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Page 71

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

Dear Josh:

Just a comment: In The Lion Sleeps in Winter there are three sons. Dalton isn't one though, he plays the prince or young king of France come over to negotiate (and we find out he's been having an affair with Hopkin's character when he was in France).

Dear Dan:

I don't get away with anything. Sheesh! "The Lion Sleeps in Winter"? Was that The Tokens follow-up to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"?

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I'm glad you mentioned THE LION IN WINTER. It's one of my favorite films, and I've even managed to drag some of my friends into watching it (no mean feat, as one of them patently refuses to watch almost anything over ten years old). That was an incredible ensemble cast, almost a who's who of up and comers (I can't remember who played Prince John, but he became somewhat famous as well). It is also an example of superbly scripted dialogue; you get the feeling that Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole aren't so much speaking as they are duelling with words. Anthony Hopkins smashed stereotypes of homosexuality with his portrayal of Richard the Lionheart. It was much better than the portrayal of the young Edward II in BRAVEHEART, also a young prince who would have difficulty siring an heir, if you know what I mean. Adapted from a play, it had more dialogue than action, but in this case the dialogue WAS the action. I'm going to put it on my Netflix list and watch it again.

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

P.S. On a side note, I know that you were less than fond of BRAVEHEART, but there were three very good performances in the film that redeem it somewhat. First is Patrick McGoohan, who was excellent as Edward I, combining the laid-back cerebral villainy of Claude Rains' Prince John and Basil Rathbone's physical power as Guy of Guisborne in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. The second is David O'Hara's performance as the Irish madman Stephen, which was eclectic and enjoyable (I particularly liked that bit of business when Hamish asks him why he talks to the air; is his father a ghost or the Almighty; to which he replies "in order to find his equal, an Irishman is forced to talk to God!"). The third was a minor role but nonetheless well played: Ian Bannen's performance as the leprous father of Robert the Bruce. That performance was strange to me, as the only other film I saw Ian Bannen in was THE HILL (he was the sympathetic Staff Sergeant in that film), when he was out of make-up and much younger. In the wasteland of modern film, I find myself forced the glean the few good bits out of otherwise bad films.
D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

Patrick McGoohan was good, the rest I don't remember as the film annoyed me so much I've tried to put it out of my head. Ian Bannen is also very good in "The Offence" with Sean Connery, directed by Sidney Lumet, which is a weird, intense, disturbing film that doesn't really come off, and made by the same folks that made "The Hill."

Josh

Name: John Hunt
E-mail: Chowkidar@aol.com

Josh,

Two easy questions for you. First, Mike Ditz is listed as a "still photographer". Are these publicity photos or do they serve a more technical role? Second, you mention several times about storyboarding. I believe that these are drawings which indicate a scene's setup, camera angle, etc. Is that right? If so, you drew them yourself? Could an example be posted? Thanks as always.

John

Dear John:

Mike shot the publicity stills for many of our films. He's shot more technical photographs, too, like background plates for special effects, but mainly they're for distribution and publicity purposes. Yes, storyboards are for showing the composition, the juxtaposition of one to the other to see the cutting, as well as the number of shots the director has in mind. Here are some of my storyboards from "Lunatics," drawn in 1989.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I just thought of another starting bit role for a now famous actor. Richard Dreyfus had one line in THE GRADUATE, in one of the dorm scenes ("somebody call the cops!"). I never realized that that was him until he mentioned it on David Letterman. He also had an offscreen line in VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, where he finds the actress dead at the end of the film (the line is him calling for her in her dressing room and knocking on the door, the knocking getting more rapid and desperate as he realizes something is wrong). This one doesn't really count, but the singer Phil Collins was an extra on A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (the twelve-year-old Collins was one of the kids in the theater during the final concert scene). I can't think of anymore off the top of my head.

Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

Harrison Ford has a tiny bit in "Getting Straight" in 1970. The famous British author, Martin Amis (son of famous British author, Kingsley Amis), is one of the kids aboard a pirate ship run by Anthony Quinn in "A High Wind in Jamaica" in 1965. These are both legitimate parts, but the two sons in "A Lion in Winter" are (in their first films roles) Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton. John Hurt has a small, but good role in "A Man for all Seasons" in 1966. That's all I can think of at the moment.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I wasn't sure that that was Jeff Goldblum in DEATH WISH, so thanks for confirming it ("Rich cunt!" 'smack!' "I KILL rich cunts!"). That put me in mind of other films where now famous actors made small or relatively small appearances. There was Steve McQueen in SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME, Lawrence Fishburne in APOCALYPSE NOW, Alex Winter (of BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE fame) in DEATH WISH III, Clint Eastwood in THEM! (he was the jet pilot at the end, wasn't he?), and of course, Gary Cooper in WINGS (that one may be a double: Coop's first film appearance, and the first known example of product placement in cinema history - the Hershey bar that he was eating and left on his cot in plain sight). Can you think of any others?

