Q & A    Archive
Page 89

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

Hey Josh,

I just rented an excellent film called "Mishima," (from 1985) about the life and work of the Japanese poet/playwright/political activist Yukio Mishima. It was directed by Paul Schrader and Executive Produced by Coppola and Lucas. I had never even heard of this film before, and it instantly reached my top 20. It was, I believe, a seamless blend of fact and fiction, especially given that Schrader was limited to only previously published work about his subject matter (due to his widow's strict restrictions--he was gay and the film barely hinted at that, and there was a lot more to the story that could have been told if it weren't for her rules). I highly recommend it, and it's available at Netflix. I'd be interested to know what you think.

Also, I watched "12 Angry Men" for the first time. Wow. Damn. So many great moments, actors, performances, and all in one tiny room. Obviously a converted play, but, as with "Harvey," it didn't matter or feel constrained due to an excellent adaptation. I believe there was a recent remake, which I haven't seen, but I can only imagine that it pales in comparison. Lumet rocks!

take care,

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

I saw "Mishima" at the theater when it came out, and I liked it, too. It really looks great, shot by the wonderful DP John Bailey. I'd say it's by far Paul Schrader's best film as director (I think he's a very talented writer and only a mildly talented director). "12 Angry Men" is a terrific picture, and Sidney Lumet did a great job -- and it was his first film. The remake actually wasn't bad, with Jack Lemmon in Henry Fonda's role and George C. Scott in Lee J. Cobb's role, although the original was much better directed. I don't know why anyone would think shaky hand-held camerawork is an improvement over really smooth, interesting dolly-moves. Lumet was on a real tear for a while there, and made quite a few terrific films, like: "Long Day's Journey into Night," "Fail-Safe," "The Pawnbroker," "The Hill," "Serpico," "Murder on the Orient Express," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Network," and "The Verdict." I truly admire him, and I enjoyed his book, too, called "Making Movies." If you haven't seen any of those films, check them out.

Josh

Name: erik
E-mail:

hey josh, what did you think of "requiem for a dream" and "pi"?

Dear Erik:

I liked "Pi" and I hated "Requiem." "Pi" seemed like a really good example of very low-budget filmmaking, with an intriguing story, several interesting characters, a terrific look, and a satisfying pay-off. "Requiem," on the other hand, seemed like a complete jerk-off, and I ultimately felt bad for Ellen Burstyn, the actress, not the character she's playing, for having to take such a simple-minded, overwrought piece of crap. After "Pi" I thought Aronofsky had a future in filmmaking. After "Requiem," I no longer do.

Josh

Name: Archie Shuttleworth
E-mail:

Josh

There's a rumour circulating on some movie website that if Universal go ahead with a big screen version of XENA then they will only commit to the size of budget required if someone like Catherine Zeta Jones plays the leading role. Apparently the movie will not follow on from where the series ended but will essentially be a remake of the episodes "Callisto" and "Return of Callisto". Do you know if there is any truth in this?

Dear Archie:

I'm sorry, I don't know a thing about it. As I watched Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Chicago," however, I kept thinking of Lucy -- looks-wise, that is. Quite frankly, though, I think Lucy has a lot more magnetism, and is just a better actor.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

Just wanted to say that I love your site. I am a native Detroiter living in NYC. I am a film/video editor here. I just wanted to say that I agree very much with your critique of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". It was one the most enjoyable films I had seen last year.

I also agree with your criticism on the state of Hollywood features. I see a lot of films and many are just crap! I watched the Golden Globe Awards last night and it was just silly! "Chicago" won all these Awards and it was just a bad adaption of a not so good musical. I agree with you: Get some real dancers and singers!

Also, I feel that "The Hours" was a bad film too, but I won't go into that one.

Lastly, I highly recommend the Brazilian film "Cidade de Deus (City of God). I had seen an advanced private screening of the film with my girlfriend who is Brazilian and an entire Brazilian audience here in the NYC last month. It has now been released in a limited number of theatres in NYC and LA.

I know you don't live in LA anymore, so I hope it gains popularity and gets a wider distribution. It is a worth wider distribution.

I recommend this film because I am a frequent vistor to your site and even tough I don't agree with all your criticisms, I think you may like this film. I was amazed by the realism and the use of many first time and non-actor talent. It also deals with a very sensitive subject that tends to be ignored in Brazil. I know this first hand.

BTW, I have always really loved "Lunatics". I know a few people back in the Detroit production community that worked on it too!

Regards,
Scott

Dear Scott:

Good luck in the Big Apple, and I'll try and catch "City of God" should it ever be available.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I just finished watching "Network" and I am once again astonished by William Holden's work. Man, was that guy good or what? He is, by far my favorite actor. And Peter Finch is absolutely amazing. He completely and totally commits to the character of Beale. It's such a joy to watch. Seasoned performances like that just makes me realize how off the mark so many of these so called actors are these days. When I watch guys like Holden and Finch work it just makes people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Cruise look like such rank amateurs. And Faye Dunaway is so fucking good too. What do you think of actresses these days? Most rolls that are written for woman are total shit. But it seems like most of the actresses suck anyway.

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

I do love "Network," and it was certainly written by as intelligent of a writer as ever bothered to work in movies, Paddy Chayefsky. I don't know that you should be blaming the actresses around today. It's much more an issue of the film executives and the writers. They just gave Meryl Streep, who is a wonderful actor, a Golden Globe for "Adaptation," which is a severely and painfully underwritten part. If you give her a well-written part she'll clearly play the hell out of it.

Josh

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

Josh, how important do you think it is for a film director to read novels, know history, read different philosophers, etc.? Maybe this is a weird question, but I read an article in film comment recently in which Martin Scorcese admitted that he just started reading novels for enjoyment only 10 years ago. Out of the directors (wannabe and working) that I've met and spoken to, very few have acknowledged that they do much reading. Particularly in film school I've noticed that top 10 music and movies are what everyone spends their free time on. I'm thinking that maybe this could be part of the reason why filmmaking has gone downhill in the last 20 years.

I get the impression that great filmmakers of the past were simply more educated individuals. Nowadays philosophy comes from The Matrix or Star Wars. I guess I believe that writing is generally a more intelligent medium than filmmaking. It has less immediate thrills though, so its out of style I guess? I look at most of the movies that are being made and I'm starting to see the effect of this tv and movie culture.. movies are no longer about people, but about movies. I can respect a good homage, but its gotten to the point where every movie is a slightly duller derivision of ideas in other movies. Anyway, I'm dragging on here. Seen anything good at all lately? I saw Catch Me if You Can which was light and forgettable. Also saw a movie called Dinner Rush on DVD that was actually pretty good. Its got Danny Aiello and some other good italian actors in it. Its a little far-fetched with some of the gangster elements (which is wearing a little thin) but I enjoyed it. Worth checking out.

Jim

Dear Jim:

I put "Dinner Rush" on the list. I certainly do believe that a director needs to know as much as humanly possible about stories in general, and the best place to learn that is from books. It seems to me that anyone with an elemental grasp of storytelling could not have possibly accepted the script for "The Gangs of New York" and thought it was worth shooting. That they decided to go with a revenge plot in the first place makes me sad, and shows a severe lack of understanding about basic plotting. We're in a very dumb period right now, and our "art" clearly shows it. Piss-poor musicals, poorly-written historical films, weakly-conceived stories about the trials and tribulations of being a screenwriter, fantasies about characterless furry creatures, and comic book stories about superheroes. The films of today make the silent films of the 1920s look very sophisticated. If all you've ever done is read comic books and play video games, what the hell kind of stories will you think are worth telling? I find it all very depressing.

