glad to hear about your possible plans to self distribute
"Hammer" on VHS and DVD. I'll buy a copy when
you can get them out.
friend of mind, who has directed two independent films,
is self distributing his latest picture like this. He
even has it on amazon.com. That would be great for you.
Every time someone would order any of your other 3 films,
"Hammer" would pop up.
too recently saw "Monster's Ball," and found
it brilliant. As powerful as some of Cassavetes' masterworks.
a good one, and don't hesitate to get "Hammer"
out. I know it's going to be more $, but you have to
let people see the film. For yourself, not for us.
word on the festivals...Try some European ones. Rotterdam
just opened up for it's call for entries. I just sent
them my picture. And don't forget Berlin, Venice, Edinburgh,
Calgary (not european, but still an International fest).
They may just love your film in other countries. Fuck
New York and Boston. They both turned me down too.
I needed that. It shocked the hell out of me when none
of the major festivals would show "Running Time."
I mean, what the hell do you have to do? Other than
have a distribution deal with a major company, with
a large publicity budget, and big stars in your film?
What happened to actual indie films? It's all pretty
sad, really. And you're right, I will try the foreign
festivals. Thanks. And good luck to you.
Hamburger Hill worth renting? Some reviews say it's
the best Vietnam ever while others trash it. Is it any
good or was it just made because of the success of Platoon?
thought it was junk, and a half-assed "M*A*S*H"
rip-off. Check out "Go Tell the Spartans"
instead, which is a really good, underrated Vietnam
war film. I also quite like "Bat 21."
saw THE ROAD WARRIOR and enjoyed it, but hadn't heard
of THE DRIVER.
From reading the posts, I see that you're considering
selling copies of IF I HAD A HAMMER directly from your
website. This sounds like a good idea (please put me
down for a copy). When do you anticipate copies being
available? I understand that the rapper ICE-T does something
similar with his music from his website, and that it's
very lucrative, both creatively and financially.
My buddy Derek wanted me to ask you a technical question.
What is your opinion of the use of first-person perspective
in films? I know that it is a common approach in documentaries,
but I've almost never seen it in feature films.
Anyway, I'm happy that you may have found an end-run
around the system, and look forward to seeing HAMMER.
I'll make some rap records and sell those, too. The
first-person perspective isn't really used in documentaries,
not of having people look directly into the lens, as
though the camera were the lead character. The first
film I know of to experiment with this technique was
the 1932 version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
directed by Rouben Mamoulian (whom I met once). The
entire first five minutes or so of the film is all from
Dr. Jekyll's POV, and it's rather odd. It was used again
by Robert Montgomery in 1946 in "Lady in the Lake,"
his version of the Raymond Chandler novel, which he
starred in and directed. You only see him in mirrors,
the babes lean forward and kiss the lens. and cigarettes
keeping going under the lens, then smoke blows out.
It's very distracting. It was used to a somewhat better
advantage the next year in "Dark Passage"
with Bogart and Bacall, where Bogart has had plastic
surgery and until the bandages are removed it's all
in the first-person. All in all, it really isn't a very
helpful or interesting technique. And you really ought
to check out "The Driver," it's a very cool
film directed by Walter Hill.
as far as a SASE is concerned....what do those of us
from the frosty (yeah right) northern lands of Canadia?
stamps can't be used to mail something from within the
US I believe.
point. I think you can then use a postal money order,
or some such thing. Since you wouldn't be paying in
Canadian funds anyway, maybe for out-of-the country
orders they all have to be postal money orders. You
see, that's why I brought this up first before doing
it. Anyone out there have the answer to this?
you heard of that screenplay contest called Project
Greenlight put on by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck where
the winner gets to direct their screenplay? (I'm just
now seeing it here in asia.) If so, what do you think
of it? I found it very interesting and informative on
how (low budget) movies are made in Hollywood. For instance,
even in a low budget movie like "Stolen Summer"
Mirimax still hired a cinematographer and a production
designer, unlike someone like Robert Rodriguez who has
demonstrated that it's not only possible, but actually
preferable to do it all himself. Here's the link to
a very intersting Rodriguez interview on how he makes
movies if your interested:
Onion A.V. Club | Robert Rodriguez
watched a few episodes of the first season, and it all
seemed like a set-up to put some schnook through hell.
Of course they have to choose a kid that has no experience
behind a camera, then watch him flounder. They would
never choose someone like me, with a lot of on-set experience,
because it wouldn't be any good for the TV show, and
that's what it's all about, the TV show, not the film
that gets made. Sadly, I don't respect Rodriguez, and
I think he just plain old lied about the costs of "El
Mariachi." Feature films don't cost $7,000, period.
Getting the film processed and printed is more than
that. I also don't necessarily agree that it's preferable
to run your own camera.
you doing that Western w/ Bruce?
if you want provacative: Me likes silk underwear.
at least I posted the treatment. It's called "Warpath."
cool about "Hammer"
idea what the projected cost to the consumer would be?
if this works for you would you consider this from now
on when you make a movie? Maybe look into limited production
of stuff like Blind Waiter and Stryker's War? (there's
been a precedent set with illegally used music released
in limited prodution....cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy and
Download is doing that now...he only makes 1000 copies
per album and he puts all the tracks he was unable to
release through proper channels)
going to keep it as cheap as I can, like $19.95, and
I'm going to make everyone include a self-addressed
stamped envelope sufficient for a video tape or a DVD.