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

Certainly "Apocalypse Now" is a Lawrence Fishburne's first film, but that's a major role, he's on camera for half the film. I was acquainted with Larry for a while in the early 1980s, when his acting career was in the toilet and he was working as a PA. He told me he went down to the Philippines when he was sixteen, and when he got back he was nineteen. What's so shocking about Gary Cooper in "Wings" is that he's so much more of movie star than either of the leads, Richard Arlen or Charles "Buddy" Rogers, who are both wimps wearing too much make-up. Sadly, though, Coop enters the film, then immediately crashes and dies in an airplane. Regarding big stars first small parts, there's Sylvester Stallone as a thug in "Take the Money and Run," Meryl Streep in "Julia," James Woods in "The Way We Were," you can just barely see Sigourney Weaver in "Annie Hall" for a second, as well as Jeff Goldblum, who has one line ("I forgot my mantra"), Richard Farnsworth as one of bounty hunters in "Papillion," Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Robert Mitchum is in one scene in "The Human Comedy" in 1943, John Wayne plays a male secretary in one scene in "Baby Face" in 1933, Robert Redford is an extra in "The Music Man," in 1962, Lana Turner has a great little bit part in a very tight sweater, walking up a sidewalk so that she looks like "jello on springs" in "They Won't Forget" in 1937, Marylin Monroe has a great little bit (looking fantastic) in "All About Eve," oh, and let's not forget Raoul Walsh as John Wilkes Booth in "Birth of a Nation," as well as John Ford as the klansman wearing glasses. But I go on. Anyone else?

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I've been out of the loop for awhile (duty calls), and I was just reading the old emails. I saw that you mentioned a Van Gogh painting titled "The Pool Room" in a recent posting. If the scene is one of an empty pool room, the billiard table lit by an overhanging light, and chairs and tables around, then the painting is actually titled "The Night Cafe." I'm no art expert (I would actually buy that print of dogs playing poker), but I've seen that painting in person (it's in the collection of the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven, CT). Didn't mean to be a smartass, just curious if I was thinking of the same painting.
Anyway, on to a question. What do you think of the DEATH WISH films? I liked them, at least through Part III, and found that they attempted an allegory of a social issue, namely, the explosion of urban crime in the late '60s and '70s, and the seeming helplessness of the police and legal system to deal with it. In that regard, they are not unlike other films of the '70s that deal with these issues, such as DIRTY HARRY and SHAFT. Perhaps I'm reading too much into a simple slew of action movies, but at least in the case of DEATH WISH, the fact that the protagonist provided a seemingly simple solution to a difficult problem was what made the film so popular. The character of Paul Kersey represents the end of American innocence, and the cynicism that replaced '60s liberalism. His frustration with the establishment's failure to help him is the frustration of a nation. Although the characterization was a little weak (the audience is supposed to believe that Charles Bronson is a "bleeding heart liberal" simply because someone at work calls him one), the fact that the film touched a nerve (and spawned four sequels) is undeniable. Do you suppose that this was accidental, or a deliberate plan on the parts of the filmakers?

Yours truly,
Darryl "Whack the bad guy with a sock full of quarters" Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

I'm sure you're right about the Van Gogh, although there are people in the room, and a man in white standing beside the pool table. I've had it on my wall for years, but it's not titled. Anyway, I enjoyed the first "Death Wish," particularly Herbie Hancock's score, but all the sequels seemed like crap to me and I finally stopped seeing them. It's amusing that one of the delinquent kids is Jeff Goldblum in his first film. I liked "Dirty Harry" a lot more -- it's got a better script, and Don Siegel was a better director than Michael Winner. I didn't like any of those sequels, either, though. Quite frankly, I just can't stand sequels, which, as William Goldman so aptly put it, are all "whore's films."

Josh

Name: Martin
E-mail: pacemakerfilms@aol.com

Hello Josh,

I am a recent film school graduate from Orlando,Florida. In a month or so I plan on moving back home to Michigan, and I need to become involved in the film community there. Personaly, I do not want to move to LA and deal with all of the red tape as I have dealt with it here in this wanna be town of Orlando for the past two years.
What would your advise be for me wanting to get into the film communtity in Michigan. I am a screenwriter and have completed film school( ie: I don't know crap) I would like to continue learning and also branch of and do my own thing when time/money allows. Is there a venue or "way" that I could "get in" when I come back to Michigan, without sitting on my ass, answering phones for a small production company that makes two psa's a year?

PS: I met you a few years ago at a screening of RUNNING TIME on Broadway in Detroit, I still think about the kid who after the movie ended said " That lead actor was pretty good, who is he" and everone moaned and said 'Thats Bruce Campbell'.

Thanks Josh,
Martin

Dear Martin:

It's not like there's a really thriving film industry in Detroit, unless you want to work on car commercials or industrial films. There's that group where you saw "Running Time"--I forget their name--run by Bob Anderson and Wayne Indyke, both very nice, bright guys (Bob was a sound editor on TSNKE and Wayne was a grip on "Lunatics"). There's the Studio on Washington Ave., run by Brian and Aida Lawrence, which is an actor's studio (they did the casting for TSNKE), and they generally know about any features going on in town. And there's Bob Dyke, who has made two features and I believe is about to start another one. His company used to be Magic Lantern Prods. He may well be worth contacting. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Josh,

What are your thoughts and opinions on the art of stop-motion animation? Do you have any favorite pieces/films that utilize this art?
Thank you.

