attended MSU during 1976-80. I lived in Wonders Hall
and happened to have a bit part in Happy Valley Kid.
I remember helping hold the lights for a scene shot
in Wells Hall. I remember Sam didn't like the sound
of my voice and told me he would dub over it So much
for my acting career! I never did get to see the movie
when it played on campus (remember the RHA?). I was
wondering if you had any idea where I get a hold of
are no copies to get a hold of. The film was run so
many times it fell apart and no longer exists. I hear
that gags from HVK made it into "Spider-Man."
reading your website and Q/A section, it seems to me
that you should label yourself as a film critic rather
than a film maker. You seem to be much better and have
much more experience in critiquing films rather than
I do disagree with much of your critiquing. Film making
is a business; a business about making money. I've seen
a few of your films and quite frankly I found them boring;
and I could see why the majority of the folks in this
country and elsewhere have never heard of them. However,
you go on to put down some of the most successful and
biggest money makers in the industry.
speak as if you know what's right and what's wrong in
the film making business; but if that was truly the
case you wouldn't be an unknown who have made a few
sloppy/boring films while most of the people you critisize
are living large having made millions in the industry.
for the idea of you being offered a teaching job on
the idea of film making or script writing...whatever
it was; personally I feel you would be the wrong man
for the job. I see film making as an art; and if you
put limitations on art you are simply holding creative
lost count after the first dozen times you mention your
structure rules that need to be in place for a successful
script. Bull crap. There are no rules to film making
just as there are no rules in how an artist decides
to present his work on canvas. Now you may personally
believe your way is the right way....but you body of
work that you have done personally doesn't back you
up; and the idea of teaching young creative minds that
your way is the right way and putting limitations on
their creativity is nothing but detrimental.
read your comments for a very long time and this is
just my opinion, but I sense you are a very bitter fellow.
I believe you are very fond of your friends(Sam, Rob,
Bruce, etc.); but we also know that they have become
way more successful in the industry that you ever have.
They have made it big, yet you are still an unknown
who know one(other than Rob or Sam or Bruce) will give
the time of day; and I think your comments are your
way of lashing out at the industry that turned you away.
As is said, just my opinion.
suggestion would be to try and enjoy films rather than
looking for everything you can find wrong with them.
Get over your bittereness. And quit trying to put limitations
on creative minds by telling them the right and wrong
way to go about making a film or writing a script when
you obviously have had no success when doing it your
guarantee you if Picasso went to an art school run by
a teacher that put limitations on the right way and
wrong way to creating art(as you do), the teacher would
call his work crap and tried to change him, or tell
him to give up art......but as everyone knows; his creativity(which
I personally think is crap) is some of the most popular
in the world. I may not personally like it; but I know
never to put limitations and rules on any artisitic
form. You obviously feel different; but again; your
body of work speaks for itself from what I have seen.
Picasso is crap in your opinion, then I'm more than
happy to be included into the group you consider crap.
Let's use Picasso as an example. He was exceptionally
well-trained in the basic elements of his craft, and
was in fact a brilliant craftsman that could and did
paint in a photo-realistic style for a while early in
his career. Having mastered the basic elements of the
form, he then moved past them. I'm certainly not trying
to limit artistic minds, I'm trying to guide them toward
bigger and better things, which no one will ever get
to unless they know and have mastered their form. You
are obviously not a writer and have no clue what you're
talking about, except for not liking my films, which
is your preference. Anyone that seriously believes that
learning the basic elements of what they intend to do
is limitation is, I'm sorry to say, a fool.
the subject of lovable movies that aren't that great,
how about " Something Wild ", the 1986 thriller
directed by by Jonathan Demme. It's got a great soundtrack
by David Byrne, good actors in fun roles (Jeff Daniels,
Ray Liotta, Melanie Griffiths), and lots of cool plot
agree, that's good choice. The tone changes so drastically
when Ray Liotta enters it's completely disconcerting.
Meanwhile, someone somewhere down the road recommended
"The Arrival," which was ridiculously, painfully
stupid. It's just bad sci-fi at its worst.
not sure if I have a specific question, just some comments
that might elicit a response.
just saw Sam's new flick, and, considering I was expecting
the Raimi style to be rent from the film due to the
commercial status (and contrary to what a recent poster
claimed), I was surprised to really see Sam's signature
in the movie. From the first moment, I was waiting for
the out-of-context montage where things fly around in
their own space. And it happened.
like your comment, even though I don't necessarily agree,
that you might as well shoot a super hero film with
the lens cap on. Which brings me to a question I didn't
expect. Do Sam or Bruce ever get offended by your comments
or opinions? So far, a big super-star like Sam hasn't
been able to help you too much getting your movies made,
but I never hear any foul words regarding your material.
Is he just not interested, or is he maybe chaffed by
any case, I know you won't enjoy Spider-Man as a filmmaker,
but it had several hilarious parts. For a master of
gore, Sam sure can be funny. I'm sure the dozen others
involved in each moment (actor, costume designer, set
designer, etc.) helped, but the director deserves so
much for the final product, I have to give humor credit
it's kind of funny that I've been a Sam fan for several
years, and now I see him helm the record-breaker; it
feels like a friend has arrived. It must be incredible
for you, being a friend of his in the true context.
a ridiculously funny guy. He was certainly the funniest
guy in our group, and Bruce is pretty damn funny, too.