Josh

Name: Tony
E-mail: tonys@aol.com

josh,

Please tell me more about the Polanski war story. Is it a current property? Did he write the screenplay? Or did you read it in a biography about him?

Dear Tony:

It's not Polanski, it's a book by Jerzy Kozinski called "The Painted Bird." Polanski and Kozinski were friends and had very similar youths in Poland during the war. It's a very powerful book, written in very simple, almost child-like, prose, and I recommend it.

Josh

Name: Rosemary's Baby
E-mail:

Hi,

I don't understand what you guys are talking about when you say there were no drugs in "Almost Famous." The lead guitarist does LSD and trips in front of a group of Topeka kids at a party. Penny Lane almost overdoses, and people are obviously drinking and smoking pot all around. It's just that the lead character doesn't do drugs, which is possible. As far as the sex goes, Penny Lane is obviously sleeping with Russle. The other girls are obviously doing the other band members as well as deflowering the lead character. Russle's girlfriend slept with several of the other band members. There was plenty of sex and drugs included in the film. Cameron Crowe just wasn't as overt in his depictions. He alluded to most of it. I don't need to see people shooting up or banging each other to know what happened during that time. It doesn't make the movie any less believable not seeing every screw or needle in my humble opinion anyway.

RB

Dear RB:

If you accept it that's great. I didn't. None of these guys would be taking a step without snorting several lines of coke, which was completely prevalent at the time. And the girls do talk about the fact that they're not putting out, or maybe I'm dreaming. All in all, it seemed like junk to me.

Josh

Name: Darin
E-mail: none

Dear Josh:

My friend and I were just having a heated discussion about "Almost Famous" the other day, mostly caused by us both reading your review. I agree with you completely. My friend claimed that keeping drugs and sex out of the movie should be written off as suspension of disbelief. I say that if something is so illogical or ridiculous (unless it's intentional, like Monty Python) I can't watch it. And I think your cop analogy is excellent.

Dear Darin:

Let's put it this way, it was far too severe of an historical inaccuracy for me to suspend my disbelief. I guess it might work better for young people who weren't around at the time. But as a student of history I particularly can't stand the concept of rewriting history to make it politically correct for today's standards. In 1973 rock bands were abusing drugs like they were going out of style (which they ultimately were), and groupies were there specifically to have sex with the rockers. End of story. All other depictions are hogwash.

Josh

Name: Wild Dakota
E-mail:

Josh,

I was watching the Sundance Channel last night about the Sundance Film Festival and the festival director said that there were 32 features on digital video picked this year for inclusion in the festival, up from 16 last year. What is the process and difference in cost for the filmmaker to submit his/her work to the festival for viewing digital video on the big screen versus 16 mm? Lastly, what is the best way to learn cinematography, sound, editing, lighting: filmmaking in general without having to spend a bunch of money or attend film shcool?

good luck to you!

Dear WD:

Everything is submitted on tape (unless special arrangements were made), so it doesn't matter what format it was shot on, it will be viewed on a TV. The difference comes at the festival itself, where one theater is equipped to project film, and another is set up to project video. It will also have a big effect on your chances of release. Overseas and TV still don't want movies shot on DV, so you've limited the hell out of the possibilities of a release. And if you don't want to go to film school, then just start making films. The process will teach you how it's done. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Mark Lyman
E-mail: marklyman@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Just wanted to say hello if you remember me. I worked with as the art director for Cleveland Smith and also played a Ubangi. I was the really big guy. Glad to see your work. I would really like to get a copy of the Cleveland Smith movie if possible!
Have a great day.

Dear Mark:

Of course I remember you. You were a great help on that film. All of my original tape transfers, as well as the film originals, are all in a film vault in LA and would be a hassle to get at without particularly good reason. Sorry.

Josh

Name: Kim
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

After you made that reference to Rupert Pupkin, I just had to see "The King of Comedy". I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially to see DeNiro in a non-gangster role. It's eery to see how people blur the lines concerning behavior towards entertainers.
I was wondering how you understood the ending, being that all we see is that Pupkin is considered a "success" after his release from prison. Is this supposed to be a real ending? Or is this his fantasy?
Thanks,
Kim

Dear Kim:

I think they're intentionally trying to be confusing, which is appropriate for the story. I do think the film sort of falls apart right near the end, starting his monologue, which i think should have actually been funny if we're supposed to believe he becomes a star because of it. But, then again, maybe the end is all a fantasy, in which case it makes more sense. I think Robert DeNiro, Jerry Lewis, and Sandra Bernhardt are all great.

Josh

Name: Dee
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just saw The Sting for the first time.To be honset, after reading your stuff on structure, I have come to the conclusion that The Sting follows that PERFECTLY.What are your specific feelings towards the Sting?

Dear Dee:

It's a good, solid, tricky, well-written, well-directed piece of Hollywood fluff. It's completely pulling off what it's trying to do, which in this day and age is a miracle. I particularly enjoy Robert Shaw as "The Gimp."

Josh

Name: jess
E-mail: trickynicky@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

first of all i dont think you have looked into this firlm at all what its really about.
IT IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY
about the gto's girls together outrouhsly that were groupies in the 50's one of them is liz tayors mum
it tells the story about what it was like to love the music and not the sex people expected sex of them but in the end it still came down to the music.
it you had any reapect at all for music then you would know what it would be like to be a FAN
yeah sure you think its not right having sing-a-longs on a but but that is what it was like .
times have changed we no longer have groupies rock like that died thank god so did all the shit but there still are fans and you need to take a look at what it was is like for them what its like to really love the music

Dear Jess:

Having read your entire, very poorly written, diatribe, I must assume you're referring to "Almost Famous." I know it was based on some true incidents, but it's been severely re-written. The re-writing of history to make it conform to today's standards is really offensive to me. If Mr. Crowe wanted to hook me as a fan, then he would have actually used either the Allman Brothers or Creedance Clearwater Revival, which is the true story, not the phony-baloney Stillwater. Since I was and still am a fan of the Allman Bros. and Creedance, you could have hooked me easily with any of their songs. If when the kid tells the guitarist that his guitar-work is "incendiary," it would have meant something if he was talking to Duane Allman or Dickie Betts, but to be saying that to Joe Nobody means nothing. And of course, having cleaned up all of the sex and drugs is particularly offensive to me. Crowe has come out with that he didn't want to tell a story about sex and drugs. Then why tell a story about a big rock band in the early seventies? That's like saying I want to tell a cop story, but I don't want any violence or guns. Or I want to tell a story about Michael Jordan, but I don't want to show any basketball. It's stupid. And I am a music fan.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh!

It's been awhile. Well, not that long. I got a new job and work sucks! What else can I say? I have one question for you dude......What the hell is "A Spike Lee Joint"?

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

That's Spike Lee's pretentious way of saying "A Spike Lee Film" or "Un Film du Spike Lee." Lets' face it, the guy's a hack, so who cares what he calls his shit. "One More Spike Lee Stinker" would be more appropriate.