The key is to now have as many dupes made as possible
because they get cheaper the more you get of them.
we'll agree to disagree on "Convoy"....I agree
with you on Kristofferson's acting (I'm more used to
seeing him in bad sci-fi stuff), and the direction is
a little frayed at times (the actor who played the preacher
worked with a friend of mine, regaling him with stories
of getting loaded every day on the set with Peckinpah
BUT, I think the story is a good one; it kept my interest
watching this "leader" who didn't know what
the cause was supposed to be, and hell, most of the
convoy didn't really know either. All they knew was
they were mad as hell and weren't going to take it anymore....And
the scene where Kristofferson walks out on the governor
is really fantastic. Neither of them really know what
the issues are, but to watch the instinctual selflessness
vs. instinctual selfishness play out through the eyes
was cool; one of the few scenes I've ever seen Kristofferson
do a good job in.
disagreement is fine; I can see some flaws in the film
as well that make your dislike quite valid (and I agree
with your assessment of Peckinpah as a poor man's Don
also agree with your assessment of documentaries right
now....I actually work for a non-profit documentary
film organization and I learn a lot more about film
here than in school. Have you seen Werner Herzog's "My
Best Fiend: Klaus Kinski"? If so, I wonder at your
next time "Convoy" pops up on TV I'll watch
it again. It's only been about 25 years since I saw
it that once. Yes, I did see "My Best Fiend"
and found it fascinating. Kinski seems like one of the
really big assholes of all time, but a very good actor.
And Herzog was basically stuck with him, over and over
again. The expressions of patient forbearance on everyone's
faces, particularly the natives, as Kinski pitches one
fit after another is hysterical.
was just wondering if there's any chance that you'll
be posting a review of "Monster's Ball"? I'd
be curious to read what you have to say about it (besides
what you've already posted). I thought it was really
good, although I thought the ending left a few things
kind of up in the air, that should have been clarified.
thought that was the point. From the blurb one would
suspect that the information that he was a prison guard
at her husband's execution would be the first thing
they'd know about each other. That they don't know it
until the end, then don't mention it to each other,
was like a breath of fresh air to me. It incredible
to me how much unstated stuff goes on in close relationships,
and to express that in a movie for me was great. I thought
Horton Foote got that idea across brilliantly in "Tender
Mercies," that until you specifically ask about
something, you'll probably never know. Anyway, that's
all of a review I've got. I also just watched Ang Lee's
"Ride With the Devil," which I didn't particularly
care for. It's the story of southern bushwhackers during
the Civil War, who are fighting for the southern way
of life, and killing every black person they see. Well,
am I supposed to give a shit? You can push all of them
off a cliff, too, as far as I'm concerned.
for taking the time to put together that list. "Crumb"
is by far the one DVD in my collection that I watch
the most. Good picks! I don't think I made myself clear
when I wrote about "Monster's Ball" and "Bully."
I thought the sex scene in Monster's was very well done
and it had a purpose. It was just interesting to me
that the sex scene was what people (in my experience)
chose to focus on rather then the other aspects of the
film. And yes, "Bully" did not make a dime
in the theaters but from what I understand it is doing
rather well on video. I read the true crime novel "Bully"
about a year before the film came out. The author addressed
the sex that went on between the group of teens but
not nearly to the extent of what ended up in the film.
The director just saturated "Bully" with sex
in what I think was an attempt to draw an audience.
He's the same guy that made "Kids". I was
in college when "Kids" came out on video and
my whole campus was abuzz about this film. I was a film
major and a lot of students in the department raved
about it. I saw "Kids" and, I have to admit,
I was shocked by certin things in the film but I was
also very unimpressed. I did not think it was a well
made film at all. When I expressed my thoughts about
"Kids" I was actually accused of just trying
to be diffrent because so many people worshiped the
movie. They thought my opinion was fake! How fucked
up is that? When speaking with one person in particular
about "Kids" he said that the shock value
was what made the film great. All he cared about was
the shock. Not the script or the direction or the acting,
just the shock. I found that to be very sad. But then
again I went to film school with people who thought
"Armageddon" was a great movie!
I agree completely. I thought "Kids" was shit,
and I thought "Bully" was shit, too. All the
characters in both films are assholes. To just be shocking,
in my humble opinion, means nothing.
It's been a while since I sent you a message. I've been
spending a lot of time posting at the www.rottentomatoes.com
forums, writing screenplays, and shooting around. Anyway,
I have a few questions for you if you don't mind. Most
of them include your thoughts on a few films that I've
watched recently, not for the first time. I saw your
picks on the best films of the '90's. While I agree
with you on a lot of films, I was missing "Leaving
Las Vegas." I think it's a great film, the only
great film with Mike Figgis ("Timecode") behind
the camera, and the only great performance by Nic Cage,
who rightfully took home the oscar for it. I never heard
your comments on this film, and I was just wondering
what you thought about. I just bought the DVD and I'd
give it four stars.
Another film that I never heard you discuss in the past.