Both Sam and Bruce always had the ability to get me
into such a state of hysteria that I couldn't breathe.
As to my attitude, Sam has known me since he was eight
and I was nine, I think he's used to it by now. This
reminds me of about ten years ago when I was talking
to Mrs. Raimi, who is every bit as opinionated and caustic
as I am, and she's very funny, too, and she was telling
me about what a great schmoozer Sam was when he was
a kid. I said, "That's my problem, I'm not much
of a schmoozer." Mrs. Raimi looked at me very seriously
and said, "Josh, it's worse than that, you're insulting."
So, there you go.
I sent the TSNKE box to be autographed. i was wondering
if you have recieved it yet.
was received and sent back. You should have it in a
day or two.
Just a comment about the three Woodstock festivals.
While I agree that the world should have stopped with
one, I do think the following two were equally representative
of the voices of their generations. The first Woodstock
was like a three year old's reaction to a new toy. There
was an innocence which was reflected in its spontaneity.
The following festivals were more like the response
of a seventeen year old who's upset because his new
SUV doesn't have chrome wheels. In that respect the
second and third festivals had as much integrity as
did the first.
never said there was no integrity to the second and
third Woodstock festivals, I just said that they were
horrible indications of where our society has gone.
The first Woodstock was a beautiful event, truly based
on love, peace and music. The second and third are all
about commercialism and anger. If you're at a concert
where every band is screaming "Fuck you, motherfucker,"
why not burn the place down? Their mistake was not setting
the bands on fire, as well as the promoters.
Dear Josh Becker,
was reading your making of articles and the first one
I read was the making of "Lunatics: A Love Story".
Why would you and Scott ever get in a fight? You two
wrote some fucking outstanding scripts together, excuse
you very much. I enjoyed working with Scott, and I thought
we did some good work together. When Scott finally moved
out to LA, though, he just sort of went his own way.
I hear he's shooting "Modesty Blaise" in Romania
right now for Miramax.
was wondering if you've ever seen the movie "Zero
Effect," with Bill Pullman, and if you have, what
you thought of it.
Also, do you like Gary Shandling and his work, like
"What Planet are You From" and "The Larry
thought "Zero Effect" was a complete nothing,
although Bill Pullman was good. I really can't stand
Ben Stiller. I am reminded of "The Simpsons"
episode where Homer has a crayon removed from his brain
and gets smart. he sees a movie called "Love is
Nice" with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. A few
minutes into the film he says. "But of course Julia
Roberts will end up with Richard Gere," and the
whole audience turns and looks at him in utter surprise
and shock, saying "She does?" Dr. Hibbert
says, "I thought she'd end up with that scrawny
little rich guy," and the Sea Captain adds, "Aye,
ably played by Bill Paxton." Homer says, "That
was Bill Pullman" and someone hits him in the head
with a 2x4. Sorry, folks, I strayed. I don't give a
damn about Gary Shandling, whom I never liked as a comedian
nor as an actor. He's creepy-looking and I never thought
he was funny.
me again. It looks like its just us two for a while
(kinda romantic -- just kidding, you know).
bit you just wrote about no more Woodstock was hilarious!
Yeah, right on! The original was it, and only the original
was it -- the latter sucked! Good comparison. Angry
music is stupid. Rap is stupid. Our society is going
to pot! And you're right about finding one little tidbit
of good in an overall rotten movie is so accurate. What
a waste of time and energy. Well, I'm ranting about
the same 'ol same 'ol. I'm going to rent two of the
movies that you thought were good flicks: The Magnificant
Ambersons, and The Member of the Wedding. I haven't
seen either. We both agreed that Bonnie & Clyde
was a good flick. One of my favorites still. It was
the beginning I think of the "new" filmmaking
-- away from the old way of making films -- whatever
that means -- at least I heard that from Roger Ebert,
who was interviewed on the Greg Kilburn show one night,
and he thought Bonnie & Clyde was the best flick
ever made -- hah! I thought, damn, maybe I should be
a film critic -- because I've always said it's the best
film I've ever seen. The original lawmen who rounded
Bonnie & Clyde up watched the scene in the film
where they're circling them in the grass with their
cars, and said that was a real accurate portrayal of
what actually happened. Who better to know, right? I'm
you are rambling, but let us know what you think of
am determined to read all of your screenplays on your
website. i've just read "buds" and i thought
it was pretty good. the only thing was that i didn't
find a three act structure at all. i still enjoyed it
and it shows that you are being a hipocrite because
you always preach about how you don't like scripts that
have no structure, then you go about writing a script
that has no three act structure at all.. I'm sorry,
I don't mean to offend you, but I couldn't find the
three act structure and I was looking really hard for
guess you weren't looking hard enough.
saw Spider-Man and it did not seem like a Sam Raimi
film to me at all. It was visually non-descript. It
was a let-down for me because I go to his movies expecting
a certain visual quality and this one didn't have it.
