Q & A    Archive
Page 84

Name: Tsimanga
E-mail: PaceMakerFilms@aol.com

Hello Josh,

I thought I'd write you and hear your thoughts on a recent situation I had, and the affect it's had on me.

A few weeks ago, I was hired as a P.A. on a local low budget film shoot in the Detroit area. This was my first paid gig and it had a few semi-known actors in it, so I was very excited. Well after the first day was over, I went home aching in pride and body. The body part I didn't mind and was expected, but the pride part was tough. I was yelled at and confronted with so many things that weren’t my fault that my head began to spin.

After a few days of this, I came to the conclusion that this is how it is and I either must live with it or quit. I decided to stay with it and continue to give a hundred percent. Well after ten days of the month long shoot went by, the AD had a talk with me and another PA and then promptly fired us both. The other PA was awful and should have been fired, but I couldn't understand why I was. I was busting my arse, never late, never sat down and did all and more of what I was asked.

Now I come home after this, embarrassed and ashamed. I vow never to let people treat me like that again. Maybe I wasn't meant to be a PA. I feel I have a great mind for film. I went to a technical college to strengthen my knowledge of the tech aspect of filmmaking (which is still lacking) I know I can succeed on the creative side of the business, but I am afraid that no one will ever give me a chance to shine. I temporarily lost my zest for film but got it back, and now I want to go full force in the industry with ideas and projects that sit on my desk and seep out of my mind daily. However, I don't have the financial resources to do this on my own or a direct path to follow.

There may or may not be a question in there somewhere for you. I may just need some advice or guidance on where to go when no one gives you a chance?

On a side note: A little bit about me, which may help out. I am not a spring chicken. Having decided at age twenty seven that maybe I should stop renting 3 films a day and go forward with my true passion, which is film. So I quit my illustrious carpet cleaning job and attended two colleges and a film school along the way. Now here I sit, six years later at age 31, with two associate degrees and really, it seems no further along then when I started. I know much more, but no doors have opened for me to pass through and the patience I once had when starting out has given way to a burning anxiety.

Frustrated in Michigan.

Thanks Josh.
i

Dear Tsimanga:

The problem is waiting for someone else to give you a break, which in essence means you're waiting for someone else to tell you you're okay. This was a big part of my escaping Hollywood. Since I don't respect any of their opinions on anything else, why would I accept their opinion of me? Fuck them and the horse they rode in on. Nobody has bestowed any movies on me. I bullied my way in, and made all four of my features out of sheer tenacity. The film industry doesn't give a rat's ass about me as a filmmaker -- they are willing to accept me as a TV director, but I'm not interested -- and, quite frankly, I don't give a shit what they think. The film industry has become a business that no longer repects experience, knowledge, or talent, and honestly believes that their only job is to make shitty drivel for children. So you and I need to make our own movies in our own way, and the hell with them or anyone else. And if you really, really need to make movies, you'll figure out some way to make them. What others think of you or your abilities means nothing. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Man, you sound like my Dad talking about rap music. You stick-in-the mud!

I caught an interesting film on IFC tonight called "Once Were Warriors". Have you seen it? It's about a very dysfunctional Maori family in New Zealand. If you haven't seen it you should check it out. It might interest you since you have spent so much time in New Zealand. I rather enjoyed it. I also caught a charming and delightful film called "The Sandlot" the other day. This one's about a group of kids who spend their summer days playing baseball at a makeshift baseball diamond behind a junkyard. It seriously cracked me up. The cast of kids were hilarious. Good stuff.

Dude, what's it like getting scurvy?

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Yes, I've seen "Once Were Warriors." Twice, actually. And the first time was in New Zealand. I know several of the cast members: Cliff Curtis, who plays the uncle, and Sonny Arahanga, the kid with the tatoo on his face (Moko, as they call it down there). The lead actor, Temuara Morrison, is the boyfriend of Angela Dotchin, the lead female in "Jack of All Trades." I've met Tem, too (he came by the "Jack" set once when I was there). And yes, it's a powerful film. Not exactly enjoyable, but powerful.

Josh

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

Josh,

When my father was growing up in the thirties and forties every kid he knew owned a rifle, usually a .22. Such a situation today would be unthinkable, because, as you imply, our society is too immature to handle it. Interesting how we've regressed.

Another curious thing is how we combine an obsession with guns with our demand for litigation. I've mentioned before that I think torts law will be the drawback to drug reform. The ebb and flow of gun control laws feed the legal industry so lucratively, I'd be surprised if any final resolution is ever attained.

A note to Drew; as a life long student, one way or the other, schools and the education they give are neither good nor bad. There's nothing wrong with being technically competent, for instance. Find the good and forget the bad. Anything else is a waste of your energy and time. I'm not quite as old as our esteemed Mr. Becker, but he's right; twenty-one is still just the beginning.

So, Josh, are you going to do a book tour like your buddy, Bruce? Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I certainly will if the book gets published, which remains to be seen. I must say honestly that I'm weary of the gun discussion. Guns don't make crimes, but it's not a great thing have too many guns around. The end.

Josh

Name: Brian C.
E-mail: canadab@excite.com

Dear Josh:

In a previous post you wrote:
"On an historical and ingenuity level, guns intrigue me. I think they're really clever inventions. But your average person isn't responsible enough or smart enough to have them."

I believe it was Samuel Clements who said that (seriously paraphrased here) 'you must never underestimate the stupidity of your fellow man.' That said, I must say that the shootings in the US must all be put into the context in which they occur. The Brady Gun Control folks lump police shootings, military accidents, and suicides in with their inflated kill count. In general, most licensed gun owners are responsible people who dread ever being forced into the situation where they would have to pull the trigger. I know I do. But if it came down to protecting myself and my family - there won't be any questions, just a puff of smoke, an earsplitting bang, and the dull thud of a scumbag hitting the boards. Just my 1.99999 cents there.