Josh

Name: katie
E-mail: kyriaki@angelfire.com

Dear Josh:

I am from the D too!!! Are you and Craig still friends or does he understand? Wow!! I got cast to be on the show. I shoot on Tuesday.

Best,
Katie**

Dear Katie:

I take it you're referring to "Worst Case Scenario"? I don't think Craig does understand considering he hasn't spoken to me since then. He'll get over it, or he won't. Good luck on your shoot.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

I was wondering if you had a chance to see The Pianist yet. i've got to tell you, as a jew i was disgusted by it. The lead character, like a vast majority of jewish characters in hollywood films Is weak and cowering. He had a chance to join a resistance group, he didn't. He watched his family get shipped off to a death camp, and walked away. he was constantly getting beaten to a pulp by the Nazis, and never stood up fro himself. My Grandmother was a Holocaust Survivor, and actally defended herself against the nazis. This guy endours 2/12 hours of abuse, and could have done something about it. I know this was a true story, but I would rather see a film about David Ben Gurion, or the Rothschilds. Holocaust movies have been done to death. The moral of the Pianist is If you hide and cower, you can survive a horrible cotastrphe if you are lucky. the only redeeming quality of the character was that he was a good pianist, and that doesn't make him sympathetic or empathetic. On a final note, The Pianist is just another film that makes Jews look helpless and weak, and continues to fuel negative stereotypes. I know Polanski's history, and realize that this must have been close to his heart, but if he had to tell a holocaust story, I know for a fact there are better ones out there.
If you have seen it, what did you think?

Dear Scott:

My big gripe with "The Pianist" is that it doesn't have an act one. Without a set-up to get me to know the characters, and their relationships to one another, all the rest of it simply doesn't matter. It is absolutely imperative that I empathize with the lead character, which means we depsperately needed an act one before the Nazis attack Poland so we could see what he was like, and what his family was like, under normal circumstances. sadly, the Nazis attack in the very first scene, so it begins with act two. And there's basically no act three, either, which is how he functions after all of these atrocities. Regarding the history of the story, that's how it came down. Most people who were rounded up and killed by the Nazis, be they Jews, political prisoners, Gypsies, Catholics, or anyone else, didn't have a chance to fight back. The film does give you a sense of the horrible helplessness of the situation, particularly when a Nazi is walking down the line of Jews and shooting them in the head. You just hope that the last guy in line will fight back or run or something, but the reality is that they -- and undoubtedly you and I in the same situation -- are paralyzed with fear, and rightly so. I do think it's a better film than "Schindler's List." If I recall correctly, and it's been a long time, the TV mini-series "Holocaust" was better than either of them. And I'll still take Stanley Kramer's "Judgement at Nuremburg" over all of them. "The Pianist" actually made me resent "Schindler's List" even more for being in black and white, which removed it even further from the present day, and made it seem like a hundred years ago instead of fifty years ago. I'd always hoped that if Polanski was going to do a WWII Nazi film he would shoot his late friend, Jerzy Kozinski's "The Painted Bird," the story of which closely paralleled Polanski's own story, and is a point of view we haven't yet seen about the holocaust -- a small Jewish boy who's parents were taken away to a concentration camp is left to wander by himself around Poland throughout the entire war. One image that's never left me is the kid seeing packed trains going by on their way to the concentration camps, and babies being thrown out the air vents and bouncing along the tracks.

Josh

Name: Drugstore cowboy
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Did you think 'chicago' sucked? I sure did. I'm curious as to what you think about it.

Meanwhile, I recommend you renting 'insaniac' from netflix.

Dear DC:

I thought it sucked, too. First of all, it's just a bad musical with almost no good songs, and a crappy story. Second, it's poorly directed and badly lit. Third, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger simply aren't very good at singing or dancing. Fourth, Richard Gere is a bad singer, a third-rate tap dancer, and his big dance number is shot entirely from behind so it may as well be a dance double. When you see Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire dance, you're seeing two of the best dancers that ever lived and you can't help but marvel at their ability. When you hear Liza Minnelli sing in "Cabaret," her voice is as good as it gets. It's not that Zeta-Jones and Zellweger aren't giving it the old college try, they're just not professionals and it's obvious. This is one of those films that amazingly had me bored and annoyed within thirty seconds, and I don't know how that can be.

Josh

Name: Steve Bruni
E-mail: s.bruni@attbi.com

Dear Josh:

Any chance of Devil Dogs coming to Film? Wonderful concept for a film. Make opening scences from Saving Private Ryan pale in comparison. Truly love your work!
Steve

Dear Steve:

No chance that I know of. It's not based on a comic book, so why would anyone in Hollywood be interested?

Josh

Name: David
E-mail:

Hey Josh.

Just a technical question for you: what kind of lighting equipment did you use on your short films? I've been shooting DV shorts using clip lights from Home Depot, and I was wondering if you had any advice on ways to maximize production value with limited equipment. (If I ever do a feature, I'll gladly bring in a real cinematographer.)

Thanks for your time.

David

Dear David:

There's nothing wrong with those clamp lights, you just need big bulbs. We used to be able to get these oversized 500 watt bulbs, in either incandescent or daylight (which are blue). You can also replace the bulbs in all of the lamps with these brighter bulbs, and that gives you a more natural look (but be careful you don't set the lampshade on fire). We would also use, when we could get them, these little quartz lights made by Berkey, that were 750 watts and 1000 watts, are very small, and you get four of them in a set. In "Running Time" I re-wired clamp lights to take DC and put in 750 watt projector bulbs, and they worked very well and ran off a car battery.

Josh

Name: Tony Mitchell
E-mail: mitch_2209@hotmail.com

G'day Josh,

Please excuse my ignorance but could you tell me the difference between a 70mm film and a 35mm one? I recently saw "Ben Hur" in 70mm and "The Great Escape" in 35mm and to me they looked pretty much the same. What is the attraction of one against the other?
Thanks mate.
Tony

Dear Tony:

70mm film is twice as wide as 35mm film, runs twice as fast (although still at 24 frames per second), and has a six-track magnetic soundtrack, as opposed to stereo optical sound on 35mm. When I saw "Godfather III" at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood on it's very first showing, they beagn the show with the 70mm print and the dialog track wasn't playing. They switched over to a 35mm print, then switched at the end of the reel back to 70mm. With them coming right against each other it was VERY easy to see the difference. The 70mm print was much sharper, a little bit bigger, and the sound was a lot better. As a point of reference, "The Great Esacpe" was shot in the anamorphic 35mm widescreen process of CinemaScope, so it's actually wider than regular 70mm. CinemaScope is the anamorphic process of using a concave lens on the camera to squish the image, and a convex lens on the projector to stretch the image. "Ben-Hur" was shot in MGM Camera 65, which is the anamorphic version of 70mm (and is the same thing as Ultra Panavision 70). As another little note, the negative for a 70mm film is actually 65mm wide (thus MGM Camera 65), and the prints are 70mm wide to accomodate the six-track magnetic soundtracks.

