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Page 75

Name: JT
E-mail: jcarroll@austin.rr.com

Hey Josh,

I hate to bring it up, but I'd be really scared to make a horror film that put bruce campbell anywhere near a cabin in the woods. Audiences these days aren't exactly the most discerning, and regardless of how intriguing/clever the idea is, I don't know that I would trust them to see it for what it really is.

JT
Austin, Tx.

Dear JT:

Before selling an audience, one must sell a production company and a distribution company, and I thought they would think it was a commercial idea having Bruce in and around a cabin in the woods. Whatever.

Josh

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

Josh,

Interesting story you got there. While I thought there were some gaps in logic, and I generally dislike "dream"-style stories, I thought it was entertaining and original. I'd say it is probably 1 or 2 drafts away from being a good horror movie.

Probably the biggest accomplishment of the piece is that you've got this horribly depressing ending that somehow ends up feeling like a satisfying conclusion to the story. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I thought this was going to be a more commercial movie for you. But man, that's a weird fucking story. It walks such a fine line between horror and camp that I could easily see it done the wrong way. Granted, Bruce knows his camp, but this could potentially be camp to the point of ridiculousness. It would take alot of skill to make this story seem plausible and scary on a movie screen. On paper, it worked for me. But as a movie, it probably needs some more work before its ready.

This definitely feels like a solid first draft for what could be a unique horror movie. Its good because its completely insane and yet somehow has believable characters and movitations. I wonder though how it would translate to film, particularly all the passages from Gabriel Smith's journal, and the cross-cutting in the second act that seemed kind of obtrusive. I also thought the bit with the answering machine not being deleted was a little too convenient. A little suspension of disbelief is required for these sorts of stories, but this story stretched it a little too much. A good horror story is in there, I just think you've got a little more work to get it out.

Jim

Dear Jim:

I agree, I'm just not sure that I'll ever do it. I used up all of my inspiration on the first draft of the treatment. My buddies' complete lack of interest has basically killed my interest. So I'll do what I always do, which is move on to the next idea.

Josh

Name: Crow550
E-mail: Crow550@eboxmail.net

Dear Josh:

I goofed up on the link its http://twistedmindpictures.n2v.net No Zombism. Its a real word! LOL I thought I made it up until I entered it in a search engine. Its gonna be a action/horror. I picked A title that was new and different. Too bad you cant review it. I just wanted to know what you thought of it so I can learn from my mistakes and do better on my other films. Well later and take care!

Crow550

BTW does Romeo have an E-mail address I can contact him at?

Im trying to make it not like other zombie films. Im trying to make it new and fun. Check out my site. thats all I have to say. You can also check out my friends fan film. Evil Dead: Return to the woods. You can review that one too if you want. He wants the creators of the evil dead to see it anyway.

Later.

Dear Crow550:

Hey, if you like the title that's great. Have fun making it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

On the whole, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI was an excellent film in almost every way. My only objection is to William Holden's character, who I found to be rather unsavory. He's realistic and he's a survivor, but he's also what the military would call a "dirtbag." The viewer gets the impression that his malingering, get-by attitude applies to his entire life, not just the prison camp or his military service. The film on the whole seems to lend a 1960's attitude to a 1940's setting, and such deep cynicism seems misplaced in an American service member during World War II.
However, that is my only real complaint about the film; otherwise it is flawless. It is certainly the best performance by Alec Guinness that I've ever seen, and I can understand and sympathize with the viewpoints and rationales of the other characters, as well. As you said in the commentary track on RUNNING TIME, it doesn't matter whether the ending is upbeat or downbeat, only that it be satisfying and appropriate to the characters of the film. And it certainly does that. The moment when Colonel Nicholson looks at the detonator and realizes what he has done, the moment is absolutely compelling; you can feel the anguish and shock of the mistake that he had turned his entire career into, all in one glance. When all is said and done, they just don't make films like that anymore.

Yours truly,
Darryl

P.S. Are you still working with your treatment of TERRIFIED? If so, will you post it on the site as another draft, or work it into a full-fledged screenplay?
D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

If you'll excuse me, I think you're missing the point of Holden's character. He's the one that makes the biggest change, the one who believes his only duty is to himself. When it gets down to it he becomes the biggest hero because he realizes that duty is a much bigger issue than just saving yourself. It's imperative that he's a dirtbag at the beginning so he can realize what duty is. I think he's a great additional character to the story, which then expands the theme. Meanwhile, no, I'm not still working on "Terrified!" I posted it to sort of get it out of my system. People's comments do interest me, though.

Josh

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

Josh,

This may be stepping across a line, and if so feel free to say so, but I've been thinking some more about "Terrified". With minor modifications it could be made to play this way:

Gabe has lost his faith as a result of the accident. He uses this to deny his guilt; if there is no God there is no accountability. He cannot believe it himself, however.

The cell phone is the physical symbol of his guilt. He carries it with him without using it, handling it, talking to it. Eventually, in a drunken rage he throws it into the woods. It lands and starts to ring(malfunction). He obsesses, needing to stop the ringing, and so finds the cabin.

Gabriel Smith was lynched for a similar accident, is not identical to Gabe physically, but similar. Gabe sinks into the Gabriel identity.

Ted Raimi character, originally the cabbie, is a brother to Gabe or Anna. Explains the move to Oregon (he lives there) and why he might drive Anna to and from the airport. Besides, you would put Ted on-screen more.