On the film news side - "The Ghast" (GhostShip Films) premiere went off with great reviews and is being sent out to the usual suspects (distributers). I know you can appreciate this - our 450k budget deal for "Hunters" is being whittled down by the backers - they want to drop actual production costs to 150k and do a hold back for advertising and marketing. Business, business, business.... We can bring this one in for that amount but not the way we want it. (Shrugs) At least they dropped the 'creative input' requirement that they wanted.

So how is the Western idea coming?

Brian

Dear Brian:

There's no western at the moment, nor anything else. Most gun owners probably are responsible people, and that's not who's shooting each other. But, as Michael Moore arrives at in "Bowling for Columbine," in a society this nervous, less guns are probably a better idea than more guns.

Josh

Name: Mike Zawacki
E-mail: z@evilgeniusentertainment.com

Hey Josh,

Continuing the political, non-movie related thread - I was glad to see someone else railing on the notion of Federal Agents conducting random, unannounced searches of U.S. citizens within our nation's borders. This is one of the most horrifying developments in Dubya's so-called War on Terrorism (War on the Constitution is more like it...). So much for due process, eh? Bush's America seems to be heading more and more into a good old fashioned police state mentality. I know the quote has been trotted out time and again since the lockdown following 9/11, but it is a good one and bears repeating until people get it through their thick skulls: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin. It would behoove every American to write to their elected representatives and voice their displeasure at this sort of nonsense. Your Senators are the ones to concentrate on immediately, since they're debating Bush's Homeland Security Bill. You can find a directory of contact info for Senators here:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Secondly, you're right on with the notion of legalization. I would encourage anyone who disagrees with the legalization of drugs to go back to the history books and look at a little thing called the Volstead Act. You know - Prohibition? Remember how well that went? The result was a thriving criminal underground that got fat and rich off of illegal liquor sales, average citizens thrown in jail, and no real decline in alcohol consumption. The parallels with the War on Drugs are stunningly numerous. One of the main differences is that the Volstead Act didn't have proponents in the tobacco, lumber, and pharmaceutical industry to keep booze illegal. Legalization is smart - it will free up valuable government resources, create new money for state and national budgets via taxation of new products, and reduce drug-related criminal activity. That's what it's really about. People who think that all fans of legalization are only in it for the drugs are deluding themselves and buying into the ill-conceived arguments of big business lobbyists and religious fanatics. Honestly, I don't do anything stronger than caffeine, so the notion that us pro-legalization folks are all junkies or Deadheads is way off base.

On a final movie related note - welcome back to Detroit! Do you have any projects in the works, or are you still sort of unpacking? Do you ever talk to Tom Sullivan? I'd heard that he was thinking about getting back into films. And lastly - what do you think of the works of H.P. Lovecraft? Why do you think that so many of the filmic adaptations of his stories been such dismal failures?

Thanks a bunch for your time,

Mike

Dear Mike:

I think that H. P. Lovecraft, and his inspiration, E. A. Poe, used language so well that it's difficult to translate them to the screen. It's the way they write that's so good, not necessarily the stories themselves. Meanwhile, thanks for the info on contacting senators. Bush really is trying with all his might and minimal brains to destroy our Bill of Rights. And I also appreciate your quoting Ben Franklin, who is exactly right. I'm reading a terrific biography of Franklin right now called "The First American" by H. W. Brands. He was a great character, and a great man. Regarding upcoming projects, I'm just working on getting some bookings from my film "Hammer," and getting the book I wrote published. It's out at Harper's Press right now, so everyone cross your fingers.

Josh

Name: anoop
E-mail: anoop01p@yahoo,com

Dear Josh:

i have 150 table in sql 7.i want to print the structure of all table in msword or anyhow.how can i display table structure to take printout.

Dear Anoop:

I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Clearly, English isn't your first language. I'm wondering if it's even your second language.

Josh

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

Josh,

I haven't seen "John Q", nor will I, but I know its premise. My wife has worked on transplant services so I know whereof I speak; that situation could never happen. The entire set up was racist in nature. It does no one any favors and harms a great many people. There was a time when film-makers used their films to address existing problems in society, rather than try to create new ones. Given African-American's past, very real problems with the health care system, and the ongoing effects on treatment and prevention, "John Q" is criminal. As though blindly stupid weren't enough.

John

Dear John:

I agree, not to mention it's just a plain old bad script. Dramatically, the whole film drops dead at the end of act one. Nich Cassavetes certainly isn't following in his father's footsteps. I also recently watched "Shiner," which someone in the Q&A recommended, and that was crap, too. It has no idea where it's going or why, and Michael Caine, who is a terrific actor, is forced to play bug-eyed crazy for two-thirds of the film, which is highly wearisome. I also watched again "When We Were Kings," which is a very well-made documentary and extremely interesting. Muhammed Ali is an amazing character.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I will have to check out "Grass". Hopefully it will come on again. I dated this jerk-off in college who used to lecture me about the dangers of smoking pot. It's an illegal drug, it leads to harder drugs, blah, blah, blah. He would tell me all this shit while polishing off his 10th beer. People have really fucked up attitudes towards pot. I've seen people get drunk and get in fights with good friends, wreck their cars, wreck their relationship etc. When my friends and I hang out and smoke pot we have nothing but an excellent time. No one fights, no one gets hurt, no one vomits on the carpet. Last week we got all smoked out and had this intense conversation about "The Simpsons" that is making me laugh right now just writing about it.

I disagree with you about hip-hop. I grew up listening to hip-hop and I love it. I like all kinds of music. For instance, just like you I am a huge Van Morrison fan. Saying that it's not music is harsh. Maybe you haven't really listened to the good stuff like A Tribe Called Quest, The Beastie Boys, Outkast, The Fugees, Mos Def. I'm not into the super popular stuff that's all about "bitches" and money and phat rides and shit like that. There are hip-hop artists who write amazing lyrics and who don't sample other people's music. It's good stuff.

Later,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Okay, I'm a stick-in-the-mud. But I demand a melody from music, and without one I don't consider it music. Worst of all, all rap/hip-hop has the same rhyme scheme:

Ugga-bugga bah
Ugga-bugga-bugga bah
Ugga-bugga bah
Ugga-bugga-bugga bah

I find it all severely dull. And watching a bunch of these rap/hip-hop bands at Woodstck 3, in Barbra Kopple's "My Generation," I find them all offensive, and if I were a kid I'd have burned the place down, too.