Best Regards,
Dylan

Dear Dylan:

They don't do anything stop-motion anymore, do they? I thought there was a certain charm to stop-motion clay animation that is absent from the digital versions we now get, like "Shrek." I was madly in love with cartoons as a kid -- the one-reel, short-subject sort -- but I never really cared for any kind of animation at feature-length. To me it's a ten-minute form.

Josh

Name: John Hunt
E-mail: chowkidar@aol.com

Josh,

Regarding "The Beast", I didn't mind the Americanizations. I considered that a parallelism, trying to show that the Soviets in Afghanistan were facing a situation similar to Vietnam. Besides, I've studied Russian History and their explatives make no sense to me. I also thought that the characters were all well motivated, and that there was a structure to the story. I haven't seen any other movies dealing with the Afghan War (have you?) and I appreciate that, especially given the timing of the movie. I wouldn't classify it as a great movie, but I did think it good.

I know that you have issues with sequels, at least in general, but what do you think about series? I think "Horatio Hornblower", "Sharpes ...", and the "Jeeves and Wooster" series were all well done, though admitedly for cable. Thanks as always.

John

Dear John:

I've never seen any of those series, but a series is a very different animal than a sequel. A series was meant to keep going, a sequel is an after-thought done strictly for money. The only series shows I watch are "The Simpsons" and "Sex in the City."

Josh

Name: XenaHerc
E-mail: XLWH@aol.com
Dear Josh: Hi Josh.

Are you aware that Andrew Kovacevich who played the innkeeper in the episode you directed "In Sickness and In Hell" has died?

He died in a fall from his porch on May 18.

He was 39 years old, about the same age as Kevin Smith.

Here is the news link -

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?thesection=news&thesubsection=
&storyID=2042962


Take care,

XenaHerc

Dear XenaHerc:

Thanks for informing me of this. Andrew was a very nice guy, and it seems to me he was in another episode I did, too. What's happening to the New Zealand actors? And he died falling off his porch? What could that possibly be about?

Josh

Name: ZEKE
E-mail: dont have one

Dear Josh,

I was going through your archives and I didn't see that you saw these films: LANTANA & L.I.E. You should somehow check them out. It would be interesting to hear what you have to say about them.

I'm also curious to know what you have to say about the classic noirs: Polansky's FORCE OF EVIL & Lang's FURY.

later for now,
ZEKE

Dear Zeke:

"Lantana" is on the list, "L.I.E." wasn't available. I think "Fury" is Fritz Lang's best film, and I think "Force of Evil" is over-rated and too talky for it's own good. Abraham Polonsky was quite a good screenwriter, but an unexceptional director.

Josh

Name: ALAN
E-mail: picquickstudio@aol.com

Hi Josh.

Yesterday I saw Henry Bean's THE BELIEVER, an excellent film, and I was very impressed by the astoundingly good performance from Ryan Gosling. I have to be honest and say if I had had to predict which of the stars of the HERCULES and XENA franchises would emerge as an effective big screen performer Gosling would be have been my last choice as I thought he was terrible in "Young Hercules" when compared to his predecessor Ian Bohen.
Were you surprised at how good an actor Gosling has become (assuming you have seen THE BELIEVER) or did you hear good reports of his ability when you were in New Zealand yourself whilst his show was shooting?

Dear Alan:

I didn't even know Ryan Gosling was in "Young Herc." I liked "The Believer," and I watched it twice. Ryan Gosling was very good. I'm glad he got another break after "Young Herc."

Josh

Name: John Hunt
E-mail: Chowkidar@aol.com

Josh,

I've been reading the archives; I'm up to page 57. It's now on my recommended readings list, not that anyone's asking. Still, I started visiting this site too late! I liked "Xena" but would have had more fun with the fanatics. The long-term regulars, and you and they know who they are, are an impressive, literate group. The references to Kevin Smith are poignant in retrospect. He seemed like a stand-up guy. I don't know if you've seen the testaments posted by TR's and Alex Tydings' websites, but they paint a vivid picture.

Somewhere you mention having written a review of Disney's "The Black Hole". There is a scene where Ernest Borgnine is looking into the faceplate of a zombie-crewmember and muttering something or other. His, Borgnine's, facial expressions in that scene always impressed me. I was pleased that BC used Borgnine as an example of professionalism in "Chins".

Another person mentioned in discussions is Jason Patric. He was in the movie "The Beast" which I always liked. You seem to have a penchant for war movies and small group settings and I wonder what you thought of this movie. Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

I liked the idea of "The Beast," but the script and execution left a lot to be desired. I had severe problems with making the whole tank crew Americans, then saying they were Russians, including a "surfer dude" character, as though there were such things in Russia. Where does he surf? The Baltic? More than that, I have a problem with all of Kevin Reynolds films, which are all really knuckleheaded on some level. I just watched "187" and it sucked, taking a serious issue, melodramatically overplaying it, then moving into unbelievable dramatic nonsense.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I'm not even gonna ask why I'm seeing the Houston Herald instead of your Main page when I type in beckerfilms.com. Are you trying to mess with my head?

Dear ______:

Our server was down for a few days. Why Beckerfilms would become the Houston Herald is beyond me, though.