Josh

Name: wasseem hamdan
E-mail: jjbigz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

what is in your opinion in mise-en-scene

Dear Wasseem:

That's not really a complete question. It's like asking, what do you think of a director? Mise-en-scene means what's in the shot, and it's what the French call the director, since they're the one that decides what's in the shot.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Here's a question for you : "Bob X. AListActor is given $20 million to star in Action Film 7" -- do you think this number is real, or is it marketing bullshit? Meaning, do they literally sign him a check for $20 million bucks? I'd always assumed it was something more along the lines of, "we'll give you $2 million now, Bob, and royalties based on estimated sales that could net you another $18!"?

Any idea?

JT
Austin, Texas

Dear JT:

Profit participation is yet another thing. When someone like Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise gets $20 million to do a picture they actually get $20 million. It's paid in a series of checks to their various companies, off-shore accounts, etc. When a buddy of mine was working on "Under Siege 2," for which Steven Seagal got $12 or 14 million, he actually made a copy of one of his weekly checks, which was for about $800,000. Not bad for a week's pay.

Josh

Name: Dee
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Just read your treatment of Terrified. Of course, great structure to the story. Unless I missed something, are you planning on writing the script for this one? I thought the story was original. The only thing I would change is possibly the part where Anna figures out she has to go back. Good stuff, but I just found it hard to believe that she figured out exactly what was going on right away. It was a very solid story though. Very Original. Second question, how much would it cost to finance that? Also, Bruce Campbell looks like a lock to play Gabe, I definitely imagined him while writing. Keep up the great work...

Dear Dee:

I'm glad you enjoyed it, but I don't think anything will come of it. It was simply one more shot in the dark. I'm not sure what my next move is, but I don't think it will be with "Terrified!" I had a good time writing it, though.

Josh

Name: Christopher
E-mail: cphilipp@nycap.rr.com

Dear Josh:

Any chance of your offering your old short films? I'd rather buy them straight from you than from a bootlegger. Thanks.

Dear Christopher:

I'll think about it. Since we were never able to get very good transfers of the super-8s, they'll never look very good. And it wouldn't be ethical to sell anyone's films but my own, and many of those films are collaborations. I know Sam doesn't want any of his early films made available, although I don't know why, they're damn good super-8 films. I must say that it sounds like a big hassle.

Josh

Name: andrea
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I love your website because you emphasize story- if the story sucks, the whole thing sucks. Virtually every movie i see is a disaster of failed writing. HBO and Showtime are making some of the best things out there. How is this possible? Is their process different or do they just care?

Dear Andrea:

I believe they do care, and amazingly, they seem to have some decent production executives. They also don't make very many films, nor do they have to compete out in the theatrical marketplace. But the best films I've seen in the past several years were all made for HBO or Showtime, particularly: "Elvis Meets Nixon," "The Day Reagan Was Shot," "Keep the Faith, Baby," "Don King: Only in America." I just saw a pretty good western, which I believe was made for TNT, called "The Warden of Red Rock" with James Caan and Brian Denehey (who also produced). Most movies these days are very badly written and have no point, which certainly says something about our present society. I really do believe our society is in a severe decline, and the lack of quality stories, and their consistant pointlessness, is a clear representation of it. Having watched a spate of recent films lately -- "The Gangs of New York," Adaptation," "Chicago," and "Spider-Man" -- I'm ready to crawl under a rock and die.

Josh

Name: The Goose
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I have written a 78 page script, how long would this roughly be if it were turned into a movie?

Dear The Goose:

It's about a minute a page, so you've got about 78 minutes. If you've written it to shoot yourself, that's fine. If you've written it to try and sell to a Hollywood company, it's too short. It really needs to be minimally 100 pages, but most usually, 120 pages.

Josh

Name: Stan Birtles
E-mail:

Dear Josh

What is your opinion of the work of the prolific and gifted British director Michael Winner?

Dear Stan:

He's pretty run-of-the-mill as far as I'm concerned. I liked "Lawman," the first half of "The Mechanic," the first "Death Wish," and I enjoyed "The Jokers" as a kid (but it doesn't hold up), and that's about it. Most of his movies aren't very good, and he hasn't got any style at all.

Josh

Name: DS
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

What are your thoughts on the late Conrad L. Hall? Any comments on the film "In Cold Blood?"

Thanks.

Dear DS:

Conrad Hall was one of the greatest cinematographers ever. "In Cold Blood" is absolutely gorgeous, as is "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "Cool Hand Luke," "Marathon Man," "Day of the Locust," and many others. I absolutely love his overexposed, blown-out look for "Fat City," and his long-lens work on "Electra Gilde in Blue" still impresses the hell out of me. I actually didn't much care for his work on "American Beauty," which got him his second Oscar, but I'm very pleased he was honored one more time before he died.

Josh

Name: erik
E-mail: mrbrown666@hotmail.com

hey josh,

when you look at thou shalt not kill today, now having matured as a director and gained more experience, what changes would you bring to the movie (screenplay or otherwise) if youd be doing the movie now, rather than 15 years ago?

Dear EriK

I'd change everything. The bottom line is that I wouldn't make that movie today. I'm completely not interested in revenge stories (like "Gangs of New York," for instance) or gratuitous violence anymore. I do think that the best aspects of that film are: the script, Joe LoDuca's score, and the pretty blue skies of Michigan circa 1984 that were caught on film.

Josh

Name: Paul Kersey
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

This may sound like a weird question, but have you ever seen anything from the Death Wish series with Charles Bronson? They are, especially 3-5, so ridiculous that they are funny. If you need a laugh, watch them drunk. I do have a question though. When going from draft to draft, how many changes usually occur? Do you ever change it completely?

Dear Paul:

I saw "Death Wish" 1 & 2 at the theater, and that's it. At this late date in my life, I take no enjoyment from watching bad movies. If I care to see bad movies all I need to do is go to the theater to see anything, or turn on any of the premium cable channels and watch anything made in the last ten years. Since I spend a lot of time writing the treatment of a story first before starting on the script, and making sure it functions properly and pleases me, I would then not want to change everything between drafts. The only time I actually ever did that was when I was rewriting someone else's script -- in this case "Hit List" -- and we threw out the entire script before starting again. In the case of "Lunatics," which I wrote from Renaissance Pictures, I went through so many drafts (14) that the final draft barely resembled the original, although the structure was exactly the same.

Josh

Name: Donald L. Pink, D.D.S.
E-mail: donipink@attbi.com

Dear Josh:

I am looking for Bamie Roosevelts (Anna) full name. Can you supply a sourse for me?

Thanks,
Don Pink

Dear Don:

Anna Roosevelt (1855-1931), Theodore's older sister, who was called Bamie (a contraction of Bambina), married Admiral William Sheffield Cowles and became Anna Roosevelt Cowles. Anna was physically deformed and had a hunched back. David McCullough, in his wonderful book about the Roosevelt family, "Mornings on Horseback," paints a very vivid picture of her, Theodore, and the whole family.

Josh

Name: Dee
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What did you think of the Minority Report? Personally, I really wasn't sure what to expect, but I liked it a lot. Two Questions: 1)What is your beer of choice, and 2) Do you ever completely abandon writing a script because you realize it was awful or just not writable.