Josh

Name: DREW
E-mail:

Long Time No See,

Just thought I'd drop you a line, since I haven't been able to write to you in a long time. Since my last posting, my life has been a downward spiral into a apocalyptic hell where the windows have been painted black, and the exit door has been sealed shut. Being only 21 and still a kid, I know that this might seem a little melodramatic and overblown, but I can't help myself. I recently dropped out of school for the second time in my life, and it seems that it will be the last time I will ever do that. School, to me, seems like a safety net for people who are scared to put their foot in the cess pool of life, because they are afraid of the muck that might become secured to the bottom of their heel. To be quite honest, Mr. Becker, I just wasn't learning anything there. All my life I have wanted to be a filmmaker, and I thought that school was the place to conquer that dream. But when I got there, creativity was thrown out of line in order for the school to utilize it's young talent to make fire safety videos, and commercials for the better part of the Nelsonville, Ohio area. They were teaching us how to be technicians, not filmmakers, and the juices in my spongy apparatus I call my brain, became depleted due to the stupidity of what was laid forth in front of me. I'm scared, Becker, and I just wanted to know if this is how you felt when you were 21 years old.

Thanks.

P.S. I recently finished Bruce Campbell's book, and is it true that you got scurvy from eating too much pasta while staying in L.A.?

Dear Drew:

Well, everything seems overly dramatic when you're twenty-one. By the time you reach my adavnced age you'll realize that nothing means all that much. As Bryan Ferry said, "We live, we die, we know not why." I never had any love for school myself and had thrown in the towel by the time I was twenty. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell both dropped out of college, too. If you really want to be a filmmaker, then get on it; make films. If you can convince yourself for any reason that you shouldn't make films, then you probably shouldn't. When I was twenty-one I had just bailed out on living in LA for the second time, came back to Detroit, and worked on the crew of "Evil Dead." I then spent the next five years attempting to raise money for a feature and getting nowhere. With way less money than I really needed, I went and made TSNKE. I was twenty-five at that point. I got my second movie made when I was thirty-one, my third when I was thirty-eight, and my fourth when I was forty-one. And there's my life. Yes, I did get scurvy when I was eighteen and first living in Hollywood. All I ate for a year was macaroni and cheese (which was fifteen cents a box then). Since then I take vitamins everyday and I drink a lot of orange juice. Good luck to you on whatever it is you do.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Sorry, but I forgot one thing. I did enjoy ROGER & ME, and agreed with Mr. Moore's views in that film. It's only recently that he has drifted too left of center for my taste.

Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

Michael Moore is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal and always has been. Maybe you're drifting to the right.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I will admit that the federal government's war on illegal drugs is largely ineffective. However, the idea of the government regulating legal traffic in and, in the case of addicts, providing drugs, is distasteful to me. It smacks of bread and circuses: the government pacifying the population while becoming all the more tyrannical.
On another subject, I have read your views on handguns, as well as the opinions of contributors writing about them here. I had avoided writing about this earlier, as the gun topic often bitterly polarizes people. However, I would like to voice my opinion now.
I am a gun owner and a member of the National Rifle Association. I have a pistol permit for the state of Connecticut and own two handguns, either of which I carry fairly regularly. My purpose for owning these weapons is two-fold: recreation (sport-shooting at the firing range) and self-defense.
It is the point of handguns and self-defense that I would like to expound on. Most handguns used in crimes are either stolen or bought illegally on the black market; only a small percentage are used by legitimate owners for felony purposes. Those who use guns, legally or illegally owned, for a crime, are criminals, and should be punished. The gun-owning population at large is not to blame for the actions of a few individuals.
As for the carrying of handguns, I see no drastic problem with it. The police cannot be everywhere at once, nor are they legally required to provide individual protection to citizens. Violent crime can happen anywhere, at any time: the notion of "safe" and "unsafe" areas or neighborhoods is a farce. Since it is not convenient to carry rifles about, handguns provide a means of portable defense.
I understand your concern about individuals with different temperaments having access to weapons. However, when in our history has ready access to arms led to catastrophic violence on a large scale? The gunfights of the Old West were nowhere near as numerous as Hollywood would have us think, and even our one revolution and one civil war followed rules of order.
My point is that the average gun-owner is not to blame for the criminal misuse of weapons, and to disarm him is to make him prey to the deprivations of the criminals. Most of us are extremely responsible with our weapons, particularly now when our right to have them has never been under greater attack. We are not the enemy, nor even the problem. The problem is a federal government that passes gun laws to fool the people into thinking that they are doing something about crime, while contriving to make them helpless against it. This post is overly long, so I'll cut it short and await your reply before continuing. You'll more than likely disagree with me (as is your right), but thank you anyway for allowing me to express my view.

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

As you illustrate, the point of a handgun is to be able to conceal it, and without that permit it's illegal to carry a concealed weapon. I wouldn't have a problem if everybody who wanted to have a handgun had to have a concealed weapons permit. But why do we have over 11,500 shootings a year here in the U.S. when every other major country in the world has between 50-200? I'm asking you? I drove a taxi cab in Detroit for a few years and almost every cab driver had a gun. It was highly recommended to me to get one, but I didn't. I felt that my chances of shooting someone, which I really and truly don't want to do, would go up by 100% if I owned a gun. Instead, I did my best to be cheerful and pleasant to one and all that rode in my cab. While others drivers were held up, robbed, and in two cases, shot, I had no trouble at all. Quite frankly, in many cases I think having a gun makes the owner act like an asshole and think they're Charles Bronson in "Death Wish." On an historical and ingenuity level, guns intrigue me. I think they're really clever inventions. But your average person isn't responsible enough or smart enough to have them. And I think your bread and circuses comment is foolish. People with addictions are a health issue and need to be treated. That's not mollifying the masses, it's dealing with a needy part of the population. And guess what? They count as much as everybody else.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: bendab02@yahoo.com

Josh,

Regarding your comment on "John Q," what do you think (if you care to speculate on another person's motives) would be the reason that Washington took the role? If it was some low-profile actor who needed a paycheck, we could assume that, yes, it was intended as a stab at black people, but this is Denzel. I'm sure he saw something totally different in the script. Maybe it wasn't intended the way you took it, and maybe the majority of the audience also saw it as having a positive message. Of course, your opinion and mine are the only ones I have of the movie, so this is pure conjecture. It just doesn't seem to make sense.