Josh

Name: Don
E-mail: doderoch@nmu.edu

Dear Josh:

I just happened to be reading The Crazy Man, and I happened to notice you had mentioned my home town, Ishpeming in it. Although you were right about being in the middle of no where, you made us sound like a bunch of boring geeks. I was just wondering how you had known that this place exists, if you like to drink beer, and have you had one of Ishpeming cudighis?

don

Dear Don:

I'm from Michigan, too, although I'm from Detroit. As kids, if my father meant "the middle of nowhere" he would say "Ishpeming," so I used it as the setting of that story. Sorry if I made you Ishpemingites sound like boring geeks.

Josh

Name: ben
E-mail: benedict@oct.net

Josh,

I just finished a short script. It's only 12 pages, but I think it will be a fun project. Did you say that structure can be overlooked on short films? Anyway, I guess I'm just wondering what the next step is. There will be no funding or set design, since it will just take place in a laundromat, which I can get for free (wow, what connections!). I guess I should go to some local performing arts theatres and look for the two cast members and a minimal crew, huh? A camera operator, make-up and wardrobe person, maybe someone who knows about lighting (I'm hoping that the available light in a laundromat will be better than, say, a bar, which was the scene's original setting), and someone to make some sandwiches at lunch time. Is that all there is to it? Just give it a shot? Or is this casual attitude detrimental somehow?

Thanks.

Benedict

Dear Benedict:

No, I never said structure can be overlooked in a short, I just said it wasn't nearly as crucial as with a feature. Still, 12 minutes can be grueling if the script is bad. If you want the film to look any good you still need to light it. Minimally, bring a piece of white poster board with you to kick some light back at people. Perhaps you want to operate the camera yourself, which will make certain you get what you want. Otherwise, good luck, and have fun.

Josh

Name: Nico
E-mail: nicoheaven@hotmail.com

Josh,

What do you think of Andy Warhol? Are you into painters at all? If so, whom?

Dear Nico:

Are you the reincarnation of Warhol's Nico, Christa Paffgen? I honestly don't give a damn about Warhol as a painter or a filmmaker. He's a good example of the modern artist who really has no talent, but is just out to fool the establishment, like Jackson Pollock, or Damien Hirst. I much prefer the Dutch Masters, where you can actually see their incredible talents splashed all over the canvas. I'm also a big fan of the impressionists, who were all very talented, and I can clearly see what they were up to. I have a couple of Monet reproductions on my wall and they take my breath away. I'm looking at his "Twilight in Venice" and "Haystacks" right now, and his use of color and composition move me. I've also got Van Gogh's "The Pool Room" on my wall, and that gets me, too.

Josh

Name: denise
E-mail: denise.jones@saintpatricks.nsw.edu.au

Dear Josh:

i want the world to see who i am and i feel i can only do this through television. i am a 17 yr old irish female (with an irish accent) and have only now serioulsy considered performing arts. i live in sydney, can you give me any information on how to "go about" getting into the industry? i am now applying to the local theatre and possibly an agent.
thanks

Dear Denise:

I suggest finding a working director and start sleeping with him or her. That's probably your best chance. Next to that, try training a little more. At seventeen you only think you know everything, but alas, you probably hardly know anything about your craft. The more you train, the more you'll realize what you're getting yourself into. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Michael
E-mail: mikeship@cbn.net.id

Hi, Josh.

Thanks for the quick answer before. :)

You've probably heard that Sam Raimi's production company, Renaissance Pictures, has made a deal to start making horror movies. Are you going to be involved with this? Hope so!

Dear Michael:

For the time being, I believe it's just one horror film, and no I'm not involved. Sam's pretty touchy about this kind of thing, I'll be kind of surprised if they actually make it.

Josh

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

Hi Josh

Only for say that the rented movie tonight was The Bridge on River Kwai. What a joy! You have all the right. Is full of irony, from the fate of William Holden character (he escaped of Stalag 17 to fall in Camp 16?) to the marvelous end. Thanks for name always that wonderfull movie...

Dear Fabio:

I'm glad you enjoyed it. And let me tell you, it wasn't easy to make. We spent months in Ceylon shooting it. That's a funny idea that Holden escaped from "Stalag 17" and ended up in "The Bridge on the River Kwai." His character isn't even in the book, BTW.

Josh

Name: Matt Warren
E-mail: mattamy@earthlink.net

Josh,

Okay, I'll try and keep this brief (good luck) I've been writing screenplays for some time and wish to direct as well. I am currently trying to put together a shoot for a low-budget script just to get my hands dirty. I've talked with several very honest professionals who have given me great feedback on equipment (HD cameras, lighting, grip, stereo sound, editing, etc) Though I am planning enrolled and will be beginning school for this field in the fall, I really am irking to give this a shot sooner (as long as I can get all the money) My question is, if a pro can show me how to use the equipment I choose, give me a crash course you can say, is it reasonable to think that I would be able to pull off a low-budget, fairly straight forward project? Your thoughts on learning the basics of the equipment from a pro and then giving it a shot myself would be appreciated.

