Ohio. Lunatics was in one
store in Redford. Hey, I thought this was ur home town?
Anyway, I had to share.
Thomas Video in Troy, they've got all my released films.
Nice folks, too.
to hear that "Savior" was good enough to get
second-mention on your site. There are two actors that
I seem to be a die-hard fan of even though they get
handed some stinky scripts: Dennis Quaid and Michael
Keaton--the two least prolific, but highly talented
actors in the business.
of not being prolific, I only come up with stories once
in a great while, so now that I want to make movies,
I am having a hard time coming up with the original
concept. I'm pretty comfortable with my adaptation/development
writing skills, but that isn't getting me anywhere at
this point. My plan is to take some short stories and
adapt them into short films. I know that the copyright
issue should be a concern, but I'm just looking for
springboards to make practice movies with. It would
be nice to find some stories in the public domain, but,
for instance, there are a lot of O. Henry stories that
would make for good experiences behind the camera. I
guess I could run into the same trouble that people
run into on the Internet when they write their meaningless
fan-fiction, because I will be making non-profit movies
based on someone else's stories, but is it something
to worry about? Any comments on this approach?
suggestion is to change the stories somewhat and change
the titles, that way you won't have any rights issues.
It's a very common, if slightly unethical, practice.
Nobody reads short stories any more anyway, so who'd
know? And since you're making short films that aren't
made for profit, there's really no issue of copyright
infringement -- which is to try and make money off of
someone else's story.
somewhat related questions here:
You have said that you're deeply in debt from Hammer.
Is this one of the reasons you left LA? Granted, it
may not have been as sellable without a star actor,
but it seems to me that the film business is really
in the shitter if a (presumably) well made, professional-looking
film can't get any kind of distribution. Or even a dime
back. I'm not an expert at all on film financing, but
are you not in some kind of financial trouble due to
the film's failure? How are you getting around that?
And secondly, lets assume that another 2-3 years down
the road you manage to get going on another film. This
time with some sort of a bankable actor. What kind of
decisions will you make differently this time? I'd like
to get an independent film made in the next few years,
but the risks seem fairly substantial. If I can eliminate
some of these maybe I'll be able to get on to movie
#2 within a reasonable amount of time. I've been doing
alot of research and it seems like High Definition cameras
are dropping in price. From what I have read from other
filmmakers, these cameras may very well be the future
of independent movies:
article really encouraged me that an affordable, professional-looking
feature is going to be possible within a few years.
What do you think about this technology, and have you
considered it for your next film?
for your insight,
begin with #2. Should you have any kind of "bankable"
actor in your film, then you must be using SAG actors
because you can't have both union and non-union actors.
Given that, any actor on the set is more expensive than
the camera, no matter whether it's 35mm, 16mm, or DV.
The cost of the actors far outweighs the choice of shooting
film or video. On "Running Time," which had
a very small cast and a two-week schedule, the actors
cost nearly $50,000. Whereas the camera, film, processing,
the works, probably didn't come to $25,000. To get DV
back to 35mm film at this point costs $1.25 a frame,
and there are 144,000 frames in a 100-minute movie.
Also, if you shoot DV you're not really in a position
to service any overseas sales, where you must supply
film elements. And another thing, at present there is
no video format that has any kind of archivable value
since no decent video format has stuck around for ten
years, let alone fifty or a hundred, like film. Five
years ago D-1 and D-2 were the top-end; now it's Digital-Beta.
In five more years it will be something else. Beyond
any of that, film still just plain old looks better,
and can be gotten to look a lot better than DV with
a lot less lighting. I have no doubt that DV will become
the main format of indie movies at some point in the
future, but it hasn't happened yet.
#1. Yes, I am in some sort of financial trouble due
to "Hammer." How am I getting around it? I'm
not, I'm just paying and paying. I couldn't get any
company in Hollywood to even look at it, let alone distribute
it. Anchor Bay may still come through for me, though.
My fingers are crossed.
would you say is the best movie no one has ever seen?
