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Ray Carney's Mailbag -- This section of the site contains letters written to Prof. Carney by students and artists, announcements of news, events, and screenings, and miscellaneous observations about life and art by Ray Carney. Letters and notices submitted by readers are in black. Prof. Carney's responses, observations, and recommendations are in blue. Note that Prof. Carney receives many more letters and announcements than he can possibly include on the site. The material on these pages has been selected as being that which will be the most interesting, inspiring, useful, or informative to site readers. Click on the first page (via the links at the top or bottom of the page) to read an explanation of this material, why it is being posted, and how this relatively small selection was made from among the tens of thousands of messages Prof. Carney has received.

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Dear Professor Carney,

I have read a few of the books you have written, and appreciate the articles you publish. There are a few people that I receive energy from today. You are one of them. Perhaps one of the most difficult things for me to endure is when others watch or read a film or script of mine and remark, "...but it doesn't look like a doesn't feel like a don't treat it like a film. It must not be a film." However it only takes me a moment to recoup from such comments because I know what I am communicating is my truth - how it is that I see the world. If we as writers and filmmakers do not express our understanding of the world, there is no point in creating. I believe in the nature of dialectics: truth is found through the collision of opposites. And I am happy to be an opposing force, and minority, in the crusade towards realizing and appreciating other truths. Please continue with your work and be prolific for the minority.

Cordially yours, Matthew Marchisano

The MD Marchisano Cinema Ensemble, Inc., a global cinema where the special effects are human emotions.

Dear Prof. Carney,

My name is Kazutada Komine. I was in your American Independent Cinema class in Spring 2000. The class had a profound impact on the way I look at film, although I didn't quite realize it at the time and I now regret that I didn't participate enough during class discussions (and thus you may not remember me). Anyway, for the past few months, I've been reading your essays on your website, and I've gotten a tremendous amount of inspiration from them. And, for further inspiration, I'd like to order your book, Why Art Matters. I currently live in Japan, so please let me know how much the shipping will be. I can, of course, send a payment in US$ via PayPal.


Kazutada Komine

Mr. Carney,

My name is Rome Canaal. I'm an independent/freelance film and video curator and reviewer for a new internet zine, currently in construction, called BlackAuteur - which seeks to focus in on the guerilla, independent African-American filmmakers in the United States. Lord knows "independent" cinema is marginalized, ghettoizing a great deal of wonderful art produced throughout the country, but even more unheralded are the work by struggling black independents or other artists of color. There is a beautiful contribution that we have made as well to American Film, but seldom does anyone ever really talk about it. Charles Burnett still gets no love, Julie Dash remains an enigma, Larry Clark (not to be confused with the director of "Kids") is a great unknown, Phil Harder has never gotten into one film festival and what I would certainly consider a major artist in Chicago, and a filmmaker I would like to mention by the name of Dennis Leroy Moore.

I have read and long admired your work and criticism of American Film and from reading work on John Cassavetes, I then watched all of his films! You really have inspired a lot of younger artists and critics alike. I have sent you a collection of writings about Dennis Leroy Moore's DV epic "As An Act of Protest." I have no idea if you have seen it or heard of it. I have no idea if you would even like it. However, I felt it my duty to alert you of a fascinating new artist in NYC and a film that I felt was a real treat. I saw it five times before I could even begin to write a sentence about it. Some have called it too abstract, some feel it is politically irresponsible and incorrect, and lots of people I know walked out it. But it challenges the viewer and is highly unique and personal in its vision and style.

All the best,


Dear Professor Carney:

I was recently rejected by the UCLA Film School after being one of the finalist for the screenwriting program. I must say that after receiving a call from Hal Ackerman informing me that I was among "the top 40 candidates being considered for the program," I thought I was a shoo-in. I'm a 36-year old probation agent for the State of Wisconsin who dabbles in film, but recently decided that I want to jump in the game on a full-time basis.

I thought UCLA would have loved the fact that I would bring a world of experience to the their program. I also relished in the belief that the staff would have been extremely interested in me revealing my life experiences through film.

Instead, I think they made it clear that my age group isn't wanted in Hollywood by rejecting me in favor of some kid who relates more to Dawson's Creek than I do. Upon receiving my rejection notice, I was dejected; however, I reread a few of the articles you authored in Moviemaker and Filmmaker Magazines and had the energy fed back into me. I want to thank you for your advice and words regarding the true meaning of filmmaking. Film is an art, not a gimmick. My experiences and/or perception is my reality, and only I can bring it to life through film, not UCLA.

I want to thank you for reminding me that the most influential filmmakers didn't go to film school! I think it's safe to say that I have built up enough experience to make films my way, not the UCLA way! I have a degree in psychology, a Master's in Political Science, and have had the opportunity to look into the minds and hearts of a diverse group of human beings. I have thought deeply about this, and have come to the conclusion that UCLA may have hurt my artistic ability rather than enhance it.

In conclusion, I thank you for your words, and hopefully I'll have the opportunity to read more of your work in future articles.


Don Willie

Well, man, if it helps at all, your writings have been very inspirational to me both as a film lover and an aspiring artist. Sorry to hear about the book, but the truth is that people have a very difficult time looking at something as stark and visionary as Cassavettes. The most common criticism I've read of him is that he's self-indulgent. But Ebert, Maltin, et. al. are weak and feeble minds who prefer the instananeous gratification of a twinkie over the long-term benefits of a well-balanced meal. New languages, such as what the true artist provides take quite some time to digest and accept for those not willing to embark on the adventure. Van Gogh died poor, and it took several decades and a fair amount of capricious fate for people at large to finally "see" his work. I imagine there were Ray Carneys at that time kicking and screaming, "Look here for God's sake!" Pity that it comes too litlle too late for the living artist, but I'm grateful for those efforts as I am for yours. Keep the faith and keep pushing it along. You are making a difference.

For your interest, I added the link to Los Angeles's Film Forum below as they are showing some intriguing works. There's also an art gallery near my house that is selling an exclusive Bruce Connor DVD, whcih I picked up and I found mesmerizing. If you like, I'll pick one up and send it your way. Add to that the fact that I have seen the likes of Tokyo Story, L'Eclisse, Andre Rubolov, Umberto D. and Faces all on the screen right here in Tinsletown. Funny how in Hollywood, I have been provideed with venues for some of the best cinematic education of my life. Again, you played a great part in my leaving behind the Kubricks and Hitchcocks for this great wealth of enrichment. With any luck, I'll turn some of that into a decent film of my own some day. By the way, your site looks great and I turn loads of people on to it.


Dear Mr. Carney,

I am a great admirer of your work. I have read your books and have been interested in all that you have to say since I first became aware of you after reading "American Dreaming" years back. You no doubt receive a score of email daily so I'll keep this short, but I wanted to pass this on to you, in the spirit of that absurd incident you recounted involving Terrance Malik and Ed Pressman.