Thanks a million,
Matt

Dear Matt:

My question to you is, to what end? Is the purpose just to shoot something for the sake of shooting it? Or would you like to be able to sell it afterward? If it's the former, then I recommend making a short first. If you haven't made a really good (or any) short films first, you probably shouldn't be making a feature. And the bottom line of a feature at this moment in time is that unless it's shot on film, you won't be able to sell it to anyone. Using the equipment is the least of your problems. It's the concepts of directing, working with actors, and montage that are the issues, and you'll only pick those things up by doing it. Make a really good short first instead of a crappy feature.

Josh

Name: Xavier Jennette
E-mail: xaviervidal@juno.com

Mr. Becker,

I'm about to shoot a documentary, the setting will be in forum style. There will not be any more than a dozen people. Any ideas on the best way to do this?
Also, as an independent film maker with a feature in the can already, would you suggest creating a trailer to shop it around to the big guns?
One more, how do you feel about the african american presence on the silver screen today, and do you have us within your films or employed by you?

Sincerely,

Xavier
5 onthe BlackHand Side Films

Dear Xavier:

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "in forum style," people sitting on stage talking? If so, you would probably want to shoot with multiple cameras if you can get them. I've shot pilot versions of my films to raise money to make the features, then I've cut a trailer from the feature. To shop a feature around, though, people really want to see the whole film, projected in a screening room or a theater, if possible. Also, I've had African-American actors in all of my movies, and in major parts in several of them. On "Xena" I always intentionally cast a variety of ethnic groups, and any part that wasn't specifically called out as Caucasian, I always tried to cast ethnically, which in New Zealand meant with Maoris, the native New Zealanders, or Asians. I like ethnically diverse casts, if possible.

Josh

Name: Erin
E-mail: witchesmagick@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Is Lunatics: A Love Story going to be made into a DVD? I think it would be neat to hear your/Ted Raimi's or anyone else's commentary on it.

Dear Erin:

I can't see it happening in the forseeable future. Sorry.

Josh

Name: Kevin Mills
E-mail: thespythatshagsu@rogers.com

Dear Josh:

I saw your comments about Bound. I agree with your lack of characterization and just having the screw instead....

...this is from the same guys who brung (and are bringing) us the Matrix series.....ugh

I was wondering if Hard Core Logo showed up at your doorstep yet.

Dear Kevin:

Not yet. I must say that I liked "Bound" better than "The Matrix." I'd rather watch attractive girls get it on than watch Keanu Reeves do anything.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail: John@lycos.com

Dear Josh:

I just bought a used Canon 514XL-S super 8 camera, and I intend to shoot a short film. I have a few questions: Is EASTMAN EKTACHROME VNF 7240 Film any good? Secondly, Bill Warren's Evil Dead Companion says that Within the Woods was shot at 18fps (24fps when Bruce was on screen). I thought 18fps would move too fast, however, Within the Woods ran smoothly. So shooting 18fps will be fine? Thanks.

Dear John:

That's not true, "Within the Woods" was entirely shot at 24 fps. so that it would be easier to transfer to video tape. Super-8 can be shot at 18 fps. or 24 fps., and it won't look weird either way because you project it at the speed you shot it. We shot all the super-8 films (about sixty films) at 18 fps., then, when we started to get serious and wanted to transfer to video tape, we started shooting at 24 fps. 18fps. doesn't transfer very well. But let's face it, super-8 in general doesn't transfer very well to video. I personally think it's a defunct technology and you'd be a lot better off shooting DV. Oh, and Ektachrome is good film, it's rated at ASA 160 under tungsten light, and I think 120 in daylight (I could be wrong about that). Kodachrome has much richer colors and more contrast.

Josh

Name: Raymond Rantuccio
E-mail: filmsrpriceless@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

If you don't mind, I need some advice about a script I am currently about to work on. Basically, I have mostly everything visioned in my head that I will flesh into a treatment soon. However, there is a problem. The story will take place mostly in a character's apartment room. I'm aware Linklater's "Tape" takes place in a hotel room, but it is based on a play. I am planning on writing a screenplay based on my story, not a play. I don't know whether I should change it to a play format, or a screenplay format. Everyone that I have asked so far gave me the suggestion to make it a play since it is all interior, with the exception of one scene, which is going to take place exterior. I wanted to ask you for your opinion, since you have more knowledge in screenplays than anyone I've asked, and I know you can help me. You always seem to give the best answer. Any advice?

P.S. See any new movies (good or bad) lately?

Dear Raymond:

Who cares what other people think is the right theing to do? Do what you think is the right thing to do. If you think it's a screenplay, then write it that way. As a play, however, you might get someone to put it on. As a screenplay, if you don't shoot it then nothing can be done with it. Screenplays only have two ultimate ends: they are shot, or they are abandoned. And by the way, writing a full-length drama that's entirely in one room will very difficult. Good luck.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail: Chowkidar@aol.com

Josh,

As regards your project, "Terrified", with BC and TR, I hope you include comedy. For one thing, I could probably watch half an hour of BC and TR eating breakfast with 20 lines between them. I also think that comedy need not be "spoof" or parody, a belief which seems to be a current trend. Finally, I think that good comedy, even physical comedy, requires thought as to pacing, delivery, etc. The funniest people I know tend to be the most intelligent and I don't see why that shouldn't hold for movies, even horror movies, as well.