Ben

Dear Ben:

I was just speculating on this yesterday with a friend of mine, and sadly, our conclusion was -- money. They offered Denzel his asking price, whatever it is ($3 million? $4 million?) and he took it. There aren't very many good roles out there, particularly for black leading men, and this one offered him a chance to act all over the place. I kind of get a sense that nobody, not Washington, Nick Cassavetes the director, or Robert Duvall, actually asked "And what's the point of all this?" They just took it, and went with it. I thought it was a particularly offensive, illogical, and assinine script. That he takes a hospital hostage at gunpoint so his kid can get on the list for a heart transplant is just stupid. From the first second they should have just said, "Yep, he's on the list, and we'll fax it to you." But instead they're saying inane shit like, "Do you know how hard it is to get on that list?" Also, that the evil police chief, played by Ray Liotta, has a SWAT sniper attempt to shoot him, but only nicks his arm, then falls out of the air vent, is a new low in stupid plot twists. And when will bad screenwriters get it through their thick heads you can't realistically crawl through air vents, they're too small for humans and are held together with duct tape. Anyway, you'd like to believe that fine actors like Washington and Duvall don't just take pictures for the money, but they do. Why else was Duvall in "Days of Thunder," "Newsies," "Geronimo: An American Legend," "The Paper," "Phenomenon," "Deep Impact," "Gone in Sixty Seconds" and "The Sixth Day"? Actors gotta eat, too.

Josh

Name: moe brookmyer
E-mail: mab@flite.net

Dear Josh:

my outfit landed on guadalcanal as soon as an air strip was availaable. we were the 82nd engineering squadron --6th air service group. my grand son in college is writing about me in the service and wants to know which air foce we were with. all I know is what i wrote above. can you help or head me in the right direction? thanks

Dear Moe:

Do you mean, Army Air Force or Navy Air Force? Was this before or after the Guadalcanal Death March? As far as I know, that was a seriously tough landing. I'm sorry, I'm no expert at such things. Try writing to American Heritage Magazine at mail@americanheritage.com, they'd know.

Josh

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

Josh,

Gosh, been out a while and there doesn't seem to be much movie talk lately, just political chatter. Is this still a film site?

First, any news on "Hammer"? After only one viewing, I still vividly recall several moments of that film. It really is an accomplished work.

I've recently seen what I consider to be one of the best films ever made and what to know if you've seen it...Herzog's "Strozek". I was caught so off guard, perhaps that can account partially for my reaction, but still everything's there and I've already become deaf to any argument against the picture. Great story, amazing performances (typical, in my opinion, of most Herzog films) and some of the most excellent photography I've ever seen. But most of all, I carried for days after, a strange feeling that the people in the movie were real and still alive. I even would kind of wonder if they were still in America or not, in the film! It really got me. What a film!

I'm now eagerly awiting the DVD of his new picture "Invincible," which recieved a brief theatrical run in September to a rush of rave reviews...His first narrative feature since "Cobra Verde," in '87 (which I also enjoyed.)

Never heard you really mention Herzog's work. I've just recently "discovered" his stuff and haven't seen a film of his yet that I wouldn't call unforgettable.

Anyway, sort of surprised to hear you left OR. Will you be getting a project up easier now that you're back in Detroit? Hope so.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I haven't seen "Strozek." I liked "The Mystery of Kasper Hauser," which also stars Bruno S. I also enjoyed "Aguirre, the Wrath of God." "Fitzcarraldo" bored me to tears. I also liked "My Best Fiend," about Herzog's relationship to the insane Klaus Kinski. I've met Werner Herzog a few times at Anchor Bay parties and he's a very friendly guy. Anyway, I certainly hope I can get a film going here. Answering a previous question about "Hammer," I may have some theatrical bookings coming up. I'll let you all know if and when they happen.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I would just like to add something to the discussion that's been going on. My father is a pretty darn conservative guy. His opinions are strong and finite. A total Republican. He's also a Vietnam Vet who can't stand guns. He always told us that if the average person could see first hand what a gun does to a human being they would want nothing to do with these silly hunks of metal. The last time he even touched a gun was the day that he was discharged from the Army. He turned his weapon in and never looked back. And my Dad is the most gung ho, patriotic American that you would ever want to meet.

Now, with that said can we start talking about movies again? I saw "8 Mile" and I want my friggin' money back! Eminem was actually very good but Curtis Hanson has got to be one of the worst piece of shit directors around. That's all I have to say. The film is not even worth talking about. I guess this isn't a very good way to start a discussion about films. Sorry, my brain is fried from writing script coverage.

Later,
Jean

Dear Jean:

I'll bet it is. I wouldn't see "8 Mile" on a bet, and I'm now in Detroit where it was filmed. The "hip-hop culture" is garbage and not worth looking into in any way. It's not music, it audio detritus. And I won't spend one second of my life watching Eminem. Curtis Hanson goes up and down. This film was an obvious manuever to appeal to the youth and make money. Period. That's not a decent motivation to me and I won't support it. Meanwhile, I saw kind of an interesting documentary last night on Sundance called "Grass," which I thought was going to be the 1925 silent documentary by Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, but is instead a 1999 Canadian film about the history of marijuana laws. It was interesting seeing it all in chronological order, the amount of money that's been wasted trying to stop it, and the demonization pot goes through regularly when there's absolutely no reason for it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I happen to agree with you that legal access to drugs is the only way out of the mess we're currently in. But I still think it's an immensely complex problem. Unlike the Netherlands, our society has no universal healthcare, the system which distributes drugs in the Netherlands. Nor do we have the tort protections the Dutch have. Their ceilings for pain and suffering pale by comparison to ours. What was the recent ruling for the lung cancer patient? Twenty Billion dollars? I know she won't get that much but still. It seems unlikely that insurance companies will cover any costs associated with drugs; they would use marijuana use as an out for covering heart attacks. Nor will the AMA ever sanction legalizing drugs until their doctors are protected against all liabilities, direct and indirect. As soon as some Republican giving $50,000 a year to the party loses his twenty-year old former prom queen daughter to a drug related accident every elected official in the world will want stronger drug controls. That's the sort of complexity I worry about. Justifiably or not, we will have to change the way we approach liability before we can seriously consider opening access to most drugs. That having been said, I do think it has to happen. The current cost is too high, particularly, as you say, for minorities and is grounded in theology rather than morality.

I do think, by the way, that current social segregation is consensual. Not economic or physical, but social segregation. Our country has opted for multi-culturalism rather than the melting pot. Separate but equal is now the desired social outcome. I find it unfortunate, but also think it is likely to change. We have too much in common and too much at stake to long maintain disparate cultures.

You don't have to post this if you'd rather not. This site is supposed to be a movie forum and I don't want to drag it astray, though I think the subject is interesting and vital. I strongly agree with you that race relations are the number one issue facing our country, Iraq and Korea being small, distant blurs. I do respect your opinions and share them to a large degree, though I suspect I am more pessimistic than you about the pathway to change. Anyway, thanks as always for sharing your thoughts and opinions, and for taking the time to read mine.

John

Dear John:

It was movies that brought us into politics, so here we are. I think it's an interesting, stimulating discussion. Having moved back to Detroit from the predominately white area of Oregon, I like it a lot better being among more people of color. If I go to the IHOP across the street, I will frequently find that I am the only white customer there, and it doesn't bother me at all. My good friend here was attempting to start a business in downtown Detroit recently, and he said that the only people he enjoyed working with were the black people. They showed up on time, seemed like they cared, and dressed well. He said that almost all of the white people he was working with were irresponsible, didn't show up on time, and looked like slobs. Where I grew up, about six miles south of here, the nearby all-night restaurant was always evenly divided between 33% whites, 33% blacks, and 33% Arabs, and even though each group basically stayed to themselves, they all got along fine. Here in Detroit there is the largest Arab population anywhere outside of the middle-east, as well as a large Jewish population, and there are no problems between them. That means that the problems are not inherent. A lot of the money for our early super-8 films was put up by Arab store-owners who simply couldn't have been nicer or more supportive.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Was BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE a Michael Moore film? I'll have to check for it on NETFLIX and get my bearings.
Politically, I have to say that I am opposed to much of what Mr. Moore has said in recent years. I lean much more towards the right, although I am for legalizing pot.
Incidentally, you're absolutely right when you say that it is a far less dangerous drug than alcohol (although I do like my beer). However, I disagree with the notion of making the harder drugs legal, most particularly if it should follow Holland's example (the conservative in me fumes at the idea of paying taxes to support a junkie's habit). If a workable formula could be worked out, I would suggest trying it on a limited scale (say, in one city at first). That way, the concept could be tested without national ramifications should it prove unworkable. Would you say that is reasonable?
In a related subject, what would you consider an example of a good film with a political theme? It seems to me to be a difficult topic to work with; it either becomes slanted to the left or right, or else it turns into a documentary. Do any titles come to mind?

Yours truly,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:

You'd rather support the much more expensive war on drugs, with all of its infringements on our civil liberties, than give a very small percentage of the population heroin? I think that's crazy. It would save the tax-payers billions of dollars every year. It's also a helluva lot cheaper to give junkies their fix than to put them in prison. It's both a money-saving and humanitarian solution to the problem. Personally, I don't care if someone needs insulin or heroin, just give it to them. The number of junkies in Holland dropped by about 90% once it was a medical issue and was no longer a cool thing to do. I also agree with Mr. Moore on the theme of his first two films, "Roger & Me" and "The Big One," in that if a company starts in America, hires ten workers who work really hard and the company posts a profit, then they hire more American workers and post another profit, then they move all of their plants to third-world countries and put all of their American workers out of work, they're unpatriotic, unAmerican assholes. You absolutely do owe something back to your community and your country. If you intentionally screw your own community, you're a scumbag. Just posting bigger and bigger profits is not the only point to life. It's also painfully short-term thinking.

Regarding politcal movies, obviously whoever writes it will put forth their point of view. There's "The Front," about blacklisting; there's "JFK," about conspiracies; there's "The Best Man," about political in-fighting; there was the recent "Path to War," about the Lyndon Johnson administration (with the absurd premise that Johnson would have been one of our great presidents had there not been a Vietnam War -- but there was a Vietnam War, and he made all the wrong decisions). There's "Judgement at Nuremburg," about the Nuremburg trials of judges. There's tons of them.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Williams
E-mail: jwillib3@sc.rr.com

Hi Josh,

My name is Jonathan Williams. I am the great,great nephew of David Marshall Williams inventor of the carbine rifle. You list "Carbine Williams" as one of your favorite movies. I can't find this movie anywhere! Jimmy Stewart doesnt list it under his filmography!! Am I just plain dumb. Do you have a copy? Does this movie really exist? Thanks, Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

The film certainly does exit, and I've seen it several times. It shows on TV pretty regularly. I couldn't find it on the internet to buy, though, and I don't have a copy myself. I do love that Williams invented the carbine rifle while he was in prison.

Josh

Dear Jonathan,

I've found it! It's available at Video Rarities for $25. Also, you may be interested in Fawcett Movie Comic #19 (October 1952), "James Stewart as Carbine Williams," currently available on eBay.