This from the current Film Comment, under "Opening Shots":

The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz

"George Clooney sure stays busy...He'll star in the next Cohen Brothers film, Intolerable Cruelty ..After that he will star in Steven Soderberghs's remake of Tarkovsky's Stalker" (!).

Ok? that's bad enough, but it get's better...

"...And then we've heard that he'll follow that one with Joel Schumacher's remake of Flowers of Shanghai."(!!!)

Something really must be done about this. These people just have to be stopped. What can be done?


Dear Mr. Carney,

How are you? I was wondering if you had seen Terry Zwigoff's "Ghost World" yet and what your thoughts might be on it. I'm thinking you might like it if you gave it a chance. I found it very refreshing, surprisingly so. Personally, I think it would make a fine addition to your list of recommended films for young people seeking alternatives to stock Hollywood understandings. Anyway, just a thought. Take care! I just had the DVD sent via Amazon to your Comm Ave address. Hopefully there by the weekend, if not then should arrive by monday. It's not miracles or anything, but it's a solid little film. Worth having in the library. It'd probably be about par in a world where good work was the norm. As things are, it stands out.

Cassavetes on Cassavetes is an excellent book. The detail and some of the anecdotes are priceless. That Madonna quip ("I know I work with non-actors but I have to draw the line somewhere") still cracks me up! I particularly loved the early stuff about his father. It really provided an understanding of some of the core values underpinning the work. As far as getting drubbed, if nothing else, I'd have thought resisting the temptation to write a Barry Paris-style hagiography would have earned you some kudos. Writing that sort of book would have been very, very easy for you to do and it would have done John a disservice. I bought three copies and gave two away -- including one to Liane Balaban, a Canadian actress who'll be in Almereyda's next one ('Happy Here and Now'). The truth will out.

I wrote a brief letter to New York magazine a few weeks ago (that they called for permission to publish and I assume they did so) bashing Harvey Weinstein (they'd done a puff piece) and referenced one of your quotes. We're not going to be welcome at very many trendy parties right about now. Of course, since Talk shut down neither is Harvey, eh? ;) Looking forward to Cinequest in San Jose in a couple of weeks! Take care.

Steven W. Schuldt

Photo by Mark Backus / Summer 2005Dear Ray,

I am a former student of yours seeking your advice (and an opportunity to unload my mind). To start, your class American Independent Film (taken in 1999) was not fair! How could you force feed me Cassavetes' work and hope that I would appreciate it, let alone understand it? I hated Shadows, Faces, and A Woman Under The Influence! They frustrated the hell out of me! What was so interesting about all that yelling? As a result I did not care about your assignments. Who cares about Caveh Zahedi? How I kept looking with a microscopic lens trying to catch the metaphor, the double meaning, and the hidden messages!

The following summer I took American Masterworks with Roy Grundmann. He screened Faces and it did not go over well with the class. To my surprise I found myself defending it! I stood virtually alone: reputing accusations that the film was slow, boring, plotless, and rambling tripe. I should say I tried to defend the film as I still had a hard time explaining why I loved it, because up to that point I did not realize that I loved the film! I soon found myself tucked away in the basement of the University's library watching movies like Faces, A Little Stiff, To Sleep With Anger, and A Woman Under the Influence. I was enjoying these movies without knowing why. I secretly dubbed the copies by hooking two videotape machines together (no one else was around to see my covert operation) and took my copies home and watched them again! They are little lessons in human exploration and challenge me still. I found myself telling people about Cassavetes and trying to share my new love. As you must understand, this is a difficult thing. And to this day, I find that very few people want to talk about him (let alone heard of him). I needed to share my appreciation with someone so I read your books on Cassavetes. I was sharing with you without your even knowing it.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, I was turned on to jazz around the same time I was turned on to Cassavetes. A friend lent me his copy of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and told me to listen. I had always hated jazz. It was just a bunch of noise. It didn't make any sense to me. I was into rock and roll- period. And then I listened to Miles. When I listened too closely it was just noise. But at that moment I let the music move - without me trying to put it in order- it ended up moving me! Somehow By opening myself up like that I realized that there is nothing to "get!" Kind of Blue is a great album to start with in Jazz because it is so seemingly accessible. It is not simple at all, but quietly beautiful, leaving in all the right silences. It opened a lot of doors for me musically. Now some of my heroes are Miles, Coltrane, Mingus, Bird, Diz, the Duke and others. I wanted to share my love of jazz too! (But, of course, that is not easy either) As before, I turned quickly to the critics. Perhaps my favorite is Ralph J Gleason. His book, Celebrating the Duke and Louis, Bessie, Billie, Carmen, Miles, Dizzy and Other Heroes changed my life almost as much as the people he wrote about. I think his title says it all- celebrating the art we love is what all criticism should be about. Maybe we should change the word criticism to celebration, then again maybe not.

My experience with jazz helped me understand my experience with Cassavetes, Burnett, Zahedi and others. It all started with Faces . At some precious moment I let the film be- without me trying to put it in order and make sense of it- and it ended up moving me. I think you were the one who said something like, "That's why they call them the Movies." In the end, I did not choose to love Miles or Cassavetes. They chose me- but they had a little help.

My mother made me eat broccoli, but I hated it. Somewhere along the line I started to eat my broccoli. Damn it, now I love broccoli! I don't know when or why it happened, but it did. Sadly, my mom still thinks that I hate broccoli. It is not easy trying to explain to her that I like it now. What's more, it never occurred to me to thank her for giving making me eat it and it never occurred to me to thank you for "force feeding" me Cassavetes. Entertainment may be sweet, but art nourishes. Thanks.

I now live and work in Los Angeles. I have been working at Dreamworks Animation. If you know anything about being a Production Assistant you know it is a lot of work, very little pay, and requires no brains. My mind is starving. Luckily, not long ago I caught wind that there were to be several screenings of Cassavetes films held at the Laemle Sunset 5. I figured it was a rare opportunity so I watched as many as I could. I saw Minnie and Moskowitz and Gloria for the first time and I was reminded of when I first saw Shadows, Faces, and A Woman Under the Influence. I found myself resisting them again! Maybe I've been in LA too long, but the refresher course did me good. I have since bought all Cassavetes DVD's and videos I can get my hands on and watched them again. Those screenings will not leave me alone.

A few days ago I looked up BU's graduate program for Film Studies online with the notion of maybe attending and realized that this is really what I want to do. I want study more. The cut off date is Feb 15th . I don't think that leaves me time for the GRE, but I thought I should write you and ask. Do I have time to apply? Is the GRE absolutely necessary (esp. since I attended COM)? If so, can I still take it? I can get everything else together in time. Frankly, my studies will go on whether or not I am accepted, but I want very much to free myself to concentrate on my passion in an academic setting. My girlfriend tells me that I secretly want to be a teacher and critic. I think she may be right. I want so badly to share. Fortunately, I have learned what good criticism is: sharing your love of art. When no one else will talk to you, the best critics are always there.