As a general question, I wonder that you haven't attempted more outright comedies. You have a knack for them, I think. I realize that your early shorts were largely comedies (I have a collection of them). I would think that comedies might find distribution more readily, though that is an uninformed impression. Obviously, you should and will make the movie you wish to make, but I do think you have a gift for comedy. Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

I have a comedy idea I'd like to do with Bruce and Ted, also, but they think a horror film is more of a sure bet, and I can't argue with them. I probably shouldn't have even mentioned the project since most of these things dry up and blow away before you know what happened.

Josh

Name: Josh
E-mail:

Dear J-money

Ive read many questions that ask about your favorite films. To me you seem more of the literary type, I'm not(more math). So I was wondering what films you think have the best screenplays and scrip

Dear Josh:

My favorite example is "The Bridge on the River Kwai," which I think is a brilliant script, by Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman, but there are many, many scripts I like and admire, although not recently. Robert Bolt's script for "Lawrence of Arabia" is really terrific. Daniel Taradash's script for "From Here to Eternity," Sylvester Stallone's script for "Rocky," David Webb Peoples' script for "Unforgiven." This could go on and on. It's not that I'm really that literary of a character, I just like well-written scripts. Call me a stick-in-the-mud. I just watched "Bound" at somebody here's recommendation. Well, it was okay, but they substituted lesbian sex for characterization and motivation. It's a whole lot easier to write "they fuck" then actually have to deal with who they really are. And do I actually believe that these gals would steal $2 million from the mob? No. And that's one of the better recent films I've seen. So, if wanting the movies I see to be written with some sense of logic or intelligence, then I guess I am a literary type.

Josh

Name: Andrew Chin
E-mail: pilgrims@enter.net

Dear Josh,

Would you happen to know any director's sites or any directors that might be interested in making a remake of Logan's Run. If the movie were to be completely remade it would be great especially with modern day technology. it s a great story and i I really do believe stongly believe there are issues in the movie "Logan's Run" that can be presented. As the orignal one focused heavily on youth culture themes, the remake can focus on another major theme. the movie would be in a time where a totalitarian government police machinery taking hold utilizes religious and otherwise propaganda to brainwash the civilianship into institutionalized idiocy. THis is a sci-fi fantasy: In a post-apocalyptic urban environment several centuries hence, Logan 5 (Michael York) and his friend Francis 7 (Richard Jordan) lead unquestioning lives of hedonism. Entertainment comes in the form of casual sexual liaisons and gladiatorial games in which those who do not wish to undergo euthanasia at the age of 30 vie for the illusory chance of continued life. As "sandmen," Logan and Francis are charged with tracking down and killing "runners" -- those citizens who will submit to neither "renewal" (a peaceful death) nor "carousel" when their time comes. When Logan grows intrigued by a beautiful young woman, who plans to become a runner, he is forced to question the fundamental principles of his society. And when his superiors force him to pose as a runner himself to weed out Jessica's guerilla underground, Logan finds himself fleeing the city in search of a mythical place called Sanctuary where people are allowed to live out their natural spans.

Dear Andrew:

I thought "Logan's Run" was a cheesy piece of junk to start with, and I HATE remakes.

Josh

Name: Charles
E-mail: cscorder@hotmail.com

Josh:

I saw "Enemy At The Gates" and I thought it was two-thirds of a good movie. The last third of the movie contained two particularly phony scenes (characters behaving in ways that violated all of the plot development up to that point) that sort of spoiled it for me. Ron Perlman was terrific, though.

Speaking of Burt Lancaster, I had the good fortune to see "The Train" again recently. It's really a caper movie if you think about it. And the special effects were terrific, but they served the story rather than being the centerpiece of the movie. And Paul Scofield was at least as good as Burt in the role of the Nazi commander.

I took the kids to see "Spider-Man." I'll give it this: unlike so much of what Hollywood spews out today, I enjoyed it and didn't hate myself afterward for going to see it. It's a comic book movie like so many that Sam has made, and he's very good, if not the best at making comic book movies. Great art or even a great movie? No. Pleasant diversion for a couple of hours? Yes.

Josh, good luck on your latest project. And I still have my fingers crossed that I'll see "Hammer" one of these days.

Charles

Dear Charles:

I do, too. I like "The Train" a lot, and I think it's a terrific example of what movies used to be and aren't anymore. It's a believable action story with highly ironic premise. My friend John and I used "The Train" as the film Steven Spielberg not only could never make, I bet he doesn't get it and probably can't sit through it. If you pitched him the story of a train- load of great art being shipped out of France by the Nazis, and the Nazi Colonel in charge is an art expert that loves these paintings, and the French resistance fighter given the responsibility to stop the train could care less about them and may even blow up the train and the paintings to stop them from leaving, Spielberg would sagely wag his finger at you and tell you that the story is wrong -- the Nazi should not care about the paintings, and the resistance fighter must love them. That way you eliminate all that confusing irony, and the good guy is totally good and the bad guy is totally bad.

