Q & A    Archive
Page 99

Name: Shemp2
E-mail:

hey josh,

have you caught the greenlight project on HBO?

Dear Shemp2:

I caught a few eps of the first series and that was sufficient for me. It's just one more aspect of what's wrong with the film business. The last thing on earth I give a shit about is watching inexperienced idiots getting to direct multi-million dollar movies for which they are clearly and obviously unqualified. No question, any of the directors that worked on Herc or Xena are much more qualified to direct a feature film and would absolutely do a better job. The whole Project Greenlight concept is bullshit.

Josh

Name: me
E-mail: ooo_0_o@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

great god your an idiot...the species of sheep whom self absorb snazzy camera angles and good "sex scenes" are the reason we must endure "Charlies Angels 2" advertisments on our "big gulps". i stopped reading your garbage review of Eyes Wide Shut the minute you blatantly mentioned that old directors arent note worthy...Kubrick is adored by the strong, and condemned by the weak.

Dear me:

Old directors aren't noteworthy? You think that's what I said? Good God, what kind of idiot are you? Considering it was quite a short review, perhaps you ought to have finished reading it before writing in. I have much more respect for old directors than new ones, that's for sure. My point, that you clearly missed, is that many great old-time directors ended their careers with a stinker: Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, Billy Wilder, and Stanley Kubrick as well, which doesn't take anything away from their earlier, better films.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail:

Hey there Josh,

Your response to the IFC question gave rise to a question that I have to preface with a story...

I'm going to write the music for a documentary that a couple of ex-coworkers of mine are doing on George A. Romero, the "Dead" films, the hardcore fandom thereof and its relationship to the cultural fabric of Pittsburgh.

Based on what you've said, in order to sell the TV rights, they'd need "cue sheets", which I assume are the cues written in standard notation (please correct me if I'm wrong). Problem is, everything I've done so far, and everything I plan on doing, I've written in my head and performed myself, so there's nothing like that to submit.

I'm probably thinking too far ahead, since the only distribution-related info these guys have given me is that they'll be submitting the finished product to film festivals (never a sure thing, as you well know), but do you think there might be problems in the future should they get the chance at a deal similar to yours?

In other words, should I write it all down anyway, just in case, or should I wait and see how it all turns out?

Lucas

p.s. For what it's worth, I'm glad I finally have a practical question to ask you.

Dear Lucas:

The music cue sheet simply stated the names of the various music cues and when they occured in the film. It was on one piece of paper and didn't look very difficult to whip up. If you need to see one I'll send it to you.

Josh

Name: Trey
E-mail: treydix@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

When it comes to determining whether a feature film's copyright is no longer in effect and, therefore, in the "public domain,", is The Library of Congress the ultimate information source?

Also, do you know if there is a legal distinction between different kinds of rights -- video, theatrical, broadcast -- when it comes to "public domain" material? Thanks.

Dear Trey:

I'm not a copyright expert or an attorney, but I believe that once something has gone into the public domain, it's there in its entirety. The classic examples are "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The Night of the Living Dead," neither of which were copyright to start with and neither has a copyright notice, which was mandatory at the time. Anybody can duplicate those films and sell them since they're in the public domain. It's probably worthwhile, though, to check with a lawyer.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

The "Detroit: Where the Weak are Killed and Eaten" shirt can be bought here:

http://www.simplyvintage.com/product.asp?3=32

I ran across it a couple of months ago and was thinking about buying it, just for the hell of it.

Jesus, all of MY friends are telling ME to see "28 Days Later," too, so I guess I'd better see it. The ads looked like fuzzy digital video to me (not too good-looking on the big screen when I was dragged to "X-Men 2"), and Danny Boyle really doesn't excite me too much--but hey! It's either that, or "Capturing the Friedmans," (the documentary about a man accused of pedophilia), so what can you do? Oh, yeah, there's about a zillion sequels to crap out, too, and "The Hulk," but damn! It's getting so I just don't ever want to go to the theater, and I used to want to go all the time.

Renting a bunch of Netflix and staying at home,
Cindy

Dear Cindy:

That's what I do, and watch the documentaries on Sundance. I hear that "Capturing the Friedmans" is good. My friend Jack read a screenplay that he thought was very good and he told me about it. It's the standard story of an extreme movie fan from the midwest that wants to make movies, so he goes to Hollywood and plays the writing game for the next several years. Even though he does get some stuff made, by the end he declares that they've so kicked the life out of him, combined with how bad the movies he's worked on are, that he no longer wants to go to the movies anymore, either, just like us.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

When IFC picked up Running Time was that deal handled through a producer's rep? Do you see any money from that, or did the rep take a huge percentage? The reason I ask is that I have dealt with many producer's reps, and most were either crooks or incompetent. I find that its almost better to become your own rep and create the relationships yourself. How did your rep work out?

Scott

Dear Scott:

Well, they made the deal. IFC could have made the deal with me years before, but they didn't, nor would anyone else. Once the sales agent stepped in they've made deals with IFC, UK TV, German TV, and Indonesia video/DVD. Will I ever see any money? That remains to be seen, but I haven't yet. After a particularly horrible expereince with a sales agent on TSNKE, I was so gun shy that I wouldn't sign on with a sales agent for many years. Guess what? I made very few sales. It's nearly impossible to be your sales agent since we filmmakers haven't got the contacts. Also, places like cable TV stations absolutely do not want to deal with individual filmmakers, and they have their own good reasons. To complete the deal with IFC there was a slew of delivery elements: a broadcast quality master, copyright assignments, statements of copyright, music contracts, music cue sheets, a dialog-continuity script, etc. IFC, or any other cable channel for that matter, will not hound a filmmaker to get all of these things, but a sales agent will. Anyway, when all is said and done, I'd much rather have my films in distribution and be seen than wait around for an honest agent, which is probably an oxymoron anyway.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Whoops---
I forgot I also wanted to take a guess at the "kinetic" director you mentioned from Xena--are you speaking of T.J. Scott?
I remembered you told me that folks either love or hate his style, and you didn't care for it though he was quite popular with the powers that be. He happens to be one of my favorite t.v. directors, having directed, among many Xena eps on the top of my list, a "La Femme Nikita" ep I particularly was spellbound by, but I have to admit it was saturated with: "Attention out there! Director at work!" I think maybe his stunt background <I think I have that right> colors his choices too much, even for the gals-kicking-ass-action genre.

Dear Diana:

I'm not mentioning any names, but you could be right.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Hi ya Josh!

I wanted to let you know that I thought of you over the July 4th holiday. Yep! I've been away for the week spending it with the in-laws. Tell me Josh, does a cereal bowl in the sink trump a spoon in the sink? I dare say it does.

I think I caught you mentioning that your parents divorced rather late in the scheme of things. didn't you say it'd have been better for all if a divorce happened much earlier? I think a divorce even now that my in-laws are in their late 60's would salvage some peace and happiness for at least some involved. But I gather that's the irony you were shooting for with the piece. I just wish my mother-in-law could come to the conclusion that some milk in a bowl left in the sink is not cause for, say, an afternoon of misery. But I guess if we don't abandon her then she'll never learn the moral of the story, eh? How does one anonymously or "accidentally" send someone a link to a "Spoon In The Sink"? LOL

Having been away without IFC, I hadn't seen the "Pulp Indies" commercial until just last night-I caught a snippet of Running Time! I'm excited to finally see it! What's your understanding of this "Pulp" theme IFC is promoting for their Friday night summer fare? Was it explained to you? Do you find it silly? Hey, as long as they're showing your film, it's a payday and exposure, right?

