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Regarding the Ball Breaker story. When did you know that Scott and Boaz stole it from you ? Did they just replace your name with their names ? Did you ever confront one of them about the issue ? -- Paul


Dear Paul: It was all more complicated than that and worthy of its own essay, which I don't feel like writing right now. What sums that whole situation up for me was when "The Rookie" opened (and dropped dead), and Sam Raimi said to me, "Why would you make such a shitty picture like The Rookie?" Aghast, I said, "What do you mean?" And Sam said, "Well, you wrote Ball Breaker which Scott and Boaz stole and got made into The Rookie, so it's your fault." Josh




Hey Josh,  Glad to hear you're producing multiple films. Is the plan to shoot all of them locally in Michigan? -- Scott


Dear Scott: It depends. All of "Warpath" will be shot here, two-thirds of "Ball Breaker," with one week in L.A. I'm in discussion with my old buddy Sheldon Lettich about making one of his scripts that he wants to shoot in Thailand or the Philippines. But as I told Sheldon yesterday, "You can shoot anywhere you want, but I don't go to places with snakes." And he said, "We have rattlesnakes here in L.A." and I said, "And that's why I live in Michigan." Josh




Dear Josh:  Did you storyboard "Morning, Noon, and Night"? And will storyboarding be part of the pre-production process for "Warpath"? Looking forward to seeing both of them! -- Tim R (another Tim)


Dear Tim R: No, I didn't storyboard MNN, except the one FX sequence. I quit storyboarding early into Xena because they changed the script so often, meaning every day, that my storyboards kept becoming useless. But legitimately you can't get a shot in less than 30 minutes, and you've got eleven shooting hours (it's a 12-hour day with an hour off for lunch), so at the top end that's 22 shots, so let's say 20. Well, I can remember 20 things in the course of 12 hours. Josh




Dear Josh:  Which side of the aisle do you fall on? http://www.slashfilm.com/is-writing-harder-than-directing/ -- John


Dear John: Excellent question. At this late date there are about five good screenwriters still living: Aaron Sorkin, Xang Yimou, William Goldman who is eighty-seven, and Alvin Sargent who is ninety-one. I daresay I'm the fifth, but that's not for me to say. I have been in the Director's Guild of America for twenty-five years and I can assure that there about 10,000 guys and gals who know how to direct, and that's just in America. I will tell for a fact that it's much harder writing a good script than it is directing anything. If you have a good script and good actors, all you need to do is turn on the camera. That is essentially what I just did with my new film, "Morning, Noon & Night." I get the least amount of coverage, meaning shots, of any director I know of. Why? Because I believe in my script and the actors. Oh, yeah, and I hire a good DP, which certainly helps. If indeed I actually am a good writer it's because I write every single day of my life. Since I directed that piece of shit, (Stan Lee's) "Harpies" in 2006, I have directed for exactly fifteen days, and I'm just lucky I didn't forget how (I am nearly 60). So the answer to your question is yes, writing is way the fuck harder than directing. Josh




Dear Josh, Harlan Ellison died a few weeks back. I know you appreciate his work. I saw the documentary about him, "Dreams With Sharp Teeth." He had some good interviews and rants about writers getting paid, and there was a little about his childhood. But mostly it was a puff piece...I wish there had been more about his writing, his work in Hollywood, and some of the controversies in his life. Still, it's worth seeing just to hear the man speak. Looking forward to "Morning, Noon, and Night." Best of luck.                                                                                                Will


Dear Will: I saw it and liked it. First off, I recommend, "Harlan Ellison's Watching," his book of movie reviews, wherein he occasionally never even gets to the movie he's reviewing because he's bitching about something else. Half the book is autobiography. Josh




Josh,   Can you talk about Darkman and what that was like? What did you think of the end result? Did you and Sam talk about it while making it?   Vincent


Dear Vincent:
What I find interesting in retrospect is that at Renaissance Pictures then located on Hollywood Blvd. there were three films waiting for the green light: "Darkman," John Woo and Jean Claude Van Damme's "Hard Target," and my film, "Lunatics: A Love Story." We all shot about the same time. "Darkamn" was originally supposed to take place in Detroit, but ended up not being set anywhere, and "Lunatics" took place in L.A. so we shot it in Detroit. Personally, I think "Darkman" is an idiotic piece of shit. I had the great pleasure of reading Harlan Ellison's review to Sam, Rob Tapert, the producer, and the whole Renaissance staff. He said, and I paraphrase, "This guy comes up with a secret formula that he writes down on a piece of paper (Ellison adds that nothing important is on paper anymore) that has a coffee ring on it. The bad guy wants the formula, but instead of sending someone in to steal it, he sends a mob of people who make more noise than a Metallica concert, then for no good reason stick Darkman's head into a vat of acid. Then the bad guy, knowing that only one person in the world would recognize the piece of paper with the coffee ring on it, invites her into his office so she can recognize it." Ellison went on to say that Danny Elfman's "Batman" ripoff score was miserable. I agree. Sam never discussed the idea with me. What's possibly inyeresting is that the "Darkman" script had three sets of brothers working on it: Sam and Ivan Raimi, the Goldin brothers, and Joel and Ethan Coen, who didn't get credit. I worked as an extra for a few days and chatted with Liam Neeson, who is a very nice, amiable guy.

Josh




Dear Josh, I'm going to catch 1917 this weekend. Like Running Time (and Rope) it is, through tricks and cuts, presented as a single shot. I imagine you will dislike it, as you have disliked previous films from this director and generally dislike most films made nowadays (legitimately so). But since you are a history buff and one of the few directors to use this technique in a feature film, I was wondering if you have seen it, and if so, what you thought about it. Nick Falzone


Dear Nick:

I want to see "1917," and I had plans to go see it, but they crapped out. If I don't go soon it will leave the theaters. I'll certainly watch it on TV. But doing the all-in-one-shot shtick now on digital isn't all that impressive. You can now cut anywhere you want and stick it back together seamlessly. You can now leave lights in frame and remove them later. You can alter the picture any way you want. On film it was a real trick; on digital it's nothing. I have seen a lengthy trailer and, beyond the one shot deal, it doesn't look like a good story. And, as you mentioned, Sam Mendes has never made a movie I really liked, I doubt he's achieved that this time, either.