I think that my work in Film Production classes, both before and after your class, unconsciously (and perhaps consciously) strove for the kind of sincerity I saw in films like Faces. I remain proud of that work and some of the work I did in television classes. I do not intend to stop creating films of my own. I have recently picked up my pencil again and begun work writing my first feature. However, make no mistake, my desire is to return to study what I feel in my heart is unfinished. I can make films outside of school. I guess I can study film outside of school too, but I want that degree so I may teach as well. As much as I love his work, Ralph Gleason is long dead, and I guess I really need someone to talk to.


Philip D'Amour

I am curious to know what your thoughts are on Fight Club?

Is it art or commerce or does it meet the criteria of both? Does it answer any really big questions? Does it even ask them?

On the one hand it is a clever gimmick, star vehicle, semi-action oriented thriller that is in everyway designed to take our $7.50 (or $11.50 here in New Zealand) whilst also raising some major questions about the self. It does not talk down to us, and it does not allow us to be passive and feel good about who we are? or does it? it doesn't answer any questions and the main character IS the problem. It cleverly locates the plot outside the character whilst he is infact the antagonist. Or is it just a big facade - a product of the latest round of Hollywood marketing strategies?

It fits the Hollywood 'syd field' paradigm, but it seems to be made of anti-matter. It has three acts but it is NOT designed to be a puzzle. Your are not encouraged to 'figure it out' infact figuring it out will ruin the effect. Instead it encourages you to watch it over and over to truly understand the nature of the character relationships, especially narrators one with himself.

But then why do middle aged business men and advertising agents love it so much? It attacks their way of life does it not? Or is the fact that Tyler Durden takes the train altogether too far Hollywoods form of damage control. it allows us to point fingers and name culprits etc? Does 'Jack' the narrator's attempts to take responsibility for the actions he has committed to weak, contrived and plot intensive to be heard?

Even the flashy-gizmo Fight Club website teases us to pay good money for a Tyler Durden jacket or shirt while it knows that if we buy one we didn't get the movie. But if we did get the movie, we may feel that fact justifies our expenditure against our principle.

I don't have an answer obviously, just a question and some thoughts. And I hoped they were clever enough to justify my bothering you with them. I don't expect a reply, but I am genuinely interested to hear a commentary of your own reactions to the film.

I propose it is the epitome of the post modern movie - it questions Descartes 'cogito ergo sum' by violating our understanding and our perception of whom we have identified with as a our main character and chellenged the fact that we are watching a film by being self reflexive. Our main character doesn't even have a name. This sits with the post modern notion of multiple subjective realities existing simultaneously. It tears open a raft of social constructions and tramples them. And it does all this with David Fincher's usual Hollywood gusto!!! A contradiction unto itself. These are all the hallmarks of postmodernism I believe. I'm in Auckland, New Zealand (home of small independent art films like LORD OF THE RINGS and XENA). My partner however is from NYC.

You should come down here some time. I know some film schools here (I've been a student at two of them) that may need their perceptions realigned. I imagine my email read like that of a freshman on your courses - in the initial stages of waking from the hollywood trance as you describe it. I was hoping to plum the depths of my own analysis on the subject by gauging your reaction to it. It seemed to have worked to some degree. Thank you for that.

Anyway I will not take anymore of your time and wish you good luck. I have yet to buy your books but I will certainly be getting round to it. I was introduced to your work by a friend who gave me some excerpts of yours to read which led me to your website etc. Also I have a copy of ...USED CAR PRICES.

Thanks again.

Russell Kirkby Producer/Director

Dear Mr. Carney,

I am a student in England, doing an A -Level in, amongst others, A-Level Film Studies. As part of the course we have each been asked to select one director, and three of their films, and to analyse, in specfic relation to the films, whether or not they can be proven to be the 'auteurs' of their work.

And so, and without wanting to sound like I'm asking you to 'do' my project for me, I was wondering, given your level of knowledge on the subject, if you had any interesting points to raise in connection to the subject at large.

I would be interested to know whether you believe, given the, almost complete freedom he accorded his actors, especially with regards to narrative, and the way they acted in scenes, that he can be called an 'auteur' or whether you, personally,felt the term irrelevant to such an anti-intellectual,performance specific, body of work.

May I also take the opportunity to say how much I agree with what you stated on what I presume to be your website. I have also felt, for quite a while now, thought that the news has had such a deect, to artists, and indeed, the world at large, that it has now become the main source of inspiration, alienation, provaction and indeed entertainment, in the world today.

It has drained many artists of their creativity and their ability to differentiate between the personal and the current. And I do believe that the more this state of affairs continues the less and less work will be produced in accordance with the true meaning of Cassavetes work: true, unbiased, honesty.

I would like to apologise for both the length and tone of this email, I know at times it got a bit ranty, and over angry, for which I apogolise, I was only speaking the truth that I had felt for some time. However if you did read this I want to thank you for taking the time to read it and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours Sincerely David Gadsdon

Mr. Carney:

I am honored that you replied. POlease keep up the good work and always remember you, not the critics stand at the edge.....those that are the most critical are the least productive in life and hide atop the high moral ground by making others miserable. A wiser man than I once stated....."In live there are two things that are most abundant, Hydrogen and Stupidity"........'nuff said.....Stay well and you always have a place to stay in South Florida.....will be away for a year on a presidential calll up........


I cannot tell you how thrilled my son was at your response. The books that he has read (written by you) have been given and read by me also. Your work and analysis are truly on the mark and I am honored that you wrote back to Peter. As I am at Ft. Benning, GA, ready to deploy into harm's way, I can only tell you that you should not be discouraged by what a critic writes as he can only be critical of other's work because is not creative to do what you do nor is he able to see what you see.

You have made an impression on my son's life and for that I am eternally grateful.

Please carry on as there are many who appreciate your work, myself included.

Michael V, Canale, MD

Professor Carney, My name is Peter Canale and I'm a film student in Orlando Florida. I wrote you some time back about possibly sending you a short film i made with one of my friends. At that time I had read many of your essays online and had seen two of John cassavetes movies. Since that time, I have viewed all of Cassavetes films, with the exception of Too late blues. I have also since that time read 3 of your books on Cassavetes, Cass on Cass, Prag. and Mod. and American Dreaming. I am currently reading your book on Dreyer and have seen Capra films since then. I would just like to thank you for, i guess being my teacher for the last six months or so. Im in a film program, but since at no time in the last two years i've heard the name Cassavetes or Dreyer spoken by my professors, I've been trying to learn from others like you and the filmmakers and painters you critique and recommend. Im currently in pre-production to shoot a short film. It's been a great experience for me trying to make this a personal movie, one that I can be proud of. I read Cass on cass in five days. I could not put it down and I couldn't agree with you more that John Cassavetes is one of the most important american artists and his films are masterpieces. Thanks again. I believe you are the reason, young people like myself have even heard of John Cassavetes. Thank you for that.

