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Q & A    Archive
Page 74

Name: Brian
E-mail: KumiteENT@aol.com

Hey Josh,

Just wondering why you weren't at the ED Anniversary at the Main Art? I can understand why Sam wasn't there, being spider-man's step father, but Tapert wasn't either. Any reason why?

Dear Brian:

It's a long way from Oregon to Michigan and I didn't feel like paying for the flight.

Josh

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

Josh,

A few more inquires on "Hammer."

Have you thought about taking your picture to the Independent Feature Film Market in NY? I've been considering it with my own picture (which is even older than yours...I shot it in the winter of '98 and have only had 2 screenings) and am curious as to what you know about it, if anything.

Also, why not start selling copies of it off of this site? I'm sure people would pay $30.00 for one. (It's been a while, but I think the cost to have VHS copies made is about $20.00?)

Also, I believe you should really talk to Bruce and Ted about what can be done, in their opinions, to enhance your horror picture to the point to where they'd want to help produce it. I mean c'mon. Both of these guys have done their share of really bad films. I know you can talk them into doing your picture. Horror is in the can and all the Hollywood shit heads know to do is remake all the classics. A new, independent horror film is going to come along in the next few years and start everything up again. I can sense it. I think an enourmous opportunity is waiting for whoever gets there first with something scary.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I have thought about the IFP and their market, and if this sales agent I'm presently dealing with signs off on the film, that might be my next move. I have a few problems with selling the film myself: 1. I haven't cleared the music rights yet, 2. I only have a crappy transfer off a print, and 3. It's a big hassle. As for the horror film, which I think is a good idea, Ted and Bruce seem to have lost interest. Maybe they didn't like my story, I don't know. So, there it is.

Josh

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

Josh:

I'm an aspiring film maker....with absolutely no practical experience. Especially with film (actual filming with celluloid). I've done some decent editing work with my grandfathers old 8mm home movies (making them one long ten minute reel instead of a bunch of minute and two minute reels).

I've thought about putting ads in the ocal (Toronto area) film schools to look for people who can show me the practical side of using film equipment (ie: 16mm, sound synching, etc...). My hope is to also find someone who'd like my writing enough to help me make a film for little or no money for us (the crew).

I also don't want to enroll in film school because I've been told that all you learn is mainly lighting and camera angles for the first year (something I've taught myself for video and should be no problem to adapt my knowledge for film).
Just wondering what you think...

--Kevin Mills

PS: If anyone who sees this is a indie (or student) film maker from the Toronto area, feel free to e-mail me.

Dear Kevin:

So, what's your question? Should you make a film? Only if you really want to. As Andre Gide said, "If a young writer can refrain from writing, he shouldn't hesitate to do so." If you actually need to make movies, you'll make them.

Josh

Name: lee price
E-mail: lee.price@musicradio.com

Hey Josh

Just been reading through your ED journal. I understand your feelings of frustration at not being able to contribute - been there! However, how does it feel to have instigated an icon piece of cinema - namely the end tracking shot of ED?

Also, is Sam a shy person? Maybe shy's the wrong word, but he doesn't seem to seek media attention.

Later.

Lee

Dear Lee:

Sam is kind of shy, in his own weird way. I just watched ED again and I really did light half the film. That's because Sam, Bruce, Rob, and I were the entire crew for half the shoot -- Sam operated camera, I was doing the lighting, running sound recorder and the boom, plus I was the assistant cameraman, loading all the mags, setting up the camera, putting on the lenses, and cleaning the camera -- plus I did the lighting on most of the reshoots, which is a lot of footage, like nearly everything in the cellar, a lot of the tree rape, and nearly all the inserts, which there are many of. I'd forgotten how many shots were in that film. Also, if I may mention it, after we'd shot the opening of the force coming out of the fog and skimming over the water three times, with less-than-perfect results, I dragged those guys out to a piece of land my dad owns and showed them a little lagoon-like area that worked perfectly for the shot, and is what's in the film. Sam, BTW, was being pushed in a rubber raft by Bruce, and had actually taped an Arri-S camera to his hand. The front end of that car, which we put there, sat rusting in that lagoon for a couple of years until my dad got mad and made us haul it away.

Josh

Name: Marc Morris
E-mail: marc@nucleusfilms.com

Hi,

Can you tell me who controls World Sales for THOU SHALT NOT KILL... EXCEPT!

Dear Marc:

I do. The film is licensed to Anchor Bay Ent. for US/Canada video/DVD at this time, but all the other territories of the world are available.

Josh

Name: CineLover
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What are five inspirational films any aspring filmmaker should see and why?

Dear CineLover:

"Lawrence of Arabia"
"The Bridge on the River Kwai"
"The Best Years of Our Lives"
"The Apartment"
"Psycho"

As examples of what you can do if you really care to think about it.

Josh

Name: James J. Nduati
E-mail: nduj@swbell.net

Dear Josh:

I have an obsession about making movies. I have an even bigger obsession about me being in the screen. I have lots of tapes that I have shot, mostly on family activities of fun and comedies with my son. How can I turn them into a good movie?

Dear James:

With great difficulty.