Catching up on old posts here-just wanted to mention that I half-remember hearing a blurb in some news commentary that Colin Powell is pronounced like the defecating organ not because that is how his parents intended the name to be heard, but rather the media, when he was becoming news-worthy later in his career, simply mispronounced it and it snowballed with others covering him, and he never took the initiative to correct them.
I really doubt that it the case, because, well, why? Why wouldn't he correct it, and what is the likelihood of journalists mispronouncing a common name like Colin/Collin? Is the one "L" the problem? Naaa. I think he was born in Jamaica.is the pooping slough really an actual name down there? .We talk about the weirdest things here sometimes. Hee.

Dear Diana:

Nature abhors a vacuum, therefore if someone hasn't got sufficient troubles in their life, or just not enough of a life in general, then they will create troubles for themself. That's what "A Spoon in the Sink" is about.

As for Colin Powell, I thought Cecil B. DeMille was pronounced see-sil as opposed to ses-il simply because I grew up watching "Beenie and Cecil" and they pronounced it see-sil. So I've been corrected many times.

As for Pulp Indies, no, of course IFC didn't explain anything to me, or even speak to me, for that matter. But I guess it's a way into showing less artsy-fartsy films, and stuff with potentially more action. I don't suppose they'd go so far as to show TSNKE, but I'm happy to have "Running Time" finally showing on TV.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I saw "28 Days Later" over the weekend, and thought it would have been adequate for a made-for-Sci-Fi Channel or direct-to-video film. About a hundred times better than the latest X-Men and Terminator films, but nothing incredibly new or scarier than usual.

Your friend was right about the similarity to "Omega Man" and "Triffids," plus you gotta throw in the original "Last Man on Earth" and "Living Dead" films, plus a little known British werewolf movie called "Dog Soldiers." But a lot of that is due to the genre itself; just like cavalry vs. Indians films, there are always going to be some similarities. I'd be curious to hear your impressions - one thing that jumped out at me is that the film doesn't seem to have a theme; it takes the documentary aspect just a little too far, and so we watch people struggling to survive, but that's about it.

I think all the reviews have commented on there being some gaping plot holes and unanswered questions (like why no one tries ham radio to contact other countries, why the zombies never seem to eat anyone once they kill them, can they live off animals or not, etc.) but at least it does keep one's attention. There's a particularly good scene that will change your impressions of changing a tire forever.

The digital video thing is interesting - the daylight scenes seem just as rich and colorful as regular film, but the night time scenes are extremely murky and difficult to follow. (Although that may have been the director's intent.) There are some weird effects with flames, raindrops, and specks of blood - I'm not sure if it's on purpose, or an effect of the digital shooting, so I'm curious if you know what's going on, or why it looks that way.

Anyway, catch it if you need to get out of the house.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Okay, I will, if I need to get out of the house. Luckily I don't. I just watched the 1964 "The Last Man on Earth" the other night and and it really is the immediate predecessor to "Night of the Living Dead" in 1968. I still like "The Omega Man" better, though. I love him watching "Woodstock" all by himself at the beginning, coming out and saying, "They don't make pictures like that anymore."

Josh

Name: Francois
E-mail: marx@metroweb.co.za

Josh

I don't understand; you know so much about movies and have seen a few as well (!!!) over the years and directed some well known TV shows- how is it that you have not been picked up in Hollywood yet? Have the other directors watched more films then or what? What are the criteria when selecting a director in Hollywood? I don't understand because some directors are very old when the direct their debut and some like the "X-Men 2" and "Resident Evil" directors are young as #@&$. Is it a matter of "who-you-know..."? These flicks have some serious big budgets so experience should count as a factor and as you know, directing is a never ending learning curve. I can't figure out what producers want. Is it a good story or just the thing that'll make them rich? Sounds all freaky to me though.

Francois

Dear Francois:

You've hit the crucial downfall of Hollywood. As I just heard George Romero commenting on the other night, when a business has hit a point where it venerates youth so completely that it no longer values experience and knowledge, it's all gone to hell. That's what's happened to Hollywood. They will always give the job to a 25-year-old that's made a few music videos over someone who has years of experience and actually knows what they're doing. That's because the executives honestly don't care how the film turns out because the marketing overrides the critisism. They will make as much money as they will make in one weekend, and that hasn't got a thing to do with what anyone thinks of the film, it's entirely based on advertising. When the product no longer matters, then the manufacturer has got their head up their ass. The system in Hollywood has completely failed, but since movies have been so bad for so long, it's just taking a while for people to notice.

Josh

Name: michael
E-mail: mikester_09_99@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Hi i have only seen one of your movies that you have writen and driected "Running Time" and i loved it so much that i went and searched around and bought it the next day i have been looking around for some other film that i have easy acses too that i can rent and have found some information. But my quetion is do you have any plans to be realesing a new movie anytime soon

Dear Michael:

The only film I'm still hoping for a release on is "If I Had a Hammer," which is only available on this website. For you folks in Europe, though, "Running Time" ought to be popping up fairly soon on UK and German television.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

are we gonna get a review of 28 Days Later or was it just not worth it?

Dear Dustin:

I haven't seen it yet.

Josh

Name: lynn
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Sean Penn makes one highfalutin comment on a self-promoting tv show, and all of a sudden he's quotable? Does he think Fast Times at Ridgemont High was an important film?

I hope you don't think I'm stupid or narrow for liking films such as "Steel Magnolias" and "Gremlins", Josh. I just allow myself to enjoy the enjoy-able. If I lived up north, I could bring over a couple of good DVDs and some microwave popcorn... and I would also have a thing or two to discuss with you about the merits of living in L.A. ;-)

Lynn

Dear Lynn:

If it weren't for differences of opinion there'd be no horse racing. And though I haven't liked any of the films Sean Penn has written and directed, he is trying to make his own personalized films. I've seen a lot of movies, nearly 4,000 at this point, and "Gremlins" would never have been in my "enjoyable" category. It's poorly written crap from the Spielberg shit factory. Which isn't to say I don't like a lot of purely entertaining movies, but they have to be a whole better than "Gremlins" for me to like them. To me something like "Singing in the Rain" is pure entertainment. It's bright, witty, it's actually about something (the coming of sound to movies), and it was obviously made by talented people. Nobody needs me to point out that Joe Dante isn't a terribly talented director. And LA can drop off into the ocean for all I care.

Josh

Name: Darin
E-mail: none

Dear Josh:

I'm reading "The Virtue of Selfishness" right now. I'm surprised what the general opinion of her is. A friend of mine saw me reading it said: "Wasn't Ayn Rand a Nazi or something?" Since then I've heard several more comments from others to the same effect. "Wasn't she a communist?" also seems to be popular.
A few months ago I tried reading "The Romantic Manifesto" but I couldn't grasp it because most of the authors and literary concepts she wrote about are completely foreign to me some fifty years later.
I have a copy of "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" that I haven't read all the way through, but I did note that in it Alan Greenspan completely denounces the FED and blames it for causing the great depression. Ironic?