Dear Dee:

Yes, I've abandoned any number of scripts over the years. Generally, however, I write a treatment first, and if I can't get all the way through that, or make it function to my liking, then I drop it before even starting the script. Meanwhile, I rather detested "Minority Report," which was third-rate sci-fi, silly, uninvolving, and severely over-long. I thought the way Cruise ran the computer was one of the dumber things I've seen in a movie in years, and I really wanted to see a bee land on his nose, him go to swat it away, then set off all the nuclear bombs and blow up the world. Just the tone of a Spielberg movie makes my hackles go up now.

Josh

Name: janelle abela
E-mail: cutienelle@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

what are some common uses of squid? can you use the black ink comin from it as an ink for pen.

Dear Janelle:

Squids are too squishy to use as pens, but you can wring them out and use the ink to refill your printer cartridge. The squids themselves make excellent ice cream, cookies, and are terrific in chocolate fondue. Enjoy.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was just randomly checking out darkhorizons.com and saw that there's in early stages of a Xena movie in the making for Universal. I'm sure it's pure rumor but if it were to happen is there a chance that you'd be involved any way?
-Brian

P.S. while talking about Mr.Show, Bob and David are even funnier when seeing it live on stage. They are hilarious!

Dear Brian:

I'd doubt it. Just like when they got Robert Wise to direct the first "Star Trek" film, who had openly admitted he'd never seen an episode of "Star Trek," I'm sure they'll get some young kid right out of film school who knows nothing about Xena or filmmaking. Hollywood has a bug up their ass that anyone who's directed TV can't direct features.

Josh

Name: Mart Winkindale
E-mail:

Dear Josh.

Pop Quiz...A major studio promises it will bankroll the movie you always wanted to make regardless of the cost. One stumbling block...they insist it stars Steven Seagal....What do you do?, what do you do?

Dear Mart:

You make the picture, because you knew you were making that sort of film from the outset and it's no surprise. And you thank your lucky stars you got a film financed. If you've written the sort of script that attracts someone like Steven Seagal, then you're happy as hell he's taking it. And undoubtedly his involvement is what got it financed. There's no ethical dilemma involved in this scenario.

Josh

Name: The Goose
E-mail: glenysbrown@freeuk.com (not my name)

Dear Josh:

I have read your structure essay, and it helped so thanks. But do you know anyone who would read and evaluate my script for free? As I can't find anyone who will.

Dear The Goose:

No, I don't know anyone who would do it for free. There are certainly script reading services, but I don't know why anyone would trust their opinion. You need to find a friend or two whose opinion you trust, then get them to read your script and be honest with you. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Garret Harkawik
E-mail: funktaisia@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I'm going to be shooting a super-8 short soon and I was wondering if I were to record the sound seperately, would it match up with the film if I played it at the same speed that it was shot in?

Dear Garret:

You can't record sound at the same speed as super-8. Film runs at frames- per-second and tape runs at inches-per-second. The only way to actually be in synch is to use a camera with a synch pulse generator and an actual sound recorder, like a Nagra or a Fostex digital recorder, that recognizes a synch pulse. What we did when we shot super-8 was to use single-system super-8 sound cameras, where the sound is recorded right on the film, then transfer all of the sound off to cassette tapes, cut the film -- keeping in mind that there is an eighteen frame lag between the picture and the sound -- then replacing any sound that got screwed up from the editing. I think super-8 is a complete anachronism at this point and you'd be much better off shooting either digital video or 16mm film.

Josh

Name: erik
E-mail:

hey josh, whats the minimum running time a film can have to be considered a feature? thanks

Dear Erik:

As per Academy rules, sixty minutes and up is a feature. There are many festivals that don't consider a film a feature unless it's seventy minutes or up. Distributors, however, rarely release anything shorter than eighty-five minutes.

Josh

Name:
E-mail: hard_108@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

there was really a private rayn in the world war 2

Dear _____:

No, there wasn't. The story is very, very loosely based on the Sullivan brothers, who were all in the Navy and were all on the same ship that was torpedoed. From then on they wouldn't station family members on the same ship.

Josh

Name: Will Armstrong
E-mail: andykaufman2@hotmail.com

Hey Josh:

I was just checking out http://www.dvdaficionado.com. It's a site that lets you post your DVD collection for others to see. I clicked on one of your films and it brought me to a list of all your films that are available on DVD. One of the films listed was Scott Spiegel's "Intruder." It says that "Torro! Torro! Torro!" and "Attack Of The Helping Hand" are also on the disc. Do you know anything about this and if so is there anything that you can tell us about the release? I've never heard of the studio producing the DVD, "Dragon Film Entertainment - Germany."

Here's the link if you are interested. http://www.dvdaficionado.com/dvds.html?dir=Josh+Becker

Will

Dear Will:

"Intruder" is Scott's first feature, based on a super-8 short called "Night Crew," that I helped him shoot. "Attack of the Helping Hand" is a super-8 short Scott made, with Sam Raimi as The Milkman. "Torro, Torro, Torro!" is a 16mm short that Scott and I made together about a lawnmower that goes out of control.

Josh

Name: Gerald M. Ben-Ami
E-mail: gjbenami@attbi.com

Josh,

Thank you for answering my previous post a while back. A few more questions:

1. Are there any books you can recommend, or good places to check out that speak to the various processes of "Ok the Screenplay is written, now be aware of the following?"

I purchased the "Screenwriters Bible" by David Trottier when I was in LA over the summer. It is an excellent book, but it only seems to offer generals on once the screenplay is completed. I have recently signed up at the "Writers Script Network" which seems like a good place also. For someone who is very much a novice, I want to learn what the terms "option" mean versus whatever else is out there.

2. I am currently writing a screenplay that will require me to have the rights because it is based upon material a company owns. I recently spoke with the owner, who expressed great interest. Her response was that before they could "grant" the rights they would need to see a completed screenplay. Instinctively, this makes sense to me, but sense I have little knowledge I am looking for input.

I appreciate your time in responding to my questions and if anyone else has any recommendations etc that they feel would prove beneficial/helpful, or just based on prior experiences, feel free to send me an email at gjbenami@attbi.com. I love to write and think I have a few ideas that could be good movies or books, but I also recognize I have alot to learn and what to be as good at the "process" as I "think" I am at the writing.

Thank you again

Dear Gerald:

The Writer's Script Network isn't a bad way to go, but you must have completed scripts. When you query a producer with a logline, they demand that you have the script finished and ready to send to them, which isn't unreasonable. An "option" gives someone the exclusive option to buy, for a certain amount of time, which is the same for a house or a script. Suppose you option a script to someone for $5,000 for one year. In the option agreement it will state the terms for the sale, which could very well be based on the Writer's Guild Minimum, and is often based on signing a Writer's Guild contract, whether you're in the guild or not--they're good standard contracts that address most everything that needs to be addressed. Now, whoever optioned the script has one year exclusive of trying to set the financing for script up. During that year you cannot option or sell the script to anyone else. If they manage to set it up, they will deduct the option price from the sale price. If indeed they purchase the script, it's their's forever. Regarding writing the script first before they "sell" or "grant" you the rights, they putting the risk in your camp. If they don't like your adaptation, they don't have to grant or sell you the rights, and you've gone to the trouble of writing it for nothing since you can't sell it to anyone else. It's a risk that I wouldn't take, unless you just want to write the script for the sake of writing it, no matter what.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: see the archives

Dear Josh,

I just read "Above the Line", and thought it was pretty cool. I really can't offer any critical thought about it re: the filmmaking aspect of the story, but as a straight-forward relationship story, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Out of curiosity, have you ever considered shooting it (financing permitting, of course), or have you moved on to other things? As you wrote in the script, it could probably be made fairly cheaply and easily, which, in my admittedly amateur opinion, would make it a safer bet than a western, a war flick or whatever it is you're planning next.