It's Abel Ferrara's uncompromising "Bad Lieutenant,"
with Harvey Keitel. If you ask me, this is Harvey Keitel's
best performance, one of the most impressive I've ever
And ONE more film that I think you've discussed before
but can't find your comments on. It's "Schindler's
List" I think you hate it and I do as well. I have
a friend who LOVES this film and we argue about it from
time to time, and I absolutely hated it. In fact, I'm
the only person that I know who hates it. Just wondering
if you felt the same way. (Me and my friend tend to
argue about A LOT of films, like this one and Cronenberg's
"Crash," which I thought was a dreadful, pointless
mess of a film, Cronenberg's worst.)
wanting to drop by,
didn't care for "Leaving Las Vegas," of which
I didn't believe a second. I think it's lacking an act
one, without which I don't know why or care why Cage
is drinking himself to death. And since he happens to
have this gorgeous, sweet girl that's desperately in
love with him, what's his problem? Just getting one
quick flashback of a fire with photos in it was entirely
insufficient. That same year "Georgia" came
out, which was a far better film about someone drinking
themselves to death. I can't stand any of Abel Ferrara's
films, and "Bad Lieutenant" was particularly
annoying and repetitive. Yes, Keitel was good, but the
film around him was crap. "Schindler's List"
would make it onto my top-ten of worst films of all-time,
and one of the great missed opportunities for a interesting
story. But to treat Schindler like a hero, after he's
run a factory with forced labor for all those years,
and saved some Jews at the very end of the war, which
also coincidentally saved his butt at the Nuremburg
trials, entirely misses the great irony of his character--he
was one of the big opportunists of all-time. Whatever
was best for Schindler is what he did. To make him nothing
more than altrusitic, swell guy is stupid. And Liam
Neeson's performance is severely one-note, as is Ralph
Fiennes' performance, as the spittle-spewing, insane
Nazi, which was exactly like they always depicted Hitler
in propaganda films made during the war. What made Nazis
so scary is that they thought they were normal folks
doing a regular day's work--have breakfast with the
family, have 5000 people gassed, come home for dinner,
put the kids to bed. It should have been called "The
One Good Nazi," and if the one good Nazi got mixed
in with all the other Nazis and they were all pushed
off a cliff, it wouldn't break my heart. "Schindler's
List" was a film I thought would never end. That
I would be stuck there for all of eternity watching
old people dodder up and put rocks on his grave. It
did have pretty black and white photography by Janusz
might look in to selling copies of "If I Had a
Hammer" on your site? Would it be an editor's workprint
or would you splurge and polish it a bit (but not too
much....you'd want fans to pick up a mass distibuted
copy some time down the road).
might be a good idea. I may have told you this before
but Ohio film maker Jim vanBebber spent about 8-10 years
making a film about the Manson family titled "Charlie's
Family". About six years ago he tried to get completion
funds (he needs to finish the sound) and got nothing.
He muled it around to various festivals and got nowhere.
About two or three years ago a vhs workprint was leaked
and interested people (like myself) were finally able
to see it. From what I last heard vanBebber not only
got completion funds late last year, he also got a dvd
distribution deal. The finished film is supposed to
be out late this year or early next year.
to think about....."Hammer" may see a distribution
deal in a few years if you put out your ow copy now
am thinking about it. No, it's not workprint, it's the
finished movie transferred off of a 35mm theatrical
print. "Hammer" is entirely done, I don't
need finishing funds. I called up for duplication prices
yesterday, for both VHS and DVD.
You might want to stop posting all those asshole emails
you get; I'm beginning to develop a superiority complex.
It's amazing to me what these bored, one-handed typists
will do for kicks. Don't they know the internet is chock-full
I wanted to ask a technical (sort of) question about
tape to video transfers. Any One-Hour Photo Mart will
advertise transfering old super-8's or 16mm's onto VHS
or DVD. I assume the quality of the transfer is poor?
But the transfer itself seems ideally suited for automation,
which should mean low expense after start-up costs.
I realize that there are issues with packaging and distribution,
but the actual transfer cost doesn't seem like it should
be all that bad.
I'm obviously thinking about "Hammer" here,
and have another question about that film. I believe
you mentioned in one of your replies that you hadn't
got clearances for all of the music. I thought that
part of the inspiration for the movie was that the music
in question had passed into public domain, or do I have
that wrong? You've mentioned the same problem regarding
releasing the super-8 shorts. Would it be possible to
dub in new soundtracks, or are there no longer separate
tracks of the dialogue?
Keep telling them to "jack-off" (PG version)
and thanks as always.
actually don't post a lot of the jerk-off letters I
get. Just the ones that amuse me. Regarding the super-8s,
they are so crammed with stolen music that nobody wants
to mess around them. Also, they're old and crude and
none of us care enough about them anymore to want to
put in the time. And also, that music is part of them
and changing it would just be silly at this late date.
