I have written 39 full-length feature screenplays over the past 30 or so years. Four of these scripts (Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except, Lunatics: A Love Story, Running Time and If I Had a Hammer) I have made into films myself independently; one (Humans in Chains which was retitled Alien Apocalypse) I just made for the SciFi Channel; and one other script of mine (Cycles) was sold to Beacon Entertainment (producers of Air Force One) and after nearly ten years in development hell, finally went into turnaround. I heard that director/writer Phillip Kaufman (The Right Stuff) was attached to it for a while, and it’s title was inexplicably changed to Griffin.
View/Download Josh’s Screenplays Below
Download PDF – Gary Jones and I came up with the story in spring and had a first draft by July. Our plan was to shoot the film cheaply, then open it in New York City on 9/11/11, the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attack. We budgeted the film, got prices on theater rentals in Manhattan, and were entirely ready to go… but couldn’t get the financing. Good thing too, because we would have been in post-production when the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death was announced. Anyway, this is how Gary and I envisioned it.
Download PDF – Had the idea in 1988, wrote the script in 1990, shot it in 2004. It was shown on SciFi Channel in 2005 and became their highest-rated stand-alone movie ever! This is the numbered shooting script, but does’t contain the lines and shticks Bruce and I inserted during production; like the running hand-shake gag or pointing at the green alien blood on his sleeve and saying, “This isn’t coming out.”
Download PDF – This was probably the most difficult script I’ve ever written. It’s a true story that involves quite a few characters and it took a lot of research. I would think that I’m as up on Gunnery Sgt. Dan Daly as anybody presently living on the planet. Trying to get into Sgt. Daly’s head to figure out his motivations was probably the most difficult writing task I’ve ever given myself. You can judge for yourself my level of success.
Download PDF – I came up with the title, “The Horribleness” (which is an homage to “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken”), and the first gag, then asked my very good buddy, Paul Harris, to help me write the script. Although Paul and I are close friends, our one attempt at collaboration ten years earlier, “Buds,” had been rather contentious, and neither of us was happy with the final results, so we avoided writing together for a decade. It turned out, however, that writing “The Horribleness” with Paul was the most enjoyable writing experience of my life. It wasn’t an easy script to write–slapstick comedy may well be one of the most difficult genres to write–and me and Paul worked hard on this for about five months. But we had a terrific time, and laughed a lot. I hope you do, too.
Download PDF – “Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter” was originally a 9-minute 16mm short film that Scott Spiegel and I, with the assistance of Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Rob Tapert, made in 1981. Scott and I spent the next three years attempting to raise the money to make “Cleveland Smith” a feature, which we never managed to do. The script went through a number of drafts and this is the final one, dated 1984, with illustrations by Jeff Ginyard.
Download PDF – President John F. Kennedy was assassinated when I was six years old, and though I don’t remember the actual occurrence, I do clearly remember the funeral. I didn’t give Kennedy’s assassination another thought for about the next ten years, until they finally released the Zapruder film. Very little in life is as clear to me as where the killing head shot bullet, the shot that throws Kennedy back and to the left and takes off the side of his head, is coming from, which is in front of him on the grassy knoll. Every single eye witness who was interviewed said that they heard a bullet come from the grassy knoll, yet none of that testimony is in the official record, the Warren Report. So what really did happen? I’ve been mulling that over in my head for years. Finally, Oliver Stone made the brilliant film, “JFK,” and it got me thinking about the subject again. And since I flatly don’t agree with Mr. Stone’s conclusion, that LBJ was behind it all, then there still remains the real story to be told. Since I believe a writer must be like a detective and try to get at the real motivations for things, this event has always intrigued me. What really did happen that day in November, 1963? This script is my attempt to make sense of the facts, apply the proper motivations to the correct people, and put it all in chronological order, something no one else has yet done.
Download PDF – “It’s a Lost, Lost World” was the third script that Paul Harris and I wrote together. It was intended for Bruce, Ted, Renee O’Connor and Lucy Lawless. Paul is a much bigger Lost World fan than I am, so it pleased the hell out of me when I came up with that title (in the shower), laughed, thought, “Paul will love this,” pitched it to Paul and he laughed, too, and immediately wanted to write the script. It was actually quite a difficult script to write, but no one ever said art, particularly comedy, was easy. To me, “It’s a Lost, Lost World” is a sure-fire moneymaker, but clearly, what do I know?
Download PDF – Scott Spiegel and I wrote this script for Renaissance Pictures under a development deal. We wrote, and rewrote, and rewrote some more for over six months before the whole project was dropped. Clearly, Scott’s and my big influence was “Rosemary’s Baby.” But this script, I’d say, is not a rip-off or a remake, it was “inspired by” Ira Levin’s story, and I think it’s important to be inspired by something, otherwise you just end up stealing.
Download PDF – I love the idea of the change of eras in Booth Tarkington’s “The Magnificent Ambersons,” of the old days ending and the modern world beginning. Tarkington chose the 1800s as the old days and the 1900s as the modern world. I used pre-Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and post-Beatles on the show, as the change in eras from folk music and it’s ethics to rock & roll and its accompanying mindset. Within that change I believe that both a sense of innocence and commitment were lost. That was the basis for the story of “If I Had a Hammer.”
Download PDF – My very good, late friend Rick Sandford, and I really put our hearts and souls into the writing of this script, way back in 1989. It was then critically ripped to shreds by nearly everyone who read it, the main gripe being that it was about the film business. Also, that the female lead was not “likable.” But Rick and I specifically didn’t want her to be all that likable. We made her beautiful and intelligent, but somewhat unlikable, because (we surmised) if you’re beautiful and intelligent, you don’t have to be all that likable. Anyway, I just saw “Adaptation,” which is also about a screenwriter and the film he’s writing, and was put in mind of “Above the Line.” Obviously, nobody has a problem with films about filmmaking at the moment, so maybe it was just ahead of its time.
Download PDF – This was my homage to “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It also contains a premise I think is still interesting – how does a homeless person get that way? I believe that it’s probably a somewhat difficult script to read, but hey, nothing says that drama necessarily has to be fun. Sometimes it can be painful and difficult. But I do think this script knows what it’s about and does pay off, so I’m still pleased with it.
Download PDF – This is the script that was rewritten more times than any other script I’ve ever written (14 times. See both “The Making of ‘Lunatics: A Love Story'” and “Monsterization” for further details). There are quite a few differences between the script and the film.
Download PDF – Scott Spiegel and I wrote the first draft of this script in nine days, then spent the next six months rewriting it trying to get it to make sense. Interestingly, at some point over a year after we had pitched this script all over town, and had been back to Columbia a few times, they released a picture called “Breaking In” (starring Burt Reynolds and Casey Siemaszko, with a script by John Sayles) with a very similar premise and a very, very similar opening scene. Coincidence? You tell me.
Download PDF – This is the next script Scott Spiegel and I wrote after making “Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except.” There was serious talk for a month or two of Renaissance Pictures making this film right after completing “Evil Dead 2,” but alas, it did not come to be. It’s too bad, though, because I think it’s a funny script.
Download PDF – At the end of 1991, feeling utterly defeated by the film business and Los Angeles, I moved back to Michigan and got a job selling furniture. My good buddy, Paul Harris, who was working the night-shift at a self-serve gas station at the time, and I wrote this script in the evening and on weekends, and then I actually typed it up at the furniture store while waiting for customers to come in.
Over 20 more of Josh’s scripts will be available to read online very soon so please check back!