In other words, something good that came out and was
just kind of forgotten or ignored?
mean like all of my movies? Here are a few fairly recent
films that I enjoyed, that seemingly no one saw: "Shadrach,"
"Savior," "Love and Death on Long Island,"
and "Return to Paradise," although I don't
think any of them are great. I also quite liked the
documentary "Wild Man Blues," which I just
saw again, and I'd say is the best Woody Allen movie
in ten years, even though he didn't make it. I saw a
documentary several years ago called "Black Harvest,"
about a coffee plantation in New Guinea, that was just
brilliant, and it's not in any of the books.
a good example of irony: a director becomes frustrated
with studio films (big budgets, name-brand stars, no
structure, no cohesiveness, no theme, and too much studio
politics) so he makes a low-budget indie feature with
old-fashioned production values, to market to film festivals,
indie theatres, etc. Only he discovers too late that
the indie market is glutted with films with name-brand
stars, no structure, no cohesiveness, no theme, and
the festivals are plagued with studio politics. And
so no one wants to see his film. :(
it would make a great feature? Or too far-fetched?
seeing the irony,
sounds way too far-fetched to me. Instead of ironic,
that guy just sounds stupid.
can you say about working with Bruce Campbell, and how
did you meet him? Thanks.
Bruce is one of my best friends and he makes me laugh
a lot, I enjoy working with him very much. Bruce and
I met in 7th grade at West Maple Junior High School
in Michigan. Bruce sat behind me in study hall.
of all I think your website is just amazing!! My question
for you if you would be so kind to answer. Is, do you
remember what camera and film stock was used on the
evil dead? It was 16mm?
it was 16mm. We used a Arriflex-BL, as well as an Arriflex-S,
and we shot Eastman color negative 7248.
am trying to put together a short fillm with my friends
and i, my question is where can i get a super 8 mm camera
or something like that? Also where could i go edit my
suppose you could go to a camera store. For a really
cheap movies these days, I'd much more highly recommend
shooting digital video. Many schools and universities
have digital editing programs now, like Final Cut Pro,
so it shouldn't be too hard to find. The problem with
super-8 (and I've shot a lot of it in my day) is that
you can't get a decent video transfer no matter what
you do, and all you've got is the one, original copy.
You can do a lot more with DV at this point, and have
something you can send out to festivals if you want.
irony amuses you, do you think you have written irony
in any of your scripts? If so, what was your best writing
Even though you probably hate "Reservoir Dogs",
there is irony, Mr. Becker. When Mr. White sticks up
for Mr. Orange throughout the film and as it turns out,
Mr. Orange is the rat. Thus, Mr. White kills his friends
sticking up for Mr. Orange, the cop. That is irony,
if you ask me.
what were his reasons? To just defend the guy so it
will be a twist later isn't particularly ironic. I have
to say I really think it's an absurd movie. If you had
just been involved in a bank robbery where everything
went wrong, cops got killed, and you know you have an
informer among you, would you go back to a nearby warehouse
and hang around for the next hour just waiting for the
cops to show up? The plot made a lot more sense in Kubrick's
"The Killing," where everything goes right,
no one knows who these guys are, they go back to split
up the money, then, being criminals they all kill each
other. That's ironic.
Dear Josh: Re: Angels With Dirty Faces
Rocky did turn chicken, then what he learned from the
priest, and more importantly, the virtues he tried to
teach the kids (eg. the basketball games where he teaches
them the concept of fair play by knocking them around
- a little irony unto itself?) all come to nothing because
he shows he didn't care enough about the kids to do
this thing for them.
that said though I do agree with you, I think it came
from his newly-formed character, not from a self-centred
thought I'd restate the idea, reading my earlier post
it seems muddled.
about Casablanca? Rick has fled life, more or less,
into a neutral country to be a neutral man. He welcomes
both freedom fighters and Germans into his bar, doesn't
care about the women he sleeps with, and so on. And
then the very woman who drove him into this place in
his life comes along and he ends up caring enough to
risk his life not only for her but also for the man
she ran to when she left him.