Regarding film-to-video transfers, to do them properly
is an expensive ordeal. I had a lousy, one-light (meaning
unsupervised) transfer done of "Hammer" and
it cost a thousand dollars. The transfer of RT cost
$6,000, and that was in 1997. To have top-quality transfer
of "Hammer" done now, I'd first have to have
a 35mm inter-positive (IP), with all of the color-timing
built into it, before I could make the transfer. Well,
an IP is a $1.25 a foot, and the film is over 12,000
feet long, then I'd still have to do at least a $7,000
supervised transfer. Also, although many of the songs
in "Hammer" are in fact PD, a few aren't (like
the title song). That was my mistake. I may still begin
selling it here on the internet and just take my chances.
found your page while doing a Google search on American
Movie. I wholeheartedly agree with your review of the
film and your assessment of what kind of a man Mark
Borchardt is. After watching the film, it was painfully
obvious that all Mark had to do with the people around
him was to come up with some 25-cent words and a few
malapropisms to trick them into perpetuating his 'plans'.
said - I thought the movie was fucking hilarious BECAUSE
it was so, so very sad. It really boosted my self-esteem,
and made me realize how glad I am that I'm not Mark
Borchardt. Factory worker indeed.
a really good documentary. And as I just did my favorite
films of the 90s list -- and we can toss in the two
years of the 2000s, too -- documentaries are the best
thing going now. Clearly, reality is much more interesting
than fiction these days. Also, technology has really
helped documentaries, with cameras being so small, able
to shoot in almost no light, and people are really able
to ignore their presence now. I think the documentary
form is really flourishing, as the fiction film is floundering.
also enjoyed "Monster's Ball" and you are
right Halle Berry was great. I saw it on DVD long after
it was out of the theaters because the only thing that
anyone could talk about was the sex scene. That's all
I heard about when the film was in the theaters. When
I would talk to someone who saw the film they would
always mention the sex scene right off the bat. It seems
as though shock value equals a good film these days.
Take "Bully" for example. The director was
going for pure shock. I guess it sells tickets. If you
think about it most of the films that come out these
days are sure fire formula piles of shit (i.e. Austin
Powers 3). It's been done a million times but what the
hell! It makes money. Or we get films about drug addiction,
abnormal sex, mental illness or some other fucked up
subject that feeds off the darker curiosity of the audience.
I think it's the influence of the news media but that's
a whole other subject.
not to gripe but you did not answer my question. What
in your opinion was the best film of the 90's and why?
about not answering your question, which I'll get back
to. Did "Bully" make money? I don't think
so. I think it's a false assumption that that kind of
bullshit automatically sells. And though it was a good
sex scene in "Monster's Ball," it wasn't nearly
the best thing in the film, and it made a lot of sense
within its story, it wasn't gratuitous, like all of
"Bully." Actually, the part that moved me
the most was Halle Berry's overweight son, whose father
has been executed, and his mother hits him because he's
fat, and he can't stop eating candy bars. It broke my
heart. Okay, the best films of the 90s: the first one
that jumps to my mind is "Unforgiven," which
I think is kind of a perfect movie, and much better
than anything I ever expected from Clint Eastwood. It's
a brilliant script, and Clint the director didn't screw
it up at all. And the casting is perfect. There's "Goodfellas,"
Scorsese's last great film, which I think is terrific
in pretty much all ways. There's "JFK," Oilver
Stone's last decent movie, which is wonderfully well-made,
has a great cast (Gary Oldman couldn't be better as
Oswald), and even gets past having that stick-in-the-mud
Kevin Costner in the lead; There's "Howard's End,"
which I really thought was wonderful; "Husbands
& Wives," Woody Allen's last really good film;
"The Long Walk Home," which I've seen about
five times and think is tremendously well-made, and
actually about several important issues; "Life
is Sweet," my favorite Mike Leigh film; "35
Up," Michael Apted's wonderful documentary; "Raise
the Red Lantern," Zhang Yimou's beautiful film;
"Mad Dog and Glory," which was severely underrated
and has a really tight script by Richard Price; "Blue
Sky," with two great performances in the lead by
Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones, both at their very
best, with solid direction by the late Tony Richardson
(his last film); "The Shawshank Redemption,"
which works much better than it ought to; "Black
Harvest," a great documentary that no one saw;
"Groundhog Day," which is an amazement and
a shockingly clever script; "Apollo 13," which
is a high-budget TV movie, but works perfectly on its
one, simple-minded level; "Rob Roy," which
far superior to the same year's best picture, "Braveheart";
"Six Degrees of Seperation," which is a fine
adaptation of a good play; "A Great Day in Harlem,"
a totally interesting doc; "Sense and Sensibilty,"
a top-notch adaptation of Jane Austen, and the best
of that bunch; "Angels and Insects," which
wasn't great, but was very interesting and well-made;
"Crumb," which I can't see enough; "The
Story of Qui Ju," Zhang Yimou working in the realm
of irony and metaphor, my favorite places; "When
We Were Kings," another top-notch doc; "Elvis
Meets Nixon," which was a Showtime film, but made
me laugh so hard I fell off the couch; "Vanya on
42nd St." which is just great actors acting a great
play, with no costumes or sets, and who needs them?
"Wild Man Blues," yet another wonderful doc;
"The Panama Deception," and yet another very
good doc with a lot of provocative information; "American
Movie," and yet another good doc; "One Day
in September" and yet another provocative documentary;
"To Live" another beautiful Zhang Yimou film.