Josh

Name: Lee Price
E-mail: lee.price@musicradio.com

Hey Josh

Watched Romero's Night of the Living Dead again last night. Just wondered what you thought of this low budget film. (The library music was kinda... sweet!)

Later.

Lee

Dear Lee:

The film scared the hell out of me when I first saw at a midnight show in 1970 on its initial release (I saw it with Ivan and Andrea Raimi, Sam's older brother and sister. Sam was deemed too young to join us). The last time I tried to watch it, probably about six or seven years ago, I got bored pretty fast and turned it off. Still, it was impressive in its day.

Josh

Name: Will Armstrong
E-mail: Frank_Bullitt@Steve-McQueen-Rules.com

Hey Josh,

I just saw "The Apartment" for the first time. Helluva movie. It was funny to see that one of the characters name's was Carl Matuschka, Bruce's character in "Running Time". Jack Stryker is an obvious reference to John Wayne's character in "Sands of Iwo Jima". That's cool. Are there any other references like these in your films that I may have missed? Sam's character in TSNKE isn't named Joe Buck, is he?

See ya, Will

Dear Will:

I'm too big of a movie geek to not do them, but I try and make them subtle. Meanwhile, I just love "The Apartment," and I think it's about as good as movies get. Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond really set that movie in its contemporary time period, which isn't an easy thing to do, and something that Hollywood avoids if possible, for fear of dating a film. But references like when MacMurray offers Lemmon theater tickets and he asks what show? "The Music Man, what else?" And all of that 1959-speak (the film came out in 1960), like "buddy-boy" and putting -wise on the end of everything, like, "Billing-wise and accounting-wise, we're ahead of last month, October-wise." I also think it's Fred MacMurray's best performance, and one of Lemmon and MacLaine's best, too. "The Apartment" is a perfect example of the lost art of filmmaking. Nobody could make that movie now if their lives depended on it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I have to disagree with you about the lack of civil unrest following the Revolution. In addition to Shay's Rebellion of 1786, the best known outbreak, there were any number of local purges of loyalists. These episodes, many of which were as bad as what you read about happening in the third world today, have been largely ignored by history books. In addition to "patriotic" purges, "loyalism" was often an excuse to appropriate property and settle old feuds. My father taught a course on revolutions at the Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth and the unfortunate truth seems to be that political revolution almost always has a violent component. Even England's "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, held up against the French example a century later, was rife with violence. Ask the Irish. Surprisingly, if you don't count Chechnya, Georgia and other regions of ethnicly motivated unrest, the dissolution of the Soviet Union was largely bloodless. Certainly, very few Russians or Europeans died.

John

Dear John:

Interesting. We Americans are pretty good about not recording our atrocities. The USSR didn't end due to a revolution, though, but it was fairly bloodless, particularly for those folks.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I'd have to add one other revolution (of sorts) that managed to avoid civil unrest and ecomonic collapse - the deposing of the kings in Rome, and the establishment of the Republic, c. 509 BC.

Only problem is - the only accounts we have of it were written centuries later, by pro-establishment writers, who might well have glossed over any problems. Perfect example of the dubious nature of the story: the haughty Etruscan-blooded king was named Tarquinius Superbus, whose name means ..... "Haughty Etruscan." (I'm reminded of Monty Python's "Biggus Dickus," who "wanked among the highest in Wome.") Still... there are no legends of unrest or revolution for 15 years after the republic was established, and then a patrician/plebeian conflict was supposedly handled peacefully. So who knows.

Finally saw a Kevin Smith film the other day (the dumpy Jersey director, not the late actor.) I recall you have expressed general contempt for his work, but since I'd never seen any of his films, the debates here sort of went over my head.

The one I saw was "Chasing Amy." Interesting premise (guy falls in love with lesbian friend) and I guess it had three clear acts: he meets her and develops feelings for her, he attempts to have a relationship with her, and he screws it up. And it certainly had some funny dialogue. But in that way, it reminded me of some other popular films that left me feeling empty, like "American Beauty" and Tarantino's films. There's sort of an interesting set-up.... and the lines were interesting and funny enough to keep me paying attention.... but it just never evolved into anything. Plus all of his characters sounded exactly alike. (same with Tarantino.)

So I know it's been discussed here before, but that that was a long time ago. :) So any comments on Smith or his work? I just wonder if some of these guys shouldn't just be writers for other people for a while until they develop their craft. That or maybe develop a stand-up routine.

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

Kevin Smith doesn't do a thing for me. Yes, he has the occasional funny line, but that's it. He hasn't got the slightest ability as a director, nor as a storyteller, so he doesn't interest me. I saw an interesting film recently called "The Turandot Project," which was about Zubin Mehta putting on Puccini's opera and hiring the Chinese director, Zhang Yimou, to direct it. Everything goes very well at the first staging in Florence, where they're very used to putting on Puccini operas. Then they put it on again in Bejing and it's a real clash of cultures. I was very amused and I like Zhang Yimou even more now. I think he's the best film director of the past ten or fifteen years.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail: david@dustdevil.com

Hey Josh,

That was interesting about the US being the only revolution in history that did not immediately lead to civil unrest. I've never thought of that before. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that we're on a different continent than the country that we broke off of, and that we had our own economic system by then. (which partially caused our war with England)
Anyway, I remember you talking somewhere on your site about a short science fiction story of yours called "The Sins of Space," which you submitted to a magazine and they wrote "Give me a break" on the cover. What was this story about? I've been looking for that mention of it on your web site, but I can't seem to find it. Anyway, do you think the magazine realized you were a kid, or did they think it was an adult? I don't know why I'm wondering that now, but the question just popped into my head this morning, easily months from when I first read about it on your site.