Shirley (the webmaster)

 

Name: ?????
E-mail: wbrian21@bellsouth.net

Dear Josh:

I agree with your article to a certian extent, although getting rid of handguns would probably decrease the number of violence and killings in this great nation, would it make you feel any better if people were killed with a rifle or knife, because the fact of the matter is, that the gun did not put that person in jail nor did it kill that other person, he himself that pulled the trigger done that, if a person is determined to kill or commit a crime he or she doesn't need a handgun, theres too many knives, rifles and potato guns to get the job done, your not going to get rid of violence with abolishing handguns, you might get rid of violence if you abolished all firearms completely, then all the stupid americans "as you call them" would fall back on the old cowboys rival, grab a bow and arrow and kill the mofo, so in my opinion you dunno WTF you are talking about and some advise that my father told me "it's better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and prove it", WRITE THAT DOWN and read it the next time you start to write another lain brain article and post it on the internet....THANKS AND HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Lain Brain:

Your intelligence simply exudes from your letter. Maybe you ought to read a little bit and check a few facts, if you've learned to read yet. Nobody is killing anybody else in this country with knives, spears, or bow and arrows, at least, not since we put all the Indians on reservations. The problem with handguns is that it makes shooting people so damn easy. It's an entirely different issue to step right up to someone and kill them with a knife. And 99% of the shootings in this country to not occur with single-shot hunting rifles -- it's either handguns, or semi-automatic weapons, or illegal automatic weapons. Having spent a great deal of time in New Zealand, where rifles are legal and handguns are illegal, guess what? Nobody gets shot. Even the cops don't have handguns, and it's a much safer atmosphere. This sort of thinking is fundamental, it's not brain surgery, dear lain brain.

Josh

Name: Debra
E-mail: bubbles_dec@hotmail.com

heya Josh

what i would like to ask you is ;

How did you become a director and do you write your own scripts? , if you do how did you get noticed?

thank you for your time
hope to hear from you soon
take care

Dear Debra:

Perhaps you ought to look around the website a little bit before asking such obvious questions.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthiaejones@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Exactly! Does no one seem to recognize that the vast percentage of prison inmates are there because of our ridiculous "war on drugs?" Especially with laws like "Three strikes" where the third offense lands jail time (20 years + in some cases) with ridiculous "crimes" like possession of an ounce of weed. This is the main issue here, think prohibition and the mafia. I know that our government loves it 'cos it's a cash cow, but the obscene double standard has got to go. "Legitimate" drug companies like Glaxo Smith-Wellcome and Pfizer help fund our government, getting them to pass drugs like Viagra without sufficient testing (while AIDS drugs still are on the back burner), and encouraging our kids to get on Ritalin at the age of 6. Somebody, PLEASE tell me why it's okay to sell AK-47s but not okay to sell a joint. Anyone? The battle is here. Iraq has nothing to do with our country's problems.

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

As a little note, if you have two felonies, then commit a misdemeanor, that's considered a felony and you've got three strikes. There are many people in prison for 20 years plus for stealing something like a pack of gum. It was just in the newspaper here in Detroit yesterday that they are now going to begin random traffic stops to check for terrorists, weapons, and drugs, because we're near the northern border. The terrorists hate our way of life and all our freedoms, and very easily got us to start suspending them. So they won, and continue to win everytime we tighten up our security and lose our freedom. And since Bushes Jr. & Sr, are both in bed with big oil, which ultimately means Saudi Arabia, no matter what they say they're really supporting terrorism. This whole bullshit ad campaign that "Drugs support terrorism" is particularly offensive. Drugs don't support terrorism, big oil does. The Saudis fianance the terrorists, and we finance the Saudis by not even attempting to cut back on our oil consumption. And starting a war with Iraq is infinitely easier than facing any of our internal problems.

Josh

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

Josh,

I was unclear; the 1994 numbers were for fatal shootings. The total number of shootings was about three times that number.

While I agree with you about the racist nature of current drug laws, the question of how to address the situation is, I find, problematic. Those who believe that simply removing prohibitions against currently illegal drugs will solve the problem fail, I think, to see the complexity of the problem.

The current difficulty lies in the fact that Blacks are far more likely to combine drug offenses with violence. That's a question of socio-economics. It does seem reasonable to separate violent from non-violent offenders but such a policy will always lead to racial disparity. Until the economic situation of Blacks is addressed, I don't see an answer to that disparity. Fortunately, Blacks are moving into the middle class at a higher rate than any other group and are already 60% middle class. That trend needs to continue.

You mention young Blacks having nothing to look forward to than a lifetime in prison. My experience has been that many young Black men see prison as a sort of retirement. Stay out, for the most part, until you reach twenty-five or thirty, then live the rest of your life in. I'm not saying most feel that way, by any means, but too many do. That same minority also enjoys the demonized image of Black men, compounding the problem.

John

Dear John:

I really think your final point there is bullshit. It's a white person's rationale for not having to feel bad about sending so many young black men to prison. I also disagree about the "complexity" of removing drug prohibition. If people want to get stoned, and clearly they do, let them. What's the problem? It's this Christian, bible-belt POV that says if good Christians can't have fun, then no one can have any fun. Flatly, prohibition causes crime. If you want to be a junkie in Holland, you're allowed, and the government will supply you with your fix everyday at a clinic, administered by a doctor with a clean syringe. Suddenly, there's no problem with heroin in that country. And the second you make it a health issue, which is what it is, it becomes highly unappealing to the young. If being a junkie is akin to being a diabetic, kids won't rush to join in. And the legalization of pot just makes too much sense, and would get a lot of innocent people out of institutions where their lives are threatened for no good reason. I absolutely believe that alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than pot.

Josh

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

Josh,

You make a good point about how the majority of our gun deaths are from black on black shootings, but I don't think Mike ignored that fact because it didn't support his argument. To me at least, he seemed more interested in the fact that white Americans have a deep-seeded fear of the black male that is promoted by ratings-hungry news organizations. You know, as ignorant a man as Charlton Heston is, he made a reasonable point about how race plays a big part in gun violence. Unfortunately, he missed the greater point. Gun violence is not a result of black people going after rich white people, but rather a result of a rich white government that is not actively working to improve the plight of the poor in this country. They're too busy lining their own pockets with oil money and polluting our air. We're a violent country because we have a media and a government that promotes fear of the very people that it should be trying to help.