Josh




Josh, a quick "movie making" question for you. During the "Made in Michigan" part of the "Thou shall not kill" dvd, you keep mentioning you made a bunch of small films as "Pilots" to raise money for the feature.Is that literally what they are? I'm probably not making sense again. Also,do you ever go back to any of the filming locations? Mike Sulivan


Dear Mike:

Yes, we made pilot versions of both "Evil Dead" and "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except," which we used as sales tools to raise the money to make the features. The TSNKE pilot was called "Stryker's War," and is available on the TSNKE DVD. Sadly, the ED pilot, "Within the Woods," no longer exists. At least, that's what I hear. Sam Raimi actually made a pilot for the pilot of ED called "Clockwork," a ten minute horror film that contained a number of scares, just to prove that he could do it. It's a terrific little film, but that doesn't exist anymore either. Regarding returning to old locations, no I never do.

Josh




Dear Josh, again regarding "Made in Michigan"....That guy David Goodman mentioned that Bruce Campbell wants to remake TSNKE in 16 and 35 I think it was. Is there anything new on that? Is Campbell really thinking of doing that? Mike Sullivan


Dear Mike: Remaking TSNKE was a vague idea from a long time ago. I think it has been forgotten since then. Since I've already made it twice I have no interest in remaking it again. Josh




Josh, I'd like to know which of Roman Polanski's films you recommend? I've been very impressed with "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" -- are those his two best films? Dave


Dear Dave: I'd say that those are his best films. I like "Repulsion, and I enjoyed "Knife in the Water" as an early effort. Nothing Polanski has made in the ensuing 45 years has particularly impressed me, although he's received very good reviews with his newest film about the Dreyfuss case, although there were many complaints, from what I read. Josh




How are you holding up in "quarantine" Josh? How bad do you think this china virus is going to get? Watching many movies? Any status update on your projects? As a smoker are you scared? John Cones


Dear John: I'm doing great. I feel good, I'm writing, reading, watching movies, and enjoying every cigarette I smoke. As for the "china virus," as you so euphemistically term it (China, of course, ought to be capitalized), I think it now belongs to everybody all around the world. But now it particularly belongs to us here in America, since we have the most of it, in a large part due to our lame fuck, limp dick, pea brained president who treats facts like they're kryptonite that will kill him. Josh




Josh, Given the coronavirus and all, what are some of your favorite doomsday movies? Josie Davis


Dear Josie: I have a place in my heart for "The Omega Man" and "The Last Man on Earth," both based on Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend," although the Will Smith version sucked. "The World, the Flesh and the Devil" wanted to be good, but wasn't. The more recent ones, like "The Road" and "Book of Eli" weren't very good. Both "Dr. Srangelove" and "Fail Safe" lead to doomsday and are both very good. I like the original "War of the Worlds," which comes close to doomsday. I enjoyed Stephen King's book, "The Stand," but mini-series wasn't all that hot. Luc Besson's "Le Dernier Combat" was kind of cool, in very low-budget way. But let's face it, doomsday ain't much of a genre. Josh




Hey, Josh! Hope you are doing well. I know Bruce has several projects that he is looking at doing. Namely one is a political satire called, "House Divided." What are the chances that the two of you might collaborate on a film in the future?    Susan Leighton


Dear Susan: Bruce thinks he's hot shit and doesn't need a director anymore. Besides, I'm sure whatever he's working on doesn't pay my rate. He'll just have to get along without me. Josh




Josh,    How do you know where to put the camera?    Bruce Campbell


Dear Bruce: Although I'm sure you won't understand because it's extremely technical, but we directors make use of compasses, gyroscopes and sextants in making our decision as to where to place the camera. Once you know your position in regard to the sun, moon and stars, by use of geometry, as well as the length of your lens, as in millimeters, we then calculate the speed of the Earth as it circles the sun, divide that by the distance to the moon, then subtract the circumference of Mars, and there you have it. It's really very simple once you know how to do it. My question is: why would someone like you, a mere actor, need this information? Josh




Josh, I can hardly wait to see Warpath when it comes out. Any idea when that might be? Also, I am curious as to what are you working on right now? Any new film projects?  Phyllis


Dear Phyllis; "Warpath" should be out, meaning on streaming services, reasonably soon. We have completed a distribution deal with Gravitas Ventures, a good company, and delivered everything required, and now it's up to them to get it to the various companies like: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu, etc. My previous film, "Morning, Noon & Night," is already available on Prime, Hulu, and several others, but not Netflix. Alas. Luckily for me and other filmmakers, even if most everything else in the world is going to hell right now, I just heard last night that viewership on streaming services is up 85%. I lament the loss of theatrical releases--and many movie theaters are going to go under forever now--but movies are still a wonderfully popular entertainment. "Warpath" turned out pretty well, I think. I'm particularly pleased with the ending. Sasha Higgins, in the lead, is terrific. I hope when you get to see it you enjoy it. Josh




china virus china virus china virus china virus. What is wrong with you? Are you a retard? Please tell me how great and noble the democrats are right now in comparison to President Trump!?! Your woman governor is a dumb ho. And your Trump Derangement Syndrome grows tiresome. GET A LIFE!  John C


Dear John: I knew you were a Trump supporter from your first idiotic, baiting question. How anyone can support that dimwitted fool at this late date, when he gets on TV every single night and proves beyond a doubt that he has absolutely zero leadership ability, is beyond my comprehension. What amazes me is that he doesn't seem to understand or care that we have the technical ability to record and playback is moronic lies that he then denies he ever said. Just the other day he said that he understood and was on the coronavirus pandemic "from the beginning." Right. That's when he termed it a "Democratic hoax," said it wasn't as bad as the flu, and that a miracle would occur and it would pass right by. Well, over a million cases later, when the U.S. is the worldwide hot spot with over a quarter of the cases, and is now facing an enormous crisis, he's still bullshiting us saying it will be over by the end of April. Regarding our very good Democratic Governor here in Michigan, Gretchen Wittmer (who is a 100% improvement over the previous Republican nitwit, Rick Snyder, who will go down in history as the criminal who poisoned the water in Flint, as well as canceling our extremely successful film incentive program), I was very proud of her when she took on Trump. General Motors offered Trump and Pence to get on the ventilator shortage and begin producing them in quantity, got absolutely no response, so they went ahead anyway. A week later Trump invoked the War Production Act to order GM to make ventilators when they were already doing it. Trump then had the temerity to chastise the CEO of GM, Mary Barra, saying she was difficult to work with. Having studied the U.S. president my entire life, I can assure you that Donald Trump will be remembered as the worst president ever. The only thing he's good for is elevating George W. Bush to second worst. Josh