Neither did The Gift now that I think about it. I can't
help but wonder if he's trying to tone down his "style"
for these big blockbuster films he's doing. Or maybe
he's "maturing" as a director. One could argue
that crazy camera work has no place in "serious"
films such as A Simple Plan and The Gift (didn't see
For The Love Of The Game and prolly never will) but
with something like Spider-Man, I think it would be
an opportunity ripe for alla that crazy camera work
that has been his trademark from Evil Dead thru Quick
and the Dead (I guess I'm kind of a sucker for that
haven't seen it. But since the primary purpose of a
film like "Spider-Man" is to make money, it's
doing just fine. And since the main audience for a film
like that is twelve years old, I don't think they care
very much about wacky camera work. For me, if you're
making a film about a super-hero, you may as well leave
on the lens cap.
you watched Training Day. Denzel Washington's performance
was Oscar worthy but I think he's done better in past
films for which he should have won. Just makes me convinced
that the Oscars are given out on the basis that it was
the winner's turn this year, regardless of quality,
hence Ron Howards win. Apollo 13 was great - A Beautiful
Mind was awful.
also agree with you that Training Day fell apart in
the third act. Its biggest downfall was lack of believability.
My first thought at the bath scene was that Denzel had
set the whole day up from the very start, girl rape,
drug money, etc especially since earlier in the movie
you could hear Denzel on the phone in the background
telling someone to make sure the bath was ready. That
might have made a better solution, if a little more
predictable, and less shocking.
just wondering what you think of digital cameras. I'm
thinking of buying something this summer in the region
of $3000-$4000. How do those kind of cameras compare
to a decent 16mm camera, picture quality etc? Have you
used them much before? I'm not trying to make the next
Titanic (one was bad enough) but I do want to be able
to make some shorts that are of sufficient quality to
show in my local film house, and enter in contests.
luck with getting that book published. I'll be on the
look out for it.
sure the image will look fine with a camera of that
quality. You do want to make sure that it will accept
a good microphone, which some won't. I just watched
a documentary on the Sundance channel, "The Gleaners
and I," that was shot with a little home DV camera
and it looked good. That technology is perfect for documentaries
right now, but still impractical for features because
the paying markets don't want them and won't pay for
them. 16mm is harder to work with, but you have a negative
when you're done.
all the hype about " Attack of The Clones "
lately, I was curious as to what you think of Star Wars.
Are you a fan? Will you be qeuing up to see Episode
I enjoyed the first one (which doesn't hold up), and
haven't liked any since. I watched about fifteen minutes
of whatever the one with Liam Neeson is called on TV
the other night and it was really miserable.
just saw your answer to my last post. I agree, that
bit with Victor Mclaghlen and the whiskey in SHE WORE
A YELLOW RIBBON is great. I read in a John Wayne biography
that Ford liked this film and the cavalry so much that
he put himself in a cameo appearance. Was he the wounded
Corporal Quinn (the one who was wounded in the shoulder,
and was operated on in the supply wagon)? I recall a
scene where the recovering Quinn volunteers to stay
behind with the squads protecting the rear, and John
Wayne orders him (gleefully, which is why I noticed)
to get back in the wagon. It seemed to me that John
was having way too much fun ordering around a mere corporal....
Do you have any films that you watch just for the fun
of it, regardless of how they stand as artistic achievements?
One film that I always enjoyed watching for that purpose
was MCLINTOCK; I grant you, it's a just a typical John
Wayne vehicle, but it's just so much damned FUN to watch.
It's one of those films where you can tell that the
cast and crew were having fun, and that good vibe shows
in the final product.
was one of my favorites as a kid, particularly the scene
in the mud pit. The lead in to that, with "I oughta
belt you right in the mouth, but I won't. Naw, I won't.
. . . The hell I won't!" and pow! I case you didn't
already know, the film was directed by Andrew V. McLaglen,
who is Victor McLaglen's son. I just read that John
Ford was one of the klansmen in "Birth of a Nation."
He said he was the one with glasses. Of the films-we-love-that-aren't-necessarily-great,
I've always loved "Father Goose" with Cary
Grant and Leslie Caron. Anyone else?
more comment I'd like to make (if you're curious): I
don't know if I'll go see Spiderman. One movie I might
like to go see, however, is that new Jennifer Lopez
movie (I can't remember the title), but, it looks great
for the simple fact of the storyline. It looks to be
about a woman who gets stalked by her ex and tormented
by him, and then, turns around, gets fit and begins
to kick his ass. I like that. Most all of the movies
I've ever seen where the woman is victimized (which
happens alot, because in all movies with a "victim"
it is the "female" who is victimized), she
ends up mostly just dying or escaping, but never getting
even. Maybe you can think of a flick where the chick's
turned around and actually gone AFTER the man who's
victimizing her? Thanks for reading.
.45." I also saw a film at a festival called "A
Gun for Jennifer" (Lopez?) that was exactly that,
a girl gets raped, then goes out and begins killing
and emasculating men. It's ultimately a dull story,
me thinks. Revenge is a boring motivation.
enjoying your Q&A tremendously. (I've written you
before and you've been kind to respond.) Anyway, I wanted
to say ditto on a lot of your comments, Josh, because
I feel strangely in agreement with most of them. Wanted
to say ditto on Johnny Depp -- but to discuss further
would be boring. Wanted to say ditto on new films --
they have NOT lead all of us into a new generation of
filmmaking. They are, essentially, lame and boring.