I disagree with Michael's socialist leanings, but we can't ignore the fact that poverty, racial fear, and horribly misguided welfare programs will lead to the demise of this country. Ignorance of these things will not make them go away, just as ignorance of pollution will not make global warming go away. It really scares me that a guy that defines ignorance is running things right now, and has basically free reign to do whatever he wants. For awhile there his stupidity was kept in check, but the bullshit that is going to go through the next 2 years will be astonishing. I just hope there are more people like Michael Moore to call out the government in this time. The ability to question our government, even in times of "war", is an idea that our country was founded upon. Unfortunately, I'm seeing this less and less. At a time when the Democrats are most needed, I see them bending over, and since I don't want to move to Europe any time soon, that really concerns me.

Jim

Dear Jim:

It concerns me too. It was a brilliant cut in "Bowling" from the sheriff of Sarnia, Ontario, who says that to improve society you have to improve the lives of the poor, make laws more just, and look out for your own people (he got a round of applause from the audience I saw it with), then it cuts to Bush Jr. saying we have to go to war against the "evil-doers." How must the rest of the world view us when the second we envision that events in the middle-east will cause gas prices to rise here, we go in and bomb the shit out of as many civilians as humanly possible? I think we come off as the evil-doers.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I hope you and your cats made it back to Detroit in one piece.

I saw another one of your Xena eps recently and was once again impressed. I don't know the title of the episode but it was the one where Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer are all put under a spell by Aphrodite. Very funny stuff! Lucy Lawless is a trip. And once again Ted Raimi cracked me up with his ape man routine. The part with him calling upon the animals of the jungle was classic. Cutting to the stock footage of the animals was a great and hilarious touch. Were you torturing your buddy by making him wear that pink nightgown?

Later,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Not me, it was in the script. It's actually funnier than I thought it would be. Ted and I came up with that scene up in the tree right there, and I decided to add in all the stock shots later. It was called "Fins, Femmes & Gems," BTW.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I wouldn't go so far as to call either Bush a criminal, but I do have mixed feelings about another war with Iraq, especially since I can expect to take part in the conflict. It doesn't seem to be the direction to take in order to eliminate Osama bin Laden or those like him.
As for celebrities flaunting the law, they are a mere symptom of a larger problem with the justice system in this country. The main problem as I see it is a fundamental flaw in legal thinking: the idea that the criminal has rights. So much emphasis is placed on the rights of the convicted and the accused that the rights of the victim are often entirely ignored, to the point where it seems that the victim is now blamed for allowing the criminal to commit the crime. Individual responsibility for one's actions is no longer stressed, and the rules are constantly bent or made exception to. This destroys respect for the law as a whole, allowing more exceptions and establishing a vicious circle of decline. I'm sorry to drag the topic so far off of movies, but I had to say that.

Yours truly,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Well, it was a movie, "Bowling for Columbine," that inspired this thread, so let's go with it. To keep it on movies, society and politics, I just saw "John Q" last night and really disliked it. It's another half-assed theoretical crowd-pleaser based on a really ugly premise -- if you can't get what you want from society, buy a gun, take innocent people hostage and threaten to kill them, then everything will be all right. And even though Denzel Washington is ostensibly the good guy, it's still a black man with a gun threatening whites to get what he wants. The demonization continues. And I stick with both Bushes being criminals. Junior has already discontinued the right of habeas corpus, which we're assured of in the Bill of Rights, and he's suspended the right to see presidential papers, undoubtedly to cover his father because if we really saw what senior was up to he would be reviled forever as our worst president.

Josh

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

Josh,

The last shooting stats I looked at were for 1994 in the annual FBI statistics book. Those numbers confirm what you said. Of the roughly 11,000 shootings of that year almost exactly half were Whites shooting Whites, and half were Blacks shooting Blacks. As Blacks represent about one sixth the population that Whites do, that means they're shooting each other at six times the rate that Whites are shooting themselves. Inter-racial shootings numbered a few hundred. The most amazing, and to me telling statistic, was that, of those 11,000 shootings, right around 350 were judged in court to be justifiable (i.e. self-defense). I don't remember the numbers, but the overwhelming preponderance of the shootings were by handguns; better than ninety percent, I believe.

It's my opinion that all of this represents a perverse cost-benefit decision. Enough Americans feel that 11,000 lives a year are worth the right to own handguns which will be used for self-defense >0.35% of the time. We lost 58,000 in Vietnam over the course of a decade. We lose almost twice that at home today in the same space of time.

John

Dear John:

That's shootings, not killings. As a little historical note, as many Americans were killed in car accidents in 1971 as in the entire Vietnam war. Nevertheless, as Michael Moore suggests, in a country where everyone so damn nervous, having so many guns around is probably not a good idea. As a black male in the U.S., you don't have the American dream to look forward to, you've got a stretch in jail to look forward to. And since the predominate crime of these black men is drugs, you'd think some of the black leaders might be objecting to our drug laws as racist, but they're not. As far as I'm concerned, that whole situation is far more important than Iraq or terrorists.

Josh

Name: Clay Nichols
E-mail: clay@BungalowSoftware.com

Dear Josh:

Are you interested in solving the problem of independent movie distribution? If so, I'd like to correspond with you.

I'm not a movie maker (other than amatuer home movies) but I have some marketing experience and I enjoy this sort of challenge). I would enjoy discussing this challenge. And, we might just come up with a solution. Some of my initial thoughts are below.


I agree with everything you said in your editorial. Too little effort is put into scripts. Ironic, since the script is, minute for minute, the cheapest part of the movie. It's the foundation.

It seems like the problem of indy distribution is really about MARKETING or building a BUZZ about a movie, not about distributing it.

If so, that problem might be easier to tackle than the problem of distribution. I.e., if you could get build demand for your movie, you could at least distribute it through somethign like "dvd online rental", which doesn't seem to have any of your movies.
http://www.netflix.com/Search?v1=josh+becker
(I'm not saying that your movies don't deserve being in thier inventory, but if they got more request for it they might. Or you could rent it yourself).