Hello Mr. Becker. Thank you for taking questions. If you have some time I would like to know for purposes of curiosity if you and Sam Raimi or Scott Spiegel are planning any new projects together? Maybe from one of your own screenplay collaborations? Also do you plan on doing any new Spine Chillers? If so I have some good ideas. Thank you very much. Danny


Dear Danny: I haven't seen Sam in about two years, since he came to Michigan for his mother's funeral (she was a wonderful woman and a great inspiration to me). I haven't seen or spoken to Scott in over 20 years. The days of working with those two guys are long gone. "Spine Chillers" too is a long dead concept. At this point you'll have to make due with my own films like "Morning, Noon & Night" (easily seen on Prime Movies, and other fine streaming services) and "Warpath" which will soon be streaming. Josh




Hi Josh,  Glad to hear that you are staying safe during this world-wide health crisis. The human race hasn't seen anything like it since the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1920. Myself, I am on the front lines right now. I cannot self-isolate while running a group home - my patients really have nowhere else to go. We have managed not to get seriously ill so far. On a lighter note, I remember in your second "Need for Structure" essay you wrote that filmmaker John "Ford made possibly 20 very good to great films in fifty years". What do you consider these 20 very good to great movies to be?  Best, Keith


Dear Keith: All right. I'll start with one that I'm personally not crazy about, but it was his first big hit, "The Iron Horse" (1924), which is kind of spectacular, "Arrowsmith" (1931, which is OK, but the book was better), "Airmail," "The Whole Town's Talking" (1935), "The Informer" (1935, which won the Oscars for: Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Score, and is important in film history as one of the first truly serious, adult films), "The Prisoner of Shark Island" (1936), "Mary of Scotland" (1936), "Wee Willie Winkie" (1937, my favorite Shirley Temple movie), "Stagecoach" (1939), "Young Mr. Lincoln" (1939), "Drums Along the Mohawk" (1939, Ford's best year), "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940), "My Darling Clementine" (1946, I was thinking about this film this very morning (Victor Mature as Doc Holliday is brilliant casting), "Fort Apache" (1948), "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949), "Mighty Joe Young" (1949, uncredited as executive producer), "The Quiet Man" (1952, where Ford got his second Best Director Oscar, and the film should have won Best Picture), "Mister Roberts" (1955, co-director with Mervyn LeRoy), "The Searchers" (1956), "The Last Hurrah" (1958), "Sergeant Rutledge" (1960), "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962). Josh




Dear Becker Films,   Hi there! I am a giant fan of the Almighty Bruce Campbell. But I live in Canada and it doesn't appear any of these movies you have listed on your page can be purchased to download in Canada... How do I do this? I would like to purchase and download any Bruce Campbell movie you have please I need all Bruce Campbell related movies please! :)   Justine


Dear Justine: Yes, I too am a big Bruce Campbell fan, and have been longer than anyone else. However, as an officially obscure filmmaker, my movies are hard to get. Sooner or later Synapse Films will release the beautifully restored version of "Running Time," but they work on their own schedule. Hell, they don't even have it listed as coming soon. I suggest you write to them and express your desire for the film. Here's their contact info -- https://synapse-films.com/contact/ . Meanwhile, I recently purchased a brand new copy of the DVD of "Lunatics: a Love Story," which has never been on DVD before, from an Australian company, Umbrella Entertainment for $10.00. Here's their info -- https://www.umbrellaent.com.au/movies/3962-lunatics-a-love-story.html Thanks for your interest. Josh




Hey Josh,   What is the current status of Warpath? Will it be released in the near future? Once its safe to go back to some semblance of normal, what's next for you?   Scott


Dear Scott: We've made the distribution deal for "Warpath" with a good company, Gravitas Ventures, and the plan is to have it out by June 3. Now, what that exactly means depends on what deals Gravitas makes. Hopefully they'll make a Netflix deal, along with all of the other streaming services, and Redbox, too. The ball is in their court. Josh




Hello Josh,   You were right on with the description of Trump in the preceding answer. How anyone can believe what comes out of his mouth is crazy. They are like sheep following and praising him constantly. Movie theaters are dark but we still have streaming services. Good luck to your films there.   Russ


Dear Russ: Thank you. Yes, Trump becomes more ridiculous and stupid every single day. I believe the coronavirus has completely undermined him like nothing else possibly could. He is revealed, like the emperor in his new clothes, to have no leadership ability at all. And come election time, which is pretty soon, he will be just another one-term president, like Taft, Hoover and George H.W. Bush. Josh




Hi, Josh! I work as a PA on a series shot down in Atlanta. Yes. The job can often suck. But, because of the job, I have become more and more interested in film production and want to learn more, especially to be more than a PA. I was going to start working on a film shoot in two weeks, it would be my first, but the shoot was canceled after the virus outbreak. So, I am wondering if I should consider going to film school to learn more, or if you think there's a better way to learn the skills to become a filmmaker? I have read your posts and learned I need to immerse myself more into classic films and have been checking out your film list as a good resource. I'll look for your reply on the website. Thank you!  Patti


Dear Patti: The hell with film school, you're doing exactly the right thing--make a movie. Then make another movie and use what you learned on the first one, which will be a lot. The second one will be better than the first one because making a movie is the best film school. Art is a trial and error process, and it's important to make every mistake so that you don't do it again. I believe, and I'd say most artists would agree with me, the more you practise the better you'll be. Film schools are a fucking joke. All they really offer is the use of equipment and other students to be your cast and crew. I will shed my humbleness for a moment and recommend my book, " The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking" which I still contend is the best book on the subject. This is not a money grab since I make about 14-cents royalty on each book. Also, the chapter on digital filmmaking is outdated, so ignore it. Otherwise, it will tell you everything you need to know. The most important aspects of making a movie are: writing a good script that you can achieve with your budget, casting it properly, shooting and lighting it well, then, and this is huge, cutting it together and seeing if it came out anywhere close to what you originally had in mind. And then using the knowledge you just acquired and putting it to use on your next film. Also, don't spend a lot of money. Go cheap so that you have money left for the next film. If you care to, check out my episodes of "Spine Chillers" on YouTube — " Estate Sale" and " Are You On Your Way?" — because they were made for the price of the pizza we fed the cast and crew. These two films turned out pretty well and I like them, which I can't say about many of my movies. I truly wish you all the luck in the world. Josh