a writer it always ticks me off that some of those scenes
were being written the night before it was shot. I'd
chop off a finger to be able to write something this
good. The jerks. :)
(can I call you) Dan:
was be rewritten the night before, not written for the
first time. It began as a play, "Everyone Comes
to Rick's," then was adapted into a screenplay
by the Epstein brothers, who were called away to Washington
D.C. to do war work, then was being rewritten on the
set and right before shooting by Howard Koch, which
isn't exactly the same thing. Nevertheless, it's a miraculous
movie. But it's not like everything in the story isn't
leading to Rick rejoining the fight, it's not terribly
unexpected. Irony is more about doing something and
getting the opposite result. A good example is Helena
Bonham Carter's character in "Howard's End,"
who is going far out of her way to help the youg clerk,
and ends up ruining his life. Irony is frequently when
someone does the right thing for the wrong reason, or
the wrong thing for the right reason. Alec Guinness
deciding to build the Japanese a "proper"
bridge because he has to reestablish morale among his
men is ironic.
maaaaan! The ending of "Angels With Dirty Faces"
is one of my favorite moments on film. "Whattaya
hear, whattaya say?" And not just Rocky pretending
to turn "yella," but the very last bit, where
the priest takes the boys to mass to say a prayer for
the soul "of a boy who couldn't run as fast as
my entry into the irony discussion. In "Marty,"
Borgnine's mother nags him mercilessly to go meet girls
and get married, finally forcing him to go to the Primrose
Ballroom, as "it's loaded with tomatos." Then
Mrs. Piletti realizes that if Marty gets married, his
loyalty will be to his new wife, not to her, and she'll
be "an old lady, sleeping on a sofa." But
of course, Marty will never get married. Sure enough,
he brings home a girl that very night, that he met at
the Primrose Ballroom.
when are YOU gonna get married, Josh? You oughtta be
ashamed of yourself.
here's an unrelated couple of questions. Back when they
were developing a "pirate show" for Bruce,
any idea where they got the title "Jack of All
Trades?" Did the character's name Jack come first,
or the title? Also - any idea who sang the vocal for
"Cleopatra 2525?" The rumor has always been
Gina Torres, but surely she would have been credited.
the Stardust Ballroom. Yes, that's a nice example of
simply irony -- everyone keeps telling Marty he's got
to get married, then he finds a girl and no one likes
her. "Loaded with tomatoes, that's rich."
As to where "Jack of All Trades" got its title,
I don't know. I also don't know who sang the "Cleo"
song. Holy Moses, there's so much I don't know it would
me and my friends were discussing good movies and why
they were percieved good or bad. All of a sudden, "Titantic"
comes up. I am there, grabbing onto my seat, shocked,
that almost all of my friends at the table liked and
respected the film. Of course I objected and told them
that the film was utter nonsense. Then they all agreed
that it was a classic because of the money it generated.
I was amazed. Instead of yelling at them for this, all
I did was seat back and say this, "Just because
a film generates a lot of money doesn't mean its a great
movie." Then they told me that if a lot of people
went to go see it, then it is a good movie and they
liked it. Basically, to make a long story short, they
came to the conclusion that I did not know what I was
talking about and that the "majority" wins
over me. Sorry, I guess if shit like "Rollerball"
and "The Fast and The Furious" brings in audience
and money, I guess they deserve to be called wonderful
films. What do you think?
adding to this irony discussion, I think I've seen many
types of irony in films. "Taxi Driver", the
whole ending is ironic. And I think that has been mentioned
am aware that you haven't seen "Memento",
but that really is ironic. I won't tell you that much
about the film to spoil it for you, but when the main
character with short term memory loss gets manipulated
in various ways, it is just ironic. The ending is ironic.
You have to check it out, and even though you may think
it is awful, the irony is surely there.
more irony, I don't think you are a fan of "American
History X", but the ending is ironic where Danny
gets murdered by one of his enemies in the school bathroom.
He was reformed from being a neo-nazi skinhead and all
of a sudden, his life is taken away.