Okay? There are my picks of the 1990s.
a couple general questions here for ya. First off, what
is your opinion on the future of filmmaking, in terms
of technology? If you were just starting out, would
you be putting more emphasis on digital or film? Most
of the film schools around here seem to emphasize film,
ie 16mm, production. I'm wondering if it would be better
for me to learn the digital technology and be ahead
of the game.
have you found that certain parts of the country are
more receptive to independent filmmakers than others?
I've been to alot of states in the midwest and it seems
like there many less hurdles in terms of getting location
permits and such. Assuming the script doesn't require
a busy city with lots of background action, it seems
to me that shooting away from the coasts would eliminate
alot of production headaches. Also, do some states offer
tax incentives to shoot there?
lastly, do you think that independent filmmaking, in
general, is a poor business decision these days? Friends
of mine are putting tens of thousands into their film
school thesis films and my guess is that nothing will
come of it. I suppose these could be used for reels,
but thats about it. I've come to the conclusion that
low-budget digital video filmmaking is a good idea in
that the financial losses are minimal, and you're getting
roughly the same result: a good learning experience
and something to show at a few festivals. I don't see
any independent filmmakers actually supporting themselves
with their work, they generally make money as assistants
in local commercial productions or in post-production.
You've supported yourself for awhile as a television
director, but you've been in the business a long time.
As a 23 year old guy that has basically just done intern
and production assistant jobs, I've lost some faith
in my ability to actually support myself in this industry.
I could maybe go into camera or post-production, but
is that a realistic career path if ultimately I want
to direct my own stories? I dunno, just rambling on
and on here. Basically these are the same old questions,
just wondering if you've got any good answers :) Take
don't have any new answers, just the same old ones.
I think you're right about shooting anywhere but LA
or NYC and getting a lot more bang for your buck. I
shot my first two features in Detroit, then the next
two in LA, and everyone was a lot more amenable in Detroit,
and we got many more things for cheap or for free. We
faked LA by shooting in the little town of Pontiac,
MI (where they make the cars), and the they simply couldn't
have been nicer or more helpful, and didn't charge us
any location fees--we did pay for some off-duty cops,
but that's always a good idea. Shooting in LA I got
charged for everything, and got taxed by the state,
the county, and the city. Besides, LA hates independent
low-budget movies, and most places consider them an
infringement on making real money from big movies. Although
I think digital video is a terrific medium, and great
for documentaries and shorts, it's still impractical
for features since no one will yet buy them. And can
you support yourself as a indie filmmaker? I never could.
I've never made any money with my movies, and just breaking
even has always been the big goal. Directing TV pays
very well, but they're very difficult jobs to get, and
there's no security (I sound like Mr. T). If you're
not absolutely driven to make your own movies, then
find another field. Much heartache lies ahead.
emailed you not that long ago regarding Mini-DV and
Hi8. You called me a dope. I took offence. My name does
actually happen to be Sam. Granted my email address
does lead people to believe I am the great God: Sam
Raimi, but I only created that address because I enjoy
his work. Now, seeing as you've now hurt me and have
offended me in such a way that it took great self discipline
to refrain from swearing at you, calling you abusive
names (such as "dope"), and insulting you
mediocre directing and writing, could you please answer
my question found on the last page of q&a.
still think it's inappropriate using someone else's
name for your email address, however I'm sorry I called
you a dope. Since you believe I'm a mediocre writer/director,
I don't see why you seek my opinion. Nevertheless, if
your intention is to make a film you can sell, I say
shoot on film. If your intention is not to sell it,
then it doesn't matter what you shoot it on. Good luck.
i am a proffesional actor who has recently been offered
a part in a 'adult' movie. Are there any camera tricks
that can make my penis seem larger?
could shoot through a microscope.
you regually kiss your own ass? From the replies i have
read you seem to be full of yourself..............
that's how it seems to you, then that's what I do.
im thinking about filming me and my girlfriend having
sex and i was just wondering what sort of camera you
would recommend i use.
with the lens cap on.
of chase movies, have you ever seen Peckinpah's "Convoy?"
For some reason I really dig it....Kris Kristofferson
as kind of a Jesus figure for struggling truckers attempting
to unionize...Ernest Borgnine as a corrupt, driven but
comically inept cop...It's amazing how many trucks they
have racing through the desert...they'll never be able
to make 'em like that again. The characters, though
simple, are clearly defined, and though the ending is
cheesy as all hell, I thought it was pretty good. Come
to think of it, I don't know if I've seen you post your
thoughts on Peckinpah before....any thoughts on Convoy?
Cross of Iron? The Wild Bunch?
love "The Wild Bunch" and consider it one
of the really great films. I basically hated "Convoy,"
however, and felt really bad for Peckinpah when I saw
it when it came out. It was nothing more than a late
follow-up to the "Smoky and the Bandit" films,
but without the humor. And Kris Kristofferson is a crappy
actor and a serious bore. "Cross of Iron"
had its moments, but wasn't all that good, either. In
fact, I really do think that Peckinpah was, for the
most part, a one-shot director, and his whole career
is based on "The Wild Bunch." Everything else
in his ouvre is far inferior. He always seemed like
a second-rate, half-assed Don Siegel to me, whom he
started off working for as a PA in the 1950s.
part of Oregon do you live in? It looks beautiful in
the pictures. What's the town like? Do you plan on staying
there long? I hope all is well with you. Take care of
yourself. And please make some more films soon.
live outside Jacksonville, which is near Medford and
Ashland. I don't know if I intend to stay here or not,
we'll see. I would certainly love to make more films
soon, but getting past my last film has turned out to
be the most difficult problem I've ever given myself.