Mr. Carney

Just a quick note to say thank you. I ordered several books from you a few months ago, among them "Why Art Matters," and your writing has truly re-inspired me. You say things that I have always felt and believed, but that I have never been able to articulate. As I mentioned in my original correspondence, I had been buying copy after copy of "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" from, giving them away as gifts to my cast and crew, as well as friends and family - until I received your package, which included a bunch of promotional items for the book. Since then I have been spreading the word that way and directing folks directly to your website instead (lately, so they can purchase "Why Art Matters," which I just finished). So, hopefully, my efforts are translating to sales for you. That's it: I just wanted to say thank you. If I could say it any better, I would. Point blank: You've given me some much-needed strength to carry on, to keep on making my "little" films.

Sincerely indebted to you,

Larry Holden

dear mr carney-

my name is scott westphal-solary. i am in the circle of luci westphal-solary (my wife) and matthew langdon weiss (a dear old friend), both of which forwarded your 'art still matters' article. i've been following your teachings and opinions for quite some time now and you've always been an inspiration. thanks for fighting the good fight. initially, i was writing you this e-mail to bring to your attention a video tape i plan to send to you. in these times of suspicious mail, i think e-mail alerts of incoming packages should be a courteous requirement. but as i write this, i think i should first ask your permission to send it to you. i'm sure you are inundated with videos and such all the time. the piece is a short video (4 minutes) of footage i cut together after venturing to manhattan on the 13th (i live in brooklyn) i sat on the footage awhile contemplating the frivolity and self-indulgence of making a cohesive piece from it. your article inspired me to do just that so i feel obligated to share. not so much for your criticism (which, by the way, i wouldn't mind) but my need to share with someone like yourself, who is so sympatheteic to the filmmakers struggle and needs. thanks again for all your wisdom and inspiration and i hope my art still matters.

-scott westphal-solary

I was at the Linklater talk today, and didn't get a chance to thank you in person. What strikes me most, and inspires me, about Linklater is that he seems to be creating for all the right reasons--to express himself, and work with interesting people, to learn, and explore his subjective world. As much as we all want formulas for how to become a Filmmaker, he, and the Cassavetes book I'm working through, are liberating me from such formulas. I really would like to see "It's Impossible to Plow By Reading Books" if you can get a hold of a copy, because the idea of putting two years into making a film with yourself really sparks me. I really agree with him about defending yourself through the cloud of judgement in development, and the advice to "go easy on yourself" in your early twenties will hopefully stick to my brain. That 25th b-day has been on my mind too. I know it's a staple in your work, but I'm just discovering Emerson, "Self Reliance" and some other writings. And it's clearly a process of finding MY genius. And I can FEEL it sometimes, it's there, but it isn't just gonna come out on its own. A million artists can tell you of the struggles, but there's no way of going into it informed--Linklater seemed pretty up front about that, he never seems to quite know what he's getting into. I love that. The film blew me away as well. I wrote about it last night when I got home from the screening--highlights:

I can't imagine anyone having the same experience with Richard Linklater's Waking Life; and therein lies the magic of it. The priveledge of experiencing a communal dream, yet being able to talk with your dearest about the differences--in eyes, ears, brains, and hearts. It's a common experience working to provoke differences in perception--and what a beautiful thing to come out of a film. Isn't this the type of communication that opens up the possiblities of understanding, opening minds, learning, loving?

As the boy begins to encounter the array of burning souls walking the edges of his unconsciousness, it's the ideas that matter. Plot simply is presented in its real life form; if you choose to be aware of it, it's there. The boy passes through the worlds of wildly original minds at work. These minds all seem to share a dissatisfaction with contemporary life (yet isn't dissatisfaction inherent in any ambitious person?), yet they clearly possess a passion for figuring out how to thrive within it. As these characters spout their inner-most thoughts, their most prized revelations, the animated bodies stay constanly in motion--pulsating, flailing, and spewing tangible images from heads full of abstract thoughts. The animators aren't merely providing us with the character's flesh, they're drawing the kinetic energy that drives each of these souls mad with excitement. The ideas reverberate in our minds. Each moment the film flicks, it ambitiously forges ahead--in search of the sublime, and finding it more than not; realizing miracles; devouring each second of the process; and finding a Holy Moment with Caveh to boot (NOTE TO SELF: REMEMBER THIS HOLY MOMENT!) And the movie won't take no for an answer. It convinces us through sheer passion and will alone, a desire to express and be heard, that now is the most exciting time to be alive.This sort of spirit bleeds onto the celluloid; the screen perspires pure inspiration. It's human. Furthermore, seeing "Waking Life" with people matters. The creators of this film transcend the dreadful frustration of trying to tell our loved ones about that truly profound dream we all have at one point, yet can never recapture in mere words. Linklater and friends one-up the viscious gods who one day decided to make dreams such a private experience. They use the latest tools of cinema, their love and labour, and personal expression to log a dream for us all to experience and remember--and most importantly, share. This breakthrough flirts with some of the (capital "I") Ideals of personal filmmaking. It's dreaming with friends.

I hope this interests you, I felt like sharing it. I just finished the Husbands chapter and am into the beginning of Minnie and Moskowitz and am finding it somehow more inspiring than the previous pages. I wish I had a question, but you seem to cover it all. Though it partially still remains, My god! What was this man like? The next best answer than him being alive, is in the text though.

Thanks again, I know you must be busy, but as I get inspired, I write.



Dear Ray,

thank you again for your wonderful words and spirit. i appreciate you taking time to write me and to be so honest and open. i'm getting the feeling that it is what you are about.

i am thankful to say that i have finally returned to editing in the last two days... finally batteling more with the old creative insecurities instead of the overwhelming burdens of purpose. your words have helped me tremendously. fortunately editing gives me a lot of technical guidelines/order. returning to rewriting my script will be a very different challenge again.

i also checked out your website and read the articles in the independent vision section. a lot of food for thought and very inspiring. i had come across your response to the request "how do we make a cassavettes movie" a while ago (my friend, matt langdon weiss, usually keeps me up on the subjects/works of mr. cassavettes and yourself) i applaud you for that response as well.

it will take me a bit to read everything on your site but i am looking forward to finding out more about your stance on film and art, and possibly challenging my views.

again, i did post part of your e-mail on my site and i also provided a link to your site. if you like to check it out, you can go to that page directly: (that way you can skip the opening/title page).

i will definitely keep you posted on any major developments with my film. hopefully you will appreciate the end product one day and the fact that you have been a source of strength during the process.

thank you again and please keep going as well, we are listening!