Game" has some more irony where Michael Douglas's
brother Conrad tries to change his life but ends up
putting him through hell.
ONE more. I'm sorry for boring you. "The Vanishing",
the ending where the main character, who wanted to know
so much how his girlfriend was murdered, gets murdered
the same exact way, experiencing exactly what she experienced.
do you think? Am I on the right track?
you are on the right track. Irony, very simply, is when
when things don't turn out as expected. The ending of
"The Vanishing" (the original version) surprised
me. In "A Night to Remember," the good version
of the Titanic story, as the ship is sinking another
ship is less than a mile away, watching them send up
distress flares and thinking they were having a party
and saying, "Oh, those rich people." Regarding
James Cameron's heinous "Titanic," if just
making money is the only criteria for greatness, then
I guess Britney Spears is one of the greatest singers
ever, and let's not forget Zamfir on his pan flute,
who "sold more recods than Elvis." As George
Bernard Shaw said, "If more than 10% of the population
likes a painting, it is bad and should be burned."
was Just wondering if there is a place where directors,
or who ever is in charge of scripts, put them on the
I am wishing to do a piece out of the Movie 'Boondock
Saints' for a drama at school,do you put the scripts
on the net at all? and if so what is the site?
are websites with scripts available on them, but I don't
have any addresses for you. I'm not sure that new of
a script will be posted. My scripts are posted right
here on my website.
instance of irony would be "The Sixth Sense,"
where Bruce Willis is trying to help this kid deal with
intrusions by ghosts, only to find out that he himself
Here's a question. What do you think of Les Paul? I
just got a cd that has the two albums he did with Chet
Atkins on it, and it's a very strange mix of country,
jazz, and swing. I don't like country, but I like his
music. And an interesting sidenote, Les Paul invented
the electric guitar.
knew that Les Paul invented the electric guitar, as
well as overdubbing, but I'm not familiar with his music.
The only two country-western CDs I own are Hank Williams'
Greatest Hits (which I've owned on eight-track, cassette,
and CD), and Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits.
bit in Lawrence: asked by the reporter why he likes
the desert, Lawrence replies, "Becaues it's clean."
Later, after leading his men into battle, we see the
desert covered with debris and dead bodies, and Lawrence
himself covered in blood.
guess in choosing titles Shakespere's stuff is too easy,
so here's a stab with another title: Angels With Dirty
Faces. Actually it's more a question of the potential
of irony: Jerry (the priest) begs Rocky (the tough-guy)
to go yellow just before he's executed so that the kids
they're fighting over will hear about it and lose their
criminal hero. Rocky says no way he's going out like
that, but you hear him begging just before he's executed,
and Jerry gets his request granted.
question is did Rocky actually become scared?
He did become frightened and ended up losing his immortality
that he gained with the boys through their hero-worship,
but meaning he did care enough about the boys, or
b) He did as Jerry asked, showing in the end that he's
not the tough-guy the kids thought he was anyway.
I loved that movie when I was a kid. Nevertheless, I
don't think the ending is ironic, since Pat O'Brien
specifically asked him to do that. The fact that he
says no just leaves it all as a question -- did he chicken
out or not? Personally, I never thought Rocky was a
chicken, he was just doing what his buddy asked. In
William Wellman's film "Battleground," which
is about the Battle of the Bulge, a very young Ricardo
Montalban, a Latino from LA, has never seen snow before
and is just amazed. He gets wounded and they have to
leave him behind. When the rest of the guys get back
they find that he's frozen to death. That's ironic.
thought I'd add a title to the irony discussion: Chinatown.