Thanks,
David

Dear David:

I don't know what they realized about me since they're only comment was "Give me a break!" scrawled across the title page in about 18-point-sized letters. The editor certainly realized I wasn't much of a writer. I guess I must have been fifteen possibly. It's about a crazed, zealot Catholic nun, that stows away aboard a space ship going to some distant, potentially habitable world, so that she can bring religion to the native heathens. The astronauts never realize she's aboard, and when they get to the planet, they end up mistakenly crossing her path, they think she's hostile and zap her with their lasers, then high-tail it back to the space ship.

Josh

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

Josh,

I don't mean to be too disagreeable of a sort, but ever since reading what you wrote about the act breaks in "Taxi Driver" a couple days ago, I've got to tell you that I think.

I believe that "TD" has a much, much longer act 1 than you realize. I don't think it concludes until the moment we see him with the Mohawk. When we see his transformation into totall crazy man (ie he's going to try and kill the candidate, has bought the guns, and shaved his head) that's the beginning of Act 2. Nothing before this moment has been nailed down. It's all been a set up and introduction of characters and problems. The moment we see this whole sequence, we know he's psycho, and that, I believe, is the start of the film's second act.

As far as act 2 is concerned, I find it ends after DeNiro shoots Harvey Keitel dead on the front steps. He's made his first kill and has foced the consequences of the story onto his character. What hapens next is a conclusion to everything that's gone on before. That's why I think act 3 starts when DeNiro enters the flop house to slaughter the pimps.

I thought about this all day yesterday. I think the acts end and begin where I said they do. I can't get around it. Interested if you see see what I'm saying.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I disagree, but I see what you're saying. I can go along with you that killing Sport is the end of an act, but it would be the end of act two. Act one definitely does not go until then. An act end comes at a point of no return for the main character, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. Betsy dumping him is an emotional dead-end for Travis, and he's not the same thereafter. He then has to confront the fact that he's a loser, which causes him to buy guns and begin training himself ("Every muscle must be tight"), and he resolves his issue by killing people. I must say that his appearance with the Mohawk always seemed like the beginning of act three to me, even though he doesn't succeed in killing the senator. I feel that he's resolved in his plan to kill somebody at that point, and fate won't allow his killing the senator, so he chooses other people to kill. But I assure you that act one does not run 100 minutes of a 113 minute film. You're saying it's all a set-up until the first killing, and I think that's wrong. The set-up is his reasons for wanting to kill somebody, anybody.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail: KumiteENT@aol.com

Hey Josh,

That's so cool you went to the "Bloodsport" premiere!! Must have been some show. I only saw it for the first time a few years ago when I was a senior. I didn't intend on stealing the name from Bloodsport though, more of an homage for my friends (we had a Kumite of our own in a hotel during a theatre festival and filmed it sooo...out came Kumite Entertainment for me). Anyways, I wanted to thank you and those who contacted me on the broadway photo experience, I can't imagine how many people they've screwed and how they get away with it! I do have one more question for you Josh; you say that distributors won't pay for digital, but what about the film "Tape" from Richard Linklater, or Soderberg's "Full Frontal?" Even 'Bamboozled'! All shot on mini dv and have had a theatrical run and distributor. Maybe I'm just answering my own question but is that because if there's a name talent attatched it will get distributed, and independantly no-named talent will not be recognized. That's a shitty reality there. Would you say it was easier to become recognizable in the film industry back in the ED days than it is now? or is it about the same?

Dear Brian:

You forgot to mention "Star Wars." But none of those films mean anything, honestly. If you have an all-star cast you can possibly get away with it. Of course, if you have an all-star cast, why bother with DV? As I've said, I think there a lot of people that would like this situation to change, but it hasn't yet. And if you give sales agents or distributors a reason to not deal with your film, they'll take it. "Running Time" was just being represented at Cannes, and although many foreign distributors liked it, no one would buy it because it's in black and white. The German distributor liked it enough to suggest colorization. "Hammer" is in color and 35mm and everyone seems to like it, or that's what they say, but I can't get a distribution deal because it hasn't got any recognizable names in it. It's so difficult to get an independent, low-budget feature distributed, you simply don't want to possibly screw your deal before you even get a chance. Meanwhile, it was no easier getting a film made back in the days of ED or TSNKE, but you could honestly hope for, and possibly get, a theatrical release, as both of those films had. Now, there's almost no hope for that, as Tom DiCillo just pointed out with his new film, "Double Whammy," which has an all-star cast and he can't get it released. It's an ugly situation. There are more movies screens than there ever were before, but far less movies showing. There was a much bigger selection when I was a kid.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

lol..you make Sam sound like my friend Rob, only more so. And the fact that so many celebrities in the entertainment industry are either from Canada or have spent time there only feeds my pet theory ( the one where the Canadians are using the entertainment industry to hide their espionage ring in the United States).
Anyway, I do have a cinema-related question for you: what did you think of the film version of "1776"? (I thought that one would be appropriate, considering the holiday). Personally, I enjoyed it, although I was initially put off by the idea of a musical about the Founding Fathers. The actor who played Benjamin Franklin (I'm sorry that I forgot his name) was excellent in it, brining alive the wit that shows up in Franklin's writings. I heard somewhere that the actors were almost entirely cast from the original Broadway run. Just wondering what you thought of it.