Gabe/Gabriel escaping the lynch mob encouters Raimi and Anna and flees. They are joined by Larry and pursue.

Either in the house or the cabin, Gabe turns and defends himself, taking the offensive with appropriate gore. Killing his family increases the subconscious guilt and pushes him to his self-execution.

In his final speech, Gabe denies his impending death; there can be no justice. "God, you have no right!"

The irony is that a man who feels he has lost his faith feels the need to shout defiance at his God. His self-execution affirms his faith in the God he tries to deny.

These are just thoughts. I thought they might provide a little more motivation for the events and help build tension. This approach obviously denies the supernatural and keeps to the psychological realm with the coincidence of Gabriel being the big "gimme". Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

Very interesting. Should I ever do a rewrite I'll keep these ideas in mind. Thanks.

Josh

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

Hi Josh, hope you are well. I was wondering, I know you haven't seen Spiderman, but have you seen the Spiderman trailers? You can watch them online or download them from various web sites. If you have seen them, what do you think about them, from a directors point of view? How important do you think it is for the director to handle the trailers instead of the studio? I know directors usually cringe at how studio directed trailers show too much and leave nothing to the imagination. What do you think?

And finally, Do you think Sam directed the trailers himself? I have a feeling he did they're so good!

Dear Michael:

Directors don't cut their own trailers, trailer companies cut them. I'm sure Sam had some say-so, but not much. Sam was just a hired hand on that film, it wasn't his project, and he wasn't the producer.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Sorry, just one more thing: the ending of "Terrified" is reminiscent of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (minus the axe murder, of course). Did you have that story in mind when you wrote your treatment?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Yes I did. It was the only film ever picked up by Rod Serling and shown on "The Twilight Zone," which they didn't make themselves.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I just read your treatment for "Terrified," and I had a few thougts on it. For the most part, it's a well put together, creepy little story, but I do not feel that the supernatural aspect of it was set up enough for it to work to it's fullest potential.
For instance, there is the recurring theme of the girl being run over, yet it is simply that; a recurring theme. It has to go somewhere, depending on where you want to take the story (psychological thriller or genuine horror story). Perhaps she could be the point of hallucination in Gabe's mind; i.e. instead of Angels of Death, have him hallucinate the girl, with miners filling in as his father and the cab driver.
I've read the other posts, and none of the continuity errors are serious (for instance, insert a scene at the airport where the SUV won't start and the wife, in desperation, takes a cab). I did notice that you had Gabe's father drinking tea while driving to Oregon; I don't know if they're still this strict, but the Mormon church used to forbid its members to consume any stimulating beverages, specifically mentioning alcohol, coffee, and tea.
As for the miners, rather than religious fervor, would it be possible to have them angered at him for spoiling their fun (i.e. interfering with the drinking, gambling, and prostitution) and decide to lynch him out of drunkeness? It would require establishing more of a specific rant against vice in the preacher's character, but it would work (at least to my perspective).
The basic premise of your story is sound, and has appropriately creepy moments. You are a talented writer and this is only a first draft, and I don't mean any offense by what I've written; it is only my opinion of how the story would work better for me personally. By all means, don't give up the fight!

Yours truly,
Darryl
P.S. Per your recommendation, I finally saw THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI tonight, and it was indeed an excellent film, although I had a few issues with William Holden's character (but that's for another post; this one's long already).
D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

Those are perfectly reasonable suggestions. I posted it to hear what folks like you had to say. You can't offend me by not liking something I've written or filmed. What offends me is when people take potshots at me personally and don't even know me. Anyway, I await your comments on "Kwai." Holden's character, BTW, was created for the movie. It's a tad absurd that an American is there at all, but I forgive them because they needed a big American star, and they pay his character off so well. Holden proclaiming at the end, "Kill him. Don't wait, use your knife. Kill him!" then running out to do it himself is really spectacular.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail: jeanmariet77@aol.com

Hey Josh,

Yea, it is a shame that Beacon has never made Cycles. a lot of people that I worked with over there liked the idea as well. The president of the company was all gung ho on it for awhile but then he just lost interest. Phillip Kaufman wrote a few drafts and then the Fishman brothers took a crack at it. I'm not sure what is going on with it right now. Marc Abraham left the company to form his own. He took a bunch of Beacon projects with him. Cycles may have been one of them. I'd be happy to find out what's going on with it for you. It would only take a couple of emails.

Thanks!
Jean

Dear Jean:

Thanks, I'd love to know. I always thought it was one of my better ideas. The Fishman bros. have come and gone off the project, and were there before Phil Kaufman. In fact, I optioned the script to the Fishmans, and they did the deal with Beacon. Then Beacon bought the script from me and aced them out of the deal. Therefore, I was pretty certain that no one at Beacon had ever seen my draft since it was rewritten by the Fishmans right away. So I called Beacon (in 1996 or so), got to as high-ranked a person as I could, which I'm sure wasn't all that high up, and suggested that I send them my draft. The exec said, "Why?" I replied, "So you can read it. maybe you'll like it better than the rewrites." She hesitated, sounding very unsure, "I don't think we can do that." "Do what? Read the script?" I wanted to add, "Can't anyone there read?" but I didn't. Finally, she wouldn't take responsibility for me sending them the script, which they owned. I said, "Look, you paid a lot of money for this script, you may as well have a copy of the original. I'll just send it, and if you don't want to read it, throw it out." I never heard from them again.