Darin

Dear Darin:

In our society to be selfish is to be bad. In Ms. Rand's philosophy, to be selfish is the first step to awareness and happiness, and I quite agree. If you haven't figured out your own needs and desires how on earth can you be of any use to anyone else? On the other hand, I think unmitigated capitalism will almost always run amok. I do think it's the best system, but I do think it's ultimately flawed. Capitalism left unchecked naturally moves toward monopolies and giant conglomerates, which are against the consumer. Nevertheless, I don't think Ayn Rand was a communist or a Nazi. She was entirely for the individual. As a friend of mine rather snottily put it, Ayn Rand had to stand in a couple too many food lines in Russia in the '30s and developed a huge chip on her shoulder. She worked as screenwriter in Hollywood for a while in the '40s, but didn't cut it.

Josh

Name: lynn
E-mail:

hi again Josh --

while I agree that films can be, and should aspire to be art, I go to the movies first and foremost to be **entertained**. A movie like "Gremlins" is a far cry from art, but it sure as heck is entertaining. You watch A LOT of movies... I'm curious to know how you feel after you've watched something that's obviously not "good", but managed to entertain you for a couple of hours. a waste of celluloid? or a worthwile effort from a screenwriter and director who've managed to take you away for a couple of hours?

Dear Lynn:

I'm bored out of my mind with that concept that film is just entertainment. At it's very lowest level, sure, but that doesn't interest very much anymore. Something like "Gremlins" never interested me, nor did it ever entertain me, either. As Sean Penn said on "Inside the Actors Studio," movies are too important to just be thought of as just entertainment, if you want entertainment go get an eightball and a hooker. The look on Robin Wright's face at that moment was priceless. But it takes a bit more thought and consideration to entertain me now than to just say "Gremlins are loose and wreaking havoc." Snore.

Josh

Name: tom
E-mail:
Dear Josh:

running time permires on ifc at midnight tonight [july 4] ...dont you know when your own movie is on t v

Dear Tom:

Yes, I just watched it, or part of it anyway. It premiered at at 6:00 AM Eastern Time on July 5th, which would have been 3:00 AM Pacific Time, unless IFC somehow has a different eastern and western feed.

Josh

Name: Francois
E-mail: marx@metroweb.co.za

Josh
Don't get me wrong, I am with you on this one ("director at work") and I think Matrix Reloaded is a bad story, made an overwhelming flick by 'all the new SFXs' and made for the gasps of the masses. I think that jib arm and steadicam worked over- over time. It just becomes too much when the camera flies all over the show to amplify not-so-significant events. I think, no, I know, it is just a showcase of the new technology. What would this flick have looked like in 1987 I wonder. All the action is so hectic and spectacular that it becomes too much to absorb and you drown in it.

I just want to know how\when do directors understand that the camera moves too much? I think it is just a matter of talent or common sense (that you gotta have), don't you? Matrix directors pay attention... And secondly, who do we make films for; the masses, ourselves, the box office tills or the 'Best-film-ever-Award'?

Francois

Dear Francois:

Good questions. I emphatically say, you make your films for yourself. If you can be truly honest with yourself and fulfill your own standards -- given you have any -- then it ought to be good. If you're at the point of making a $150 million film for Hollywood, then it's not your film anyway and you're clearly making it strictly for money -- that's what Hollywood is now all about. Quality is not the issue. To Hollywood movies are nothing more than a commodity, like pork bellies. But to the rest of us, particularly you bright, kind folks that frequent this site, movies are a lot more than pork bellies or iron ore, and ought to be treated like what they can be, and aspire to be, which is art.

Regarding camera moves, as I said before, the trick is to put them in the right places so that they amplify the drama and make the story stronger. If I get a sense of the "Director at Work" sign going up, I'm out of the story and that's bad. As an example, there was one director on Xena who never stopped moving the camera. He was always on the crane and the double-Dutch head (so you can tilt the camera side to side) and the producers thought his episodes were great. I, on the other hand, couldn't sit through them, they made me feel sea-sick. For a short time they tried to force that "kinetic" style on all the directors, but I simply wouldn't do it. My excuse was that I was generally directing the comedies and non-stop camera moves would just detract from the laughs, which they would. Anyway, the executive producer told me after the show went off the air that my episodes were much more watchable and held up a lot better than the kinetic ones. Quite frankly, I agree. The bottom line is, if the scene sucks you can move the camera until the cows come home and it will still suck. If it's a good scene then you don't have to move the camera at all and it will still be a good scene. If you can figure out how to get a nice camera move into a good scene and make it better, that's art.

Josh

Name: Darin
E-mail: none

Dear Josh:

Hey, I just read your article about Patriotic Orientation. I think Santorum was saying that homosexuals should recognize their desires and actions as evil and resist them, almost as a therapist would say to a pedophile. Not that I agree, homosexual sex is a purely consentual act whereas pedophilia is an act in which one party is psychologically unable to give their consent.
I wouold like to quote two people on this. First of all, sex columnist and homosexual Dan Savage-"There's no such thing as a gay sex act. There's nothing two men or two women can do in beds, bushes, or butts that a man and woman can't also do."
And Rachel Mills, a libertarian in New Hampshire-"Living in a society that entirely subscribes to your moral code is not a right."

Those are just my thoughts. Anyway, I was going through your archives and saw that you got halfway through Atlas Shrugged before throwing it across a room and never reading it up again. What was it that got to you? I liked the book up until we find out all the heads of industry are in a valley with portable x-ray machines and heat shields disguising them from view. I think at that point Ayn Rand abandoned reality. I was even able to accept the existance of an engine that runs off drawn static electricity. But maybe you didn't get as far as the valley. Do you remember where you stopped and why?

Darin

Dear Darin:

No, I don't remember. That was almost thirty years ago, for goodness sake. I did enjoy "Anthem" and "The Fountainhead," and I also got something out of her non-fiction books, "The Virtues of Selfishness" and "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," but "Atlas Shrugged" sunk me. But then I was seventeen at the time, too.

I just watched Ken Burns' "American Stories" on the sufferage movement, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They started the movement in 1843 and neither of them lived to see women get the vote in 1919, even though they both lived long lives. The point, though, is that the USA was one of the last civilized nations to give women the vote. Women already had the vote in New Zealand, Australia, the UK, France Czechoslovakia, on and on. The USA is not all that quick at recognizing people's rights, and gay people have just as many rights as the rest of us, which America will sooner or later come to realize. Homosexuality is not the same thing as pedophelia because the latter includes minors, and the law has to look out for those who are still too young to be considered responsible. Homosexuality is between consenting adults and is nobody's business but their own. As long as the USA continues to allow idiotic religious beliefs into politics, as Bill Frist, the senate majority leader keeps doing, it will continue to be a somewhat backward nation.

Happy July 4th.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I saw a guy on the street today wearing a T-shirt that said "Detroit, where the weak are killed and eaten". Is that true?

Best,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Only in rare cases.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just wanted to tell you that you're a damn goodwriter, and "The Biological Clock" is possibly the greatest unproduced script I've read in recent years, and I very much hope that it gets made someday. I'm surprised it receives any negative criticism.

Your writings/stories/scripts on this site are very impressive to me, I just wish that you had the opportunity to make more movies. You could be the high priest of today's modern film, if Hollywood would let you. Someday, I hope.

Somebody asked about beautiful photography for black and white. My favorites are certainly Citizen Kane, Magnficent Ambersons, Last Picture Show, In Cold Blood ('67), Seconds, Night of the Hunter, and many others.