I would personally like to see something different in
subject matter (you know, a NEW idea). Trying weird
stuff (Eyes Wide Shut made my eyes wide closed) just
doesn't work. If a person wants to make avant-garde
-- make avant-garde and SAY it's avant garde. You couldn't
be MORE RIGHT in your opinion that new movies suck.
I just hope one day I can contribute to putting quality
out there for all to see and not this stuff that needs
to be used for wiping and flushed down the toilet (that's
I hope you do, too. I figure there ought to be one tiny
little island of truth in this large world of hype and
nonsense, where anything new is considered brilliant
and a work of genius. Being new does not automatically
make anything good in my mind. I watched Barbra Kopple's
documentary "My Generation" last night, which
compares the three Woodstock festivals. Both 1994 and
1999 both seemed severely pathetic, filled with apathetic,
pointless people listening to angry, pointless music,
pretending they're not a giant corporate-sponsored Disneyland.
At least in the 1999 version, the music seemed to have
improved slightly, with Sheryl Crow and Dave Matthews,
as opposed to pure rap bullshit like Cypress Hill, DMX
and Limp Bizkit. Also, at the '99 version, they ultimately
start fires and burn the place down, which seemed necessary.
If we're all lucky, maybe there won't be anymore Woodstocks.
wanted to say there are others out here (myself included)
who also agree with your assessment that you have to
master the rules before you can expand on them. I think
your mentioned somewhere in the structure essays (it's
been a few months since I read them) where you compare
making a film with making a piece of furniture. You
could say that a piece of furniture can be a beautiful
art piece but if it doesn't serve it's function, it's
been writing a script in my spare time while working
out ideas for a better script. In the first script the
main character has gone through no real change and two
thirds of the way through I've lost all interest in
it and have focused everything on the treatment for
the second script.
Have you ever seen anything by Canadian film maker Bruce
McDonald (or MacDonald)? If you haven't, check out "Hard
Core Logo". It's a faux documentary about a punk
band reuniting for one last tour but unlike Spinal Tap
it's not a comedy and thanks to McDonald's (or MacDonald's)
documentary background it seems like real events. Very
well done.....add it to your netflix list (if it's on
dvd....I know Tarantino released it in the US on his
video label but I'm unsure of a dvd distribution in
on the list. I watched "Training Day" at someone's
recommendation, and it was okay but fell apart entirely
in it's third act. Denzel Washington does give a big,
Academy Award, performance, which is fun, but Ethan
Hawke is a bore and I never gave a damn about him. When
it hits the point of Hawke being put in a bathtub by
Cliff Curtis (whom I worked with on "Hercules"
and he seems to be getting the lead bad guy part in
all the big films now) and co. and he happens to have
the wallet of the girl he saved from rapists and she
happens to be Cliff's niece, coincidence has overtaken
drama and it's all gone to hell.
have seen the work you have done and i think its great
and i was wondering how much as a director do u take
part in the special effect side to the film/tv that
would tell the producers where I had special effects
in mind, and if they okayed them all, the effects people
would start in on them right from the very beginning.
I would usually have another meeting about the effects
during the editing with the post supervisor, the editor,
and the effects people. The next time I'd see the effects
was in the finished show. I have a lot more to do with
it on my movies.
don't know why, but I get infuriated at the flack you
take for your advocacy of structure.
not like you're saying films can only be written this
way, you're saying (over and over and over) that you
must master it before you can move beyond it.
this is a universal truth. The reason Michael Jordan
was such a great basketball player is because he mastered
the fundamentals and then, with his talent, was able
to move beyond them. Larry Bird, on the other hand,
didn't have the physical talent of Jordan but was a
great player because of his total mastery of the fundamentals.
applies to writing novels. Although I dislike Beats,
I find Naked Lunch to be a fantastic novel that takes
language and the structure of a story to new and interesting
places. But Burroughs knew the fundamentals of writing.
His command of story structure and syntax was masterful,
so he could successfully move beyond the fundmentals.
So could Pound. Hemingway was a great writer who never
moved beyond the fundamentals.
goes for music. Elvis, the Beatles, even Pink Floyd
mastered the structure of the pop song before they moved
beyond it. If they hadn't, their music couldn't possibly
have been as good or important.
Bunuel, Welles, all those guys mastered the three act
structure before they moved beyond it. Race car drivers
have to learn to drive before they learn to stunt drive.