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

P.S. No matter what terrible things happen in the world today, I am still amazed and pleased that the great experiment in the absurd concept of democratic government has continued for another year (226 as of tomorrow, and still counting). Happy Independence Day!

D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

Happy Independence Day to you and everyone else out there. Yes, it's an amazing experiment that keeps functioning, one way and another. Ours was the only revolution in history that didn't immediately erupt into civil unrest and violence. In fact, the only violence to come out of our revolution, beside fighting the British, was the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Anyway, I didn't much care for the film (or the musical) "1776." None of the songs turn me on, and it all seemed overlit and stodgy. The actor that played Franklin was Howard DeSilva, who also played Louis Mayer in "Mommie Dearest" and the bartender in "The Lost Weekend." He was blacklisted and didn't work for about ten years. I was pretty good friends with his son, Dan, for a while until he disappeared off the face of the earth.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

lol..."The Great Oz?" Damn, you ought to use that on him somehow. Maybe you could slip that into the interview package for a talk show or interview program with Sam. Those shows usually call relatives and friends to get information about the guest in question, and you could let that little bit slip. It would be funny to see that crop up in PRIVATE SCREENINGS with Robert Osbourne, or even better, INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO with that Lipton guy. I can see it now...

LIPTON: .."well, that's truly fascinating, Mr. Raimi, or Sam, if you prefer..."

SAM: "Not at all Larry. Please call me Sam." (ingratiating chuckle)

LIPTON: "Sam it is then." (disarming media smile).."If we could move on, there is something I'd like to ask (shuffles through notes)...what can you tell me about "The Great Oz?"

SAM: (shifts in his chair, alternately looking angrily for Josh Becker and trying to remain serene under Lipton's question).."The Great Oz? Well, uh, Larry, to tell you the truth (nervous laugh)..." (catches sight of Josh Becker in the front row with the other guests, looking away innocently and whistling under Sam's glare)...

It's just a thought, but I think it would be pretty funny.

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

If you knew Sam you'd know he wouldn't feel the slightest bit of shame or discomfort being called The Great Oz or The Master Cylinder, since that's what he is. He's a take-charge kind of guy. He and I went to the same summer camp, and I can see he uses his camp counselor training in these matters. The moment we arrived in Tennessee to make ED, he became our counselor. By the way, both Gilda Radner and Chevy Chase went to that camp, too, as did Mike Binder, who has his own show on HBO now.

Josh

Name: Lee price
E-mail: lee.price@musicradio.com

Hey Josh

What do you think about the method Robert Rodriguez employed to make El Mariachi? One director who is also the DoP, one actor by your side all the time, shooting MOS, no slates, one take of every shot etc.

Lee

Dear Lee:

First of all, I think Rodriguez was flat-out lying about his budget--nobody's bringing a feature film in for $7,000, no how, no way. I don't care if you buy short-ends, the stock and processing are more than that. And what if it doesn't work on the first take? Do you not shoot a second take? I also found that being the director and the camera operator and DP wasn't a good idea. It takes your full attention as director to do a good job, as it does with operator and DP.

Josh

Name: Calvin Hobbes
E-mail: circus_maximus@msn.com

Hey Josh,

Not to diverge from the purpose of the Q&A here, but I have a message to Brian ("Kumite Entertainment") that I thought might be somewhat helpful to anyone else who suffered similar problems.

I too have suffered the bullshit of Broadway Photo. I purchased a Canon GL-1 from them back in July (A quality device to be sure, and it's really withstood some of the beatings I've put it through), and believe me when I say that they scammed the hell out of me. I have only myself to blame for this, with the exception of some bad advice from a family-member-turned-"producer." In hindsight, I really should have known better; just take a gander at some of these telltale signs:

1) They were offering the camera for $1600 at the time, which was at least a $800 lower than most of their competitors. However, when I was going to purchase it, they claimed that the $1600 "model" was from overseas, and therefore they couldn't offer a warranty on it. They COULD, however, guarantee the camera if I bought it for $1900. Somehow, the "producer" managed to convince me that this was my best bet (especially when a warranty would come in handy for some of the intense shooting I planned for it).

2) Then, the slick bastards offered me "the package deal of a lifetime: The camera and all the standard equipment that comes with it, an extended warranty from them, 8 more mini-DV tapes, a carrying case, and something I was led to believe was a 4 hour battery (as opposed to the 1 hour battery that came with the camera). Once again, the aforementioned “producer,” for the asking price of $2000 shucked me into believing this amazing deal.
Long story short, the warranty (which made up the bulk of the price) amounted to jack squat, and the battery was in fact some cheap-o Battery CHARGER that in no way shape or form made an improvement over the power-up time of the standard charger.