Josh

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

Josh,

I'm just about to read Terrified, but before I do I have a question about financing. What are the chances of getting this film made as a made-for-tv movie? I notice that Bruce does alot of Sci-fi channel movies, and I'd imagine their budgets are in the 500k-1 mill. range. Is there an opportunity for you to submit this treatment to them, and get it produced that way? The network might want to have a hand in changing aspects of the screenplay, but I get the impression you're doing this as more of a commercial project anyway, so it wouldn't be a big deal.

Having worked at a production company for a short time, I understand how difficult it is to get the opportunity for a pitch to a cable network, let alone a project financed. But it might still be worth considering. Bruce might be able to twist an arm or two over there as well. I also heard that the USA network is looking for alot of genre movies now that their show Dead Zone has become popular. Of course, if Bruce didn't like your treatment, thats another story ;-) But based on some of the tv-movies he's done lately, your treatment must either really suck, or he just expects more out of you than the writers he's worked with in the past. Either way, I figure there might be some avenues you could explore for this movie. Of course, I am sort of naive to the whole process, so maybe these are worthless suggestions.

Jim

Dear Jim:

I've got sad news for you and everyone else, but movies don't get made because you go in and pitch them, they like the idea, then it goes into production. It simply doesn't work that way. You can't forget monsterization, which is built in. Should anyone actually like an idea, first of all there must be a screenplay because no one will develop anything anymore. Then the screenplay is completely thrown out, and entirely rewritten by other people, usually so poorly that the whole idea is dropped. It's a very dispiriting process. Also, Hollywood comapnies don't often make production deals with individuals, just other companies that they know, and can trust will actually produce the film. It all bores me deeply.

Josh

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

Josh,

Just read "Terrified," and wow. I was impressed. What an excellent ending. I could see it all in a series of long, complex tracking shots. Very good work. Perhaps there's a possibility to one day do this yet. I can't see why there isn't more interest in this from your firends. Perhaps someone other than Ted Raimi would be interested in producing?

Once again, a very good little chiller. Perhaps a little more about Bruce's character and his problems before he goes totally looney, but aside from that, everything falls into place wonderfully.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I get more response from you folks on the net than anyone I know (I'm including my wonderful webmaster, Shirley, as part of the net crowd). Thanks one and all that have read it, whether you've responded or not.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Here's the one question on "Spider-Man" that perhaps you *can* answer.

How do they determine "gross income" for a film? Is it based on domestic box office revenue only? Do re-releases (like the numerous Star Wars re-releases) in later years get added into that? And what impact (if any) is had by income from foreign box office sales, video/dvd sales, tv sales, etc.? And I'm assuming that merchandising profits aren't factored in at all?

The last thing I read was that "Spidey" had broken the $400 million mark, which I'm assuming edges it past "ET" to the number 4 spot, and within reach of Episodes 1 and 4 of Star Wars.

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I'm not sure about it moving to 4th place, I think it had to do over $450 million to get there. Generally, films are first released in the U.S., which accounts for the entire box-office gross on the initial release. However, since "Titanic," Hollywood studios have been releasing big pictures simultaneously throughout the world. This is based on the fact that word of mouth can spread so quickly and internationally on the internet, and since so much of their income is based on the first two weeks, they can't risk bad word of mouth killing the first two weeks overseas. The gross revenue is based on all of the money coming in at the box-office, the net is what is returned to the company. For these big blockbusters, the deal is frequently 90% back to Hollywood for the first few weeks, then it evens out over the next few weeks. That's how "Spider-Man" could gross over $300 million in two or three weeks. Obviously, video and ancillary can't be added in that early. And re-releases do get added in to that.

Josh

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

Josh,

I've just read through your treatment for "Terrified" a few times and had some thoughts. The character of Gabe bothers me. He is a lapsed Mormon, seemingly, but it doesn't seem to influence his character in any way. Mormons ascribe to a characteristic life-style which Gabe seems in no way to reflect. One can lose faith in the God of one's culture easier than depart from the mores of one's culture. Gabe's Mormonism seems not to effect the story, which it should, and so becomes a distraction. One might counter that it provides a link with Gabriel Smith, but there could as easily been an evangelical connection. There should be something inherently Mormon in either his character or circumstance if you're going to so distinguish his religion.

His eventual self-execution and the deaths of the his wife, father and the cab driver have the tinge of the supernatural (the light in the cabin, the resemblance to Gabriel Smith), but there seems no need for supernatural punishment. He is already punishing himself through his guilt. If it is simply his guilt motivating the sequence then no supernatural element seems necessary. The supernatural would seem appropriate if Gabe were without remorse, but he seems a hapless victim of circumstances. So he was on the cell phone, that in and of itself doesn't make him malicious. Moreover, he seems to have no recourse of action. He does not see the end coming so there is no suspense there, nor does he have a way out so there's nothing for the reader to anticipate (will he make it, will he not).