Pro wrestlers have to learn to fall before they jump
off the top rope. Actors have to learn to be bacon before
they become Travis Bickle.
question here, I just don't understand why you keep
coming under fire. Perhaps people haven't learned to
carefully read a person's point before jumping to a
conclusion. So there's another lesson. Make sure you
grasp what a person's argument is before you critique
up the good work.
do seem to fight this fight endlessly, but it's nice
to know there a few people out there who understand
what I'm saying. I think it's the downfall of this whole
time period--everyone wants to go straight to being
an artist without passing through the phase of craftsman
(sorry, but craftsperson sounds silly). That's why the
craftsmanship of scripts these days is so pathetic;
nobody bothers with the fundamentals. And I'm constantly
being fed by these people that drama and motion pictures
have moved to a newer, freer, higher plane than before,
which is ridiculous. Not only have movies not moved
to a higher plane, they are mired in the worst slump
of their one-hundred year history. "A Beautiful
Mind," "Gladiator," "The English
Patient," "Titanic," "Forrest Gump,"
"Shakespeare in Love"? There is no decade
from the inception of the Academy Awards in 1929 to
now that's nearly as poor. Even the first decade, which
was very rocky due to the change-over to sound, was
still superior, with: "All Quiet on the Western
Front," "It Happened One Night," "Mutiny
on the Bounty," and "Gone With the Wind."
I'm not crazy.
have another "what's your opinion" question
for you. In the film SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, the film
ends when John Wayne finds out (at the last minute)
that he can not only stay in the Army, but that he's
been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Personally, I thought
that ending was hokey and very Hollywood (I recall that
John Ford put that ending on the film under studio pressure).
John Wayne himself said that he felt the film should've
ended when he looks at his watch after the Indian fight,
comments on how he's already retired, and rides off
into the west. When I taped the film off of TCM last
year, I cut it so that the film ended at that point,
and I think that John Wayne was right; it's a more powerful
ending. What do you think?
better to me. I watched "The Man Who Shot Liberty
Valance" again the other day and it got better
for me. It's pace is a tad stately, but Ford was already
pretty old (he was 67 at the time). Nevertheless, it
is wonderfully ironic, particularly from Jimmy Stewart's
original stance of anti-violence. He's forced into violence,
then becomes a hero and gains a political career based
on that violence, and he didn't even commit the violence.
Good stuff. And the couple of times John Wayne and Lee
Marvin get in each other's faces is really terrific.
Getting back to "Yellow Ribbon," I absolutely
love the gag when Victor McGlaglen is about to take
a drink of whiskey, turns and sees that he's being watched
by a little girl. He says, "Me medicine,"
takes a big slug, winces and sticks out his tongue,
saying, "It's terrible!"
there just happened across your web site and story very
funny, dave barry ish .
you'd like to hear some praise after all who doesnt
like praise :)
got back from my first trip to my new local 99 cent
store and was trying to find their web site to comment
(I liked the store but the isles are too damned small
for me to bother going back I think)
glad you enjoyed it. You're not Dave Barry himself,
Hello Mr. Becker,
feel I must chime in on your ludicrous, narrow-minded
advice to writing a "good" script. Your site
is peppered with phrases like "if you have no lead
character, you have no point of view and therefore no
interesting story", and "you must have three
acts in your script and they must all have a different
message." You seem to pray at the alter of Syd
Field, that no talent, stagnant hack! If you had any
interest in nurturing the EVOLUTION of cinema, you'd
stop giving out this thick-skulled, old school approach
to making movies to all the young wanna-be filmmakers
who visit your site for proper guidance.
am ashamed to say I really enjoyed your piece on the
99 cent store, after reading this destructive advice
you give to future filmmakers and screenwriters. No
wonder you can't stand films like The Thin Red Line,
Eyes Wide Shut, and Traffic...they actually try to show
us something new in a language that is unique to the
filmmaker! God forbid we should have more than one lead
character, or even no leads at all, or even no accessible
plot (The horror!). That is not how great movies are
made...right? WRONG! Think 2001: A Space Odyssey, a
film far more important to the history of cinema than
all the titles in your resume put together.
must know that to put rules on art is to suffocate it.
Why kill off the future Kubricks, Scorseses and Cassaveteses
with your oppressive view on the art of cinema? As someone
involved in the making of films, I feel your heart lies
in showing off those who you associate with in the industry
rather than what you've done to progress it. Do you
live in Hollywood by chance? Just a guess.
you honestly want me to believe that "Eyes Wide
Shut," "The Thin Red Line" and "Traffic"
have taken drama and motion pictures to a new place
they've never been before? The rules of drama haven't
changed in thousands of years, and are the same rules
followed by Eurpides, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams,
Arthur Miller, and William Inge, to name but a very
few. Drama isn't changing because human behavior isn't
changing. I will repeat this for the one-thousandth
time, you can't hope to go past the rules until you
have mastered them. Art begins with superb craftsmanship,
and you can't hope to achieve that unless you know all
the rules, and how all of the past masters worked. When
I say you must have a lead character, I mean to have
a dramatically strong story. You can have multiple leads,
your story will just be dramatcially weak (like "The
Thin Red Line" and "Traffic"). Let me
try to put it on a level you might comprehend -- you
can't just decide one morning to be a gaffer, then go
stick your hand into the nearest circuit box and expect
to know what you're going. You have to have some information
first. Nor can you walk right onto a set and know how
to light it -- you've got to know the rules of lighting
first, then you can break them (which may very well
not work as well as if you'd followed them). The elements
of drama have not changed in a long time, and the movies
you named are not forays into the realm of the brand
new -- they're just poorly written films. Movies are
not new and exciting and better than they've ever been,
they're lame and weak and in the worst slump they've
ever been in. "Paths of Glory" is infinitely
superior to "Eyes Wide Shut," and that's mainly
because it has a well-written script.
been following your career for quite some time now.