Dear Mr. Carney,

a friend of mine forwarded your article "Art Still Matters... Now More Than Ever" to me. I would like to applaud your for that article. It has given me and many of my friends, I subsequently shared it with, strength, focus and hope.

I don't want to bore you with my personal account and testimony, but I would like to express what your words have meant to me.

For years it has been my artistic vision to make "truth-telling" films about human beings and their interaction. My goal has been, as futile and naive as it seems sometime, to maybe reach a few individuals who will open their minds and hearts to understanding and showing a little bit more compassion to others that might be different from or just a plain mystery to them.

For about two years I have been working on a feature project called "Summersquash". We were supposed to have a fundraiser party for it Sept. 19th in the East Village in Manhattan. I postponed the party to a yet unknown date. And it has been impossible to me to pick up the pieces since then and continue editing the sequence we shot, rewrite the third act, work on the business plan etc.

We hear a lot about artists that are able to deal with the recent shock and despair through their artwork. But I still find it very difficult to continue the work on a project started before the tragedy, one that does not seem to directly relate. When the project meant everything before. As it seemed to one of my co-producers who escaped WTC 7 and the collapsing buildings and held on to her "Summersquash" folder as if it was the most important thing in her life.

Reading your article again and again it gives me hope that I will be able to focus again. That I will be able to continue to work, that it does matter.

I was so free to post your article on the website for my project. ( I hope that you don't mind. Please let me know if you do.

Of course, I don't expect you to reply to my mail otherwise. I just wanted to let you know that you made a difference for some people you don't know. Thank you.

Sincerely, Luci Westphal-Solary

Dear Mr. Carney,

My name is Conor Jensen and I'm settling in after my first few weeks here at BU, having just transferred. I'm a sophomore film major, and looking to make art. Art or nothing. Cassavetes' films fortunately found their way into my life three years ago, and since, I haven't found films that have inspired me or encouraged my pursuits more than his. They've changed the way I experience movies, life, and now, when I look for a film, I'm only looking for the movies that when the last frame flashes on the screen, I can honestly say I'm not the same person I was three hours ago. Because what John showed me, as well as a a few other filmmakers, is that movies can BE that. Miracles. What a beautiful thing, to create, learn, and if done properly, awaken people's senses and emotions. I'm currently learning it's a grueling and neverending process--finding your honest voice.. I think it's the most important search in my life. I hope to use my time at BU to constantly search and learn. My voice shouldn't only emerge in my movies, but in my life as well. Otherwise, art means nothing, and I don't really see any more value in movies than as a means to pass the time. John learned how to live through his movies. He existed within his movies, fighting like hell to aggravate, inspire, observe, and react to the moment--and keep it fresh on film. I always tend to see a movie I want to make from behind a camera, urging me to make a cut , or add some more plot to heighten the effect. But that's false, John could sense what actually was going on in the scene. I want to shift my focus from cinematic techniques to things like the acting, scripting, and complexity of character emotions and behavior--the truly ambitious things. I want to explore humans, not perform for them. Being interested in Cassavetes, naturally I discovered your writing and your place in the BU film program, and quite honestly, it's a large part of the reason I'm here. My Cassavetes book is the most dog-eared of my collection, and I'm liking what I've read of the Capra book. In my previous film classes, I've been beaten over the head with the Kael quotes, the Lynch clips (aka Lynch-ings), and the meditative meanings, to borrow your term. I think back to the times when I first got interested in movies, watching tons of them, and never reading reviews or intellectual treatments of them. When I picked up my first movie books, my perceptions of film digressed in most respects. I believed all the books said, preaching it to my friends and myself. Finding your writing was a blessing. It hit me at an instinctual level, taking me back to the natural things I felt about film before my brain was inundated with the Welles, Hitchcock, and Coens "genius." It tapped in to my desire to see things differently, and make films with real emotions and sincerity. I still see the cleverness and wit of the popular films, but I think you helped me articulate what I really wanted to get at with film, and it's not that useless wit and self-appreciation. Honestly, I really don't see those films or type of people as "perfect," but as poseurs of perfection. Everything and everybody is flawed, and to create that gray ambigous world I see every day, and make films with technical and narrative flaws, is to me more interesting and beautiful. John did that. The Coens, Solondz, and Arnofsky are fooling themselves and their fans (which seems to be everyone in the film world) and denying what's really important. It's hard to be around that all the time. I am very much looking forward to taking as many of your classes as I can here at BU, because I think you're treating film with the seriousness and respect it has always deserved. Currently I'm in Kociemba's intro class, and it should be interesting to see how many kids will be open to the Rappaport, Friedrich, and Renoir films, and make discoveries about what film can really do at its most artistic. I lent _Faces_ and _The Killing of a Chinese Bookie_ to my previous film professor who was a Scorsese freak. Afterwards, having known Cassavetes influenced Scorsese, he asked me what I thought Cassavetes would have done with the current $80 mil. budget that Scorsese has. He thought Cassavetes would make something similar to _Gangs of New York_. I contend he'd write a check to the suits for $79 million with a nasty note attached telling 'em not to touch his picture. He just didn't get why Cassavetes would never get or want that kind of money to make a film. One more thing--I'd like to get a copy of _Cassavetes on Cassavetes_ and the book you wrote on _Shadows_. Should I go through the mail, or drop money off at the COM building, and pick the books up there? Whatever is easier. Thanks for listening to my thoughts, and for your writing; hope to meet you in the near future.

Sincerely, Conor Jensen

Dear Ray

I'm a cohert of Rob Nilsson's and have psarticipated in his Nine at Night series. I have my own thing going in LA where I do experimental narrative films and documentaries. I also give a workshop in free creative personal expression. This intro is only necessary to give substance to my response to your book"CASSAVETES ON CASSAVETES".

My background is New York and the Actor's Studio and the influences of Kazan and Strasberg and Clurman et al. Books by these legendary figures mare legendary nostalgia. An inspiration in memory of a day long gone by and frankly no longer relevant in these crass times of total commercialism. Cassavetes on Cassavetes by comparison is a book so relevant to these times, so necessary for these times , so needed by all who need to confront their fears and dreams and so needed and necessary for all who fear to dream.This book is so intensley fraught with the life stuff of failure and persistence and despair and faith. It is for the brave hearted and the faint hearted who have the brave stuff hidden under hopelessness. It is for the independent artist but also for the artist not yet self discovered who needs independence.. It is for all true creative actors and actors who need to be. It is for all independent minded filmmakers and renegade spirits who should be.It is for everyone, in or out of the arena of filmmaking. If it preaches to the choir the choir waits to enlarge and propagate.

I cannot put the book down. Everything John says in essence and spirit comes from my heart also. And I sday this not as a blind fan or disciple of John's films for there is much of his films I find forced and dehumanized and actorish. I am totally into the human experience on film not forced but honestly and freely behavioralized. In this regard I differ from Nilsson also. But John and his films are a continual and emotional inspiration for me. I am grateful to him for his life and determined journey and I am grateful to Ray Carnyfor his dedication in keeping the spirit and purpose of John Cassavetes alive for all of us.

