Exclusive Interview: Director Josh Becker
Who is Josh Becker, what is your technical background, experiences, etc
I'm a 46-year-old filmmaker living in Detroit, Michigan. I've written and directed four independent feature films, two full-length TV movies, nine episodes of "Xena: Warrior Princess (I also wrote two eps), as well as having directed several other TV shows, and a bunch of short films.
What and or who has been the biggest influence on you as a film maker?
Watching thousands of movies has been my main influence. I am a certified movie geek. I keep a list of every film I've ever seen, and I'm just about to break 4,000. My favorite director is William Wyler.
Your newest work which we have been discussing on our site is Alien Apocalpyse. Tell us about Alien Apocalypse, what is the premise of the film?
Astronauts return from a 40-year, deep-space mission to find that the earth has been overrun by alien termites who have enslaved all humans, and are systematically stripping all of the wood off the planet. Two of the astronauts (Bruce Campbell and Renee O'Conner) end up leading the slave revolt of the future.
Why did you rename it from "Humans in Chains" to Alien Apocalypse? ( I like the new name better myself )
I didn't rename it, my agent did before submitting it to SciFi Channel. Considering that half the films that are produced for SciFi have "Alien" in the title ("Alien Cargo," "Alien Fury," "Alien Siege," etc.), they thought it would make it more appealing to SciFi, and I guess it did.
How did you get the legendary Bruce Campbell on board, and was the role written specifically for him?
No, the part wasn't written for him. I wrote the script in 1989. Meanwhile, I've been friends with Bruce my whole life. We've known each other since we were ten years old, in junior high school. I made my first movie with Bruce ("Oedipus Rex") in 1972 in 9th grade
How is Alien Apocalypse different from your other films?
It's my first sci-fi film. It's got the most digital effects of any movie of mine so far. It was shot in Sofia, Bulgaria, which was a trip.
Do you find doing feature films like Alien Apocalypse more difficult then doing tv shows like your work on XENA?
A Xena script was 45-pages long and you got seven days to shoot them. "Alien Apocalypse" was 92-pages long and I had 17 days, so it was three times the work. Otherwise, I treat everything I do pretty much the same, except on my independent features I always have rehearsals, and on TV you don't.
I find that the biggest downfall of films these days is a poor script and an over emphasis on cgi. What do you feel makes for a good film?
I'm totally with you. As the old expression goes, "If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage." It's impossible to make a good film from a bad script. The reason I kept pushing this script for the past 15 years is because I thought it was pretty good, and actually had a sense of irony, a commodity which is sadly lacking in most films these days, particularly American films. I also thought it was a good part for Bruce.
What do you consider to be the biggest obstacle for film makers?
Getting the money to make films. Then, should they miraculously get enough money to make a movie, getting any kind of distribution. The biggest obstacle to people making good films is that no one seems to put in the effort to write a good script anymore. Almost every movie I've seen in the past 10-20 years has had a bad script.
Do you find it ironic that you and Bruce Campbell are best friends from childhood and both ended up in show business? Did you always have this plan? Were you making your own low budget backyard movies? Is there an Evil Dead from when you and Bruce were 15 that we may yet see?
It's not just Bruce and I. I've known Sam Raimi since he was seven and I was eight, John Cameron (producer of "Bad Santa" and "Friday Night Lights") since we were 15, and I've known Rob Tapert (producer of the "Evil Dead" movies, Hercules, Xena, "The Grudge" and now "Boogeyman") since we were about 18.
The fact that I'm still dealing with the same guys I've been working with my whole life is kind of amusing, I suppose (you can watch one of the films Bruce, Sam and I made when we were kids on my website, just click on "The Blind Waiter").
In Evil Dead I understand you worked on the special effects. Do you enjoy that sort of work?
I assisted on special effects in post-production, but during the shoot I did the lighting, loaded the cameras, changed lenses, and ran sound. No, I didn't enjoy assisting on the FX. It was all done in a very cold basement and an even colder garage, it took a million hours, was very dull, and I basically did dumb things like blow blood or oatmeal through tubes, or babysit the FX guy's kids.
Do you have any advice for first time film makers, we have alot of indie film makers who read our site?
Learn how to write; there's been enough poorly-written films in the last 20 years to last the next three generations. And stop hand-holding the camera all the time, it looks like crap. Design your montage.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview, and what is the answer to that question?
Do you smoke pot? Yes, all the time.
Gotta ask, what are your thoughts on the plans for Evil Dead 4, with Raimi directing and Campbell playing Ash. Any thoughts? I think that the only way to do it is with these two at the helm. A remake without them in my opinion is rubbish.
There are no plans for an "Evil Dead 4," nor do I think there will ever be one. Sam's the hottest director in Hollywood. His career would have to go very seriously wrong for him to end up directing another "Evil Dead" movie. It seems pretty certain that they're going remake the film. I dislike sequels as much as remakes, so it's six of one and a half-dozen of the other to me.
Where can people see Alien Apocalypse or buy it? For that matter where can they buy any of your fine films?
"Alien Apocalypse" will premiere on SciFi Channel on March 26, at 9:00 ET. At some point in the unknown future it will be released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment, who also handles my films "Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except" and "Running Time," which also appears with some regularity on the Independent Film Channel. My film "Lunatics: A Love Story" pops up now and then on Starz Love Stories Channel.