On a completely unrelated topic, Jean is right. You should definitely check out "Mr. Show". Easily the best sketch comedy in ages. Like most contemporary sketchcom worth it's salt, it's heavily Python-influenced, especially in the structure, where every sketch is linked to the next one. Unlike Python, though, these guys link their sketches together in a kind of logical manner, whereas Python would have Cleese saying "and now for something completely different" or a Gilliam animation or something.

And, oh yeah, it's really @$#!ing funny too.

Take it easy, and I promise that next time I have a spare 20 american dollars I'll purchase "If I had a Hammer".

Peace,
Lucas

Dear Lucas:

Honestly, I never considered shooting "Above the Line." It was so utterly ripped to shreds by nearly everyone that read it that I simply retired it. I couldn't even bring myself to post it on the website until now. And it's not like I've got financing for anything set up. Meanwhile, I put "Mr. Show" on my Netflix list.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I am more then happy to read your screenplay when it is posted. I'm very flattered that you wish to hear my opinion on it. What did you think of "Adaptation"? I liked about 50% of it. The basic concept of self-doubt is something that we can all identify with. The idea of "Adaptation" is a very interesting one but I think it was poorly executed. It had it's moments though. I saw "About Schmidt" the other night and was less then impressed. Most of it was just plain boring. I have begun to judge movies on how many times I check my watch during the film. Schmidt topped out at 3. I think it's a good system because if you check your watch at all during a movie that means it sucks. So the more you check the bigger a piece of shit the film is. Oh man! I was forced to watch "Men in Black 2" at a friends house the other night. I never saw the first one but I got the sense that I didn't miss any pivotal plot points. I was baked out of my mind and I still wanted to blow my fucking brains out watching that inane garbage. Fuck!

Jean

p.s. If netflix has the "Mr. Show" DVD's you should check it out. I can't get enough of it right now. BTW I canceled netflix because they suck!

Dear Jean:

I was also amused by about half of "Adaptation." I think the last 40 minutes, when it becomes Kaufmann's idea of what a Hollywood film should be, really and truly suck. That he caved in and put that crap in there, which he clearly and obviously didn't need to do, proves what a spineless jellyfish he is. Although he's making fun of Robert McKee (who deserves some ridicule) and the basic principles of script structure, Kaufmann clearly doesn't understand those principles. He fumblingly establishes a theme at the beginning, which is the need to care about something, that came from the Susan Orlean book, but he has no idea how to work it back into the main story. Does he care about screenwriting or not? Is film something that really matters to him, or is it just a gig? I also couldn't stand the doppleganger brother character, Donald, who's utterly simple-minded and a one-dimensional character at best. If his death is supposed to mean something, it absolutely doesn't. And the point he bestows on Charlie at the end also means nothing because it has nothing to do with the rest of the story and doesn't come out of the theme. And clearly no one really cares if he sticks to the book or not, and his "integrity" in wanting to stick to the book -- which he blatantly didn't do -- is insulting and means less than nothing.
By halfway in I was also sick of the bitching, moaning, and complaining of the miserable Charlie character. All in all, I wasn't impressed. I have no doubt he'll be nominated for "Best Original Screenplay," and I wouldn't be surprised if he wins.

Josh

Name: Todd B.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's your favorite Indiana Jones movie?

Dear Todd:

None of them. And "Temple of Doom" still ranks as one of the worst films I've ever seen in my life.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Regarding Hollywood stupidity/no more indie financing, I read a story about how Greek Wedding almost never got off the ground, even with Tom Hanks involved. Apparently Tom Hanks and his wife went into discussions with all the major studios, asking for a (seemingly modest) budget of $5 million and all the studios turned them down. They ended up having to cobble the money together from other sources and out of their own pockets. I don't know any of the details about Mel Gibson's new film, but it certainly seems possible that a star of his level would pay out of his own pocket, if only to satisfy his own ego.

Dear Jim:

You'd think, but I don't believe it. I don't really believe that hanks put up any of his own money. People in Hollywood just don't do that, and there are more than enough smaller companies around that would be so impressed to be working with Tom Hanks or Mel Gibson that I don't think they'd have to. Still, anything's possible.

Josh

Name: kearston
E-mail: kearstonz@yahoo.com

josh...........I had written you along time ago and i just recently read what you had wrote about me, how could you be so rude, but you know what when i am that famous actress, you know the one evryone knows by name, and want sin there film, im sure you will follow in there steps and josh i will be there to turn your shity movie down, why? because unlike you i have talent!

Dear Kearston:

I don't remember what I wrote, but whatever it was I stick by it. You sound just like Rupert Pupkin in "King of Comedy."

Josh

Name: Lawrence Ferrara
E-mail: Blueumbrellaprod@aol.com

Hi,

I like your site and the wisdom behind your reviews. I agree that too many Hollywood films are after the quick bucks and open on too many screens at once to dupe the public.
Your film bio is impressive. I am an emerging director who had made one DV feature already. But someday I want to have the history that you have.

I plan on beginning another screen play soon. (Saw your link on tdfilm.com as I am reading all I can on what makes a great script.
Thanks for a great site. I will refer to it often.
Lawrence
www.astrangerwithin.com

Dear Lawrence:

Welcome. I hope you get something out of it. If you have any questions, comments, criticisms, or witicisms, write in.

Josh

Name: Larushka
E-mail:

Dear Josh

As a member of the D.G.A. you must have seen some butt-ugly directors in your time. Who's the ugliest in your opinion? I would say that Rob Cohen is by a mile. Take my word for it, he is NOT ahandsome guy.

Dear Larushka:

Who cares what directors look like? I don't. Let's face it, most people aren't particularly attractive, why should directors be? As a group they didn't seem less attractive than other groups. I'm not going to win any beauty contests myself.

Josh

Name: Darin
E-mail: none

Dear Josh:

I don't know if you could answer this or not, but it came up in a conversation with a friend of mine how much King was making for novels now, and we were wondering how much beginning novelists get paid. I figured since you've written one and tried to sell it, and since your friend Bruce sold his autobiography, you might have some idea. I've tried looking it up, but all I find is web pages for those people who charge you $300 or so to publish your book, and you have to do all the selling.
Does it go by the length of the book? Do you get a percentage of the sales or a flat fee?

Also, is there a guild for novel writing like the WGA is for movies? I figured if I found that I could find the rates on their site, but I couldn't find one.

If you can answer this, or point me to someone who could, I would really appreciate it.

Darin

Dear Darin:

There are no rates, or flat fees, everything is it's own deal. You absolutely work on a percentage of sales, and on a first book you'd probably get a small advance, like $10,000, against your percentage. If you've already written a book that's sold well, as Bruce has, then you can demand and get a much larger advance. And if you're Stephen King, you can probably cut the toughest deal in publishing, like a million dollar adavnce and 50% of all book sales (I'm just guessing here). But first you need a reputable literary agent to get your book to a publisher. If you just send your book in without an agent, which is referred to as "over the transom," no one will read it. You may as well just save the postage and throw it in the trash.