Please never give up your work and efforts in this regard. This book of yours is more than an inspiration, it is a Bible to the hungry soul of the artist. I am insisting that everyone associated with my workshop get the book and keep it for life. I also am assaulting people on the streets and i9nsisting likewise. No I am not as crazy as John but I understand him in the depths of my being.


Robert Viharo

Dear Professor Carney,

Thank you for dropping me a notice about the impending publication of "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" and "Shadows". I'm actually in the middle of a second reading of "The Films of Mike Leigh" right now. I'll certainly be picking up copies of your two new works. I don't know how my name found its way to you, but I'm guessing someone must have pointed you at my 'Genafer' essay. I actually considered sending you a letter when it was first published, but felt that the essay was too weak, and the forum (a site devoted to the work of a Hollywood actress) would have turned you off. I really loved the process of researching 'Genafer', but later realized I made a mistake by not beginning any writing until I had finished my exploration. By the time I began to create the actual essay, I already had my answers. Classic mistake, really.

Your work has profoundly changed and enriched my understanding of the power and potential of film. I can be counted on to thrust a copy of your 'Path of the Artist' series into the hands of any friend expressing more than the merest interest in film. Your ideas are so simple in one way, yet they seem also to submlimate so easily. They're a kind of water in the desert of the culture we find ourselves in. I find myself needing to go to the well again and again. That's okay though, because the well is an interesting place. Reading your work has given in me a kind of filter that I use constantly to bypass a lot of nonsense and better identify the rare, worthwhile experience.

I'm really looking forward to "Cassavetes on Cassavetes". His ideas and work are deeply humbling and have affected my views on personal, political and aesthetic levels. I believe Jennifer's new film, 'The Anniversary Party', is opening this weekend in Boston. While it is perhaps a touch more Woody Allen than Cassavetes, there are moments. I think Jennifer's heart is in the right place, she's been referencing Cassavetes and "A Woman Under the Influence" in interviews. I'm really excited about her move into directing and am hoping for great things in the future.

Anyway, I just want you to know that your message, and John's message, have been heard and understood. We're young and crazy and we'll fight for you both. Blast them one more time. ;)

Take care.

Dear Dr. Carney,

I hope your school year has gotten off to a stimulating and joyous one for you so far.

At my last contact, I had stated that I had opened up a very small talent agency here in Virginia, which primarily seeks to engage in small independent films, industrials, and Christian productions.

I've consequently had some very alarming and quite insightful experiences working with a few of the Hollywood film studios in the past year.

The experience has led me to a greater understanding that that which comes from the heart is directly linked to that which appears on the screen. Sobering and truthful encounters yes, but it further confirmed for me the convictions for the love of art, and for the need for real truth to be brought forth at any cost. Not to mention the damaging images that constantly impress upon the souls of our children.

What I endeavor to do is to seek out a few people whom I can trust, that are diligent screenwriters/producers, in forming a collaborative in which we can join together for the constructive, and intellectual engagement of developing stories from concept to finish. The group does not have to be large...just committed with passion, and truly find that there overall purpose is in the examination of the human condition, as well as a thoughtful observation of the world, and its current cultural situation.

I might include at this time my own concerns as well for the state of the "so-called" African-American music and film industry. As an African-American man I am deeply concerned with what is easily being relegated as "our culture", and the images that supposedly reflect it. This reality is one which has, I believe, given me a higher duty or responsibility than sheer entertainment, but to truly find those who have been blessed with various talents, and to not compromise for the mere sake of personal gain (I don't know...maybe that's near impossible to find these days), and vain glory.

I've been greatly encouraged this past summer by the readings of Rookmaaker's "Modern Art and the Death of a Culture", as well as the section on Art from Abraham Kuyper's "Stone Lectures". They have been tremendous sources of light, and are the very means by which I've come to the conclusion that art demands respect, truth, dignity, nobility. But even more so the acceptances of lies to that which shows itself to the world as art, may indeed not be. We do not need to bow the knee to Baal, and become involved in their corruption.

I know you to be a man (from your writings) that still yearns for the truth and true artistic expression in film. That is why I hope to keep our communication open, and would ask that if there may be those whom you know who hunger after truth, the beauty, pain, and redemption which is the thread which lies within all of our lives, no matter what race, creed, religion...then I would ask that you may either refer them to me, or feel free to give them my email address. Those whom are ready for an adventure, and a battle, and would like to work on a team in scripting and developing screenplays. I would hope that our formation at this time would include both writers, as well as independent producers.

I appreciate your time in this matter, and please feel free to contact me at your convenience, if there is any additional information in which I can share with you. Thank you again for your time, and have a blessed day.


Todd Sherrod

Hello Prof. Carney,

A little under a year ago, two days after Christmas, I was lying on my couch, half dead, staring at the televsion but not really watching it. I had just been released from the hospital. I had Mono, but was admitted because I was dehydrated. My parents had gone out to get supper when I heard the doorbell ring. It was my uncle, and he brought with him a "sick gift." It was Rick Schimt's book. I think you know where this is going...

I read your essay and it set off a tirade of emotions. "How dare he tell me this, and attack filmmakers like Tarantino." But, thank you sir, you made me think. While I still enjoy Tarantino's works, among other works you criticize (Citizen Kane, especially, which i feel such a strong connection to, and plan on writing a defensive essay on someday, showing Welles as an artist...), I have to mostly agree with you. Hollywood makes me sick to my stomach. If one more John Travolta movie is shoved down my throat, I'm going to scream. But more importantly, I feel I have a supporter in my ideas of film. Let me explain. I am a student here at BU. Unfortunatly, I was placed in CGS and not into COM as I had applied. But, BU was the only school I was accepted to. MassArt never recieved my application (though begged me to re-apply), I was rather coldly strung along by Emerson (who claimed i was "deferred" and asked me to send some samples of work. I sent them a video tape with over an hour of things I had done with a video camera, not having access to anything else , or a crew usually, for that matter. I also sent a manila envelope stuffed to the brim with writing. They rejected me in the end. My father said he made a call asking why I wasn't accepted, and claims my work was too off the wall. I still think my father was just trying to cheer me up.) and NYU gave me the cold shoulder. I was ready to not go to school at all, but decided ultimately to come here. After this experience, I've been feeling creativity doesn't matter. I feel as if I could direct one of these "Hollywood" films with my hands! tied behind my back and my pant s down. Why must everyone rant and rave about "the new summer blockbuster" when it's trash (fun trash, yes, but still trash). And, my personal pet peeve, family telling me they can't wait to see me "at the Oscars", only for them to get a puzzled look on their face when I tell them that is the last place I would like to be.