The mob that tries to lynch seems poorly motivated as well. If he is in a lawless mining town, where does the religious indignation come from. I could understand a spontaneous reaction to extempore exhortations, but to mob a guy as he got out of bed, essentially, seems misplaced. My understanding of frontier mining towns is that people were too busy working to worry about itinerant preachers. The Angels of Death were also confusing as they were a hallucination within a hallucination who turned out to be real people. You've mentioned in the past about getting one "gimme" and the hallucination within a hallucination seems like one too many. I think it would have been enough had he just struck them down blindly.

I believe that horror is predicated upon anticipation, and I didn't find any in "Terrified". I think it would play better as a psychological thriller along the lines of "The Shining". Gabe's hallucinations, based upon his guilt, lead him to the murder of his father, wife and the cabby. But that would mean establishing a neutral perspective to demonstrate that Gabe's perceptions are skewed.

On a nit-picky note, I checked with my wife, a surgeon, and she agrees that no one would be told by a medical professional that someone had "...had a brain tumor." A stroke or simply an embolism would work better for the phone conversation.

I don't mean to sound so negative and hope my comments are taken in a constructive spirit. I'll be interested to see what others think about your treatment. Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

I appreciate your comments and thoughts on the subject. I think you probably represent the view of this story I've already run into several times, only you were able to actually elucidate what you meant, whereas everyone else just sort of grunted. Thanks.

Josh

Name: Will
E-mail: wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Just read Terrified, and I wanted to comment if that's all right. I really liked that story, the way the foreshadowing picks up into an intense hallucinatory climax. The pacing's nice, which is especially important in that first act. I really see how you're putting Mr. Campbell in the Gabe character (even with a few slapstick touches!). I also think you develop the characters very well; even those with little screen time are well-rounded and complete. Really nice the way you handle them.

One minor story point tripped me up: the fact that Anna rides home in a cab in Act III. Didn't she take the SUV to the airport? Did she come back to a different airport? Maybe I missed something.....

The only other quibble is the image I get when Gabe looks into the mirror and sees himself as Gabriel the Morman. At that point I know something violent is about to happen, and I think to myself, "uh oh, Maniac Mormon!" That scene, I think, more than any has potential for some unintentional humor. But that could just be me.

All in all though, I think it has the makings of a nice suspense film. I hope something happens.

Dear Will:

That's just a continuity screw-up, and I thank you for pointing it out. You see, even in a short piece it's very possible to goof up. Yikes! And I think that moment in the mirror ought to be an actually scary moment, handled correctly, of course.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

I really enjoyed Terrified! I must admit, when I heard what it was about initially I had my reservations, but it worked. The first two acts have a nice build up, and I think the end pays off quite nicely. I'm surprised that Bruce and Ted aren't interested. I think the role of Gabe would have given Bruce the chance to show an audience what he's made of. If you had funding would that rekindle his interest? I understand that it's a catch 22, no Bruce, no funding, but one can hope.

Dear Scott:

It's not that Bruce isn't interested, it's that Bruce isn't interested in making it super-cheap, and I understand that. That if I can't put together about a half a million bucks to do it right, why bother? Anyway, I'm glad you liked it.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail: jeanmariet77@aol.com

Hi Josh!

Wow! $30,000 to show Running Time for a week in LA. You are a dedicated filmmaker! I'm a young person who has been working in the film business in LA for about 4 years now. I worked on your script "Cycles" at Beacon and now I'm working as a director's assistant for a straight to video release. The amount of money that is thrown around here on a daily basis is insane! Even for a straight to video film. So for me to read about a filmmaker like yourself putting up your own money for your own films is really cool! As you know all too well it is really hard to keep your chin up in this business and I have spent the past year in a pissy mood because of all the stupid people and their politics that you have to deal with day in and day out. But it's nice to know that there are people like you who really care about the filmmaking process and the end results. You have got guts dude!

Keep up the good work!
Jean

Dear Jean:

The $30,000 was the cheap part. The film had cost $130,000, most of which I put up myself. And all of that was a drop in the bucket compared to the $350,000 that "Hammer" cost. It's a damn shame Beacon doesn't finally make "Cycles."

Josh

Name: Michael
E-mail: fanakabus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

>>>>If I had the money I'd four-wall the film in LA, like I did with "Lunatics" and "Running Time," then you get quotes from the LA crirics, but alas, I do not have the dough.<<<<

What does it mean to "four-wall" a film? What does it cost?

I friend of mine works for a video distributor. They mostly do old or obscure movies that they then sell cheap at places like Walmart. He says they also do some independent movies, though. Would you ever consider going that route for Hammer, just to get it out there?

Dear Michael:

Four-walling is when you rent the theater, then all of the ticket sales are yours. And if you want any advertising, you have to pay for it yourself. To get a little theater in LA for a week was about $5,000, if I recall correctly. Advertising in any LA newspaper is expensive. Also, theaters aren't available all the time, particularly as you near Oscar time. But if you play for a week in LA in a theater you are then eligible for Academy Award nomination. It ended up costing me about $30,000 to open "Running Time" for a week in LA. As fate would have it, I opened the same day as "Titanic."
Both RT and "Deconstructing Harry," which was playing across the hall, died terrible deaths due to "Titanic."

Meanwhile, I'd be happy to get the info on the video company your talking about. I still need to clear the music rights, and make a decent video transfer, so it's not like anyone will be able to release the film for free.
You can send the info to me personally at josh@beckerfilms.com.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I'll look forward to reading the treatment for "Terrified!" when you post it (will it be in the story section, or the screenplay section of the site?).
Yours truly,
Darryl

P.S. Just a note to Will, who asked about screenplay formats: the screenplays on this site are a great example of the proper format, and Bruce Campbell has a good section about writing screenplays on his website (I think Josh has a link on this site for it), called "Shun Society, Be a Screenwriter," which includes some good tips to that effect.