The whole film revolves around Jake doing two things:
trying not to be used, and trying to avoid making the
same mistake he made years ago in Chinatown. And of
course he fails at both.
choice. I counter with "Lawrence of Arabia,"
where Lawrence is the just the right man to help the
Arabs, and does, but he's not doing it for them. Lawrence
tells Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness), "We can ride
in your name." Feisal replies, "You can say
it, but in whose name do you ride?"
are absolutely correct when you say that "A Beautiful
Mind" is not half the film that "Pi"
is. While we are discussing films, I would just have
to say that recently, I got done watching two of my
all time favorites, "Backdraft" and "A
Few Good Men". What did you think of those? And
I know you probably get pissed at "do you like
these films" questions and I am sorry. What do
you think of "Backdraft" and "A Few Good
Men" writing-wise? To talk about their directing
is one thing, but their writing is tight. I think their
screenplays are written without a fault. Two great films.
really didn't like "Backdraft," which seemed
lame in all departments, and has mostly left my memory
banks. "A Few Good Men" is pretty good --
Nicholson's a lot of fun -- but the whole middle section
of Cruise and Moore working together seemed dull and
hackneyed. The way Nicholson is trapped on the stand
seemed sort of lame, too. Just having him admit his
own guilt seemed slightly preposterous.
have 15,000 dollars and i want to film a independent
movie. is it even at all possible for me to even film
it for that little. i've notice that most independent
film are in the range of 35,000 and up. will i be wasting
my time on so little money. but i guess the question
is, will anyone want to buy it or watch it. any help
from you will be greatful. thanks.
could shoot a film for $15,000, but you probably won't
have the funds to finish it. If you shoot digital video,
without using SAG actors, and paying everyone nothing,
you might be able to get all the way through editing.
But you can't really make any kind of sales on something
like that because you can't fulfill the requirements
of any distributor, which are called delivery elements.
You could possibly get it shown in film festivals, though.
I don't legitimately think you can make a feature-length
film, on film, for less than $100,000.
bought a digital camera and have been having fun shooting
"home video." I use quotes because I have
a camera man who could concentrate on shooting while
I concentrated on making situations in real life that
were worth shooting. There is just something more proffessional-feeling
about not having the camera operator talking all the
point is, I am writing a script, and, while most of
the story is figured out, I only have one scene finished
and polished. It was just the most interesting to me
and I always gravitated to working on it. I want to
discover exactly how good a camcorder can make a video
look, so next weekend I'm going to shoot the scene with
friends. The question is, what do I have to do to prepare
a scene to shoot it?
a simple conversation between a guy and a girl in a
bar. Should I break down each shot? Would it be a new
shot every time the camera cuts to the other, or to
something else in the bar? When I shoot it, would I
just roll the camera on the guy and have him say all
his lines, then do the same with her, and then cut them
together? I did a test scene with me playing two characters
in an improvised clip, and that technique seemed to
work all right, but is that how it should be done?
is the basis of shooting movies, called overlapping
action. You want as much overlapping action as possible,
because that's where you make your cuts. So, you shoot
the whole scene in a wide master shot, then you shoot
the entire scene again in each person's close-up. I
also highly recommend rehearsing the scene as much as
you can before arriving at the location. Good luck and
have a few questions for you.
new movies have you seen lately? Ever see "Memento"?
What new have you seen at the theaters?
last film I saw in the theater was "A Beautiful
Mind," which I thought was okay. It was a tad difficult
for me to feel bad for a guy who, though he acts like
a retard, has the best-looking, most devoted wife in
the state. I don't think it's half the film that "Pi"
is. I haven't seen "Memento" yet.
Monsieur Becker, Holà!
you very much for answering my letter, you were very
kind mais oui when you said I had a great name, but
my middle name is very stupid. It was supposed to be
Sagan, like the writer, Françoise Sagan, but
my mother got it wrong and named me Saigon instead.
Now everyone calls me Miss Saigon(horrible musical).
I guess she smoked too much weed back then. Monsieur,
the other day I discovered that you also wrote short
stories, which made me very happy because I adore short
stories. Americans are very good at writing this sort
of literature (Poe, Hawthorne, Irving..., although I
really admire Roald Dahl because of his nasty sense
of humour). I really enjoyed them, specially "A
Spoon in the Sink". I like your feminine characters.
It's interesting that being a man you describe women
so well. I must finish reading your scripts but it is
hard for me because there are many expressions that
I do not understand and I need a friend to translate
them for me. Again, excuse me for boring you and thank
you for your kindness. Adieu!
glad you enjoyed "A Spoon in the Sink." Read
my other stories and tell me what you think.