Josh

Name: MoonK Diamond
E-mail: private

Hi Josh,

For some reason it really bothers me that you won't write your "Warpath" script unless you get paid. Why would a producer want to invest in a film if the writer/director isn't passionate about the project? Your attitude kind-of contradicts your own philosophy about Hollywood and filmmaking. If I am completely off base, please let me know. It seems like several people are interested in that property, but it's still just a treatment. Finish the damn thing, Josh! LOL! And put some passion back in those bones!!

Good luck to you and break a finger,
Moonk

Dear Moonk:

You may very well be right, but here's my reasoning -- if I go to the effort of writing the script and it doesn't get made, then it's a much bigger disappointment than if I don't. Since I don't believe in this source of financing, I'd just be writing the script for the sake of writing it, which isn't a bad motivation, but I've already written 28 scripts. So, it's not an issue of the money, per se, it's the comittment that comes from having spent the money. I have definitely lost some of my passion and drive over the years for working on spec.

Josh

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

Josh,

So far, Mel Gibson's new movie doesn't have a distributor. In all the interviews I've read, he said that no companies want to touch a movie in two dead languages.

It is funny that directors seemingly forget everything they know about good storytelling. I would suggest that they all eventually succumb to the tolerant mentality of today's society that everyone's opinion is valuable and, in its own right, correct, regardless of rules and truths. As it applies to movies, they disregard the rules and make movies that people see as a new view, a new idea, and a new opinion. Except that if the modern society was the constant influence, then why would Scorsese's creativity last past Kubrick's? I guess they simply do forget. It will be interesting to see what movies you're making in a few decades.

Ben

Dear Ben:

Even if he doesn't have a distributor, I'll bet he didn't finance it himself.

Josh

Name: The Goose
E-mail: glenysbrown@freeuk.com (not my name)

Dear Mr.Becker,

Before I get to the main part of my question I'd like to say that Ball Breaker is a SMASHING script, and should be made into a movie right away! But Could you possibly give me a few tips on writing a script. As I am a young (not yet a teenage) scriptwriter?

Dear The Goose:

Read my five structure essays. If you have any more questions after that, go ahead and ask them.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Wow! You roll yours with a filter? Is that hard? I've only ever done un-filtered.

Have you ever seen any episodes of "Mr. Show"? It was a sketch comedy show that aired on HBO in the mid 90's. I was a big fan when I was in college and I just got the DVD's for Christmas. It completely slaughters me! The humor is very smart and strange. One of my favorite sketches is "Coupon: The Movie". It's about a big summer blockbuster type film that's about a coupon for tube-socks. I highly recommend checking it out. It almost has the same feel as SCTV.

Jean

Dear Jean:

I haven't seen it, but I'll keep my eyes peeled, like bananas. Regarding rolling cigarettes with filters, you simply roll them normally and when the tobacco is compact, pull some off the end, add a filter, and voila. I'm just finishing formatting an old script of mine called "Above the Line," which is my Hollywood/filmmaking script, and I'll post it very soon. I thought of you as I've worked on it, and I'm curious what you'll think of it. When I wrote it the idea of doing a story about a screenwriter seemed to most insiders as insane. Now, of course, it's a different story. The reason I'm posting it is that I saw "Adaptation" and there are a number of similarities.

Josh

Name: The Kick-Butt Kid
E-mail:

Mr. Becker

It is my long held belief that any movie or TV show that revolves around conflict between two characters ultimately must be deemed a failure if it does not conclude with a no-holds barred hand to hand fight, martial arts or otherwise,between the protagonists. Even Steven Spielberg has fallen short in this respect on more than one occasion and should be roundly castigated for it.
As a director long associated with TV shows which mixed mythology with martial mayhem I would have thought that you would be the first to agree with me on this topic and wondered which movies you would cite as classics which ended with spectacular fights such as I describe. I would also like to know which episodes of "Xena" you thought contained the best fights and who of all the actors you have worked with was the best butt-kicker
Thanks in anticipation

Dear Kick-Butt Kid:

The fights in Herc and Xena were by the far the thing that interested me the least about those shows. I found almost every one of them sort of a drag to shoot.

Josh

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

Josh,

When you said that Mel Gibson isn't spending his own money making "The Passion," did you mean out of his personal accounts? Icon is his company, but are you saying that a corporation doesn't make risks because it's protected differently? In that case, no one takes risks except independent filmmakers, right?

Ben

Dear Ben:

That's basically correct. When you hear that a movie stars production company is producing a film, they're NEVER using their own money, it's always coming from a another entity, which, in most cases, is the distribution company. This is called a "negative pick-up deal." The financing is arranged through the distributor, the production company makes the film, then distributor takes possession of the film's negative. Besides his enormous fee as an actor, Mel Gibson will also get a large fee for setting the deal up through his company, so ultimately, whether the film is any good or makes any money is of no particular interest to him.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: you got it

Dear Josh:

Time to put your tinfoil underwear on Josh,
your last Whoosh interview finally got published on their website. I'm afraid the flaming e-mails are a-comin' !

I just wanted to add to Alan's question about Renee and Lucy that he may not have known. Renee was about 4-5 months pregnant at the final shoot, and Lucy miscarried and then almost immediately became pregnant shortly after the show wrapped, so I would think that explains at least 1 of the 2 years (they both talked about wanting a solid break).
I'm certainly hoping that this new deal "Senator" Entertainment has with Rob and Sam will give RenPics the green light to hire not only Renee and Lucy again, but some of our other favorites from Herc/Xena. Hudson is one of those wasted diamonds out there right now too. Do you know anything about this new "Jekyll and Hyde"-inspired t.v. show they are planning?
I really wish you'd reconsider directing for t.v. Josh. Say- "Herc and the Amazon Women" re-ran today, does that mean a paycheck is headed your way?

Is Warpath set in the western United States? If you ever need a location to shoot the east, this may sound retarded, but I want to offer you my property in NW corner of PA. Hah! It is 75 acres, half adandoned grass field, half deciduous forest. I always fantasize about some Civil War scene being enacted as I walk my property. Quiet little po-dunk town, nobody'd bother you here. And I'd cook for the crew if you'd let me be an extra!