Dear Darryl:

There will be a link from the front page, and we may start a new section for treatments. [and now it is done --webmaster]

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was just wondering what kind of comedies you like. From your movies list I see you enjoy slapstick like 'Airplane' and whatnot. There really aren't good comedies anymore like that. The last one I saw that I laughed my ass of was Broken Lizard's 'Super Troopers.' Before that, I can't remember. I'm still waiting for the Mr. Show movie to come out but I guess New Line's more interested in rehashed garbage (i.e. Goldmember). What would make comedy better, being that it's supposebly the hardest to sell. Thanks man-

Dear Brian:

What would make comedy better? If it was funny. I don't find Austin Powers funny, nor do I see what the joke is. I'm pleased for Verne Troyer, who plays Mini-Me, and was a regular on "Jack of All Trades," that he's got a good gig. The last movie I really laughed at was the Showtime film, "Elvis Meets Nixon."

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail: jeanmariet77@aol.com

Hi Josh!

I watched the TSNKE DVD with a friend of mine last night and we had a blast! It was a really cool and fun film to watch. And the commentary with you and Bruce Campbell was very entertaining. Did Sam really kick Ted in the face? We were wondering if you ever intended to make more films about the Stryker character? He's a really interesting character. He's someone that the audience can care about which is a very rare thing especially in films these days. Is there going to be a Lunatics DVD? Oh, and one more thing about TSNKE. What was up with Ted's stuffed pants!? We were laughing our heads off!

Thanks!
Jean

Dear Jean:

I wrote a sequel, but no one was ever interested. The original title of TSNKE was "Stryker's War," and the sequel was "Jackson's War." There's no word on a "Lunatics" DVD, although I wish there were. And I don't know about anything stuffed in Ted's pants. He's always been very popular with the women, so maybe that's just him.

Josh

Name: Colin J. Warnock
E-mail: cwarnock@lww.com

Dear Josh:

You have a major factual error in your piece: William Wyler directed Bette Davis in her Oscar winning performance in JEZEBEL.

Dear Colin:

You are absolutely correct, and I am well aware of which films she won for, I just goofed up. Thanks.

Josh

Name: Peter
E-mail: tartarus@seznam.cz

Dear Josh:

Hi, the behind the scenes pics are great!
Have you some more pics?
Thx Peter

Dear Peter:

Not of "Xena" I don't. You weren't allowed to shoot pictures on the set, even though I did anyway a few times. I just spoke with Lucy the other day, for about a half an hour. If I wasn't such a cheapskate we might have talked longer, but I got nervous about the phone bill and calling New Zealand. Anyway, she's incredibly funny and insightful and really amuses the hell out of me. She's got her new baby and is very happy.

Josh

Name: Crow550
E-mail: Crow550@eboxmail.net

Dear Josh:

Hey man. You have done some great work. Anyway I am a newbite film maker and im working on my first film Zombism I was wondering if once the film is done you can view it and write a review on it or say somthing about it in one line like. A great film-Josh Becker
HAHAHAHAHAHA! Or somthing like that. My site link is www.twistedmindpictures.n2v.net Check it out for more info on my film. Thanks and later!
Crow550

Dear Crow550:

"Zombism"? Maybe you mean "Zombieism"? Either way, it's a silly title, and the chances of me liking it are probably zero. Maybe you ought to contact George Romero, who is partial to zombie movies, and is a very nice guy, too (and really tall, like 6'5").

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I've just been reading the buzz about your new horror film treatment. Is this angle about the gold rush and the Mormons set up early in the story? It seems to me that without clues or plot points along the way preparing the audience for it, the transition is a little clumsy (please don't take offense; your other screenplays more than prove your considerable talent at your craft). Perhaps if you made some connection between the boy and the past (for instance, what if the victim was a Mormon boy, and the accident occurred in Utah, with the man ending up haunted by his victim?) it would work well.
In any case, the theme of a past misdeed forcing resolution in the present through a haunting can successfully be carried out in a screenplay; two films that worked very well with this theme were THE CHANGELING and THE FORGOTTEN ONE. Again, I reserve total judgement since I haven't seen the actual treatment; my comment was based on what has been posted so far. I'm sorry that Bruce and Ted have lost interest in the project; the basic concept is sound, and I agree with the opinion that you could write a horror film superior to anything available now.

Best wishes,
Darryl

P.S. I know it goes against your practice, but do you think that you'll post the treatment, so that we can read it?
D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

Yes, it should be up today. I don't think it's the best story I've ever written, but I'm not sure it should have fallen as flat as it did. I may post some other treatments, too, just for fun. I'll be interested to hear your comments when you've read it.

Josh

Name: Ryan Walker
E-mail: don't have one yet

Dear Josh,

It really is a shame your horror picture isn't going to be made. I would have loved to see the end result, but I am glad you enjoyed writing the story. There will be many more opportunities in the future, of course, and you have more than enough ideas to make them possible, I bet. I've got a question for you, Josh, why aren't you interested in shooting some of your scripts on this very site? For instance, THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK, THE WINDS OF FATE, or THE HAPPIEST GUY IN TOWN. In my opinion, those three alone would make brilliant motion pictures, as any of your other scripts would.