That's interesting that you believe Magnificent Ambersons is greater than Kane. I can certainly see why, I love Ambersons immensely, along with Kane it's certainly on my top ten list (in fact, every film I mentioned above is near the very top of my all-time favorite films). Though Josh, what do you think of all of the cuts made to Ambersons? Are you one who believes that the cuts were a 'blessing in disguise?' As much as I love the movie (and I LOVE it), I certainly don't believe that the cuts made the movie better, and I would love to see Welles' original ending with Eugene and Aunt Fanny in the boarding house (with that last shot, which was supposedly a matte painting of the city the small town had become by the end of the film, with some particularly large bulidings towering above eveyrthing else (symbolizing gravestones, a motif not in the version of the film we have now), signifying the end of an age...if that's acurate, that would've been a powerful closing shot, and an ending

Best Regards,
Dylan

Dear Dylan:

Yes, it would have been. But I get that allegory very strongly from Georgie's walk home and seeing all of the phone lines and the factories belching the soot into the air, then he gets run down by an automobile, which is the perfect metaphor considering Morgan was an early manufactuerer of cars. But since the film is only 88-minutes long and is pretty damn heavy as it is, Welles' original cut of two-and-a-half hours was probably excruciating. But none of that footage seems to exist, so we'll never know. The script still exists, and I see why all of the cuts were made based on that. There is so much of that film that constantly rings around inside my head. Like when Georgie insults Morgan at the dinner table and says that cars are just a nuisance and should have never been invented. Morgan has that wonderful speech about how cars probably haven't added to the life of men's souls, but they're here to stay, then he leaves. Ray Collins then has that great little speech, "By Jove, Georgie! That's a new way to win a girl's hand, insult her father's business. By Jove, you're a puzzle."

Anyway, you made a few other very good black & white suggestions, like "The Last Picture Show," "Night of the Hunter," and "Seconds." I commend your taste.

Josh

Name: lynn
E-mail:

hello Mr. Becker -- what's your opinion of one of my favorite films, "Steel Magnolias"? you'll probably say it was a piece of crap, but it made me laugh hysterically, and it made me cry. so what's the difference between "entertaining" and "good"?

Dear Lynn:

Beauty, or excellence, is in the mind of the beholder. If I recall correctly, and the film didn't stick with me very well, you had a bunch of northern actresses all poorly pretending to southern, so some of them sounded like they were from Mississippi, some from Georgia, some from Tennessee, etc. and some were just imitating Scarlett O'Hara. And this was the story where Darryl Hannah chooses to die so she can have the baby, right? I completely didn't comisserate. But if you like it, God bless you.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdom@yahoo.com

Hey Josh,

One comment I forgot to make in the last email...

I don't think there was anything wrong with the script itself, because there are certainly people like this. It just wasn't my thing. Anyway...

A question-what do you think of Orson Welles' OTHELLO? I **love** the way the scenes are composed. When I was at the School of Visual Arts in New York City years ago, I once took a cartooning class with Carmine Infantino-who if I recall correctly, created The Flash. He talked about how important it was to watch black and white movies to understand composition and use of positive and negative space.

I liked CITIZEN KANE, but I preferred OTHELLO even more. The way Welles used positive and negative space to hammer home certain aspects of Shakespeare's play just blew my mind. I haven't seen this film in a long time, and I need to see it again.

What are some B&W films you can recommend that make interesting use of the medium, in terms of composing scenes?

Have a good holiday.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Don't forget Welles's "The Magnificent Ambersons," which I think is better than "Kane" or Othello," which is indeed beautifully composed. Also "Touch of Evil." Hitchcock has some great compositions in "Notorious" in B&W. William Wyler and the great DP Gregg Toland did some brilliant B&W work on "The Little Foxes"

Josh

Name: Francois
E-mail: marx@metroweb.co.za

Josh

Interesting, you say directors have to guard against shooting in such a way that will have a sign up that says "director at work". It makes sense BUT a flick like MATRIX: RELOADED has billboards saying that then. So I am confused...

Have you ever directed children? My next film has a small boy (8-10yrs) in the lead role and I could use some advice. He has no dialogue, just actions. What are the do's and dont's when directing children? I look forward to it though, perhaps because I think I expect a challenge.

Thanks
Francois

Dear Francois:

And did you think "Matrix 2" was well directed? But if a director keeps jerking around with the camera all the time, it's usually because their insecure and don't understand their script. If the script has any value at all, you shouldn't need to do endless camera tricks. This may be a lost concept, but camera moves are all in regard to the scene, and it's the director's job to sell this material, if you will, not overshadow it. The point is to meld the story with the camerawork. At least, that's my opinion. Anyway, yes I've worked with children and I've always enjoyed it. I just treat them like adults, but then that's how I treat all kids and I think they appreciate it.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdoom@yahoo.com

Hey Josh,

I read "Biological Clock", and I have to be honest-I didn't care for the characters. They didn't strike me as being particularly likeable. I thought Kate was an annoying, whiny bitch. In the end, the story left me cold. I guess it's because I'd avoid people like this in my life. I don't know if that's what Lucy had to say, but that's my call, anyway.

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

That's not what she said, but I accept your criticism.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

So Lucy did not like "Biological Clock" huh? Bummer, I still think that's a kick-ass script. I remember when I first read it last summer. I was 3 months into a gig doing script coverage for a living and it was really nice to read a script that actually had a story and solid characters. Ted Raimi would be great for Aaron. He has a really endearing "regular-guy" thing going on. I still don't understand why he doesn't work more. Lucy would have been cool for Kate but she is so stunningly beautiful. I pictured Kate as being beautiful/hot but in a more girl-next-door kind of a way. Know what I mean? Anyway, I hope you get to make it.

I also saw "28 Days Later" this past weekend and it scared the fuck out of me! I really enjoyed the film aside from the fact that I was completely freaked out the entire time. I must admit that I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to horror films. But this is the first horror film that I have seen in a really long time that actually scared me. You may want to check it out. It was a fun movie-going experience. I saw it in a crowded theater in Westwood and the audience reaction was crazy! And then I had to drive home by myself at 2am which was not cool. I turned on every light in my apartment when I got home. I'm a dork!

Best,
Jean

Dear Jean:

All right, I'll go see it. I need to get out of the house anyway.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I just saw 28 Days Later last night, and was actually surprised at how good it was. You and I share the same views on the current state of affairs of the industry; which is why I'm surprised I enjoyed it. The theme of 28 days is fairly simplistic, it is survival, but it was done very well, and accomplished what it set out to do. It was also scary. Yes that's right, it is scary as hell in parts, and I applaud it for its realism, and applaud Danny Boyle for telling an honest story without being pretentious. Is the film perfect? Far from it, but at least an honest effort was made to tell a descent story. The quality of the DV cam looks shoddy in parts, but I understand the method, and why he chose the medium. It is similar to the technique Tobe Hooper used in Texas Chainsaw. It is shot like a documentary, and succsessfully sucks the audience into the film's surreal world. As a guy who pretty much hates 90% of the films that have come out in recent years, I highly recomend 28 Days Later.

Dear Scott:

I'm glad to hear it. It sounds like it's the best movie of the year so far. Nevertheless, when the review for the best film of the year begins with (as per my friend, Paul, who really liked it and said it was the best film of the year), "It's 50% 'The Omega Man' and 50% 'The Day of the Triffids'," that doesn't leave any percentage of originality. So, even though it may be good, it's clearly a blatant rip-off which flatly turns me off.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Alas, the Great Kate has finally moved on to the next plane of existence. Such is life. She was 96...she lived an amazing life. Watching her with Spencer Tracy ranks up there as the most enjoyable romantic comedy team ever, as far as I'm concerned. Their chemistry was so palatable, it was fun just to watch them fight! Great actress, great lady, and one of the few women I have truly looked up to.