Josh, Hi again! Question...I think I recently came into possession of the Deer Head (not possessed. the possessed version would be epic!) from Evil Dead 1 & 2..... I got it from a random retro store in Nelson, BC and the chick had it in the back and hadn't put it out for sale yet. Maybe you guys can help me identify this? It's definitely not for sale as I love it, Evil Dead 1 & 2 are my favourite movies of all time (i think they should have been 1 long movie) and it is now hoisted above my bed..... Hahahahahahh! It's an authentic stuffed deer head craning and looking to it's left with plastic googley eyes. Mounted on a piece of plywood turned into an shield shape mount with carved details for the finished edges. Not authentic stamp or anything on the back.


Just looks like a DIY project and the hook to hang it looks like a pull tab from a beer can from roughly that era of the late 70's.... Here is a selfie of me with it. Let me know what you think please. I tried to contact Bruce directly about this but he is a busy BUSY man hahaha! Either way I am pumped to get to see Bucky every day. But also is creepy.... Heh heh Cheers! Justine




Hey Josh,  Are you still planning to make Ballbreaker when things settle? I enjoyed the script immensely.  Scott


Dear Scott: No, I'm not. That script has ownership issues. It was initially written for two producers who paid Scott and I to write it. After me and Scott concocted the story, he decided to not work on the script, but work with a fellow named Boaz Yakin on another script, similar in many ways to "Ball Breaker," that got made into "The Rookie" starring and directed by Clint Eastwood. Anyway, I don't have clear ownership so I really can't make it. I don't have plans to make any movies at the moment. We did make a distribution deal for "Warpath," and if all goes right (as it so rarely does), it will premiere somewhere June 13, or at least that's the plan. Josh




Dear Mr. Becker, I hope you're well! I'd like to start by saying that I'm a big fan of your work. My favourite of your works has to be Running Time. I could spend all day on your website, it's by far the best website any director has. I enjoy reading all of your content. Fear of Death being one of my favourite articles of yours. I'm a Film School graduate in the UK. I currently work as a Production Runner on commercials and TV shows. My ultimate ambition is to become a writer. My recent success as a writer involves having a meeting in London with a well known British TV/film director in regards to a pilot script I have written. He was hoping to get it commissioned with him directing it.


If you find the time, it would be great to hear your thoughts on one of my short films. It's just over seven minutes long and contains some typical British humour. Here is the link: https://youtu.be/N0QFCXTCXhE Please keep up the amazing work. If you ever fancy doing some co-writing, please do drop me a line! I'd love to collaborate with you on something. All the very best, George Wroe.




Josh,  Will you be writing an essay about the making of Warpath? I see that you wrote a treatment for it all the way back in 1998. I would be curious to know why out of all the treatments and screenplays you have written over the years why you chose to make Warpath. What about the Western genre appeals to you as a filmmaker? Keith


Dear Keith: Good question. I've written a making of essay for everything I've done, except "Morning, Noon & Night" and "Warpath." I started the MNN essay, but it's nowhere close to done. I guess I'm just forging ahead with the next thing and not looking back. We made a distribution deal on "Warpath" and it's supposed to become available in June. Anyway, what drew me to westerns. I've always liked them and I thought I had a good story, with a good lead part for a woman. I like working with a female lead, like say Lucy in "Xena," for instance. In "Warpath" I had Sasha Higgins and she's great. Thom Mathews is terrific too, but it's Sasha's movie. And I believe I wrote a believable part. Josh




Hi Josh, Re: Morning Noon & Night Why is everything in this movie shot at such a long angle? Thanks, Ren


Dear Ren: I don't know what you mean? Long in photography means telephoto, and I didn't use many long lens, which would be 50mm and up. I did get down below the eye-line a lot, or above it occasionally, just to get off of it. Find new framings, and alternate compositions than the standard view of things. Most everything you see is shot at eye-level. I wanted to come at it differently. Josh




Josh, Here's Bucky my Deer Friend above my bed with a doily decoration! And my Evil Dead poster collection in my living room of course :) You guys rock! Have a good day! Cheeeeeeers! Justine


Dear Justine: The deer is looking at the front door. I think you've done an exceptionally good job mounting it. When I see those three posters I recall, "Oh, yeah, I'm in all three of those movies," all shot in very different places: Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina and Acton, California. I didn't make all that many appearances. I prefer staying behind the camera. Josh




Josh, Thanks for answering my question. Somehow I typed it wrong but you answered it anyway. I meant to ask why there were so many low angle shots in the film. No need to respond, thanks. Ren


Dear Ren: It was a good question and I knew what you meant. Another director who liked low angles and was a big influence on me was Orson Welles. I give him special thanks at the end of the movie. Also Stanley Kubrick for his use of wide angles. As I mentioned I stuck to using mainly 35mm and wider lenses, and resorted at a point in the bathroom to a 7.9mm lens, which I think looks really cool. Josh





Dear Scott: Wait, let me think, uh . . . how about Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless, for instance? Both of them seem every bit as good as most of the A-list actors to me, what happened? Hollywood is a cruel place, desperate to typecast you if they can. Bruce was doing Tennessee Williams when he was twenty. As much as I like Jeff Daniels as a dramatic actor, Bruce is 1,000% funnier. If he'd been in "Dumb and Dumber" he'd have stolen the show from Jim Carey. Bruce is funnier than most, or all, of the present comic actors. Plus, he's completely comfortable doing drama. When I worked with Lucy I thought she had a wide range of acting abilities, comedy included. As difficult as being a director-writer has been, I have literally thanked my lucky stars on a number of occasions that I'm not an actor. Josh




...