Basically, you might use "rent by mail" as a PLATFORM RELEASE.
Once enough people were trying to rent it from you online, perhaps you could expand to other venues (other DVD rental services online, then blockbuster, etc.)

Just some thoughts. If you're seriously interested in discussing some solutions, it might be interesting. If not I understand. You're a busy guy. Good luck with the Indy work.

Sincerely,
Clay Nichols
Someone who like a movie with a good script

Dear Clay:

I would like to solve the problem of indie distribution, but I don't want to start my own internet DVD rental service. And I agree with you that the big issue is creating an awareness of your film, which is a very big issue. I still haven't sold the first 100 copies of my film, "If I Had a Hammer," mainly, I believe, because no one's ever heard of it. And most of the places I've sent it to to be reviewed -- Aint it Cool, FilmCritic.com, FilmThreat -- haven't bothered to review it. I guess they're all too busy re-reviewing "Spider-Man" and "Lord of the Rings" now that they're out on DVD.

Josh

Name: Christopher Stewart
E-mail: Http://www.angelfire.com/gundam/pentangle

Josh,

No this is not going to work Josh. The Gov. is still trying to interfere with my civilan life. Please Tell Hudson I Love Her and give her my Web page address. Http://www.angelfire.com/gundam/pentangle
And I would never use a friend like this but I don't have much choice right now, sorry Josh I Need a real job right now I'm only makeing 15 grand a year I don't care make me the next Keven or Mike make me Fearhad or Greymouser if you like. Just something that can give me an income of 50-89 grand so I can finally move out of WY and buy a house in CA and something that can give me a fan mail address so that the people I LOVE can find me anywhere on earth. Josh you konw you'll never find a beter sword than a white sash red mark from Tasherio's Kendo School Japan.
Take care my old friend
always Chris
Hudson's only Love

Dear Chris:

Are you writing from a mental hospital?

Josh

Name: Danielle
E-mail: d_sawicki@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

Do you know of any female boom operators? I'm wondering if it's completely crazy for a woman to consider attempting a profession populated with tall, beefy men. Even if a gal were to strengthen her biceps and learn everything there is to know about achieving good production sound, I fear that most mixers (who need to be absolutely convinced that every member of their team is capable and dependable) feel more comfortable hiring strapping men.

Dear Danielle:

I've never seen a female boom operator, but I have no doubt a woman could do the job. In the course of my professional life I've seen women infiltrate a number of predominately male film positions, like that of camera assistants. Women have always been in editing, interestingly. And most negative conformers over the years were generally women. As well as script supervisors, formerly called script girls. And it's not like a boom is all that heavy, really. Go for it.

Josh

Name: Gypo Nolan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

In your Enemy of the State review you said "And this, by the way, is a good Jerry Bruckheimer movie, because it at least makes sense (unlike, say, "The Rock")." I was wondering why you felt The Rock didn't make sense. I know the movie is absurd in many ways but I felt it made sense in the fictional world of an action movie shot by a music video director.

Dear Gypo:

So you saw "The Informer," eh? Anyway, terrorists take a prison? Let them have it. Tell them to lock themselves in and toss out the key. And Ed Harris and his guys, wronged Special Service vets from Vietnam who I felt far more sympathy and empathy for than the good guys, are going to escape by helicopter? From Alacatraz? Where the hell do they think they can get from there in a helicopter? There certainly wouldn't be able to make it out of the country. It patently idiotic.

Josh

Name: Kelvin Kostohryz
E-mail: kostohryz_k@hotmail.com

Josh,

I just wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed many of your writings on this site. I am working on a re-write of my first script and I have found your words to be very inspiring in this effort.

Much thanks for the time you have spent documenting your knowledge and artistic goals. Good luck with your future..

sincerely,

Kelvin

Dear Kelvin:

Thanks, I'm happy to help. Good luck with your script.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I wasn't talking about Wynona Ryder as an individual; rather, I was talking about the alarming trend in this country of the wealthy and the famous being able to openly flaunt the law. Well, whatever. She got away with her few hundred hours of community service, and the U.S. legal system erodes a little bit more because of it.
On a lighter note, I happened to see one of my favorite movies the other night: TIME AFTER TIME, with Malcolm McDowell and David Warner. The premise is a little bit absurd, I grant you (H.G. Wells invents a time machine, then his friend, who happens to be Jack the Ripper, uses it to escape to the future), but to see two first-rate actors like McDowell and Warner go head to head entertains me to no end. It just goes to show that classically trained actors can lend credibility to almost any premise or script. As I recall, that's why George Lucas pushed so hard to get Alec Guiness for STAR WARS; he lends an undeniably serious note to what could have easily been a high-budget version of an Ed Wood flick. Perhaps that's why American studios have always been anxious to hire talented British actors. Any thoughts on this?

Yours truly,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Used properly, classically trained British actors are a joy to watch in movies. This trend of casting them as Americans, however, is a mistake. Casting British actors as American presidents is an even bigger mistake. Hopkins fails miserably as Nixon, and Michael Gambon as Lyndon Johnson in Frankenhiemer's last film, "Path to War," can't do a Texas accent to save his life. Laurence Olivier could never pull off an American accent, either. On the other hand, watching the 1953 "Julius Caesar," only the British actors are succeeding in their parts. Poor Marlon Brando is completely over his head the whole film, and Louis Calhern isn't faring much better.

Regarding you earlier subject, I don't think movie actors are particularly responsible for eroding the U.S. legal system. I think much more responsibility can be laid at the feet of criminals like George Bush Jr. and Sr. who seriously believe that killing foreigners is far preferable to helping U.S. citizens lead better lives. Let's face it, Bush Sr. is responsible for a killing a lot more innocent people than the 9/11 terrorists. Nearly 5,000 Panamanians were killed for absolutely no reason when we illegally kidnapped Noriega. Now junior wants to be the aggressor, like the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, and start a war with Iraq. It's a crime.

Josh


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