Also, I read "Biological Clock," and really liked it. Your writing has gotten more mature, more fluid. I really liked Aaron. It was also nice to read about protagonists over the age of 20. Keep on keepin' on.

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

Thanks. I just sent that script to Lucy Lawless, but she didn't like it. C'est la vie. I was thinking of she and Ted in the leads. Anyway, I love Katherine Hepburn and I always will. Ninety-six is a wonderful old age, and she lived a fuller life than most of us. She's so beautiful when she was young, between say 1933 and "Morning Glory" and 1935 with Alice Adams," that it almost hurt. That combination of beauty, intelligence, grace and sophistication are unequaled.

Josh

Name: Sean
E-mail: werewolfonwheels@juno.com

Dear Josh:

I watched my(Autographed)copy of "Thou Shalt Not Kill..." with some friends the other day and it immediately became one of their new favorites. The Marines vs the Bikers is the funniest fight scene ever! Where's the DVD of Lunatics??

Dear Sean:

Good question. Why not ask Sony or Columbia Pictures, they own the film.

Josh

Name: Daniel Fox
E-mail: danjfox@rogers.com

Dear Josh:

Another feature that was shot on DV was Spy Kids 2. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that you're probably not going to like the movie itself :) but Robert Rodriguez talks a lot about the benefits and differences of using dv over film on the director's commentary.

Dear Dan:

And "28 Days Later," too.

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Josh,

Could I ask what the basics of your new picture idea may be? I get the feeling it's still way up in the new development stage, but still interested in a few things.

Will this be a Detroit set film? Will you get SAG actors again? What about genre? Proposed bottom line budget?

As a side note, if you can swing shooting on 16mm I sure would do that over DV. Video just looks like shit, plain and simple. As a side note, I thought "The Anniversary Party," looked like camcorder footage. Star Wars 5 wasn't any better. C'mon, cheaper isn't better, folks. Cheaper looks cheaper.

It's all about what you can do with little money, but nothing looks as professional, as rich as film does. How about a way to send money donations to support the cause of getting seed money started on another film? There's talk of this, and has been for some time, with George Romero and his fans (who are some of the most die-hard fans of any direcotr in the world) sending donation money for a new Zombie film. If it's not against the law, some money could probably be raised. Enough to get the ball rolling.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Thanks, and I appreciate your concern. Honestly. But I've shot enough film at this point, both 16mm and 35mm, to understand the basic costs of things. The point to me of using DV is to make a feature film that's so cheap it doesn't matter if it makes money or not. It's sort of like going back to the super-8 methods where nobody gets paid for anything. And if the equipment is all borrowed, there's no effects or sets to build, it's all on real locations, and the editing can be schmoozed, which I have no doubt it can be, the idea is to spend nearly nothing. I just want to see how inexpensive a decent feature can be. See?

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail: scarymike@prontomail.com

Hey Josh,

A couple of questions, neither related to the other. First off, you've mentioned at least a passing interest in documentaries; have you seen Ghengis Blues? If so, what were your thoughts? If not, you may want to check it out - it's not a bad watch. It follows a blind blues singer (whom I'd actually never heard of before seeing the film) who has taught himself to sing in the traditional Tuvan style (singing 3 notes simultaneously). He is invited by the top Tuvan throat singer to compete in the Tuvan national throat singing competition and he makes the trip, along with an assortment of semi-fringy weirdos. Granted it sort of drags in places, but it's a very compellingly unique story.

Second question - with all the emphasis you place on story over hip, flashy cinematography do you find theatre more interesting than the vast majority of the dross that gets sent out to the cineplexes these days? (Granted, finding more interesting things than 2 Fast 2 Furious or whatever isn't hard, but still...)

That's it. Thanks for your time!

Mike

Dear Mike:

I've seen "Ghengis Blues" several times and I like it quite a lot. The blind singer's name is Paul Pena, and his claim to fame, as I'm sure you'll recall, is that he wrote the Steve Miller song "Jet Airliner," which is a darn good song. Meanwhile, theater is in worse shape than the movies. Everything on Broadway now was once a movie, and often a Disney cartoon. There are no great, or even good, playwrights around. The last playwright to have any impact at all was David Mamet, and he hasn't written anything worthwhile in twenty years. Now he just makes dull movies.

Josh

Name: Francois
E-mail: marx@metroweb.co.za

Josh

Thankyou for the advice. No I never plan to use those shots "often", especially in 5 minutes. In 5 minutes I use it once but my question is if "once" is too much or not suitable. So, in a 5 minute film it will go like this: Establishing shot, problem is revealed, character goes to another location with mates to solve problem, establishing shot of location, "describing shot, resolution. Use it once in a 5-er and get out. It doesn't mean that in a longer film I will use it more but I will certainly use it where a significant event will take place, shoot it and get out. Somehow I think it fits, but you now more so I am open to your suggestions.

Is it possible to perhaps have a section where just directing issues could be discussed on your site? I am not interested in reading about "what you think of a director" or "...this movie" or "buy cigarettes", just straight forward directing questions.

Thanks

PS: ZA is from Zuid-Afrika since South Africa was a Dutch colony (we spell it Suid-Afrika). It is also used not to confuse us with Saudi Arabians, which we certainly are not!

Francois

Dear Francois:

I'm sorry you have to trudge through the boring stuff, but them's the breaks. It sounds to me like you know what you want to shoot, and how you want to shoot, so that's how it ought to be. Trust your instincts; if it seems right, then it is right. A great example, I believe, of what you call desribing shots is in "Raging Bull" when it first goes to the coffee house where the mob boss hangs out. The first few shots are of coffee cups, then just the handles of the cups, and I think it's beautiful. And if you don't over do it, I think you understand your approach. If you can supervise your edit you should be okay on that, too. Good luck. Meanwhile, I stayed in the same hotel in New Zealand as Nelson Mandela once and saw him go by a few times, but I never got a chance to speak to him.

Josh

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

"BUBBA HO-TEP" GETS DISTRIBUTION
(2003-06-18) Don Coscarelli's King of Rock and Roll vs. the King of the Dead epic, Bubba Ho-Tep is finally getting a theatrical release thanks to American Cinematheque/Vitagraph Films.

Bubba Ho-Tep stars Bruce Campbell as a geriatric Elvis who rids his Texas nursing home of an Egyptian mummy with the aid of Ossie Davis (who thinks he is JFK).

The film will be released nationally to theatres in September beginning with New York and Los Angeles.



Dear Josh,

Just wanted to let you know about this item I stole from "Film Threat" online. I'm happy.

Regarding "A Mighty Wind," I'm willing to bet that you won't like it--I'm starting to think that Christopher Guests' schtick is running out of steam. Folk music is so amusing already, "Mighty Wind" just made me want to watch "Hammer" again (mostly for that great Iggy Pop-like part near the end).

Have a great weekend!

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

That's great news. Maybe now I'll actually get to see it.

Josh

Name: Robadob
E-mail: robadob@aol.com

Josh,

What are your top 10 favorite romantic comedies?

