After San Francisco I went to France in the middle of June to promote Delirious for the French release. It was set to open July 4th on about 70 screens; 11 just in Paris alone. It was a big deal. Just to put things in comparison, our entire upcoming NY release will be on 2 screens.
Now, a lot of people probably think being in France for 12 days doing publicity for a film is nothing but a glorified vacation. Like I just went around from hotel to hotel, getting fed great meals, drinking all kinds of great wine, hanging out in bars, getting my picture taken a thousand times a day and having a bunch of journalists sitting around writing down every idiotic thing I had to say.
Well, yeah. That’s pretty much the picture right there. The fact is there are some perks to low-budget filmmaking. Sometimes after all the years of grueling tedium and disappointment you get tossed these brief morsels of pleasure. But you do pay for it believe me. Imagine being asked the same question 15 times a day for 2 weeks; “Why did you make this movie?” First of all even answering it once is hard, especially if you’re genuinely trying to put some thought into it and inform people what had inspired you. The stakes are even higher if your hope is to have the answer inspire people to see the film.
So, you get a little passionate about it. You reach back into your soul and revisit all the hidden aches and half-realized thoughts you had that prompted you to begin this long, impossible march to the screen. You try to do it in such a way that the journalist takes that journey with you. And if they barely speak English? Well, you speak a little slower and a lot louder. After Day 6 when the question comes at 9 in the morning, you start to hate everything about promoting the film especially the sound of your own voice.
But then it’s lunchtime and you sit down to a 4-course meal, you drink a great espresso, crash for 20 minutes and then start the afternoon. “So, tell me; why did you make this movie?”
I traveled all over France, from Paris to Bordeaux, to Lyons, Avignon and Lilles. I did press during the day followed by evening screenings of the film. I actually enjoyed talking to the audience afterwards. For some reason I never feel nervous. I like to engage the audience, hear their thoughts and entertain them a little bit. If someone asks a question I really try to answer it. If someone asks a stupid question I really try to answer it by humiliating them. I’m kidding. But, like I said; people have strong opinions and little qualms about sharing them. One guy in Lilles stood up and furiously denounced Delirious because it didn’t have sections of black and white the way Living In Oblivion did.
I said, “I made that movie 12 years ago. Plus, I’ve made 4 movies since then that don’t have black and white in them.” The guy snapped back he didn’t know I’d made any other movies. I said, “Yeah, then you need to get out of here right now and go to a video store.” I took out my wallet and handed him some cash. He laughed and so did the audience, which was great because that meant now I could make more jokes at his expense, which I did about 8 more times.
One afternoon in Paris I did a live online chat. The questions came in and I sat with a translator on a computer quickly coming up with the answers. Here’s one that stood out for me:
Did you imagine this project as a satire, a film of friendship, a film of love, or a voluntarily disturbed film? Which were your intentions at the time of the writing?
“The film is all of the things you wrote. In fact you have answered your own question for me. So, goodbye. But here is an answer if you insist. The main idea was my belief that the world today is obsessed with celebrity. The most important news on the planet this morning was that Paris Hilton was released from prison. She’s finally free, thanks to a pardon from President Bush. Some people believe this is preferrential treatment based on the credible rumors circulating now that she’s his daughter from a secret previous marriage.’’
Sometimes after being in a hotel room all day I’d get a little stir-crazy. I’ve been taking boxing lessons for about 2 years and part of my workout is jumping rope; an exercise comparable to carrying Mike Tyson up the Empire State Building. One afternoon I went into the Luxembourg Gardens and found a secluded spot. I’d been jumping for about 3 minutes when I sensed something behind me. Turning I saw 8 little French kids about 6 years old, huddled in a mystified cluster silently watching me. Unfortunately they scattered as soon as I opened my mouth which kind of hurt my feelings because I’d really wanted to talk to them.
As I walked back to the hotel I spotted a huge poster of Delirious on a billboard. No matter how many times you see one in public it still brings a thrill. There it is, your movie hanging up there for all the world to see. I was just about to walk away when I caught sight of myself in a car window. Now I knew why the kids had run off. I was dripping with sweat and my hair was in a rubberband, sticking straight up like some lunatic, homicidal samurai.