One more question, if you don't mind, in your treatment for TERRIFIED, what character would Ted play? I'm pretty sure Bruce would play the main character, being the man who goes crazy.

Have a good one,
Ryan

Dear Ryan:

It's not that I don't want to make the scripts posted on the site, it's that I don't have to money to do so. Ted was going to produce "Terrified!" I thought he could play the cab driver just for fun.

Josh

Name: Will
E-mail: candylegcoat@hotmail.com

Hey Josh:

I was just curious as to what you write your screenplays on (IE: word documents?) & if so, what are the proper submitting styles and fonts(tabs and all of that for dialogue, parenthesis, etc).

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Have a nice day.

Dear Will:

I use MS word, or any other word processing software I may have (first I was on Apple, then IBM software). Script format consists of four tab stops and a margin. The far left margin is where the slug-lines and scene descriptions begin; tab #1 is 20 spaces in and where the dialog begins, and ends at 80 spaces in, before the right margin; tab #2 is 25 spaces in, and is where the emotional description begins, in parethesis (annoyed) (amused); tab #3 is 30 spaces in, and where the character's name goes, in capital letters; tab #4 is 80 spaces in, and where the transitions, DISSOLVE or FADE OUT or FADE IN go.

Josh

Name: violet
E-mail: violet1988@msn.com

Dear Josh:

i have a question did you ever read the old yeller book? If you did why is John Longridge looking after the animals?

Dear Violet:

I never read the book, but I saw the movie. Not much of it has stayed with me, but I recall it was a pretty good Disney film. I liked "The Yearling" a lot more.

Josh

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

Josh,

You know, most indi films that plays at these festivals already have critic quotes on them. I still have the "Dear Filmmaker letter" from Telluride that at one point reads, "Your film is an original and admirable work that deserves to be seen by many." I strongly thought about lifting the later part of that quote and putting it on my posters. I should have done it, after all, it's a direct quote in writting.

I've come to see that most critics will not watch unsolicited tapes, but one who will is Ray Carney. You might like to submit a tape of "Hammer," to him. (He's a farily famous critic\film teacher at Boston University, and author of "Cassavetes on Cassavetes," and "American Visions: The Films of Frank Capra.") I sent him a copy of my picture a year ago. Never heard from him. Perhaps you'll have better luck.

Prof. Ray Carney
College of Communication
640 Commonwealth Ave.
Bost University
Boston, MA 02215

Also, I thought your horror film idea sounded interesting. Not too scary, though. If you're interested in the old west, the gold rush and the first mormons, why not write a script about these things? Sounds like a big, period piece...Not a horror film. Reminds me of what Raimi did with "Army of Darkness" which is obviously a comedy. Why make a funny movie out of a horror film trilogy?

Just an observation. Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

It's not supposed to be funny, although perhaps it's not all that scary. Nevertheless, I did take it seriously. I may just post it so people can see what I meant, then they can pick on it specifically. Thanks for the info, BTW, although I probably won't follow it up. I really can't see what a quote from a Boston critic will do for me. If I had the money I'd four-wall the film in LA, like I did with "Lunatics" and "Running Time," then you get quotes from the LA crirics, but alas, I do not have the dough.

Josh

Name: dustin
E-mail: dustglas@hotmail.com

josh,

i don't wanna knock your friends cause i know that i'd get pissed if someone knocked mine even if they were up to no good, but i took my 16 year old brother and his friend to see spiderman the other day, and they asked if we could leave about 35 minutes into the film. the sad fact is, i left to smoke a cigarette and called my girlfriend to tell her how upset i was with the film, after all my film major friends ate it up and couldn't believe that i, being the sam fan that i am hadn't seen it yet. josh i hate to judge a film without seeing it all, and yet the pacing was so pitiful that it was hard to stand. we laughed as we left due to the fact that we all thought the american film audience needed action in their face all the time and yet spiderman was a complete bore. we also laughed in the fact that i could have gotten really exciting after we left.... and yet, what is the point by that bit? just sad i guess for me.

anyway, my brother and i and his friend were in savannah for the weekend and it rained so friday we saw reign of fire and the new halloween, just to waste some time believe me. the great fact was, and you are gonna think i'm a fool for this but i gotta say it, we saw crocodile hunter on saturday and it beat the hell outta the previous films. no big suprise, just wanna tell folks that like frequenting the big screen.

sorry about terrified, sounded fun and refreshing.
dustin

Dear Dustin:

Your not liking "Spider-Man" is no skin off my nose. Nor Sam's, either. It's now the fifth largest grossing film of all time, pushing out such lackluster under-performers as "The Godfather," "The Sound of Music," and "Gone With the Wind." And it was only number one for two weeks. The economics of this business are now completely insane. I still haven't seen it, but I'm sure it won't be my cup of tea, either.

Josh

Name: Peter
E-mail: peter@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I just read Dark of the Moon. Could you tell me what are the act breaks, plot points, irony, theme, and subtext for that script?
The script's awesome; it's a shame it wasn't produced.

Dear Peter:

I'm glad you enjoyed it, but it's not the writer's responsibilty to point that stuff out. Also keep in mind that it's a 15-year-old script.