I'm still somewhat surprised that I waited until I was
over 40 to make a film no one will touch with a ten-foot
pole. It just got turned down by the NY film festival.
No one will even show the damn thing. I find it really
you get that last email that I sent you about the diffrent
drafts of "Cycles"? Just checking.
to my question:
What in your opinion was the best film of the 90's and
why? I loved what you said about people who jump all
over you when you say that you did not like a film that
everyone expects you to like. I was out with some friends
a few months ago and they all started talking about
how great "In The Bedroom" was. I saw it and
was bored to tears! When I told them that I did not
like the film they all looked at me like I had three
heads. When I tried to explain my reasons for not liking
it my friends just blocked me out of the conversation.
It pissed me off to no end! It seems as though people
like the films that they are told to like. It's such
bullshit! I have not had a decent conversation about
movies in a long time. It sucks!
for letting me rant,
I did get the email, and thanks. What's amusing (or
sad) is that my original draft was not on the list,
as though it never existed. There's such a desperate
need in Hollywood to shit all over anything that contains
a trace of integrity it's really shocking. And please,
rant all you'd like on this topic -- the lack of discussion
about film -- and I guess this is the place to do it.
I honestly do feel that film has devolved in the past
thirty years or so, to the point where the good films
aren't particularly good, and the bad films have overrun
us. "In the Bedroom" was terrible, and that
people can't hear that shows their utter lack of thoughtful
consideration. If a film has any actual value is must
be able to stand up to criticism. Now, I actually saw
a good film last night, "Monster's Ball."
It's an improbable story that the filmmakers pull off
due to solid writing, top-notch acting, and thoughtful
direction. Halle Berry really deserved her Oscar for
her performance, which is painfully raw in spots. And
though I ended up caring for both the leads, they're
not tremedously likable characters, which is kind of
amazing. This was an intense, powerful drama -- unlike
"Bedroom," which was contrived crap. I also
tried watching "Bully" last night, which someone
here recommended, and it too was garbage, and made me
ashamed to be involved in film, and made me ashamed
that someone put young kids through that degrading nonsense.
Anyway, I recommend "Monster's Ball" to everyone.
just read your post (sorry, I've been off the net for
a week or so; job-hunting sucks). Sorry to hear that
you're having forest fires in Oregon again. I have a
friend on active duty at Fort Lewis (right above you
in Washington state), and in the year that he's been
there, the governor of the state has asked the army
for firefighting assistance twice.
Anyway, on to a movie question. What did you think of
GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS? I saw it recently on TV and rather
enjoyed it, in an escapist kind of way. However, I was
curious about a few things concerning the film. Wasn't
the car that gave Nicholas Cage so much trouble ( '67
Shelby GT 500 Mustang) the same car that Steve McQueen
drove in BULLITT? Also, the end credits mention that
the film was based on an earlier movie from 1974, and
I was wondering what the title of that film was. This
is not you're favorite type of film, I know, but if
anyone would have the answer to my question, it would
original is called "Gone in 60 Seconds," as
opposed to "Gone in Sixty Seconds." I couldn't
sit through the first one, and didn't even try sitting
through the remake. In "Bullitt," if I recall
correctly, it was a Mustang against a Charger. As far
as car chase movies go, I'll take "The Road Warrior"
or "The Driver."
just saw North By Northwest the other night, and it
never ceases to amaze me how well made that film is,
even by modern standards. While watching it, a question
arose. Is is possible for a film to have more than one
central theme. North by North west seemed to have many.
Trust and betrayal were both very prominant. escpecially
when pertaining to Eva Marie Saint's character. Anyway
correct me if i'm wrong but It seemed to me that the
story was built upon a couple of themes as opposed to
one. If it's possible, is it wise for a writer to incorporate
multiple themes when constructing a story?
theme is sufficient, and a good theme is generally one
word. Although I do love "North by Northwest,"
it's not what you'd call a deep script, nor is it really
exploring any theme all that well, other than Hitchcock's
standard "wrong man" story, which he and Ernest
Lehman sort of noodled their way through. Hitchcock
was after momentary effects, not depth in characterization
or exploring themes. He was damn good at what he did,
but telling deep stories wasn't his forte.
upon your site, and really like your movie reviews....it's
refreshing to hear the truth.......thanks for the laughs!
pleasure. As I was driving across the vast country I
was thinking about the intense film discussions I used
to have, when film seemed like a legitmate art form
and worthy of as much critical thought as could be applied
to it. Now, if someone says they loved "American
Beauty," for example, and I say I didn't like it,
it causes shock and dismay and no discussion ensues.
Everyone now just accepts what everyone else says and
that's it. How sad.
my name is Phill and I'm a young film maker here in
Florida. I make Super 8 films and enter them into film
festivals in the area. We havn't made anything star-studded
yet but every project we keep our fingers crossed. I'm
writing because the gang from the glory days of ED.