You have inspired me, to write, direct and shoot my
read your scripts and your essays. And in them has been
valuable information that no Film School professor has
ever shown me.
last short 16mm Film, Nerd Wars, won several awards
Sunday before last in Miami. A few cable stations have
offered to show it and I'll soon have it up on the net,
and showing at other festivals around the US.
know you must be extremely busy, but It would be a great
honor to have you as a mentor.
be shooting my first feature soon on 35mm (Luckily a
sponsor beleives in me too) and I would like to be able
to ask you for advice on technical and legal questions
now and again.
if you have the time of course. I understand how it
gets. I just wish I had you as a freind. At 24 I still
have so much to learn.
going to be making a 35mm feature? That's excellent.
Congrats. Good work. Go ahead and ask anything you'd
like, I'm happy to be of some assistance. Here, I'll
give you Darryl Zanuck's advice to Elia Kazan when he
was about to direct his first film, "A Tree Grows
in Brooklyn" -- "Make every scene in the movie
the best scene in the movie."
noticed you don't seem to have much faith in modern
movies, and you seem to be convinced before you see
them that they are going to bad. Even your friend Sam's
Spiderman movie doesn't seem to excite you. It's a shame.
Its a fine movie; best comic adaption yet. Though that's
not hard since the others were so bad.
Sam was such a Spiderman fanatic when he was younger
did he ever try to convince you into becoming a fan?
Or was it because he was so obsessed with Spidey that
put you off in the first place?
has there been a movie made recently that you were convinced
was going to be utter shit and you ended up loving?
did you think of Amelie? Or Training Day? Both thoroughly
entertaining films in my opinion though Training Day's
ending could have been better. I've heard the script
had it nailed but the director\producer\somebodychanged
it for some reason.
hear you've just finished writing a book. What's it
about and when will it be published?
book is called "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget
Feature Filmmaking," and the first draft is done.
I'll take at least one more pass at it before sending
it out. When and if it will be published remains a mystery.
I have not seen "Amelie" or "Training
Day" yet. I did see "Startup.com" last
night and that was pretty good. Most of the documentaries
I see these days are pretty good. I also watched "Dr.
T & the Women," which was completely dreadful,
as most Altman movies are. Did Sam ever try to get me
to like Spiderman? No. He could care less whether I
liked Spiderman. I was the movie fanatic of the neighborhood.
While all the other kids were talking about comic books
and sports, I was talking about movies. And no, there
hasn't been a movie recently that I thought would be
utter shit that I ended up loving. I liked "The
Believer" and "The Straight Story."
many different stooges played the 3rd stooge?
Curly, Shemp, Joe Besser, and Joe DeRita.
off I just have to thank you for putting your Evil Dead
journals out there.As a budding indie film-maker I've
wound up locking creative and technical horns with the
director of a past film - reading about your experiences
has given me hope and helped me to realize that there
can be a light at the end of the tunnel for those of
us who feel like the lone voice of reason (or even just
semi-reason) on shoots gone mad.
question is this: I'm trying to set up an LLC to do
the next project. I'm looking
for a draft of a legally binging agreement for investors
that basically says "After
a contract is drawn up with a distributor (assuming
one turns up to take the movie!)
and monies are handed down, after all outstanding debts
of the company are setled, investors will get X amount
of the profit and the LLC will get Y. Investors have
no control over the project in any phase of production."
I know something like this exists because I once worked
on a film that had that sort of agreement with its investors.
When I tried to explain this to a lawyer that was helping
us with these sorts of legal issues they said that sort
of thing was impossible unless we wanted to file papers
with the SEC `cause without voting power for investors
it's like you're running a blah, blah, etc. (Needless
to say, this guy had never done LLC stuff for a film
to the chase - is there a source, a website, a publication,
a book, whatever,
that details how to set up this sort of thing that will
not involve us flying out to
L.A. or New York and paying 5 grand for an entertainment
and all input you might have would be hugely appreciated!
sounds like a limited partnership, which is what I have
used for all of my films. If the lawyer you're working
with doesn't know about LPs and doesn't have one to
work off of, you need a new lawyer. In an LP, the limited
partners (the investors) have no say in what you do,
and also have no liability beyond their original investment.