Dear Robadob:

Well, let's see . . .? Here's fifteen, in chronological order.

"One Hour With You" (1932)
"Love Me Tonight" (1932)
"It Happened One Night" (1934)
"The Philadelphia Story" (1940)
"The Lady Eve" (1941)
"The Palm Beach Story" (1942)
"Adam's Rib" (1949)
"Pat and Mike" (1952)
"Roman Holiday" (1953)
"Sabrina" (1954)
"Gigi" (1958)
"The Apartment" (1960)
"Father Goose" (1964)
"Annie Hall" (1977)
"When Harry Met Sally . . ." (1989)

Josh

Name: Constantinou Costas
E-mail: tilliria@cytanet.com.cy

Dear Josh:

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ENTERPRISES FAX: 357 22 453683

FROM: COPPERBREST ENTERPRICES
Agias Kasianis 12 Flat 101
Makedonitissa Nicosia CYPRUS
Tell: 357 22 453680 - 357 22 453681-2
Fax: 357 22 453683
Email:tilliria@cytanet.com.cy

TO:
SUBJET: Cigarettes

Dear Sirs,

We would like to inform that our company is dealing with the trade of cigarettes, in Europe, Africa and Middle East. We are looking for sellers and buyers, if you're interested for a corporation, please contact us with all details. We are very glad to start business with your company. Also you have to know we work through the Bank and Warehouse.
We wait to contact us.

Thanks a lot.

Best Regards

Constantinou Costas
Owner Director

Dear Constantinou:

I buy my cigarettes up at the corner, I don't need to get them from Cyprus. Thanks anyway.

Josh

Name: Francois
E-mail: marx@metroweb.co.za

Josh

With 'describing' shots I mean filming textures and objects AFTER establishing shots to indicate to the audience that the next scene will be a hostile location and event, like, a master of the factory, a panning ECU shot of rough textured bricks, cutting to perhaps a steaming pipe, then cutting to the door in the background, then a medium of the sillhouette in the door then wee see the action taking place. That then being 5 shots. I just can't do with just mediums and CUs. I want to keep the audience engaged with stimulating their senses at all time with the what-will-happen-now? shots. Why I ask you if you would recommend this filming style in a 5-er is because my last film 5 min flick had 53 shots as you would see it on screen. It told the story since most shots where reaction shots and "describing" shots (that's my word-I don't know how else to put it). I told you about my bad editors so should I sacrifice or press on in a 5 -er, that has to be shot in 12hrs... with bad editors? M

Thanks

By the way, "za" means South Africa.

Dear Francois:

It sounds pretentious to me. I can see doing them occasionally, but to always use "describing shots" sounds wearisome. My feeling is just tell the story and get on with it. Too many of those describing shots is the same thing as posting a sign that says "director at work." And don't you get to supervise the editing? And why would ZA be South Africa? Do they spell it Zouth Africa there?

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: blah blah blah

Josh,

As far as I can tell, there's two movies shot on DV currently showing on the premium cable channels: "The Aniversary Party" and "Star Wars Episode 2", or as you would say, episode 5.

I haven't seen the first one yet, but it was co-written by, co-directed by and co-stars the kick-ass actors Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, so it probably won't be all THAT bad. I did see the new Star Wars, and it was pretty awful. I was exactly the right age to love the first three Star Wars flicks the first time around, and it seems to me upon reflection and the advent of adulthood that all the cool stuff I love which George Lucas put into them happened by accident. Sometimes critical thinking sucks. I'd love to think of old George as a god among men, ,but it's just not an option at this point.

To play devil's advocate to myself, however, there may well be a generation of 8-year-olds right now that will have legitimate critical faculties in fifteen years who will be able to tell you and I exactly what was wonderful about the new SW movies, and we'll be speechless and unable to retort. Just a thought.

Lucas

Dear Lucas:

If you can get an all-star cast or $100 million worth of special effects, you too can shoot in DV and have it shown on cable. And "The Anniversary Party" blew, even with it's all-star cast. It looked fine, but then it was shot by the great DP John Baily, so why wouldn't it? Anytime it panned past a bright area like a window, however, there was slight strobing. But the point to shooting DV, as far as I'm concerned, is to keep cost so low that anyone can afford them. The second you have to have name actors means you have to have a SAG shoot, which means having an AD that's doing nothing else beside actor paperwork, it's not going to be all that cheap. SAG actors cost more than shooting film.

Josh

Name: Daniel
E-mail: danjfox@rogers.com

Dear Josh:

Howdy! Seeing as how you're considering dv for your work I was wondering if you had taken a look at any dv equipment in particular and/or if you were leaning towards one camera or another.

Bye!

Dear Daniel:

I'm not thinking about equipment at all. The script is what's important, not the camera. Besides, there is DV equipment all over the place. But until I have the right story and a decent script, the equipment completely doesn't matter to me.

Josh

Name: Torbjörn
E-mail: torbjorn.hallgren@telia.com

Dear Josh:

How do you feel about Bruce Campbell hardly mentioning his involvement in Running Time in his book If Chins could Kill?

Dear Torbjörn:

I did mention it and there's a picture, too. Bruce wasn't a producer or anything, so he only worked on the film for a few weeks. But I know he thinks it's one of his better movies since we talk all the time, and we had a great time making it.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: see the archives

Dear Josh,

I'd just like to say that I like your semi-changed attitute to DV filmmaking. As you say, that's the way it appears to be going, so why not go for it - it's the story telling that counts, not the way you shoot it.

I believe that one can draw a parallel between DV filmmaking and the advent of CDs and current (hard disk) recording technology: tape, or film, has an aesthetic quality that's very unique and, frankly, sounds/looks better, but modern production values have taken advantage of the digital format in the music field and I have no doubt that film will soon do the same.

I don't know that I explained that correctly. Most albums made in the last ten years have been either recorded, mixed, mastered or edited on a computer, and as a result, there are new aesthetic qualities only available with the new methods of making a record that you can't get on tape. The drawbacks of tape vs. hard disk haven't quite been eliminated, or replaced, but there's a new set of rules, and I think that there will eventually be a digital equivilant of that "warm" sound you can only get with tape. Likewise, I think that there will eventually be a digital version the "warm" look you can only get with film.

Yours in Gibson-style prediction,
Lucas

Dear Lucas:

I'm sure you're right. The first step has already occurred with the advent of 24 fps DV. There's still an enormous difference between DV and film, and it's not just a "warmth" issue, film has MUCH higher resolution. I haven't changed my opinion that if your intention is to make a movie you can sell to as many markets as possible, and hopefully get your money back, it still has to be shot on film. Them's the facts, I didn't make them up. To make sure I'm not lying, just click through the premium cable channels and see if anyone is showing features shot on DV. And the second DV looks good enough, TV shows will be shot with it. Nevertheless, it's better to shoot on DV than not at all.

Josh

Name: Martyn
E-mail: Evileyeperry@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Unfortunately, i've been trying to locate torro torro torro also and haven't had much luck. Thanks for the title of the bootleg but any idea where i could get a copy? ebay and the download sites (napster, kazaa) dont seem to have it. thanks, martyn

Dear Martyn:

I believe that "Torro, Torro, Torro!" is included on the new DVD release of Scott Spiegel's film, "The Intruder." At least, that's what I've heard.