Dear George: Thank you for all the nice things you said, and I'm pleased to hear someone actually goes to the trouble of looking around my website--I do have a lot of shit accumulated on it after 22 years. OK, regarding your movie (Room Service). It's well lit. In my opinion, and only in my opinion, the script is dreadful. It misses the basic first point of storytelling: something causes something else. Without that element you do not have a story to tell, and without that nothing else matters. Josh




...


Dear Justine: The deer head from the first movie was a real one that I know we brought back from Tennessee to Michigan, and though I don't know who ended up with it, I'm sure somebody took it (possibly Tom Sullivan). That shot of the deer head in the foreground as Hal enters the cabin for the first time is one of my favorite shots in the movie, but alas, I did not light it, Tim Philo did, and I helped. In the the second movie it's a rubber flexible head that I'm pretty sure KNB FX made, and they would certainly have that. To satisfy my own curiosity, where in the world do you live? Oh, and I disagree with you, that absolutely shouldn't be one movie. There's six years between them and they're very different movies. You'll excuse me, but I much prefer the first Evil Dead movie. 99.9% of all sequels aren't as good as the original because they're made strictly to make money, and so was Evil Dead 2. Sam did not want to make a sequel to Evil Dead and tried to pawn it off on me and Scott Spiegel for a few months. I wrote a long treatment for the story that bears absolutely no resemblance to the film. In any case, the two films have completely different tones to them, and don't look anything alike -- #1 was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm; #2 was shot on 35mm by an extremely good cinematographer, Peter Demming, who has gone on to have a terrific career (I just watched From Hell for the first time, and not only is it quite a good movie, and actually chilling a couple of times, it looks great and Peter shot it). Plus, Sam had made XYZ Murders in between, so he'd already made the big time working with big crews. Evil Dead was as down and dirty as any indie ever. As Bruce has said me several times over the years, "It was good to get the hardest movie to make out of the way first." Josh
P.S. Sure, take more selfies once you've gone to the trouble of mounting the head. But careful, it bites.




PS, The selfie photo has Bucky on the floor.... Hadn't "mounted" him yet.  He did a-mount to something after all tho! Haha  If you think this sounds legit I will take and send better photos!!!





Hey Josh,  Hope all is well. I've always liked Thom Mathews as an actor. I was wondering if you were aware of his previous body of work before you cast him in Warpath. Though knowing your taste in film, I'm sure you weren't a fan of say Return of The Living Dead. That said, I always though Thom elevated the material he was c in and it's nice to see him playing a lead role again. Thom got me thinking about an aspect of Hollywood that I find interesting which every generation there is a crop of working stiff actors who have played leads in a handful or even several films, but never graduated to movie star status.


Often times these actors star in indies, low budget studio pictures, or B movies and their career either fizzles or they become character actors in their later years. Can you think of any actors you admire who played leads, had plenty of movie star potential, but for whatever reason never graduated to movie star status or had a career that lived up to their full potential. Scott




Josh, I have a hunch that Biden is going to pick your current governor from the state of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, as his VP running mate. What do you know about her? Do you think she will be a good choice if she is indeed chosen? Dave


Dear Dave: I like Gretchen Whitmer, and I think she took just the right attitude when the outbreak of this virus began. She locked everything down and we're still not done unlocking. You can't go in anywhere here without a mask. And since our initial outbreak, and quickly becoming a hotspot, we've dropped down and stayed mostly down. I think we all appreciated here in Michigan when Trump labeled the Governor "that woman from Michigan." Regarding possible VPs, I think Elizabeth Warren is the most qualified to take over if necessary. Josh




Josh,  What did you think of Martin Scorsese's newest picture The Irishman? I would argue that it would be a much better film if 30-60 minutes were shaved off. Keith


Dear Keith: I vote for 60 minutes deleted. The entire last 45 minutes is: DeNiro's character grows old. In fact, once Al Pacino is out of the picture it may as well have ended. I think "The Irishman" is OK, but next to the bottom of Scorsese's crime films, one notch above "The Departed." Does he really need to make a film at this late date with exactly the same point as one of his first films, "Mean Streets"? Don't fuck with the mafia. I get it. Me personally, I won't fuck with the mafia. He convinced me the first time around 46 years ago. Josh




Josh, are there any movies made within the last 5 to 10 years that you think are worth watching? Brian


Dear Brian: That's a broad question so I'll give a broad answer. I'll go for the last ten years, and the criteria is simply, "worth Watching." These are in the order I saw them. Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010) The Post (17) The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (11) Miss Sloane (16) Electric Boogaloo: The Wild , Untold Story of Cannon Films (15) The Music Never Stopped (11) Clive Davis: The Sountrack of Our Lives (17) The Two Popes (19) Victoria & Abdul (17) Dolemite is My Name (19) The Irishman (19) Bombshell (18) Meet the Patels (15) Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (17) The Lion's Share (19) The Black Godfather (19) Beware Mr. Baker (12) Darkest Hour (17) Green Book (18) There's a few. I see now that it's predominately documentaries. Josh




Josh; What do you think about AMC going to war with Universal? Gerry


Dear Gerry: I think AMC is shooting themselves in the foot, particularly now when all of their theaters are closed. The war is over Universal announcing that they intend to release films to both theaters and VOD at the same time, which has been coming for a long time. The theaters have demanded a "window" when films can only be seen at the theater. But if the film companies believe that they can make more money opening at both theaters and on VOD at the same time, they're going to do it. This scheme may not work with extremely expensive superhero movies that need a $100 million opening weekend and a $500 million first month, but that remains to be seen. One way or another, the producers will prevail. Josh




Hi Josh, longtime fan. Obviously a lot of your work tends to be made on very tight budgets. With that in mind, when you're in the development process and hashing out ideas for a script, how much do you take into consideration those kinds of resource limitations? Do you take a "prepare for the worst, hope for the best" approach, or do you just write and set aside budgetary considerations for later down the line? Thanks for your time, and hope all's well. Stay safe.  Troy