The general partners (the folks that put the deal together)
have all the say so, but are liable for any over-runs,
which is why you include a reimbursement schedule that
states where the recouped money goes, which generally
begins with paying back outstanding debts, then returning
borrowed money, then paying off the limited partners
until they are even, then the split between limited
and general partners. This is a very common set-up used
in many other kinds of deals beside movies, particularly
real estate. And if you find a reasonable lawyer that's
done some LPs before, it shouldn't cost more than $500-$750
to have your name and numbers inserted into it. Any
lawyer that wants to turn it into something more than
that is a rip-off. Good luck.
is it, in your photo gallery, you have a still photo
of yourself in front of a giant lightbulb and the still
is labeled as part of the "Running Time" press
kit, when in fact, we both know that was shot months
later on the set of the movie "In The Year 8998
A.D.," Huh? Riddle me that,Answer Man!
finally let you on the internet? Are they putting computers
in homeless shelters now?
you ever seen John Woo's film Bullet In The Head? It's
my all time favorite film.
film was it that made you want to get into directing?
ashamed to say I haven't seen it, but I just put it
on the Netflix list. As to which film got me into directing,
let's see, the first movie to blow me away was "How
the West Was Won" in Three-Screen Cinerama in 1963,
when I was six. I think it was a combination in 1968
of "Rosemary's Baby," "2001: A Space
Odyssey," and "Oliver!" and the range
between them that really impressed me.
just saw your answer to my post about your old Super-8
movies (I know, it's been archived already, but I was
busy this weekend; note: vodka and cranberry juice is
a more potent drink than it appears). I didn't know
about the musical score. However, this brings up another
question: why not replace the copyrighted music with
other, more generic stuff? I don't know about the technical
aspects of looping sound on Super-8 footage, but if
it's possible, why not? You could even re-record the
same songs with local musicians, provided that at least
a few of the words or chords are different from the
copyrighted material (that's how cover bands and public
access shows in my neck of the woods get away with using
recognizable songs; they change them just enough to
avoid copyright infringement). At best, marketing the
films would go a ways towards financing another film;
at worst, it would still pay a few bills at least. Just
I didn't know (but should've guessed) that you had answered
the question before. You might want to include an answer
about your old Super-8 films in your FAQ section.
I think it should be on the FAQ page. It would be a
very big ordeal rescoring all the super-8 films, and
nobody cares enough anymore. I know I don't, and I probably
care a lot more than Sam or Bruce. Somehow at this moment,
with Sam's most recent film having the largest-grossing
opening of any movie ever, I doubt his super-8 films
are looming very large in his perception.
mike san juan
E-mail: mike san email@example.com
yesterday i was running, but i didn't stretch first,
and i pulled my groin area. do you have any advice?
recommend that you have your dick amputated, then shove
it up your ass.
Fidelity", have you seen it? I thought it was a
great picture, with a terrific cast, nice production
value, and a helluva screenplay! I highly recomend it.
you seen any good (or really bad) films lately, new
a good one.
enjoyed the first 45 minutes or so, but then I felt
the story completely fell apart. Once he got through
the list of girls who broke his heart the worst, then
went and visited each of them, that was it. When he
starts messing around with the skateboard kids, and
Jack Black in a band, I felt they didn't know where
they were going. I just watched a Chinese film, "In
the Mood For Love," that bored the bejesus out
off, I just saw Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" and
was completely blown away by it. Of course, it's just
a summer popcorn movie. But, to be honest - I haven't
enjoyed a summer popcorn movie as much as I have enjoyed
Spider-Man in many, many years. Sam nailed it... I was
just curious if you are planning on seeing it (if nothing
else, at least because you, Sam, and Bruce are buddies).
If you are, I would be curious to see what you think
my actual question to you is about getting financing
for low-budget independent films. Let's say you have
a finished script that you want to shoot and a complete
budget breakdown. You said previously that getting an
independent film financed is one of the harderst things
one will face as a filmmaker. So, where do you start,
especially if you have no wealthy relatives and/or friends?
In other words, if you have to start getting financing
from scratch, what is the best way of doing it?
see "Spiderman" eventually, but it's not a
film made for me. I've never cared for super-heroes,
even when I was a kid. Guys running around in leotards
just doesn't do it for me. I certainly do wish Sam all
the success in the world, though. As for financing,
you still need to hit up every relative you have, whether
they're wealthy or not, as well as any person you've
ever met in your entire life that seems like they might
be able to cough some cash. And don't leave any meeting
with anyone without getting the name of another possible
investor. Sadly, the key to raising money is crawling
through the mud and humiliating yourself. You also must
make every person you hit for money that you're the
next Stanley Kubrick and investing in you is investing
in the future of art. And, you must convince every potential
investor that you're going to make this movie with their
assistance or without it. Good luck.
Hi Josh,my name's Sébastien and i'm french(so
i make excuses for my "frenglish language")
When i was a boy -about 10 years old- i was fond of
mythology(particularly greek,egyptian and scandinavian
myths) and horror/fantastic movies(my first and favorites
were EXCALIBUR,FISCHER KING(and since then most of Gilliam
stuff )BRAINDEAD,THE NEVER ENDING STORY 1,CRITTERS,THE
HAVOC OF TITANS(i'm not sure of this title,in french
it is "Le choc des titans"),JASON AND THE
In a way it was part of my education and it stimulated
my imagination(we created with friends epic adventures
full of dark marvelous countries and creatures inspired
by HOMERE,HESIODE and films).
Now i'm older (21 years old) and my interest in films
has been growing.
Thus , here my questions:
1-After seeing evil dead,some trailers of horror films
that haunted me in my youth have come back in my mind
but i don't know their titles:can you light my lantern(literal
translation of a french expression which means can you
tell me what i ignore(in this case those horror movies
*The first is about a marrried couple.They seem happy
and all is apparently fine,except one thing:
the beautiful wife turns sometimes into a dangerous
monster and doesn't seem to realize that.