I agree somewhat with your assessment of "Election,"
at least in terms of its initial question regarding
the differences between morals and ethics. The film's
treatment of the issue, however, is much better than
you suggest. Indeed, while you seem quite hell-bent
on making the assertion that the final third of the
film falls apart, seemingly casting aside the interesting
ironies for which that portion is set up, it is my estimation
that your assumption that the film is intended to be
ironic is false.
the film is a study of the differences between morals
and ethics, as you pointed out. More importantly, it
is a discussion of the consequences that occur when
one is immoral (versus when one is unethical). Consider
Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or
badness of human action and character
The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person
or the members of a profession: medical ethics.
is true that a viewer understands that the film is about
the differences between these, but why? The film itself
is a study in the consequences of acting unethically,
and by contrast, the consequences of acting immorally.
Ultimately, it works like this:
who are both ethical and moral remain happy: Paul Metzler
who are unethical but moral can remain happy:
Tammy Metzler, who lies about the election but commits
no immoral act
who are ethical but immoral become unhappy:
Dave Nebotney cheats on his wife with a 16-year old
who are immoral and unethical are unhappy:
Mr. McAllister, who commits adultery and cheats the
system, is very unhappy.
all about consequences, the way I see it. Write back,
appreciate that you disagree with me, but I already
stated my opinion in my review. I think it's an interesting
premise and setting, but poorly worked-out, and it has
a bad act three. By the way, lying is immoral. And if
I recall correctly, it was Nevotney. How on earth can
Dave Nevotney be ethical, but immoral, by having an
affair with a sixteen-year-old student? Look at the
definitions, ethics are making use of your morals, and
Dave did neither. Also, Mr McAllister ends up happy
as a remarried docent In Washington D.C., so there goes
a filmmaking student, particularly interested in writing.
I wanted to ask you about specific things that you chose
to do in your work on Xena. I saw you worked as a director
on more humorous episodes and wrote a more serious one.
Was that your choice? How come you chose that?
of the hardest things for me as a screenwriter is to
know where my job ends and where the director's job
starts. I have two examples from Xena. In "Locked
up and tied down," when Xena is tied up in the
dungeon, as the camera zooms out, she's coughing. Was
that in the script? Was that the director's order? Or
maybe the actress' decision? I know a good script is
one with fewer words but if I drop too much, I'm losing
my vision. If I see something a certain way, even if
it's directing decisions, should I still write them
example is from the fights. I know the actors practice
those fights with a choreographer. So, how is it written
in the script? Are there details about it?
is the difference in the effect when you do a cloze-up
and an extreme cloze-up? When you zoom in from a medium
shot, how do you know when to stop?
"kindred spirit," there is a shift from the
serious to the ridiculous (when the fight between Xena
and Joxer starts; body language, text, accent). Is that
how it is written in the script or was that your decision
as a director? If it was, how come you made it that
way? And one last thing, I hope I'm not stepping out
of line, here; I'm not an American and I write in English,
hoping to sell it in the US. Who should I send my material
to, considering I don't have the money to go on a big
self-promoting tour myself? Agents, agencies, studios?
you and good luck in whatever you do,
don't know what your first language is, but you write
in English quite well, and you've asked some interesting
questions. Regarding me directing the sillier (or silliest)
Xena episodes, the executive producer, Rob Tapert, liked
how I handled comedy and kept hiring me for the comedy
episodes. I think this was also based, if I may say
so, on the fact that Lucy, Renee, and Ted enjoyed working
with me, and were particularly funny in the episodes
I directed. As for "Locked Up & Tied Down,"
that was Rob's idea that he got me to help him write.