3) When I called these shysters to complain about being so mislead, they gave me some longwinded and obviously rehearsed speech about how a misinformed employee must have given me a poor description of the deal, and they couldn't be held responsible for it. In other words, "tough titty toenails."

Being the non-confrontational guy I am (I save that for my writing and directing persona), I didn't put up a fight. I should have, without a doubt. I should have at least had the balls to strangle that bastard family member who put me through all that crap. In the end, the run-around I got with the camera and other setbacks cost me the small window of opportunity I had to make the movie that the GL-1 was intended for. But I've moved on, and the GL-1 serves me well in the projects I use it for.

The moral of this story is, Brian - Don't trust those Broadway Photo bastards. If you already sent them your money, get it back immediately. I'm more than positive that there are other businesses that won't rip you off as badly as those guys.

And by all means, never let a family member get the impression that just because they've seen a couple "behind the scenes" specials on HBO and can pay a mortgage on time, they know anything about film production. It's not only dangerous to your films, it's fucking annoying as hell.

Dear Calvin:

Thanks for passing the information along.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I am a fairly new screenwriter. Recently I just finished my second draft on a script, but it seems there may be a problem.

The end of act one doesn't happen until page 50. And then act three begins around 30 pages later. This seems all wrong when looking at proper formating 'rules'. The reason is because it is a party story with a lot of characters, and I am using the long first act to introduce them and establish thier characters.

Is this too long and a sure bet that it will not work? Should I go through it again before I send it out and make my act breaks concrete and 'properly spaced. It's a bit like that dazed and confused as far as the cast, only more complicated of an outer goal by my protaganist.

Dear Tsimanga:

Too long of an act one is aggravating. I have a 45-minute act one in "Lunatics" and I think it's a mistake, I think people really want to get to the mian action of the story, which is act two. I really recommend not exceeding 35 pages for act one. Therefore, trim it down.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I kind of liked the MRE pound cake myself, although my absolute favorite (along with three-quarters of the armed forces) is the cheese spread, especially the jalapeno cheese spread (ironically, it only comes in about one out of every four meals). I was with my Guard unit up at Fort Drum for the last two weeks for annual training, and Watertown, NY, if not the asshole of the universe, is certainly the armpit. Mosquitoes, raccoons and bears, oh my! :-)
Anyway, I saw in the credits of some of your early shorts that Rob Tapert is credited as "Rip Tapert." Was that an error, or was it a nickname that he tried to cultivate and never got off the ground with? When I was twelve, I tried to get people to call me "DJ" (I had seen some old Hollywood comedy where a movie director was called by his initials, a la DW Griffith, and thought it was cool). This backfired when one of my FORMER buddies realized that DJ was the name of one of the girls on that sitcom, FULL HOUSE, and got everyone to tease me unmercifully about it. Currently, my buddies in my unit have hanged the moniker of "Moose" on me (I know someone's looking for me when I hear someone bellow "Mooooooose!" down the armory hallway). Is that the case with "RIP"?

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

Exactly. Rip was Rob's half-assed nickname for a while. I think he wanted it to be his acting name. It may have just been something Sam tagged him with. I've personally never had a nickname. My friends seem to enjoy mispronouncing Josh as Posh, Nosh, or Splotch, but luckily none of them took hold. Sam's nicknames, all behind his back, were The Master Cylinder or The Great Oz, as in "no one sees the Great Oz, no how, no way."

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail: KumiteENT@aol.com

Josh get this,

I batted the pros and cons of buying a digital camera and finally decided on it. Even asked David Wain (director of Wet Hot American Summer and he broke it down for me). Anyways, I found the canan GL-1 for only $1,360 so why not? I ordered it from a place called broadway photo in New York a month ago. Haven't recieved it so I called them and this guy gave me the run around saying "ohh that cameras outta stock but you can get the GL2 for 2grand." Nice of them to call me to let me know huuh?

Appoligize for useless info-but now I'm back to debating. I went to a film school in Birmingham MI so I've gotten to work on 16mm film. I like it really, it's just too damn expensive for what I want to shoot. My plan was to perhaps make this feature on digital and submit it to festivls that would accept it. I went to Sundance this year and they have five other festivals mainly dedicated to digital underground films, yet I doubt there's any distribution deals out from that, but still. Do you think that's a bad plan? I know you don't care for digital video much but if they accept it I figure do it. Thanks for the time.
--Kumite Entertainment

--Also, the commentary track on RUNNING TIME was much help when I shot my student short last summer. (BC also autographed the dvd during his big book tour!!)

Dear Brian:

Kumite Ent.? That's from my buddy Sheldon Lettich's film "Bloodsport." I was at the premiere, many a moon ago. I've got nothing against DV, and I think it's been a terrific blessing for documentary filmmakers. I also think it's great for shorts, like you're talking about. I wish it were acceptable for features so that we could begin getting the next generation of filmmakers working. Nevertheless, it's still not an acceptable format for features because no one will pay for them. I didn't decide this, the worldwide distributors did. Hell, those guys still won't accept black and white. But if your point is to make a short film and get it into festivals, DV is a great medium.