I've always felt that I've had these ideas that needed to be expressed through film. I'm not sure why, but film has been the medium I've wanted to work in. I want to make these films to yes, in the true clichéd form of the phrase, prove a point, but more over, I want to make these films to help myself. I keep telling myself my work will justify what goes on in reality. I'm not concerned what people think, and I do very much want for people to see my films, but I won't compromise. Is that so wrong? I'm planning to start filmming a short 8mm work in December over the Winter Break. The "plot" is shoddy and weak, and so isn't the idea (America's Obsession with the famous, and what it fuels), but I hopefully can work these things out, though the idea is the important part. I've been thinking a lot lately too, about what I'm doing in CGS. I'm not sure if it's worth my time to wait to get into a film program. I was wondering if you could in fact give me some advice on the subject. I found myself writing a book report on "The Forest People", when for some reason, your writing popped into my brain. I dropped writing it and read some of your webpage. My point, being, while important to learn about Pygmies in Africa, and other cultures in fact, would it be in fact better for me to commit my time to film making? It was quite apparent to me that I'd rather be reading about film and art other than reviewing spitting back out a plot framework that isn't what is important about the wor! k into a report which is essenti ally busy work. Are the two years worth the wait for this film program offered at the University? I am an avid reader of just about anything, and have always loved to study a variety of things, from Paleontology to the Arts. So is this "University Education" worth persuing?

Also, I am amidst writing a screenplay with a very good friend of mine. Or idea was to spit directly into the face of the public, and everything they hold dear, but constricted into the refines of a film they would watch. But it seems my friend is constantly unsure if the story will work, or if people will watch it. Any suggestions on how to fire back at him, to help him get his head back into the writing?

Well, I must thank you for your time, and apologize for the length. Also, I apologize for any grammatical errors, as it is 3:30 in the morning, and also I am horrible with spelling and grammar and often butcher the English language.

Thanks again

Quintin Marcelino


I just watched "A Consant Forge" and as a huge Cassavetes fan I certainly drank all of it up gluttenously. But, as it finished 3 1/2 hours later I came to this conclusion: As much as I cherish any tidbit about his life, I couldn't help but feel that JC would think the documentary was bullshit. Where was THEIR integrity as they celebrated his. Where was THEIR honesty? There was absolutely no mention of his drinking. No mention of his weaknesses. He would vomit at this schmultzy love letter. Using his works as a measuring stick, the documentary to me was a total failure in effort alone. It is the equivalent of a crappy soap opera. I know they had the reference material, because so much of "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" was recited.

That said, I was also surprised to see the lack of footage from Minnie and Moskowitz, Gloria and (I believe) Love Streams. Were their rights problems or was this the filmmakers choice.

Any comments on any of these issues would be greatly appreciated.



Ray Carney replies:

The answers to all of your questions are elsewhere on the site. The Kiselyak doc.was a slip-shod "authorized" biography with all the shortcomings of a work that sets out to please a movie star, Gena Rowlands in this case. It's a sanitized, superficial, romanticized version of Cassavetes' life and work.

As to why it includes some clips and not others, well, that's because those are the particular clips that Gena Rowlands let Kiselyak use for free. He would have had to pay to use the others and when making a dollar is the goal, that meant he simply dropped clips from those other films from the work. Money talks.

About the narration: It was stolen from my Cass on Cass book without payment or permission. I found out it was used this way when I saw the film. I protested. Kiseyak had a lawyer reply to my protest, in effect denying it all and telling me I would have to prove my case in court. You see how things work? Money talks.

Now, here's a question for you: Why has no critic or reviewer in America mentioned the above facts and events? Mentioned the awfulness of the documentary that is obvious to you on a first viewing? Mentioned the discussions of the things above that are readily available on my web site? Mentioned the stealing of my material? Mentioned my firing from the Criterion project and removal of my name after I already did hundreds of hours of work on it?

Noam Chomsky talks about "the institutional control of discourse." C. Wright Mills talks about how the "power elite" write the narratives that we call "news." Neil Postman talks about "entertaining ourselves to death." Read any of them and you will have a good start on understanding what's wrong with film criticism and film reviewing today. Reviewers are suck-ups to celebrity. In awe of power, wealth, and fame. Cowards, bureaucrats, time-servers more interested in careerism and maintaining good relations with people in power than in truth-telling.

So that's the real answer, the deep answer to your questions.

Now forget all of that and go out and do something creative! Negativity does nothing. Railing and raging does nothing. Regretting does nothing. Creativity can change the world. If they don't lock us up first!!!!

Just do it!


Hello, My name is Joe Jones. I am a film student at Columbia College in Chicago. I have read many of your writings concerning John Cassavetes and his films. Thank you for introducing me to such a supreme artist. I have seen several of his works but not his complete filmography. Recenty I learned of one of his last films - Gloria. But I have not seen this film discussed by you in any of your writings. I haven't seen the film yet, but I was just curious as to why you rarely mention it. Thank you for taking the time to read this message. Joe

A planet in trouble, and baby, it ain't the tsunamis and hurricanes we have to worry about.  It's not even the terrorists.  It's the leaders and opinion shapers.So, I just did an interview with the New York Post about "Native American cinema" and I said, after a long series of rote questions: "Why don't you ask me something dangerous?" And she said, "What's dangerous?" "Well, I said, I know all of the other Indian filmmakers you're talking about, and I know that none of them have made a film that is dangerous to them. I know their personal histories and I know they never, never include even the smallest piece of autobiography in their films. You might think they're making personal films, and that's the independent world's mantra (my personal film! my personal film!), but they're Indians making movies about Indians they don't even know. They're all making reservation movies and none of them has ever lived on the reservation. Two of them were adopted as newborns by white families and raised in small white towns. Three of them have lived in Manhattan for 12 years. Why aren't they making movies about the subway, about Union Square, about the Strand Bookstore? One of them lives two blocks from the Strand fucking bookstore and goes there every damn day of his life, it's his church!, and why isn't that in his movies? I tried to make a dangerous film and failed. But I tried. When I sit in a theatre and watch our movie, I am filled with doubts and insecurities, fear and shame, but also with a large measure of arrogance and happiness. I hate it mostly and I try to love it. And when the two or three scenes play, the ones that I think are good and poweful, then I think maybe I can do this. Maybe I can make a movie that's important and dangerous and powerful. Maybe I can work for years, and after ten or twelve or twenty incomplete messes, I can finally make a good film. And I know I'm not supposed to tell you this, because this is publicity and I'm supposed to tell you how great it was to make this, and how great I think it is, and how much solidarity I feel for my fellow Native American filmmakers, but that's all bullshit. Just like me, all those other Native American filmmakers are all alone with their demons and angels, and when we set out to make a movie, we're either going to face those demons and angels head-on or we're going to run away and hide behind metaphors and the redemption of a 3-act structure. As an artist, I'm a failure, a complete and glorious failure, and I shout it from the rooftops because I want to get better and better and better, and I'm crazy enough to want people to pay attention to me as I stagger along on this goofy little journey."