As for Xena coughing in the pit, since I didn't direct
it, so I don't know where that came from, although it
was probably Lucy.
what you write in a script, and how, as long as you
don't use film terms, like close-up or long-shot, nor
any reference to film equipment, like zoom in or crane
down, you can describe anything you'd like, and in as
much detail as you think is fitting. Using film terms
or referring to film equipment will not help the reader
or the director envision what you mean, and it will
annoy the director. Never write "Zoom in to a close-up
of Xena's face and a tear comes out of her eye,"
all you need to write is, "If we look closely at
Xena's face we can see a tear coming out of her eye"
or simply, "A tear streams out of Xena's eye."
Just describe what you mean in plain old prose, in as
much detail as you consider appropriate. Regarding the
fight scenes, the writers wrote out the fights in detail,
mainly because everybody needed to get a sense of how
long the fight would last -- a quarter of a page, a
half a page, a whole page -- but the fight coordinator,
Peter Bell, would simply use what was written as inspiration
and do what he wanted. The difference between a close-up
and an extreme close-up is that a close-up is the whole
face, whereas an extreme close-up is even tighter and
sees just part of the face, like just the eyes, or possibly
the mouth to the eyes, without the forehead or chin--either
way, it's not a writer's decision. However, a good writer
can lead a director to the shot they want by description.
If you write, "Xena stares at the warlord, her
eyes squinting with suspicion," you've indicated
that a tight shot of her eyes might be a good idea,
although it's still up to the director what shots are
to be used. As for the wrestling match in "Kindred
Spirits," that wasn't in the script at all, it
was entirely my idea, the tone, the lines, and most
of the fight moves, although Peter Bell and the actors
certainly ran with the whole idea. My reason for adding
it was that I thought it would be funny. And finally
-- this was one of the longer answers in a while --
you should send your scripts to an agent, whom you should
contact first and see if they're interested in reading
them. Sending scripts to a studio is a waste of time.
There are also websites that display scripts now, like
the Writers Script Network. Good luck.
google search for 'building a cat door' turned up your
Stevie page. Not what I was looking for but I just wanted
to say I'm glad you got to have the time you did with
I was very lucky to have Stevie as long as I did. He
was a wonderful cat. I have three other cats now, that
also use a cat door, but if I don't keep it propped
open for them, they won't use it. They're kind of dumb,
but very sweet.
drastically has the film market changed, since TSNKE
was released? After reading your reply where you mentioned
you've realized that $350,000 was too much to spend
on an inde with no names; I wonder, do you have any
regrets about that? Would the market have been more
receptive to Hammer 15 years ago? Was it difficult to
find a distributor for TSNKE? My final question is what
kind of theatrical release did TSNKE receive? I wish
you the best with Hammer, I hope Anchor Bay picks it
up. On a final note. It seems as if Anchor Bay is doing
pretty well. They should become a theatrical distributer,
and acquire great films that nobody else wants. I suppose
it would be tough because rising P&A overhead is
a major reason theatrical distributers are fadeing away.
world of indie film distribution has changed drastically
since TSNKE in the mid-1980s. Back then low-budget horror
films were released theatrically all the time. Now,
they aren't theatrically released at all, nor are most
independent films. TSNKE had a 25-print theatrical release
that opened in 20 U.S. cities. I've never had a theatrical
release at all since then, other than booking my films
into a single theater for a week. I think if it were
up to Anchor Bay, they'd go into production before going
into theatrical releasing, and they haven't been able
to pull that off. I don't regret spending $350,000 on
"Hammer," because that's what it needed to
cost on a minimal level and I'm glad I made it. But
getting that money back will be a bitch.
is it in BFE? Don't you ever get lonely? C'mon, there
have to be days when you miss the old Hollywood rat
race? Did you ever hear back on your book proposal?
don't know what BFE is? I like it here, and no, I don't
get lonely. I do miss my pals in LA, but I don't miss
the rat race. Let's face it, even if you're winning
the rat race, you're still a rat. Now I'm racing with
the squirrels and deer. Yes, I did hear back on the
book. The publisher said, "I was amused, but I
don't think it's a book" and I think he's right.
Therefore, I'm writing another book, this time from
bottom up. It's called "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget
Feature Filmmaking" and I've already got about
225 pages written.