Josh

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

Josh,

What do you think of Basil Poledouris? I've haven't seen even most of the movies he's scored but those in I have seen I enjoyed his music. Didn't he work with SR on "For Love of the Game"? I think he also did one or more of the "Robocop" movies. I thought his music was the best part of "Conan" and I also liked his stuff on "Quigley Down Under". He seems to do well with grand themes. Thanks.

John

Dear John:

Yeah, he's a big, booming composer. It's a little too big and booming for me. I haven't seen his name on anything in a while.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was just reading your lists of your favorite movies, as well as looking at some recently answered questions.
It seems that you have virtually none ,if any, foriegn films that you like. I was wondering if there was a reason for this, a preferance of sorts.

Also, when mentioning great film composers, everyone should mention Taro Takemetsu as being right up there with the best of em. His contributions to Kurowsawa's films alone warrant that mark.

Dear Tsimanga:

There are foreign films on the list, and a number of Kurosawa's films, too, like "Ikiru," "Seven Samurai," and "Dersu Uzala." I was just extolling the virtues of two Chinese films I just saw and liked, "To Live" and "The Road Home." I also just saw a very good Italian film, "Ossessione," from 1942, although I don't think it was as good as the American version, "The Postman Always Rings Twice," in 1946. I might go so far as to say that Zhang Yimou was the best director of the 1990s.

Josh

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

Josh,

I've got a question about what is commonly called "library music". I believe all of George A. Romero's films from "NOTLD" through "Creepshow" were basically composed with pre-existing music.

Do you know more about how this works when wanting to score a film? I'm specifically thinking of who to go to and how you are charged.

As a side note, I just heard some of the most annoying new I can imagine. Michael Bay has just announced that he's going to remake "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." What in the hell is going on? Josh, horror is in the can. Make your Campbell thriller! You can start a new wave! I'm sure you can get a story together that you all like enough to make. I want to see this happen because I want to be able and see more good movies before I die. You know it?

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Yeah, I hear Bey is doing a whole series of horror films. As I was saying to my buddy about it, there's a sincerity and innocence to the first one that no one will ever repeat. It's certainly not in any of the sequels. Anyway, library music. I used library music on two of my short films, "Cleveland Smith" and "Torro, Torro, Torro!" We went to a place in Detroit called Film House Music, that either owned or had a deal with the owners of an enormous array of music. Using already recorded music they then scored the films, cutting music in and out as needed. We paid them a flat rate for each film, I think $500 for one and $750 for the other, and we had the rights to all that music. It was pretty painless, really. And as for the horror film with Bruce, well, that remains to be seen. My treatment doesn't seem to have knocked anyone out.

Josh

Name: Kyle Johnson
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Have you ever counted the act breaks for some of your favorite films? What about films like TAXI DRIVER, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, and BLUE VELVET, some of my favorite films of all time.

You must check out the independent film HALL OF MIRRORS. It is brilliant on every level, with a very talented cast and a top-notch script. It was shot with digital and it was made with a 5000 dollar budget -- it looks amazing, too. I really think you should check it out. Who knows, you might just like it. Some other movies you should check out (if you haven't already): BREAKDOWN, FUNNY GAMES, and DEATH AND THE MAIDEN. Those are three films that I had the pleasure to watch recently. If you want, check them out. You might like them, as well as HALL OF MIRRORS.

Dear Kyle:

I certainly have with dissected "Kwai" and "Taxi Driver" to my own satisfaction. I actually own an original shooting script of "Blue Velvet," but I haven't watched the film in quite few years. I don't think it's an issue of counting the acts, though, as there are only three, it's recognizing when the acts begin and end. In "Kwai" act one ends when Col. Nicholson is released from the oven, the British soldiers cheer, and Col. Saito pounds his head in shame. I'd say act two ends when the sabotage team arrives at the bridge, then goes to sleep. Act three begins in the morning and the river has gone down. In "Taxi Driver" act one ends when Betsy dumps him, and act three begins when he gets out of the cab, dumps some pills in his hand, and as he tilt up we see he now has a Mohawk.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail: jeanmariet@aol.com

Hi Josh!

I just saw "Running Time" and thought it was the best flick that I have seen in a long, long time. The story was awesome, the camera work was great and the black and white photography was beautiful. I also thought that Bruce Campbell's performance was the best that he has ever done. I really enjoyed the film and I'm planning on watching it again tonight!

Keep you the good work!
Jean

p.s. Have you seen "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"?

Dear Jean:

I'm glad you liked it, and I hope you enjoy it again on the second viewing. No, I haven't seen "Hedwig."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Well, I was out of the loop for a few weeks (you just haven't lived until you've seen two raccoons fighting over an MRE in upstate New York at one o'clock in the morning), and I was just catching up on the old postings.
I just had an opportunity to watch STRYKER'S WAR (aah, bootlegs..), and just wanted to comment on it a little. It seems to me that some of the characterizations in the pilot version were superior to the ones in the finished feature. Bruce Campbell's portrayal of Stryker was better than Brian Schultz's by far (I also like the plot point, later deleted, that Stryker had received a battlefield commission), and although I liked the actors cast as Stryker's buddies in the feature version better, I felt that the dialogue between them in the car in the pilot was more realistic. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

P.S. I also saw THE BLIND WAITER, TORRO, TORRO, TORRO, and CLEVELAND SMITH, BOUNTY HUNTER, among others. CLEVELAND SMITH in particular, was hilarious.