Josh

Name: noelia
E-mail: noeliaxena@hotmail

Hello!!

I'm from spain and I not write english very well.
I has got only question:
Why you has got photos whit lucy lawless???
Thank you,bye!!

Dear Noelia:

Because I be worked whit her many times.

Josh

Name: Oliver
E-mail:

Josh,

"Terrified" sounds like a Twilight Zone episode. I like the concept of a guy accidentally running over a child and cracking up. But, the gold rush and Mormon stuff seems a bit much. Now, if he were haunted by the kid he ran over, then, I would be scared and interested. I sincerely hope you get the financial backing to make another film. The way you have "Terrified" now, how much do you think you need to get it produced and do you have a finished script or just a treatment?

Oliver

Dear Oliver:

I just have a completed treatment, although quite a long, detailed one. I guess I'd need a half a million, if I want to do it in a reasonable fashion and have Bruce Campbell star in it.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Josh,

What is your horror screenplay about?

John

Dear John:

"Terrified!" is about a guy who accidentally ran over a child in LA, begins to crack up, so he and his wife leave the city and move to Oregon. Circumstances cause the wife to leave for a weekend, and once alone the guy completely cracks up, hallucinating that it's 1849, the big gold rush is occurring, and he's the first Mormon to make it to the west coast, where he's vainly trying to convert the miners.

Josh

Name: J. C. Denton
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I have a question about shot composition. I often notice that directors frame shots so that the camera masks off the top of the actor's head while at the same time showing their entire neck. Is there any reason why the director doesn't move the camera up a bit so we get all of the actor's face?

Dear J.C.:

That's the common way of framing a fairly tight close-up now, cutting off the forehead. I personally have always found it a tad odd myself, though I don't mind it, but framing the entire face is considered old-fashioned now.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: snoogans@softhome.net

Dear Josh,

About a month ago, I caught the last 45 minutes or so of a flick from the early 70s called "Badlands" on TV, and... wow.

Just plain wow.

I didn't even see the whole thing, and it just blew me away. The acting was top of the line, and there were so many tiny details that contributed depth to the story that I have to assume it was the result of quality direction (I'm not sure about that, not really knowing much about directing).

I thought it was strange but cool that the little bits and pieces made it into a better movie than the big plot points, etc., did - the couple moving the furniture around in the rich guy's house, and the way the girl's love of trashy movie magazines colours her narration and two examples.

After reading the credits at the end, I saw that it was made by the same guy who did "The Thin Red Line",
which was kind of depressing. (not the movie, the fact that the same guy yadda yadda)

How the hell can someone who translates the ideas and images in his head onto film so well make such a lame movie? I'm confused.

Oh well. Anyway, do you have any thoughts on "Badlands"? It seemed like the sort of movie you'd dig.

Hope your summer is going well so far.

Cheers,
Lucas

Dear Lucas:

I think "Badlands" is a really good film, and miles ahead of all the other young-couple-on-the-lam movies that have followed, like the execrable "Natural Born Killers." I also think it's Terrance Malick's one and only good film. Sissy Spacek, in her first big role, is great and her flat narration works incredibly well ("He was about the craziest boy I ever met"). Malick has tried to repeat the success of that monotone narration in every movie since (all two) and it just doesn't work. Martin Sheen is also at his very best, and Warren Oates is terrific, too. When Sheen puts those people in the root cellar, then fires all of the bullets in his pistol down into the cellar, it's horrifying without seeing any carnage. I also think it was beautifully photographed by the wonderful DP Tak Fujimoto. They don't make pictures like that no more.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I agree about Tom Clancy; I'm not terribly thrilled by those bloated, overly-technical works of his (especially since he started writing those books about the service, like AIRBORNE and ARMORED CAV, where he not so subtly intimates that everyone in the army outside of special operations units is basically dogshit). If Eric Von Stroheim had attempted a page-by-page screen adaptation of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER instead of MCTEAGUE, he would have ended up with a 20 hour movie, and it wouldn't have been a masterpiece.
Anyway, to save my sanity (what's left of it), I watched RUN SILENT RUN DEEP last night. It was an excellent film, and I see elements of it in every submarine movie made since then. It was soothing to see two real actors (Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster) doing their job in a well-paced, well-written story. Interestingly enough, it was independently produced (Hecht, Hill and Lancaster), although stars like Gable and Lancaster could get major studio backing with a snap of the fingers. Was this project farmed out to Lancaster's production company, or was it an independently made concept?

Yours truly,
Darryl

P.S. The film also has another one of those great movie lines, when the idiot Lieutenant spouts off about Clark Gable in front of the crew, and the crewman stands up and says "Sir? Words just fail me." and knocks the idiot out.

D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

I agree, I like "Run Silent, Run Deep" very much, and every other submarine movie since has ripped it off. And you can't do better than Gable and Lancaster. The 1950s were the beginning of the independent production companies, like Hecht, Hill, Lancaster and Kirk Douglas's company Bryna (his mother's name, BTW), but they didn't finance the films themselves, they set up financing and distribution deals with major studios before they made the pictures, which is how most films in Hollywood are still made. This sort of a deal is referred to as a "negative pick-up deal." Both Lancaster and Douglas, who were best buddies, had very good taste and produced quality films, like "Spartacus," "Marty," "The Vikings," "Seven Days in May," "The Birdman of Alcatraz," and many more.