Dear Josh: Did you write, "Need for Structure, Part
II" before or after September 11 ? Its rather prophetic.
you read the Bhagavagita? This could the oldest written
story in the world and from a purely narraive point
i can see it is one of the greatest stories ever told.
You should read it. Don't worry, i am not a Hare Krishna!
"Structure Part II" was written long before
9/11. I can see the future, just like Nosferatu. I have
not read all of the Bhagavagita, but I own a copy and
have looked through it. I personally don't think you
can really tell a good story that involves gods, but
that's just me.
can think of another example of irony in "The Bridge
On The River Kwai"; William Holden's character
escapes from the camp only to return and be killed.
My favourite use of irony is at the end of "Taxi
Driver" where Travis is hailed as a hero for saving
Iris from the bad guys instead of the bad things that
would have happened to him had he shot the senator.
Apparently that ending throws people way off.
Anyways, I just learned soemthing amazing. I just found
out that western 'star' Slim Pickens was my grandma's
first cousin!!! My grandman told me this so I wasn't
sure if it was true or not (she's old, ya know) so I
asked my father and he confirmed it. Wow, I can't believe
I have Pickens blood. I've always loved "Dr. Strangelove..."
and "Blazing Saddles". I have no idea why
they never mentioned it before. Probably because my
grandma had only met him a couple of times and he was
kind of a nutjob.
So, which do you think is Mel Brooks' best film? For
me it's a tie between "Blazing Saddles" and
"The Producers" but I've always been thrown
off by the end of "Blazing Saddles"...it takes
the viewer out of the story I thought. I'd love to hear
your comments. Thanks.
on you, I'm workin' fer Mel Brooks!"
is loaded with irony, which is why I love it so much.
And I heartily agree that "Taxi Driver" has
a wonderfully ironic ending, and his final look in the
rear-view mirror has always scared me. Is he going to
kill Betsy, too? It's been said that Americans don't
understand or appreciate irony, and I second that. A
somewhat more recent film (though not new, nor American)
that I thought had a good, solid sense of irony was
"Howard's End." I really liked Helena Bonham
Carter's attempt to help that poor slob, and ends up
ruining his life. Anyone else have any suggestions?
regarding Mel Brooks, I agree with that "The Producers"
and "Blazing Saddles" are his two best films,
with "Young Frankenstein" coming in third.
Yeah, the ending of "Blazing Saddles" is stupid,
but I can't help it, it still made me laugh -- the idea
of cowboys fighting chorus boys on a musical set is
pretty darn silly. I like the fact that the film is
shown regularly on Black Entertainment Television. I
also think that "The Producers" falls apart
at the end. The very second the audience thinks the
show is funny, it stops being funny. It's kind of odd,
did you think of "JFK"? I know it is on your
favorite film list. But I never read any of your thoughts
about it. I thought Oliver Stone did a great job.
just got finished watching the "Apocalypse Now
Redux" dvd. Did you see the Redux yet? If so, what
did you think? It is a great film, but the dvd lacks
the commentary track that I have been hoping to listen
talking to you,
think "JFK" is an incredibly well-made film,
with a provocative point of view, and a terrific, top-notch
cast. I'd say it's Oliver Stone's second best film next
to "Platoon." I think "JFK" is one
of the few films ever to figure out a logical scheme
for shooting both color and black and white (so did
"The Wizard of Oz," but in a completely different
way). After seeing "JFK," my friend and I
went out for coffee and discussed the film and the subject
for hours. Most films I can't wait for them to be over
so I never have to think about them again. But I've
always been suspicious of the "facts" in the
JFK assassination, and I never believed the bullet that
killed him came from the book depository. Regarding
"Apocalypse Now," I saw the full-length, "redux"
version at a sneak-preview six months before the film
opened, and it really bored me (Coppola was there, as
was Robert Duvall, and Bill Graham was keeping the long
line of people in order). I was quite pleased with the
re-editing when I saw the released version, and thought
they had improved the film by shortening it. I still
think the film is two-thirds of a brilliant movie, with
a total disaster of an act three. Brando is severely