Dear Troy: I have a whole section on this very topic in my book, "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking." There's no way to rationally make a low-budget movie unless you have your budget in mind from the very beginning, meaning when you write the script. What I think a lot of people don't realize is that a lot--perhaps most--low-budget movies never get finished because the people screwed themselves before they started. I know a number of folks who made giant assumptions that they could get all kinds of things, and people, for free, that when the time came were either not available or not free. Also, as the old saying goes, time is money, and that's why you need to shoot fast. And there's no way to shoot fast if your scenes are too complicated. My recent film, "Morning, Noon & Night" (available on many streaming services, like Prime and Hulu), is a good example of an extremely low-budget film ($100,000) shot in ten days (no overtime) that made it out into the mainstream market. That's about as much as you can hope for, I think. Josh




Josh, with your decades-long relationship with the Raimis, I was surprised not to see your name on their movie Crimewave, back in 1985. Checked on IMDB and you're not on there. Did you work with them on that film and not get credited? Thanks! Chris


Dear Chris: I worked on the film for two weeks. I was an extra wrangler and played an extra part as a uniformed cop in one scene. But it was such a poorly run shoot, combined with extremely cold weather, that I bowed out. I stayed back at our offices in Ferndale--the film had their own offices in a nearby hotel--and answered the phone. I also took that time to write a novel, "Mann's Revenge," that I've never gotten published. "Cimewave," or "XYZ Muders" as it was known then, was a particularly troubled production, ending up going through several reshoots, then never got released. I asked Bruce perhaps a year after it was completed what was going on with it, and he replied, "It's a big hit in Shelfville." Josh




Josh, What did you think of the Joker movie? Brian


Dear Brian: I didn't see it. If they paid me twenty dollars I wouldn't watch it. I won't watch any movie that has anything to do with comic books. I stopped reading comic books when I was nine years old, moved on to actual books and never looked back. Josh




Josh, thanks for answering. I had wondered about that film, with your relationship with the Raimis and all. Sounds like it was a real mess. Any funny stories from when you were working on the film? Thanks again! Chris


Dear Chris: As I said, I only worked on the film for two weeks so everything else I know was second-hand. I heard that there was a lot of cocaine being imbibed by the cast. Brion James and Paul Smith got into a big fight in the hotel bar and apparently many things got destroyed. The second unit, directed by Bruce Campbell, did a big car chase down one of the main freeways here in Detroit. They blew up a car under an overpass and the burn marks were there for years. All in all, there wasn't much fun to be had on that production. Josh




I believe it has been adapted multiple times, including in 1934 (starring Greta Garbo), which you've probably seen. But I liked the 2006 adaption quite a bit. Thanks! Dave


Dear Dave: I've put "Theeb" on my Netflix list. I've seen the thumbnail for "The Aeronauts" and gone by it a hundred times, and haven't had the slightest interest in checking it out, but since you recommend it, I'll give it a whirl. It certainly doesn't look like my kind of thing, but what the hell. And yes, I've seen all three versions of "The Painted Veil" (the 1957 version is called "The Seventh Sin" and it's better than the 1934 version) and the 2006 film is by far the best. I've seen it twice and now I want to see it again. As I recall, it looks great and Naomi Watts is terrific. Josh




Another movie I saw recently on Prime that was good is "The Aeronauts" with Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones (who famously starred together in "The Theory of Everything"). For my money, Eddie Redmayne is one of the best actors working today. Not a great film but it was interesting and I felt like I hadn't seen it before.


Lastly, have you seen "The Painted Veil" starring Ed Norton and Naomi Watts? It's about a cholera epidemic in China in the 1920s and a doctor (played by Norton) who goes right into the hot zone to try to save the local populace. He and his wife, played by Watts, hate each other, but learn something about each other when forced into this difficult situation.




Hi Josh, good write-up on What to Watch When You're Stuck Indoors. I agree that Amazon Prime Video has a lot better catalog of old films. Netflix has very little in that regard (the only good B&W film I recall seeing on Netflix streaming in the past was the great film noir, "Laura", starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews).


Now, a movie recommendation for you. I think I mentioned this before but it's worth seeking out if you still haven't seen it. "Theeb" is an absolutely gorgeous film shot in Jordan and set in 1916, the same era as "Lawrence of Arabia". It is old school in every sense. The locations where it was filmed took the cast and crew a 90-minute drive each way to reach using off-road vehicles, thus making for some very long shooting days. But the footage is absolutely stunning, and it has a good story and script as well. Anyway, I very rarely re-watch movies, but this one I've seen 3 or 4 times now.




Josh, From listening to the commentaries on your flicks, your father, I think, owned property in Brighton, MI, that was used in the original "Evil Dead," as Well as "Thou Shall not kill." Now, just out of sheer curiosity, does your dad still own that property? Mike


​Dear Mike: No. My dad died a couple of years ago, but he got rid of that land about twenty ago. It's actually in Hartland, MI, not far from Brighton. I first shot the Super-8 "Stryker's War" there. After we had tried and failed shooting the opening of "Evil Dead" several times, where Sam had us haul all of our equipment way out into a swamp where we had no control of what we were doing, I convinced Sam, Bruce and Rob to shoot it on my dad's land. There was a lake on the property that narrowed down into a smaller, swampier section that had a dirt road right next to it. Therefore we were in complete control of the situation. We hauled the front end of an old car out there and stuck it in the water. Sam was in a rubber raft with the camera that Bruce was pushing and the rest of us had foggers and big hunks of dry ice that we tossed in the water, creating bubbles and steam. The front end of that car sat in the water there rusting for several years until my father gave me such shit that we finally had it removed. Josh




Josh, This is more of a comment this time, sir. I've been reading back and I know how you feel about our current administration. So we won't touch that. I read that you were sort of a presidential historian. I try to be, but am nowhere near your level. So, I guess my comment is that I respect the hell out of you. Mike


Dear Mike: Thank you very much. The best book I've read about a U.S. president recently was "Grant" by Ron Chernow. I found it absorbing and extremely compelling. Josh




Dear Josh, I recently watched a movie that I had a hard time following, so I didn't care much for it. I watched it again (for certain reasons) and it really worked for me on the second viewing, because somehow, since I knew how it ended, the plot was suddenly more clear and the movie was a lot more fun. Have you ever watched a movie you didn't initially like, but saw it again and it suddenly worked for you? And if so, does having to watch a movie twice in order to appreciate it actually make it a bad movie? Justin