I have a crew that is close to that. We all have a lot
of respect for you and all love Running Time. Any advice
you can give young film makers in need of it? I was
also wondering if we could get a autograph photo for
our new film house "Cabin Fever Films"
Thank you very much,
we all used to say to each other regularly, "Get
the money." Without it you can't make movies. It's
a drag, but true. Unlike actors, I don't have headshots
of me. If you want to send in a DVD cover or something
(at the address listed by Shirley, the webmaster) I'll
be happy to sign it.
it to me at this address and I'll forward it to Josh:
(and please include a self-addressed stamped envelope
for its return)
c/o P.O. Box 86
East Vassalboro, ME 04935
my birthday and instead of inviting friends, I took
a friend to the 99 cent store in Hollywood, on La brea.
I always buy there my wine, they have red ad white and
french and italian. Are there other stores where they
sell 99 cent wine. Sometimes I take a bottle to a aparty
and tell the people it's a 10 dollar wine. I also buy
shampoo, and gel for my hair.
I bought a bible today at the 99 cent store, the print
letters is very small, thats why it's 99 cent. They
also sell a 35 mm camera now and an alarmclock, which
I bought, works great. Now they also sell banana's I
take those too.
you ever written a story, treatment, or screenplay about
a filmmaker or screenwriter? have you ever thought about
writing about an obsessed, troubled filmmaker who is
at a hard time in his life? you'd be great for a kind
of story like that, and i think you'd write the best
script for such a story.
for the suggestion. I feel if you have to write about
the filmmaking process you're not thinking very hard.
Filmmaking, for the most part, is dull fodder for stories.
And making movies is a dull thing to watch.
years ago, I was listening to a radio interview with
actor Bruno Kirby Jr. A caller asked him why Kirby didn't
appear in "City Slickers II" and Kirby said
it was because he had such a miserable time making "City
Slickers." From what he said, I gathered that he
feuded with the director and his fellow actors. The
caller sounded disappointed, saying, "But it looked
like you were all having such fun."
replied: "That's why they call it acting."
do you have any tales of actor-actor and/or actor-director
battles on the set from your films or TV episodes?
Any progress on "Hammer"?
was just turned down by the Boston Film Festival. I
get along famously with the actors, I love them. I care
about the actors a lot and they know it. The only actor
that's ever been a complete prick to me was Anthony
Quinn, but he stopped pretty quickly and later apologized.
I hate tense sets and I won't allow it. And the actors
appreciate a calm place to work. So no, I don't have
any of those stories.
was wondering what the process one would go through
to option the film rights for a book or other printed
have your lawyer contact the author's agent and make
an offer. It's pretty easy, really, if you have the
money to do it.
Concerned Film Patrons
are a turd. You are a really long winded, annoying turd.
What have you contributed to film and society that gives
you the right to ramble on indescriminately? I know
Xena had important social ramifications, but why do
you blow so hard? "Running Time" was a "Waste
of Time", and so is your site. Are you just an
angry bitter failure? Correct me if I'm wrong, but you
suck! Better yet don't correct me... You do suck!
then what you're saying is that I suck? Well, I'm doing
the best I can, so there.
am writing to you regarding my father's book, The Secret
of Anzio Bay. It is a true story of a World War II fighter
pilot that must crash-land his plane, is captured by
Germans, then escapes from a Nazi prison camp. He is
then reunited with the plane 54 yers later after it
is found in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an unforgettable
I am trying to find someone like yourself that could
not only do the screenplay, but also direct the movie.
I was impressed with what you had to say regarding the
movie, Black Hawk Down. I felt the same way once the
movie was over.
You can visit the book's website at www.anziobay.com
for more information. If you would like a book, I would
be more than happy to send you one.
Thanks you for your time. I am looking forward to hearing
from you. My phone #412-***-****.
looking for someone to write the script and direct,
so that means you have the financing? If not, I wish
you all the luck in the world.
currently using the crappy Hi8 on a tacky Sony camera.
I want to go digital and im looking at Mini-DV but i've
found all the cameras to be really expensive. I've seen
cameras ranging from the handycam kinda things at about
£400 to really professional one at £7500.
I'm a skint kid and theres no chance of me making a
movie in the next 10 years if i buy an expensive one
so can you suggest something I can get cheaper but still
kind of dope are you using someone else's name, particularly
a friend of mine. Get your own name.
one more quick thing. I just read the post from Jason
Roth, who mentioned Rod Steiger. Don't forget he was
in another excellent role: the surviving realist Victor
Kamarovsky in DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. Mr. Steiger mentioned
that he enjoyed that role, and felt that it was a slap
in the face to the European critics who felt that American
actors couldn't emit refinement or elegance in their
roles, nor play Europeans effectively.
Good luck on your trip. If you're ever in Connecticut,
send me an email. You're more than welcome to my hospitality,
meager though it may be.
was in Connecticut, but now I'm back in smoky Oregon,
where half the state is on fire. I must say that I found
most everyone in the NYC vicinity to be pretty grim
and humorless. 9/11 doesn't seem to have helped anyone's
state of mind out there, nor should it have.
about that, I didn't mean to put you on the defensive.