Let's see if she prints any of that. God, I'm full of shit and hope!

Sherman Alexie


I was just enjoying the excerpts of your interview with Shelley Friedman. I couldn't agree more about your opinion on Mulholland Drive. I said almost the exact same thing myself when my wife and I watched it recently. I bought the DVD used (cheap, thankfully) because she wanted to see it, naturally because people at her work were discussing it and trying to figure out what it all means. I suspected the answer beforehand, but after seeing it I knew: it means nothing. We (I, especially) found it a joyless, meaningless experience. You don't care a whit about the characters: a beautiful nonentity and a beautiful, annoyingly naive ingenue. Two-and-a-half hours of tricks and nonsense. Why is it that the people who recommend Mullholland Drive are the same people who say "you have to see Memento" or "you have to see Donnie Darko", etc.? My opinion is that they're gluttons for punishment. It's a strange dynamic, but they seem to like films that make them feel smart by making them feel stupid. Any comprehension whatsoever of these incredibly dense, incomprehensible picture-puzzles feels like an accomplishment, so they therefore are made to feel smart. On to more worthwhile works. I did agree with your assessment of Ghost World. I was already a fan of Dan Clowes and his original Ghost World comic (I'm not a comic book person, but I admire the work of Clowes and also Chris Ware; they are two guys who are accomplishing art in the comics medium), so I was of course anxious to see the film. I liked it on first viewing, but I felt that the two characters were too negative and derisive of others around them, and that Zwigoff offered no criticism of that. On subsequent viewings, I realized that he was actually offering subtle criticism of their condescension towards the rest of the human race. At first I thought he was just reveling in it: "Aren't we smart? Isn't everyone else stupid?". Later on I realized that he actually was reveling in it to a certain extent, because you can tell that he finds that kind of cynicism funny--but he also shows that it is a dead end, and that it's harmful to others and to yourself. And he shows that without condemning anyone. When I saw it from that point of view, the film opened up for me a lot. A film I saw recently that I liked very much was L.I.E., directed by Michael Cuesta. Have you seen that one? I admired how he take a character that would typically be nothing more than a villain (an ex-Viet vet Marine who is a pedophile) and shows that although he's a guy who is capable of committing immoral acts, he's also a person who is capable of kindness and friendship. Brian Cox did a great job making the character believable, and likable, without letting you forget what he does and what he is capable of, and without demonizing him or making the character too likable. Have you seen Far >From Heaven? I plan on seeing it tonight. It's gotten great reviews, which almost worries me, but it sounds as if it may be a fine film. I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on it. Best,


Hi Ray!

Adam Mutterperl, here. Remember me?

How are you?

You've been prolific these last few years! I've almost finished reading Cassavetes on Cassavetes, and I absolutely can't wait to delve into the Leigh book next.

I probably never expressed this to you, but you had a tremendous impact on me, my ideas about film, and art in general. I want you to know that. Through your teaching and your writings, you've provided me with the analytical tools to smell falsity and manipulation from a mile away, and to seek out the truth. For this I thank youóon one level. But on another level I curse the day I set foot into your Understanding Film class. As if my struggle to make a living in the "entertainment industry" isnít difficult enough, I have to deal with Professor Carneyís voice in the back of my head reminding me to be truthful! Unfortunately, being truthful can be poisonous when youíre an unknown filmmaker desperate to raise money for a project. So I often find myself writing frivolous things, and having to deal with the cognitive dissonance.

Anyway, I made a 16mm feature film in 1998 (the year after I graduated). It was ultra low budget: using short ends, with no professional actors or crew. I donít think it is by any means a masterpiece, but I was wondering if I could send you a VHS copy and get your feedback. It would mean a lot to me. The reason I didnít do this earlier is because I have been absolutely terrified to send it to you. I feel I know what you'd say: that I copped out, that I didn't challenge the audience enough, that the film is 'light', and that I resorted to some conventional methods of filmmaking in order to push the story forward, etc.

But itís been a couple of years now (the film was finished in 2000), and Iím a little bit less self-conscious about the whole thing. And I canít think of anyone elseís opinion that I value more.

What do you say?

Thanks in advance, Adam Mutterperl

Hello. I'm a Comunication student from Mexico. I write this to you for many reasons. I first know of your work for my film teacher René Herrera, and I've benn reeeding ayour essays (I'd particulary love The path of the artist 3). And want to say that I love your idea of cinema as an art. In the begeining I tought that they have only boil down things that I truly belive since a long time ago, but now, that I'm writing the first script that I really like, I see that it is in a huge part due to the help of your w! ritings. I've always wanted to show trougt images, the interior texture of life, in others word, see the inside mouvement of a single, simple, ephemeral, and trascendental mouvement just when you catch it, and it canges you. So, I'm trying and I'm not sure that I'll make it, but I keep remember you.

Thank's again, you have benn very heplfull to me. I was very happy to see that you mention Tarkovsky's work, (he is my favorite director) it is this kink of work that can be called great art (not only good art) because it changes you the momento you see it, and after tou see it you will never be the same again. Ho! Your thoughts on art remembered me the "pièces noires" of Anouilh... Thak you very much, It is amazing to find people who still defend cinema es an art.


Plar Roqueñí.

I hereby declare you a national treasure! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I've long thought you should find a way to get your philosophy to humanity for their salvation from the dead conformity they're in. Truly! You are right, film study alone is too limiting for your mind and the audience too small. I wish everyone could benefit from your insights and be saved from the culture we're in...

Forgive me taking the liberty of distilling a few thoughts from your writing and combining with some thoughts of my own as a way of irreverent response - put into some spontaneous bad free-form poetry... What the heck, why not, you won't judge me too harshly, I'm sure of it. Besides, I am making my own rules! My way of playing and having fun...

The Gospel According to Carney...

Good news! You who are searching for meaning in your life You who feel empty... scared... manipulated... bored Bombarded with millions of messages everyday Everywhere you turn Robbed of your humanity Deprived of your divinity Cheated of your soul Unaware of what you've lost. Brainwashed and brain-dead Unable to think, to feel, to see.

Good news! According to the Gospel of Carney Deprogram Unplug Take a risk Rewire your brain With new capacities to respond. Reclaim your life Pay the cost. The secret is simply this:

Be yourself.

Think your own thoughts Feel your own feelings Live your own life.

Turn away from the crowd. Forget all the rules. The answer is within you.

The way is not easy The road is hard There is no one right answer There is only you.

An authentic life awaits you More beautiful, more true, Explore the unexplored Begin and end with you.

Good news! According to the Gospel of Carney Salvation of, by and through Follow the path of the artist. The power is all within you.


P.S. I haven't read all of the articles yet, so you are forewarned - there may be more responses!

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©Text Copyright 2003 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.