Dear Justin: Sometimes we're in the wrong mood or distracted or possibly too young to appreciate a movie. If something compelled you to watch it again and you liked it, then I guess you needed to see it again. This happened to me recently when I rewatched "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold." I thought it was dull and slow the first time, but somewhere in my mind I thought that maybe I wasn't getting it. When I just watched it again I liked it much better. Josh




Josh, Bruce Campbell mentioned on the Evil Dead commentary, so, blame him.  I also saw a little clip of a documentary on you. When will that be available? Mike


Dear Mike: A lot of footage was shot of that documentary, but when it will ever be cut together properly is beyond me. I did see a rough cut that didn't seem to please anyone and there were some interesting interviews with Lucy Lawless, Sheldon Lettich, Joe LoDuca, Rob Tapert, and a number of others I've worked with over the years, but, like so many things, I think interest was lost somewhere along the line. Josh




Josh, I know you love "Unforgiven" and consider it the most recent truly great movie made. Do you like any of Clint's other directorial efforts? He's actually directed quite a few films -- 41 at last count per IMDb. I saw "Mystic River" last night and thought it was decent. Dave


Dear Dave: Clint Eastwood has always been a solid director, with questionable taste in scripts. I liked "The Outlaw Josey Wales," which was started by Phillip Kaufman, then Clint fired him and did it himself. The last film of his that I thought turned out pretty well was "Sully." "American Sniper" was well-directed, but I didn't find the subject of shooting civilians particularly compelling. "The Mule" was utterly run of the mill. What's so interesting to me about the making of "The Unforgiven" as Clint explained it, he read the script, liked it and bought it, then put it through the rewrite mill. Years later when he decided to make it, he read the rewritten script, didn't like it, wondered why on earth he'd bought it, then went back and read the original draft and liked it a lot. So that's what he shot. What this said to me, and I've personally experienced, is that the standard operating procedure in Hollywood of constant rewrites makes sure that what was ever good about the script is ultimately removed. As I've heard it put, the rewrite process is dissection and nothing comes out of dissection alive. Josh




Josh, Never thought I'd see the day that Josh Becker is recommending Steven Spielberg movies. First, you raved about "Lincoln" (I believe you said you saw it two or three times), and you recently recommended "The Post" as well. I hear "Bridge of Spies" is good too, but I haven't seen it yet -- have you? Dave


Dear Dave: Yes, I saw "Bridge of Spies" and it's perfectly OK. Completely watchable, though not particularly memorable. "The Post" is better mainly due to Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks is always pretty good. I did see "Lincoln" three times and then I totally had it and don't need to see it again for about a decade. Josh




Josh, You said a while back that you wouldn't watch "The Joker" if they paid you $20. Well, wasted two hours of my life watching it for you. Joaquin Phoenix was okay, don't know if he really deserved an Oscar for that. The only redeeming part of the flick was when Robert Deniro got hushed blown off. Hope I didn't ruin it for you. Mike


Dear Mike: Why am I not surprised? But the issue is long past comic book movies. I'm not sure that anybody can make a good movie anymore under any circumstances. When the "Best Picture" is "Parasite," which is a half-assed movie no matter how you look at it--it's either a failed social comedy or a failed horror film, but a failure in both regards--then what are the standards? There aren't any. Everything has become politics. I'm on this side and you're on that side. We're not living in a time of art; we're living in a time of name-calling and taking offense at everything. There's no such thing as comedy anymore because somebody will be offended by any form of a joke. Here, this how jokes used to work: What's long and hard on a black man? Third grade. Why do Jews have big noses? Air is free. How do Chinese people name their children? They throw the silverware down the stairs--Ting Tang Pong. Why do they bury Pollacks with their asses out of the ground? So they can use them as bicycle racks. If I've offended some people, I don't give a shit. Art and comedy were, once upon a time, meant to be challenging, provocative, possibly even offensive. Now people are just searching for an insult--or anything that can be presumed as an insult-- so that they can complain about it on social media and get somebody to agree with them. If people don't like me or my movies or what I say or write, I don't care. So, getting back to the original subject, "The Joker" isn't any good? Why would you think for one second that it possibly might be? It's the spin-off of a sequel of a sequel of a sequel of a TV show of a comic book; it has as much to do with art as it does with dirt. Josh




Hi Josh,  I'm fond of the part of GOING HOLLYWOOD where you talked to that kid Bert about poetry. You estimated that you had written around 50 poems by age 18, always using rhyme and meter. Unfortunately, even 42 years ago only free-form style poetry was considered hip. Myself, I still prefer poems to be highly structured. I suspect that the decline in the use of rhyme and meter is due to the laziness of writers more than anything else. Do you still read poetry? What are the names of poets or books of poetry that you like? Keith


Dear Keith: I used to read Edgar Allan Poe's poetry all the time, but now I don't read poetry. I have written quite a bit, but it's really meant to be lyrics. Most lyrics still use rhyme and meter. Poetry now, as a friend of mine summed it up, is, "I have suffered, therefore I am an artist." Josh




Hey Josh, I took your advice and ran right to Amazon and picked up the "Dead Wake" book. I told my dad that you recommended it, and he gave me a quick history lesson the ship. I admittedly knew nothing about it. So thanks. Mike


Dear Mike: I hope he enjoys it. I found it a pretty quick read. It was interesting to get the other point of view from the U-Boat captain and what a misery those early submarines were. Also, as a side note, that Captain Von Trapp, the father in "The Sound of Music," had been a WWI U-Boat captain who had sunk British ships. Josh




Josh, I recently watched “Trumbo” which I found to be a fairly mediocre biopic, but it got me to realize I have not watched a lot of Dalton Trumbo’s movies. I was curious what you think of him as a screenwriter, and if there are any of his movies you recommend? Thanks! Justin


Dear Justin: Dalton Trumbo was certainly an interesting person and a good screenwriter, and might well have had a better career had he not spent thirteen years in hiding writing, apparently, 30 scripts under pseudonyms, 18 of which got made and two won Oscars for their scripts or stories, "Roman Holiday" and "The Brave One." I do like "Spartacus" and "Papillion." And I do recall rather liking "Five Came Back," "Kitty Foyle," "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo" and "Our Vines Have Tender Grapes." Trumbo also wrote Joseph Lewis's classic B-picture, "Gun Crazy," under a pseudonym, that a few folks have likened to my film "Running Time" because of its bank heist that's all done in one shot. What Joseph Lewis did, which was both clever and suspenseful (and I have no idea if it was in script), was to shoot the whole scene from the backseat of the car. The girl drives up in front of the bank, the guy gets out with a pistol, and the shot just stays on the girl's back as we hear the whole robbery--gun shots and an alarm go off--then the guy hastily gets back into the car holding a bag of money and they quickly drive away. Regarding the film, "Trumbo," Bryan Cranston was good, but all in all it was just a standard biopic. Writers really don't make the best subjects for movies. Josh




The scenes of the homesteader's crops burning while Cooper('s stunt doubles) rode through it looked pretty dangerous. Knowing how much you appreciated Wyler, I figured I would ask if you'd seen these and had an opinion.