Josh

Name: rocketman@hotmail.com
E-mail:

Hi there Josh,

Did you watch "Bottle Rocket" yet? If so, what did you think of it?

Rocketman

Dear Rocketman:

I thought it was dull, unmemorable, unbelievable, severely uninteresting crap. I don't think it had anything going for it.

Josh

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

Hi Josh!

That sucks that Bruce and Ted have lost interest in your horror film. I was really looking forward to seeing the end result of a colaboration between the three of you. What happened? And do you think you guys will work on something together in the future?

Thanks!
Jean

Dear Jean:

Beats me. Hey, it's not their fault, they can only legitimately be interested in that which actually interests them. If my story failed to do this, then it's my fault. I have come to accept a long time ago that if one is going to toil in the coal mines of making movies, one is going fling a lot of shit at the wall, and very little of it will stick. Ultimately, however, it's the process that matters, not the end result. I enjoyed writing that story, so it was worthwhile to me.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: TimOconnor@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Every screenwriting book says that the script's length must be 120 pages. Are they for real? When do you put the act breaks and plot points? I'm asking because your screenplays' length, when I transfer them to Final Draft, can run from 60 to 80 pages (Delirious and TSNKE, I think). Thanks.

Dear Tim:

Yeah, but most of my scripts are legitimately 110-130 pages, those just happen to be short ones. I think if you're anywhere in the 100-130 page range it's fine. Clearly, with all of these bloated, hyper-extended films around -- like "Minority Report" -- there are quite a few 150-200 page scripts floating around, and being filmed, too. In a 120 page script, generally act one ends between pages 30-40, and act two ends somewhere in the 80-100 range.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

My last post wasn't really about movies, so this is another try. I knuckled under and went to see THE SUM OF ALL FEARS the other day, and caught myself enjoying it a bit. It had the usual Swiss cheese plot, explosions, gunfights, and action movie cliches (the largest one is the way they feed the audience a plot as if they were receiving a mission briefing; there is no subtlety at all), but it still had a few moments. If you do get to see it (six months from now on cable, most likely), look for a few good moments from Morgan Freeman as the director of the CIA, and an enjoyable performance by Liev Shriber as an undercover operative. Liev, as you will recall, played Orson Welles in RKO 281. The rest is trash.
I mentioned the lack of subtlety in action films, but it is actually a problem with almost all modern movies: they shove details in the audience's face. It wasn't always like this.
I remember watching HOUSE OF WAX and appreciating the way Andre de Tothe very gracefully set the stage: first you see horse carts and gas lights, then instead of a title giving the location, the camera moves in on the license plate of a car, where you tell from the registration sticker that it is New York, and the year is 1914. Nowadays, everything is spelled out at the bottom of the screen like Java script. When do you suppose this first started showing up in American films?

Yours truly,
Darryl

P.S. Just another thing about movies that irks me: did you ever notice that whenever a character in a film is named Darryl, he's usually a jerk? Think of the character Darryl in RED DAWN, who betrays his friends to the Russians, or the prissy, jerry-curl wearing Darryl in COMING TO AMERICA? I wouldn't notice or mind so much, if my name weren't Darryl.

D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

Didn't you know, anyone named Darryl is a jerk. Just kidding. Although I repect him, I've read that Mr. Darryl Zanuck was actually quite a big jerk, although he had pretty good taste. I could really care less about any of that Tom Clancey crap. And sequels to sequels to sequels hold zero interest for me. A pox on them.

Josh

Name: Will
E-mail: wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Well, this is a well-trod conversation path on this site, but I feel compelled to rant on it again. I was forced to watch the multiple-Oscar nominated "Quills" the other night. Geoffry Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine. Big names, period piece, Marquis de Sade. HORRIBLE. Story? I'm not even sure what it was. Acting? Passable, but these stars were slumming. Writing? Worse than bad.

My biggest issue was the MPAA again. The same old story: studio release, big stars, easy to get an R. This despite the fact that we see multiple shots of Rush's old johnson, Joaquin screwing a corpse, etc. etc. etc. If an independent made a much better film with disturbing images like that, he couldn't get an R, that's for damn sure.

Like I said, it's been discussed 100 times before. But I wondered (couldn't remember if you'd been asked this before): have you had any MPAA difficulties? I suppose Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except would be the only film you've directed I could see having an issue, but I wondered.

Dear Will:

I bailed out on "Quills." I find most of Phillip Kaufman's films to be dull and lead-footed. Yes, I had difficulty with the MPAA on TSNKE, who gave me an X-rating. At just about the same time, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," which has much more explicit vulgarity, got the newly created (just for them) PG-13. No, it's not fair, but then, no one said life was fair. Speaking of Spielberg, I got wrangled into seeing "Minority Report," which is just crap, and long, too. With these last two films, Spielberg proves beyond a shadow of doubt that he knows nothing about science fiction. Of the three Phillip K. Dick adaptations, this is by far the worst. I really, really hate sci-fi that has zero chance of coming true. I'm supposed to accept that in 33 years, cars will drive on the sides of buildings, space ships will fly all over the city, and people will have jet packs? Plus, it's the worst example of product placement I've ever seen -- in every scene there's a name product being flaunted. Everything wrong with the modern film industry can be found in Spielberg's films.

Josh


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