Josh

Name: Michael Shipley
E-mail: mikeship@cbn.net.id

Dear Josh:

C'mon, where's the review of Spiderman? You know you gotta do it! ;)

Mike

Dear Mike:

Look, Sam's my friend. He's made the sixth largest-grossing film of all-time, and I wish him all the very best in the world. My views on this sort of film are well-known, and I don't need to reiterate them.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I knuckled under and went to see STAR WARS, EPISODE II last night (I had a free pass), and it spurred an observation on my part about George Lucas. He may not be very good at directing character interaction, and sometimes fails to create believable or sympathetic characters in the first place, but he his very good at details (the background). By details, I mean set dressing, extras, that sort of thing. If you watch any of the STAR WARS films, there is alot going on in the background. In Episode II (don't worry, this is NOT a plot giveaway) there are several city scenes that are very well fleshed-out: there are large screen tv's on buildings (a la Times Square in NYC) with commercials on them, people are moving about and interacting (some CGI, some real) and all the sets have depth to them. Lucas' talent is to make alien locations exotic, but entirely believable at the same time. It is no great stretch of the imagination for the viewer to believe that alien worlds exist in these films; they have depth and multiple layers, just like locations in the real world. In short, Lucas is able to sell far off galaxies and other planets in the background, but unable sell his main characters' behavior in the foreground. This inability leads to one result: an exciting, $200 million travelogue of exotic locales, with these annoying people (the actors) getting in the way of the camera. I call that unintentional irony.

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

P.S. In all fairness to Mr. Lucas, he HAS supported and nurtured technology that almost every film made in the last 25 years has used. I noticed that he filmed Episode II digitally, entirely without film stock. As an independent filmaker, do you support this technology? I would think that once the technique proliferated and became commonplace, getting a film made would be easier than ever before. Photography, lighting, editing, could all be done or modified through a PC. The thought of it is exciting, as it will hopefully ease the financial burden for filmakers more concerned with good films (like yourself) than with commercial crap, and pump more well crafted films into circulation. What do you think?

D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

Yeah, but to me that's $200 million worth of missing the point. It's not about the background, it's about the foreground. That's just another variation of all modern movies reviews, which go: "The story was terrible, but the effects were great," or "I hated the characters, but terrific photography." Any variation of that theme annoys and pisses me off. Bruce took his 14-year old son, Andy, to "Star Wars 5" (sorry, but there's been five of them), and he was bored out of his skull the entire film, poking Bruce, crawling on the floor, talking, etc. Then, after the film, Bruce asked what he thought, and Andy said, "It was great." Bruce was a bit shocked, and said "But you were bored the whole film, how could it be great?" Andy shrugged and said, "I guess I've never seen a great film." So, Lucas gives great background action. So what? That's like saying the guy's a terrible painter, but uses terrific canvas. For me, if the foreground action sucks, then automatically it all sucks, backgrounds and all. Meanwhile, the use of digital makes a lot of sense if every shot is a digital effect. Shooting digitally also makes perfect sense with documentaries right now. But not for features, because the paying markets still won't buy them. Yes, there's been a few features shot on DV, but they all had something else going for them, like an all-star cast, or $200 million worth of special effects. It's also harder to light DV and make it look as good as film. Bruce just starred in a film for the Sci-Fi Channel that was shot digital high-def, and it was a big pain in the ass, more expensive, and no one liked it. The cameras were $7,500 a week. A decent 35mm camera is $1,000 a week. And to get the digital image to 35mm right now costs $1.25 a frame, and there are 144,000 frames in a 100-minute movie. This will undoubtedly all change in the future, but it's not there yet.

Josh

Name: Benedict
E-mail: benedict@oct.net

Josh,

It seems like cutting a trailer is an art form all its own. This question popped into my mind when you said that "Windtalkers" looked like it might be okay. Even if you ultimitely don't like the fim, which happens most often, how often do you enjoy the trailer? Do you find that the trailers are being done well these days? If anything, I think people are better at trailers than movies, because a lot of times, I'll be prepared for the epitome of whatever genre it is (the funniest comedy, scariest thriller, etc.) and then I'm quite disappointed. Who has the say so for the trailer in a major studio film? Director? Editor?

Dear Benedict:

Generally, film companies hire one of the several big trailer-cutting houses, who then come up with an approach (or several), then end up cutting several versions. I find that most trailers these days are cut almost exactly the same. There seems to be two basic approaches: 1. VO Narration: "In a world . . ." and this goes onto something like, ". . . Where wrong is right, and right is wrong," or "In a world where giant bugs have taken over the universe . . ." then it goes into a fast montage with hard-driving, thumping music; 2. The conceptual zooming idea, VO Narration: "A town, a house, a family, a secret . . ." fast montage with thumping music. The editor that's cut most of my movies, Kaye Davis, has cut hundreds of trailers and they almost all seem the same.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Sorry man, I wasn't trying to blow the movie for you (Enemy at the Gates). My mom yells at me for the same thing; If I like a film, I get excited about it and forget that other people may not have seen it yet.
Thinking of the film put me in mind of an interesting book that I read awhile ago, which sheds some light on a well-known film. It was called PLATOON BRAVO COMPANY, and was written by LTC (Ret.) Don Hemphill. Don Hemphill, was commander of B co. 3-22 Infantry, 25 Infantry Division (Light) just prior to and during the TET Offensive. What makes this fact significant was that in the 3rd Platoon of that company was a young SPEC-4 named Oliver Stone. Hemphill makes mention of Stone, referring to him as a good soldier and a talented man. However, his account of life in a line company in Viet Nam and Stone's differ markedly. For instance, many of the events that Stone writes of taking place (rampant drug use, murder of NCO's, atrocities) did not occur, or occured differently from the way he described them. As Hemphill put it "I wasn't in B co. as long as Stone was, so I can't speak for his whole time in the company. I CAN say though, that I kept my men way too busy to get into that kind of trouble while I was there." [paraphrased, not an exact quote]. His book does offer an interesting account of his own experience, of "months of boredom, punctuated by minutes of intense action." It was an interesting read.
Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