Dear Darryl:

Good to hear from you again. I take it you were on maneuvers. Bruce Campbell and I snagged a bunch of MREs for a camping trip from his brother Don, who's one of Stryker's buddies in the movie with a mustache, and is also in the National Guard, and we liked them. And there are so many little extra fun items, like candy and gum and tea and coffee. I went to a summer camp in Wawa, Ontario as a kid and they gave us C-rats, and I liked those, too, particularly the pound cake. Taste-wise, I'm suited for the military. Anyway, you saw the relics of a hunk of my life there, from 1980-1983. I personally like the super-8 "Stryker's War" better than the feature, too. It's got a better feel to it and Bruce is better in the lead. The three marine buddies are better in the feature, though. It was a long time ago in either case.

Josh

Name: Dylan S
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I was D.S. (who asked about film scores), I'm also the guy who was asking you on your thoughts on stop-motion a while back. It's wonderful to hear you love Herrmann. He is my favorite composer as well. My favorite score by Herrmann is The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (I fell in love with the recording that is currently available on Varese Sarabande Records). Citizen Kane is a brilliant score (as brilliant as the film itself). I love his theme for rosebud (especially in the closing scene of Kane, in which the theme has such an emotional and profound impact on the viewer). I think Vertigo is my favorite of his Hitchcock work, though they all shine (including his enthralling North by Northwest).

Everything Herrmann composed I often find immensely motivating and stirring (his television works included...especially his Twilight Zone work). Have you read the book "A Fire At Heart's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann"? It's a must read for all fans of Herrmann.

Dylan

Dear Dylan:

No, I haven't read it, but I'd like to. I have a documentary about him on tape somewhere. There's a shot of him by his pool, playing with his dog, wearing a suit and tie, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, which I found very ingratiating. There's also footage of him recording the score for Truffaut's "The Bride Wore Black," where Truffaut is being an idiot, overrides Herrmann, and is just wrong. I think Hitchcock was wrong regarding dropping Herrmann's music in "Torn Curtain," too. It's interesting without the music, but much better with it. That Hitchcock sent the whole orchestra home, even though they had already been paid, was supremely insulting to Herrmann, and showed what a creep Hitchcock had become in his later years. Although not as well known as many of his other scores, Herrmann's music for "The Kentuckian" is terrific.

Josh

Name: Roughy
E-mail: roughy@unrealisticexpectations.com

Hi there,

I'm about to do a Review of "Running Time" for my site, and was curious if you'd be willing to do a small Q&A session?

You can check us out online at http://www.unrealisticexpectations.com and http://www.uereviews.com

Thanks.

Dear Roughy:

Sure, I'd be happy to.

Josh

Name: D. S.
E-mail:

Josh,

When you discuss films here on the boards, you often speak of the movie's orchestral score. Do you have any favorite film scores?

Dear D.S.:

Yes, many. I'm a big fan of Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Fielding, Alex North, Ernest Gold, Miklos Rosza, Ennio Morricone. Bernard Herrmann was the master, and all of his scores from "Citizen Kane" (his first) to "Taxi Driver" (his last) are brilliant, with several of Hitchcock's best films in between, like "North By Northwest," "Vertigo," and "Psycho." From a straight listening standpoint, and all good film scores are not necessarily listenable, I like Vangelis's score for "Blade Runner," even though I don't care for the film.

Josh

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

Josh,

I haven't seen the Cruise/Spielberg film and if I never do it may constitute imperical evidence of a benificent god. I have seen the trailers, however, which depict highways running along the sides of two-mile high buildings. From what I understand this movie takes place fifty years in the future. I don't know how it is in your neck of the woods but around here it takes almost a year just to replace an intersection. People who do "science fiction", allowing generous definition of that term, seem inevitably to allow too little passage of time for the changes they purport. Even "2001" which was well thought out(meaning that it was written by Clarke)seems to have been set at least a hundred years too soon. I would think that a rule of thumb might be; if it looks panoramic it's probably too expensive to happen. Barring application of that rule, set the story centuries in the future so no one will have to think about it. That was one strength of the "Star Trek" series. This is just an annoyed rant. Thanks.

John

PS> If Spielberg makes a feature with Russel Crowe they could call it "A Simple Plot".