Dear Will: Yes, I've seen both of them several times. I think "Hell's Heroes" is the best of all the versions of "The Three Godfathers, and certainly the roughest. When they find the wagon with the woman in it they're clearly going to rape her, until they find out she's pregnant and in labor. I've paid particular attention to the films of 1929 just to see how they handled the new problems of sound. Most of the films, like the Best Picture of that year, "Broadway Melody," were simply stage musicals shot just like they were on stage. "Hell's Heroes" is the only film of 1929 where the director, William Wyler, understood that he could shoot entire sequences with no dialog silent and put in sound later, thus freeing up the camera to move around. Wyler and John Ford had a running joke when they saw each other. One would ask the other, "Which one of us is remaking 'The Three Godfathers' next?" Regarding "The Westerner," I think it's lesser Wyler for sure, with Walter Brennan certainly being the best part. But I'm glad it wasn't Wyler's last western and he went on to make "The Big Country" which is a far better movie. Josh




Josh, I had a William Wyler double-feature last night. First, I saw his first sound film, "Hell's Heroes." It's one of five versions of "The Three Godfathers." I'd only seen John Ford's version before now. On a technical level, it really was superb.


A lot of silent scenes which allowed Wyler to have a mobile camera to dramatically express the scale and dryness of the desert. It packed a pre-Code wallop, too, using a VERY young infant in several scenes (I really don't think you can do that now), and showing not one but two on-screen suicides, including an incredible shot of one of the outlaws in the background, framed between his two friends walking away from him to the foreground, blowing his brains out. It was an intense 68-minutes. I followed that with 1940s "The Westerner." Speaking of technical achievement Gregg Tolland was the cinematographer, with Rudolph Mate shooting a lot of the action sequences. It looked terrific, and Walter Brenner as Judge Roy Bean was great; Gary Cooper reportedly didn't want to star, knowing that Brenner would steal the entire movie. Which he did. (And got the Oscar.) It's nowhere near Wyler's best film; Bean's sort of whimsical side mixes uncomfortably with the fact that he's a straight-up murderer in the movie, but it had me going throughout.




Josh, Perhaps you've heard of this new indie sci-fi flick The Vast of Night? I believe it won some awards at Sundance and just premiered on Amazon Prime streaming. It's low budget (~$700,000) but looks terrific with some awesome long takes/tracking shots. The two leads are very good, there's some cracking dialogue, and a nice score to boot. I think this is one of those examples where "less is more". Working on a very small budget forced the director to get creative and you can tell this was a passion project for all involved. For a directorial debut, it's impressive. Recommended! Lou


Dear Lou: I'll take a look. Josh




Josh, Have you ever seen the 1988 Polish television miniseries The Decalogue, directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski? It's sometimes referred to as Dekalog. Each of the 10 episodes is a self-contained, hour-long movie. While you can certainly read deeper meanings into the miniseries, each part is essentially a simple, character-driven film that deals with moral issues. I would be curious to know what you think of it. Keith


Dear Keith: I saw Kieslowski's Three Colors films and didn't like them, so I can't say that I'll run out and see his other stuff. I don't mean to turn everything into a sales pitch for me, but when I saw "Blue" it reminded me of my film, "Lunatics" (which had already been released) including a camera move where one character walks past the other's apartment building, then it booms up to the window of the other character and we see them inside. Josh




Josh, can you recommend some films directed by Werner Herzog? Thanks! Dave


Dear Dave: I liked "The Enigma of Kasper Hauser," "Gizzly Man," "Bad Lieutenant: The Port of Call New Orleans" and "My Best Fiend." His "On Death Row" series is tough to watch, as are a number of his other films, like "Aguirre the Wrath of God" and "Fitzcarraldo." But his films are definitely worth checking out. Josh




Hi Josh, any thoughts on the Teddy Roosevelt being taken down because of his "colonial" beliefs that are not considered acceptable nowadays? I think it's a bunch of horseshit. There should be a vote on these things, even the confederate statues. Ignorance and erasure of history is a death-knell for any civilization... "The Committee for the Removal of Public Monuments has bagged its biggest trophy to date. On Sunday New York Mayor Bill de Blasio acceded to a request from Ellen Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History, to remove the equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, that fronts the museum entrance on Central Park West." Nick


Dear Nick: Theordore Roosevelt was not a racist. The first thing he did when he got into office in 1901 was to have dinner with Booker T. Washington, the first black person to ever be invited to eat at the White House. Teddy conferred with Booker T. Washington many times regarding racial issues, and Washington liked him. They both liked each other. Teddy also invited the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, to the White House. He was raked over the coals by the southern newspapers for doing these things--God forbid one should actually be friendly with a black person, and, as the southern newspapers pointed out, subject one's wife and children to such humiliation--but these were very clear direct actions that had real meaning at the time. Josh




3. Logline: Just imagine if the Bay of Pigs was a success and known by something else entirely? A motivated Cuban small business owner, after receiving months of intense training by the US military, leads a team of liberators to free Cuba from Castro’s communist grip while a man in love risks his life to free a woman who’s trapped in a Cuban nightmare.  Benjamin


◆︎◆︎◆︎◆︎ Dear Benjamin: And suppose in this newly freed Cuba our character, who is a tailor, opens a shop in Havana, and sells beautiful suits at half off. It's all coming to me. Josh





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