Josh

Name: Nate
E-mail: vlad1377@aol.com

Mr. Becker,

Have you had a chance to see A Mighty Wind yet??? If so, what did you think??? Thanks for your time.
Nate

Dear Nate:

Sorry, I haven't seen it yet. But I'm not a fan of "Waiting for Guffman" or "Best of Show," so I don't hold out much hope. I'm sure Eugene Levy is funny because he's always funny.

Josh

Name: Kaya
E-mail: kaylar029@sympatico.ca

Josh -

I've been hearing about people using digital film and a camcorder to make movies for theatrical release. Is this really the way to go if you have no money to use standard 35mm film and stationary equipment? It seems to me that digital film is okay for making short music videos but for a feature length theatrical film? I don't know about that.

What do you think?

K

Dear Kaya:

I'd rather make a movie on digital video than not at all. I'm still brewing up a feature idea to shoot on DV. That's the direction independent production is clearly moving, just nopt all that fast. Still, the difference in cost is vast. My suggestion is to treat DV exactly as though it were film, meaning don't hand-hold the whole thing, compose your shots well, do cool camera moves, interesting lighting, and it will look good. I honestly don't think the recording system is the point, be it film or video or digital, it what story you tell and how you tell it.

Josh

Name: gina
E-mail: Okthankunext@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I was looking to try to locate this cleaning product that I swear by,(really, this is THE BEST all purpose cleaning product I have ever used) however, I have been unable to find any place that sells it anymore.

Anyhow, if you still have those broken squirter bottles of the"XCELL Simple Orange" you should put it in a bottle that does spray because that stuff is awesome for cleaning any and everything (literally!) Otherwise, if you still know where there is a 99 cent store that still has a supply of it, I would really appreciate if you could please tell me where.

Nonetheless, I would never have remembered the "XCELL" part of the name, so now hopefully I will have an easier time finding some. Thats all! And thank you for reminding me of the full name.

Dear Gina:

I threw that out years ago. But I'm glad I could help you remember. I bought it at the 99-Cent Only store on Pico Blvd. and 28th St. in Santa Monica, CA, if that helps.

Josh

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

Josh,

It strikes me that a lot of well-meaning people these days are missing the point about a number of things. For example, I don't think many people today in or out of Hollywood have the least understanding about how the World War generations approached their respective wars. "Pearl Harbor", for instance, is at least anachronistic in its characterizations. That generation was heroic essentially without meaning to be. Terrified, determined and mad as Hell is how my father describes it, and I agree. They had a job to do and were going to get it done, come what may. That is heroic, but not how in the way popular culture today understands the term. I don't know any WWII vets who are calling for a specific national monument to their efforts. That movement is the product of the boomer generation and is alien to their parents whom it is intended to recognize.

In a similar vein, it seems that many well-meaning fans misunderstand the point of the Evil Dead series. My impression has always been that those movies were made because they were the movies which could be made at the time. I think BC describes the motto of the first film as "The gore the merrier" or something like that, a description of the "hook" of the film. It was the angle which would give entre into the larger world of films. The one person I could see actually wanting to do a fourth film would be Campbell himself as "Ash" has something of a franchise identity, and BC seems to have enjoyed playing him.

The funny thing is that movies like "Blackhawk Down" actually do get the point of the current popular sensibility. The movie is shallow, monochromatic and gratuitous which describes popular culture fairly well. The great shame is that the soldiers who were on the ground in Somalia weren't the nameless, interchangeable faces that the movie (and culture) make them out to be. Circumstances forced those men to be real, and they should have been memorialized as such. "Devil Dogs" does much more justice to men in similar straits.

On a lighter note, I saw a preview of Rowan Atkinson's new spy movie and it looked funny. Such movies notoriously end poorly but I hold out hope. Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

That's partially why I wrote "Devil Dogs," to say that there are actual heroes out there that performed valiantly under the toughest of circumstances for a cause that meant something. Since Vietnam, however, the reasons for war have become muddier and far less clear than they were during the two world wars, and war films are no longer patriotic or heroic. This probably really started during the Korean War, when, for the first time, we couldn't win and weren't entirely sure what or whom we were fighting for. The same goes for Vietnam. Fighting the German's hegemony was a clear goal. Fighting the ideology of Communism, which may well have been the best system for places like Korea or Vietnam (at least they should have had a chance to find out), was none of our business. Spending $400 billion to bring down Saddam Hussien was probably a bad idea, too. Not that Saddam didn't deserve to be brought down, mind you, but not at a cost of ruining our economy, or killing our young men and women, which continues today even if our mighty leader has declared the war to be over.

Josh

Name: DEBRA
E-mail: LEGER

Dear Josh:

I AM DOING A TERM PAPER ON "THOU SHALT NOT KILL" THE BIBLICAL SIDE. WHERE DID YOU IDEA COME FROM FOR YOU VIDEO TITLE "THOU SHALT NOT KILL..EXCEPT" AND WHAT WOULD BE YOUR EXCEPTION.

THANK YOU
DEBRA LEGER

Dear Debra:

I didn't come up with the title, my old sales agent, Irvin Shapiro, did. My first title was "Bloodbath," the second was "Stryker's War." In this case the exception is when innocent people are being killed by Manson Family-like psychos. Given these circumstances, if it were the actual Manson Family, and they'd already commited the Tate-LaBianca muders, but hadn't been caught yet, I'd have no problem with four war-hardened marines going in and killing all of them.

Josh

Name: Robert
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I was wondering if you were planning to rent or review 'One Hour Photo'? I would be interested in reading your analysis of that film. It seems to get either positive or negative reviews, without much middle ground. In particular the ending gets a lot of flak. My opinion was that it was well done, and one of the better movies of the last few years, although I have only seen a few movies in the last decade or so, since most don't interest me. The ending was somewhat weak, but I found it ambiguous enough that it could almost be ignored. Describing a movie as having a bad ending might not want you to rush out and see it, but I didn't think the ending was that central to the movie, if that makes any sense. Other criticisms of the movie have involved inconsitencies or implausibilities, but I have thought of counterpoints to several of these. Not being trained in film, I cannot explain the film on the technical level, that you and many of your reader may be able to, but I that 'One Ho

Bottom line: Worth it if only for the music.

Dear Robert:

Sorry, I haven't seen it yet. I did see the remake of "Insomnia" and Robin Williams wasn't bad as the bad guy in that.

Josh

Name: Francois
E-mail: marx@metroweb.co.za

Dear Josh:

Oh and by the way, where can I ssee your flick "Torro, Torro, Torro"? I'd love to see how you directed the effects with the "new" 16mm and a low budget.

Cheers
Francois

Dear Francois:

It's only available on a bootleg tape entitled "The Short Films of Sam Raimi."

Josh

Name: Francois
E-mail: marx@metroweb.co.za

Josh

I am a student director in my second year and I have to make a bunch of 5 min. films. My question is how simple should one keep the shots in terms of the number of intercuts? I have a very visual style and love to show characters reactions and "describing" shots. I think it is perhaps not suited for 5 min. plays, since time is a factor. I know it depends on the story but if there is actor moving from building to building etc. shot describing the location and mood is not needed in a 5 min. flick. I look at fellow student's work and it is all mediums with a CU here and there. The reason for this is not because they think about economy but they lack imagination. See, I like to get texture and feel in shots to engage you before the scene takes place. The trouble is we don't have much time to edit and I have CRAP editors, so eliminating these shots will make things happen with less complications, sacrificing intensification. I just want to know if you would do these kind of shots in 5-er?