Dear Diana:

I was 2nd unit director on "Amazon Women," so no residuals. I don't even remember what I said in that Whoosh interview, or when it occurred. Wait a minute, I can't feel my legs! Help!!! Meanwhile, yes, "Warpath" takes place in the western U.S. Specifically, Colorado. Should I get to make it on a low-budget, though, I'd probably shoot it outside LA because it would be easier and cheaper (just like most of the other westerns ever made). And if I'm not living in LA, which I'm not, then I'm not even in contention for any TV gigs. I'd happily work for Rob and Sam again on a TV show, but I won't go begging for the jobs with my hat in my hand. I know nothing of any new Ren Pix TV shows, or who is in "The Boogyman." I haven't even spoken with Rob in over a month. I'll get my tinfoil suit ready.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Me again! This is in response to Alan's post about the actors from Xena and actors in general. It really sucks how good actors get pidgin-holed in Hollywood. I saw an interesting interview with Tony Shalhoub awhile back. He played an Italian Immigrant on the sit-com "Wings" for years and after the show ended the only rolls that he was offered were immigrants on sit-coms! He said that it was very frustrating yet funny at the same time. He is of Arab decent and he said that every agent he has ever had has marketed him as an "ethnic" actor. He said that this was a shock to him when he first came to Hollywood because he always saw himself as just being an actor. Before he made the move to LA he worked steadily in the theater in New York and his ethnicity was never an issue when it came to stage work. His first agent tried to get him to change his last name because it sounded (and this is Tony Shalhoub directly quoting this person) too "Persian". There are so many actors that I think should be working much more then they do. For example your buddy Ted Raimi took a stupid, bumbling character (Joxer) and played him with all his heart. Joxer never really grew and that must have been painfully frustrating for Ted as an actor but he still did the work. To me that's the mark of a really good actor that cares about what they are doing. So why isn't this guy working more? I used to compose cast lists for scripts in development at Beacon. The brass wanted to get an idea of possible actors and actresses for the various rolls and they gave me the assignment because I was the resident office film geek. But they always rejected 99% of my suggestions because the actors on my lists were not "marketable". These were people who I thought were some of the best actors working today and the suits would just cross them off the lists without a millisecond of thought. It was so sad to see real talent go unrecognized.

Incidentally, the suits eventually gave me a partner to help me with the lists. Big mistake because this guy was as geeky as I was. He was a big Bruce Campbell fan and we slipped Bruce and Ted onto our lists many times. But alas, your pals always got crossed off.

Jean

Dear Jean:

Ah, Hollywood. This is the same thinking that termed Katherine Hepburn "box-office poison" in the late thirties, as well as Henry Fonda in the fifties. Hepburn particularly had three Oscars to come at that point, so they couldn't have been more wrong (Fonda had one Oscar to come). Hollywood is not what you might call a "think-tank." I finally had to leave because the people, particularly the executives, are so fucking stupid. I've directed four feature films, but because I worked on Xena for six years I was immediately dismissed as "a TV director." Working on Xena and Herc was the best training of my life, and I believe that I'm a much better and more confident director after working on those shows, which I think RT and "Hammer" show. But that doesn't mean shit to Hollywood execs, who desperately want to pigeon-hole everybody.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I have not rolled a cigarette in a long time. And yes, it is much easier then rolling a joint. I just got the basic idea from rolling cigarettes with my grandpa. He would roll an entire supply of smokes for the week on either Saturday or Sunday. He started smoking when he was 10 or 11 and he always rolled his own. You should have seen the cigarettes that he rolled. They looked store bought.

The most disturbing thing about "Gangs" is that I have been hearing all these stories about how Scorsese has wanted to make this film for 30 years blah, blah, blah. If that's the case then he had a long time to think about exactly what he wanted in the script and exactly what he wanted in the finished film. So what happened? Why was "Gangs" such a monumental mess? My mind is so burdened by this film right now. Especially since I watched "Goodfellas" last night. Which I personally feel is his best film. It's one of my all time favorites. That movie is as neat as a pin and I can watch it over and over again. "Gangs" was just plain sloppy filmmaking. Maybe Scorsese is just old and tired. The same thing seemed to happen to Kubrick and Hitchcock. Why don't filmmakers retire like normal people? It makes me sad. But the thing that really pisses me off is how people bow to these piece of shit films just because the director is a "living legend". My ex is a huge Kubrick fan and he went to see "Eyes Wide Shut" something like 4 times in the theater. I could barely sit through the first half hour! The only reason he saw it again and again was because Kubrick directed it. Who in their right mind would want to watch Tom Cruise that much? No wonder I broke up with him.

Jean

Dear Jean:

Luckily for me I didn't find "Gangs" much of a burden because I was expecting it to suck. Scorsese has been over-the-hill since "Goodfellas," and once you're gone, you're gone. I wrote an essay about this phenomenon entitled "The Lifespan of Creativity" because it's bothered and intrigued me for many years -- how can directors seemingly forget everything they once knew? Ultimately, they just have to be thankful that they ever knew it. Scorsese had a seventeen year run, from "Mean Streets" to "Goodfellas," and most of the films he made during that time are good to great. Kubrick got fifteen years, from "The Killing" to "A Clockwork Orange," where darn near every film he made was great (with the one exception of "Lolita," which was an interesting attempt). But once the run is over, that's it, and there's no coming back. Meanwhile, I can roll a pretty good cigarette myself, with a filter, too.

Josh

Name: Tatjana
E-mail: mstatjana@yahoo.com

Hi my name is Tatjana,
I write a screenplay since 1995 on and of I used my time on it and I gave up on itfor a while. Well I'm back on track and my question is, do you know where is my best shut, to send my screenplay so any one that Direct. I finish the screenplay in one week and I need to send it to difrent location if anyone is interested in it. I only like to know where to search for.
Tatjana

Dear Tatjana:

In all sincerity, if your script is written like this letter you shouldn't send it to anybody. You first need to get an agent interested in representing your script. There are listings of all the agents in Hollywood around. That's where you need to begin. Good luck.

Josh

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

Josh,

If you're getting bored with this let me know and I'll drop it, but I'm enjoying the discussion on philosophy. I have to disagree with you about there being nothing new under the sun. I tend to be somewhat Marxist in my interpretation of philosophical ebb and flow. To my way of thinking the agricultural age, in which the Romans lived, had a world view dominated by supernatural forces and the victimization of man. Man was acted upon by forces he could never understand and only hope to appease. The Renaissance and ensuing Progressive age led to the utilitarianism of the Methodists and the empiricalism of the Tridentine canon. In the age of Newton, Smith and Darwin, Man would ultimately master a universe which could be reduced to a very few simple laws.

In the early twentieth century the advent of the First World War demonstrated the chaotic nature of the world at just the time that Relativity and Quantum Mechanics were emerging. These sciences reinforced the notion that individual perspective was paramount in understanding one's own experience. Implicit in this position are two ideas. First; no one can fully understand another's reality as each will vary with perpsective. Second; all experiences, or realities, are equally valid, meaning there is no superior or overriding truth as this would supercede individual experience.

I think these stages are well represented in the visual arts. The Dadaists, Cubists, and Surrealists are just some examples of relativism reflected in the arts. Literature has its own examples. By the 1960s relativism had begun to move out of elite circles to the mass population. When that generation began to make its mark on the creative world, the intellectual decline so often bemoaned on this site made its appearance. (All of this, obviously, is in the context of Western civilization.)

By the way, "The General", which I haven't watched yet, is a John Boorman film. What do you think of him?

John

Dear John:

You say that like as a new theory came in everyone accepted it. Most people are still living under the belief that their lives are guided by supernatural forces, like Jesus, Jehovah or Allah, and that a better world awaits them after death. All the theories after that are all intellectual and have nothing to do with most people. Of the six billion plus people on the planet now, I'd estimate that over five and half billion of them still believe in exactly the same voodoo philosophy that their great-great-great grandparents believed in. Keep in mind that the 280,000,000 Americans don't amount to a hill of beans in the scheme of things. Meanwhile, I liked John Boorman's films "Point Blank" and "Deliverance," and nothing else since then. He did have his moment in the sun, though.

Josh


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