The treatment for HYDERABAD was good; I just honestly
didn't get the ending or her motivation for staying.
The EDGE novels were written by a Englishman named George
G. Gilman in the early and mid '70s, and follow the
adventures of a drifter named Edge throughout the Wild
West. They were part of that slew of genre and exploitation
novels that were the last gasp of pulp fiction (another
series from this time period was THE EXECUTIONER, if
that gives you a hint), and were geared largely towards
a teenage and young adult male audience. Typically,
the novels are very graphic and violent (the Edge novels
all have the promise of "The Most Violent Western
Series Ever" stamped on the covers). My mother
picked me up a copy of one out of the bargain book bin
at Stop & Shop once, and I was roped into a quest
to find more installments (no easy task, as the novels
were exclusively in paperback and are now out of print).
They stick in my head because I always felt that they
would make good screenplays.
This leads me to ask if you have ever adapted a novel
or play into a professional screenplay? I know that
you did a few adaptations in your Super-8 films, but
have you been called upon to do it as a professional
screenwriter? If so, are there any particular challenges
to such a specific task? I'm not sure, but I imagine
there must be, otherwise there wouldn't be a separate
Academy Award for it ("Best Adaption from Another
I thought of one instance where an adapted screenplay
was better than the original work upon which it was
based. I found a copy of the original novel of KELLY'S
HEROES at a tag sale once, and found it to be absolute
crap. It was written by an English author not familar
with American characters or dialect, and the whole thing
dragged. Fortunately, it did provide an interesting
concept that was worked into a very good screenplay.
don't know about it being a "very good screenplay."
Even as a kid I had objections to the Oddball character.
It makes no sense having a hippy in WWII. Nevertheless,
it is a fun film. Regarding my own stories, you can
like them or hate them, but I won't defend them. As
Mammy said in GWTW, "It just ain't fittin'."
you are enjoying your road trip. Is Detroit your end
destination, or are you heading on? I think your fans
would love updates on any old cronies that you may run
into or visit, like, oh, John Cameron or Bridget Hoffman,
or if you stop by Lulu's Lingerie!
will definitely read "Hyderabad" when I get
a chance, as I see it has the whole sexy nun idea from
"Mr. Allison." I also want to re-read "Terrified,"
which reminded me a lot of "The Shining,"
and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.
my question is on this guy Dan Kolton, who Film Magazine
claims is suing your buddy Joe LoDuca, claiming he wrote
a bunch of his scores. I gather Kolton is a respected
jazz bass player in the Detroit area? Is this just a
contract dispute, or is the guy a complete loser? (Or
should I mind my own business?) I realize Mr. LoDuca
doesn't seek too much interaction with fans, but if
you happen to talk to him, please let him know that
a LOT of people are really excited about his Emmy nomination,
and are distressed/annoyed that someone would try to
don't know I thing about it, and Joe wasn't in Detroit
when I was there so I didn't see him. I'll ask him about
the next time we speak, though. As Rob Tapert once said,
"If you're not being sued, or suing someone, you're
not really in the film business."
a reply to Tobe:
that act one starts...act two.. crap about ?
Don't you ever watch movies like Mulholland Dr. or something
Dr. has a three act-structure. Like any structured movie
Act 1 you meet the characters and they get slapped with
a problem (the main characters that is - since this
was a tv show there are loose ends here), Act 2 has
the women chasing clues lleading up to the theatre Silencio,
and Act 3 has the fantasy world all fall apart.
for fielding that one.
No One Important
it's me again. Can you tell us what you think about
these three films (three films that I've seen recently
and really liked): "L'Avventura," "Solaris,"
the way, what have you watched recently. I miss your
and "Solaris" were two of the dullest films
I've ever seen (as are most of Antonioni's and Tarkovsky's
films). "Bitter Moon" is second-rate Polanski,
but has some moments. I haven't seen anything lately
as I've been on the road.
thanks for the straight talk. Details about my plans
are really quiet simple. I designed a complete story.
I wrote a script with all the dialogue. I have detailed
design plans on how to shoot the movie and even where
I am really trying to figure out a master game plan.
Let me straight with you...my long-term goal is to have
my own production company. I am taking every effort
to learn as much as I can about everything, from legalities
such as contracts with investors to editing, etc. There
is no doubt that I will probably keep learning new things
for the rest of my life, which is good anyways...when
you know all, things get stale.
Basically though, I have done eveything humanly possible
that doesn't require money for this film. I have devoted
all my time to learning everything I can about the business,
writing stories, and of course better everything I do.
I am just trying to put it all together. Is there really
an simple answers? I don't know.
But I know I am going to work like a dog until I get
what I want. I guess my question for you is where do
I go from here?
the money and make the movie. That's all that's left.
don't have the likes of Bette Davis, Burt
>Lancaster, Katherine Hepburn, James Cagney, Edward
>Robinson, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, etc. Who do
>have now? Vin Deisel? Kirsten Dunst? Come on.
That is so true!
most important part about being a movie actor, I think,
is having a strong personality to start with, that photographs
and comes through on the screen. Just being trained
isn't nearly enough.