Francois

Dear Francois:

By "describing" shots I believe you mean establishing shots, which are the wide shots of the locations. I like them, and I'd say you certainly can do one or two in five minutes. Let's face it, five minutes is short, but if the film stinks it can seem like a half an hour. I say, shoot the scenes the way you think it's best no matter what the length of the piece. You don't have to dwell on the wide shots. Editing is not literal. You don't have to see someone walk all the way up to a house, go through the door, then enter the kitchen. If they're walking toward a house, you can always have them take two steps toward it, then just cut in to a tighter shot of the door and have them step into frame, or you can even go from the establishing shot directly to entering the interior scene. But get the shots you feel you need, the ones you like. By the way, where is "za," which is at the end of your email address?

Josh

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

Josh,

The thing that I find funny is that Sam actually liked Pearl Harbor. I think that film is one of the worst films I have ever seen in my lifetime. There were so many historical inaccuracies and if I never see Ben Afleck in another movie again I would be one of the happiest film fans on earth.

I think he is one of the worst A-list actors I have ever seen in a lontime, if not the worst.

Michael Bay is an arrogant prick. I have worked with him on some Victoria's Secret commericals. He hasn't changed his style since he was doing bad 80's music videos. Everything he does looks like a cheesy 80's music video. His stuff is shit.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I wholeheartedly agree, Michael Bay is a shitty director, and "Pearl Harbor" was a miserable piece of crap. And, as far as I'm concerned, Ben Afleck, B-fleck and C-fleck can all jump in a lake. Why Bruckhiemer and Bay didn't just steal the story structure from "From Here to Eternity" still boggles me. James Jones, who was stationed in Pearl Harbor during the attack, clearly understood that it was a sneak attack, and that's how the audience has to view it. If we're cutting to the Japanese on their battleships right from the very beginning (saying complete nonsense like, "This is a terrible day for Japan"), there's is absolutely no surprise or suspense. Of course, they had no idea how to create a single believable, empathetic charcter, either, so it was an utter waste of time.

Josh

Name: Molly Edwards
E-mail: missmolly1000@yahoo.com

Hello,

I am only 14, but I am very interested it film making. The first thing that interested me in this was plays, and broadway. Such as RENT and Caberet. I found the acting and motivation very intresting. I soon looked to become an actor on the stage, no movies or anything. After snooping around I figured it wasnt for me. My Father and i discused this to find that I always loved to film things take pictures and write short stories. So now...me and my dad are making short animated films like Pixar, and such. I was wondering if you could give me some advise on how to go farther and maybe some day work myself to be a assistant director, or just some type of volenteer work. I would REALLY apreciate just a name or title of ANYTHING that you think would help!!! I am very confident that i will make it somewere someday, even as a women, I have no doubts...just waiting for that push to the next level. Please Email me at Missmolly1000@yahoo.com . If you don't..I understand, thank you for just li

GRAZIE!!! THANK YOU!!! MERCI!!!

Dear Molly:

First of all, read the five structure essays I've written that are on this site. Another very useful book is "Shot By Shot" by Steven Katz, which explains film direction clearly and in great detail. I also recommend seeing as many quality films as possible, many of which pop up all the time on Turner Classic Movies. My "Favorite Films" list will give you about 750 films to look out for. And just start to read any and every book that looks interesting to you. The more stories you read the more you'll understand storytelling, which is what filmmaking is all about. If you're still interested in being an assistant director when you get to be a bit older (I guess at least eighteen), you should contact the Director's Guild of America and check out their AD training program. Good luck to you.

Josh

Name: martyn perry
E-mail: evileyeperry@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

i read your comments on superhero movies in the Q&A section and i totally agree. What i was wandering is have you spoken to Sam about your views, because me more than anyone thought that Spiderman was a total let down. I'm only hoping that a return to the Evil Dead franchise is on the cards after the imminent spidey sequel. Something a little more artistic and creative is whats needed for Sam's directing abilities, not just the standard hollywood cgi and standard two-shots, master shots e.t.c. I suppose you've been asked whether you'd be part of another ED film a thousand times so i'll put a different spin on the question. If another evil dead were to be made would you recommend sticking to original make up effects dodgy blue screen shaky cam, vaso cam e.t.c or would you cop out and go for cgi and sams current hollywood style. No doubt whatever is decided for the fourth film will always be controversial, but it would probably be the most succesful regardless. Martyn. P.s thanks

Dear Martyn:

I only worked on the first ED film. I was just a Shemp in EDII and AOD. Quite frankly, I hope there never is another ED movie, three seems like more than enough. And why on earth would Sam return to making cheap horror films when he's a top, A-list director? In Hollywood you do your very best to never take less of a fee than you got the last time. Well, Sam will never get the kind of fee he's getting now on an ED film. ED4 will only occur if Sam's fortunes crash and he has to make it. Meanwhile, I almost never speak to Sam anymore. The last time I saw him was when we went and saw "Pearl Harbor" in 2001, which he liked and I didn't. But he never took suggestions from me anyway, not that I have any.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

So, how about this whole Spike Lee vs. Spike TV thing? What a no-talent, asshole douche-bag! I know of people who are loosing their jobs because he won't change his fucking diaper and get over himself. He says that Viacom is hijacking his talent and prestige by using the name Spike. What talent and prestige? I've never been able to sit through any of his films. I walked out of Malcolm X after I checked my watch for the 100th time during the first hour of that piece of junk. What a dork!

Deep breath, OK...I'm cool now. I wanted to give you a heads up about some hilarious movie reviews by an awesome stand-up comic named Doug Benson. You can find his reviews at www.bobanddavid.com under Doug Benson "I Love Movies". His X-Men 2 review slaughtered me. And when are you going to make another film? Anything in the works?

Best,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Well, Spike TV is a pretty stupid name, but then so is Spike Lee. If I recall correctly, The Spike was a gay bar in Hollywood (I never went there, I just drove past it, I swear). Originally, that station was The Nashville Network, then The National Network, now Spike TV. And it's supposed to be aimed at straight men? Man oh man, have they got their heads up their asses. That's like asking guys to watch Erect Penis TV. I'd be much more interested in, say, Pussy TV or T&A TV, or, quite frankly, just listening to the radio.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I went to see The Dead (everyone except Jerry Garcia, and with Steve Winwood singing from time to time) on Wednesday night in Maryland. As I was swaying with the crowd, listening to the endless jam sessions in the middle of songs ("What? We're only on the fourth song? But they've been up there over an hour!"), and watching people pass blunts, pipes, joints, and mini-bongs around to one another (completely being ignored by the really cool security dudes), I thought, "Hey! This is the hash bash!" and wondered if such a thing ever really did exist. I'm glad to know that it did at one point. That's too freakin' cool.

Have a great weekend.

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

Someone said the Hash Bash still exits, but I'm not so sure. It was all based on the fact that for quite a long time Ann Arbor had lowest penalty for marijuana possession in the country, which was a five dollar ticket which they never gave. But that law got changed. I went to U of M for one semester, winter 1976, and when I was walking to class one day I turned the corner into the diag, the center of the campus, and there were hundreds of people smoking dope. My whole world lit up (literally) as I thought, "It's the Hash Bash!" I never did make it to class that day. It also looks like pot is imminently going to be decriminalized in Canada (as well as same-sex marriages). As one cab driver says to another in "Taxi Driver" (regarding same-sex marriages), "They're way ahead of us out there."

Josh


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