It's not like Stone said at the beginning of "Platoon" that it was a true story. I always felt that it was a ficticious story woven into real events. It's not important whether anyone fragged the CO in his platoon, it happened numerous times in other ones. And there's no question there was a lot of pot smoking, as well as other drug-taking, too. My buddy Sheldon wrote a play about being in Vietnam called "Tracers," and there's a terrific scene of a bunch of soldiers whacked on heroin sitting by the wire of the firebase watching the tracers streak by. I still think that "Platoon" is the best of all the Vietnam movies, kind of by far. I also like "Go To the Spartans" with good old Burt Lancaster (hey, we're back to that topic). Another good one is "Bat 21" with Gene Hackman and Danny Glover, and that's based on a true story.

Josh

Name: I L Diamond
E-mail: can't give

Mr. Becker,

The new film by John Woo called Windtalkers looks awesome. I sure hope you check it out. You do have a movie theater close by, don't you?

What is the log line of the new horror film you are currently undertaking? Have you actually written the script, or are you still in the treatment stage?

Good luck to you,
I L

Dear IL:

"Windtalkers" looks okay, but just like most Hollywood films, if it's about ethnic characters then a white guy has to have the lead. Like "Geronimo: An American Legend," starring Jason Patric, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, then Wes Studi as Geronimo, who ends up being a supporting character in his own story. I watched the "60 Minutes II" report about the Navajo code-talkers, and non of the white bodyguards ever had to kill the Navajo they were guarding because he might fall into enemy hands, which it seems to me is the dramatic basis of the whole film "Windtalkers."

I don't want to share the logline of the story I'm writing just yet. Call me superstitious. I completed the treatment, but haven't begun the script yet.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I saw that trailer for MARTY on TCM a few months ago (I love the way that they show trailers in between the movies on TCM, as if they were current coming attractions), and Burt was very good in it. It makes you want to watch the film simply because he politely stated that he thought it was good.
I noticed someone mentioned ENEMY AT THE GATES, and I also recommend it. In short, the director took a three paragraph snippet from a book on the Russian front of World War II and blew it up into a plot for his film. It's about a duel between two snipers at the battle of Stalingrad: one Russian, one German. The German sniper (played by Ed Harris), a master shooter from the Wehrmacht's sniper school, is called in to find and kill the Russian sniper (played by Jude Law), who has become a Russian folk hero by inflicting costly casualties on the invading Germans. It is very good visually, and tells an even-handed story (Jude Law is the hero, but Ed Harris is not demonized because of this). The director manages to create tension in a difficult situation; he makes lying still in a pile of rubble, sighting through the scope of a rifle, dramatic in it's own right). Against the backdrop of the enormous battle (I read somewhere that nearly one million soldiers were committed to the battle on both sides; Stalingrad was an important symbol of Soviet resistance, vital for the Russians to maintain and for the Germans to crush), the duel between the two men, each a master at his craft, is oddly personal. For a big "A" picture, it was surprisingly good.

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

P.S. Just a quick question: what do you think of other instances where white actors played other races? A few examples come to mind: Lawrence Olivier playing Moors in OTHELLO and KHARTOUM, Jack Palance playing a Hun in SIGN OF THE PAGAN, and John Wayne playing a Mongol in THE CONQUEROR. If I were to rank them, I would put them in descending order, as I listed them (what the hell were they thinking, casting John Wayne as Ghenghis Khan?). What do you think?

D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

The second I realized you were telling me the plot of that film, I stopped reading your letter. Replying to your P.S., I generally don't like seeing whites portray other ethnicities, but it was done so much with Indians in westerns, and it frequently gave the Latino actors parts, it amuses me.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Bridges
E-mail: RecurveTD2@AOL.COM

Dear Josh:

I have a big beef with DVDs. Aren't they the enemy of independent film? How many average stuggling film makers can avoid to make use of the DVD format? As DVD slowly edges out VHS, I worry that we are fast approaching a world were recording anything, be it a movie off of TV or making your own film, we be near impossible. Or am I just being nuts? Should I embrace this new technology?

Dear Jeremy:

You're nuts, dude, DVDs look and sound great. It's a good technology, and what I believe will finally replace 35mm prints. Suddenly, distributing a film would be very cheap if you could just send each theater a DVD for 36-cents through the regular mail, like Netflix. I was showing free movies here up at the elementry school on the corner using a DVD player, a video projector, and a stereo, and it looked and sounded terrific. I actually think the DVD of "Running Time" is the best-looking version of that film, better than the 16mm prints or the 35mm blow-up. I'm totally for DVD.

Josh


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