Dear John:

My favorite example of that is "Frankenstein -- 1970" made in 1958. I just caught part of "12 Monkeys" and it's set in 1996, so it was dated within 12 months of release. As a kid reading sci-fi books, most of the good ones by Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke, were set 50,000 to 100,000 years in the future. Asimov's last book, "Gold," has an entire section of essays about writing science fiction, and offers logical science fiction worlds for young SF writers to use as they care to. As he puts forth, logic is definitely a big part of sci-fi, and it has almost nothing to do with sci-fi films. He goes through a wonderful explanation of why the entire Star Trek world is nonsense, or anything with humanoid aliens, for that matter. All of the sci-fi of recent days is aimed at red-neck hicks that think that aliens travel a zillion light years across the universe to visit Earth then perform anal probes on everyone.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail: JEaganFilm@aol.com

Josh,

Your comment about celluloid being used as toilet paper then sold with an 80 mill marketing budget would be amusing if it wasnt so truthful. I'm looking at the figures, and its just sad what audiences run to see nowadays. The new Adam Sandler movie, which has gotten unanimous 1-star reviews and by all accounts is godawful, is set to do a huge 40-50 mill. opening weekend based on friday's numbers. The combined creative IQ on that film probably averaged in the mid 60s range and yet they have just become "major hollywood talent", from the actors to the writer to the director. It almost makes you nostalgic for the days when an innocently dumb Jim Carrey movie was successful. Sandler is half the talent of that guy, just as his movie is half as funny. I could understand movies by Spielberg and Hanks doing alot of money over the summer, but when shit like Scooby Doo and Mr. Deeds are among the biggest moneymakers, something is really fucked up. Anyway, more bitching I guess. I'd like to be having an intelligent discussion on this board about movies made fairly recently but it seems pointless. Eventually we'll have to run out of good older movies to discuss and there will be nothing left. Have you seen anything lately worth discussing? I haven't seen any reviews put up, so I'm guessing thats a no.

Jim

Dear Jim:

Yes I did, actually. I saw Zhang Yimou's "To Live" (1994) and "The Road Home" (1999) and I liked them both. "To Live" is about a couple in China and we follow their lives through the 1940s, the 1950s, and the 1960s, with the history of China at that time as a background. The basic concept is that within every bit of good luck lurks some bad luck, and vice versa, and ultimately that's just life. "The Road Home" stars Zhang Ziyi, who was the pretty young princess in "Crouching Tiger," and it's about her determination to snag the new school teacher as her husband. It's very simple, and very well made. Neither one inspired me to write a review, but I enjoyed them both. I also very much liked Zhang Yimou's films "Raise the Red Lantern" and "The Story of Qui Ju." I think he's one of the few directors working that really understands human beings and their motivations, as well as metaphor and allegory.

Josh

Name: Steve Williams
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What did you think of Man Bites Dog?

Dear Steve:

I was bored. I didn't care about the characters, and I can't stand non-stop hand-held camera work. It seemed like violence for the amusement of violence.

Josh

Name: chris vanlandingham
E-mail: cv7776@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I enjoyed your page very much. I do have a comment about the "Black Hawk Down" review however. Maybe I misread it but you mentioned that Marines don't leave their own behind, but ironically a man was left behind. The ones involved in the operation were Soldiers not Marines. Also I'd like to say that even though you try not to leave anyone behind in battle you may not have a choice or not even realize it at the time. Finally you mentioned that more soldiers died trying to save others. That is the nature of the beaste. I would personally rather die trying to save my buddy than to not try at all and live with that knowlege the rest of my days. In combat you do not fight for America, or Demacracy, or the people back home. You fight for your buddies on your right and left. That is why men throw themselves on grenades and rush machine gun bunkers. When you go through together what combat service men go through together there is a bond stonger than any other. That is why it is done and the sacrifice in the eyes of soldiers is well worth it. Trust me when you know your buddies won't leave without you it gives you the stength to carry on.

Dear Chris:

I'm sure that's so, but from a command standpoint, if you keep losing more and more men going back to get the dead and wounded, that starts to become a very stupid battle plan. It was a very stupid battle to begin with, and when things went wrong it just got stupider and stupider. Yes, I know they weren't Marines, but they were acting like Marines, and the slogan of the picture was something like "Leave no man behind," and indeed a man was left behind, which the film never mentions. But worst of all, I didn't care about any of the soldiers, and that's the worst thing you can do in a war film.

Josh

Name: Yossarian
E-mail:

dear josh,

just picked up the drugstore cowboy special edition dvd today and i just got done it for the first time ever. i really, really liked it, and i was under the impression that you liked it as well. what are your thoughts on it particularly? i didn't see the ending coming at all, and i felt really bad that he had to die because he was a troubled character whom you cared about, and that doesn't happen all the time in drug movies.

see bully or hardcore logo yet?

Dear Yossarian:

Do you spend most of your time naked up a tree? I don't know that Matt Dillon's character does die, he's still alive at the end of the film. Yes, I like "Drugstore Cowboy" very much. I think it's believable, has interesting characters, and is very compelling given we're watching a story about junkies. I love when Dillon runs up in the car and suddenly sees cows floating by, as the "warmage" fills his veins. All of the actors, Dillon, Lynch, James LeGros, James Remar, are all at their best. And it's Gus Van Sant's best film by miles. Yes, I saw "Hard Core Logo." Was that some kind of practical joke having me see it? If there's one thing the world absolutely doesn't need it's a serious version of "This is Spinal Tap." I really hated it. It's a bunch of ugly, stupid characters in a fake band playing fake songs. Yuk!

Josh


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