I remember of one scene(maybe transformed by the time):
the man and his wife have lunch together, the man's
fork falls on the ground and when he bends down to take
it he notices his wife's feet have changed.Amazed, he
stands up and he sees a scary monster instead of his
This movie is in black and white,i thinks it's an old
*the 2nd is about people who go in a house or a manor
or a castle(my memory plays with me, sorry)and can't
get out of here because the configuraion of the house
changes.I don't no why but i think there is a character
with a chinese hat like this /\
2-What are your favorite Carpenter's movies,your favorite
Wes Craven's movies and your favorite horror movies
you've stumped me with both films. Maybe one of the
other geeks that visit here know of what films you speak.
I remember a short story by Robert Heinlein about a
house that you couldn't get out of due to it's configuration,
which I believe was called "He Built a Crooked
House." The other films I thought at first might
be "I Married a Monster from Outer Space,"
but I don't think so. It seems to me I just listed my
favorite horror films a few weeks ago, so look back
at the Q&A archives. And I'm not crazy about John
Carpenter's films. Sorry.
long as the topic of the structure is going on, I'd
just like to say that I'd heard of the three act structure
but it didn't click for me until I read the articles
on this site. Thanks!
another note, I just recently saw the horror movie,
"Phantasm", from 1979, I believe, and really
enjoyed it...but then the ending came. Though it's slightly
different from the "It was all a dream" thing,
it was still an "It was all a dream" ending,
and that disappointed me. That wasn't too bad, I suppose,
since it was at the end, but don't you think cliched
stuff like that really poisons an otherwise good movie?
I was curious about what movie you've seen that was
similar...good movie marred with cliches.
especially hate it when those dumb cliched phrases pop
up, like, "Mom...Dad...I can explain everything"
and "You and what army", etc. etc. Phantasm
(thankfully) avoided these types of cliches, but I think
modern films must have a book of cliches or something
and flip through the pages and select one to use whenever
a character is supposed to have dialogue.
seemed like a meaningless little picture to me. That
it contains cliches, well, what doesn't? BTW, Bruce
Campbell just starred in a film for Don Coscarelli called
Michael San Juan
Xena episode F-67, how does the scorpion renew his powers
of invinsibility? He didnt even have his sheild. This
is incomperhensable, i dont even understand. Were they
just expecting us to figure this out or what? Help me
out here...im freaking out for God's sake! Thanks Josh.
certainly wasn't an episode that I directed, and if
it's not, then I didn't even see it.
I just finished watching TSNKE and was wondering how
you feel about it in retrospect. Specifically, I was
wondering how you feel about its three-act structure
(a structure I believe in, by the way) and how you think
the movie might have differed had you filmed it more
recently, say the last year or so. I thought that act
one was longer than and not as 'tight' as you might
film it today based on your essays and other comments.
I guess this is a question about your evolution as director/writer/producer.
Thanks as always.
feelings, which haven't changed much since the film
was finished in 1985, is that it's too cheap and sloppy
for its own good. Probably the best thing about the
film is the script and the structure. I personally don't
find act one too long. It contains all the elements
necessary to set up the rest of the story. I think the
theme is a bit weak, too. Then again, how many super-low-budget
action films have any theme at all?
find it extremely telling that someone who is filled
with so much bile and rancor is relegated to Xena: The
Warrior Princess, and a few never heard of before independent
Has it ever occured to you that the reason you have
so much criticism of other filmmakers is because you
know that you will never reach a level where y0ou can
I read a couple of your scripts, and to be honest, they
are utter pieces of trash. So, good luck watching from
the outside in, but know that even though you embrace
your sensibilities, you only have them because you have
for letting me in on my downfalls, it's very big of
you. I'm sorry I haven't heard of you, is there something
you've done I ought to know about?
E-mail: I have a question on the three act structure...
you don't mind, I am having a problem with your beloved
three act structure. With "American Beauty",
you say it does not have a three act structure. WTF?!
This is where the acts end properly:
1 in which Lester realizes his life stinks.
ACT 2 in which Lester tries to change his life.
ACT 3 Lester achieves and falls victim to his new freedom.
is that not a three act structure?
beloved three-act structure? How about Aristotle, Euripides,
Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and
William Inge's beloved three-act structure? How about
all the great screenwriters, like Carl Foreman, Michael
Wilson, Daniel Taradash, Robert Riskin, Paddy Chayefsky,
Budd Schulberg, Dudley Nichols, on and on. Lester realizes
his life stinks in the first sixty seconds, what happens
at the end of act one that's a dramatic point of no
return? How about the end of act two? Just because you
can find three commercial breaks in the story doesn't
make it properly structured.
you tell us what you thought about the following films:
"Sleepers" and the late Ted Demme's "Blow"?
didn't see "Sleepers," but I thought "Blow"
was a big nothing. I never gave a damn about Johnny
Depp or anything he was going through, and it was all
sort of a bore. To me Johnny Depp is always adequate,
but never any more than that, and ultimately kind of