I’m about 8 miles high somewhere over Kansas. It’s pitch black out the window. I’m flying out to LA to finish the final mix and the color correction of When You’re Strange. The entire film has to be completed and shipped to Sundance by Dec. 29.

A couple of clarifications: this is not the official site of the film. That is being set up by Rhino Entertainment and will include all the details about the film they feel legally obligated to reveal. As soon as it is up and running I’ll post the address.

The artwork that exists on this site is not official either. It’s just me, messing around. I’m slightly more than 100% confident that the final artwork will look totally different.

The photo in the banner above is a freeze frame from the film. Its original source is a 35mm short feature that Jim Morrison wrote, starred in and financed called HWY. He had a tiny crew of friends from his days at UCLA film school. The team consisted of soundman Babe Hill, editor Frank Lisciandro and cinematographer Paul Ferrara. Most of the amazing footage that comprises When You’re Strange was also shot by Ferrara.

 

Jim Morrison as the “hitchhiker” in his film HWY and freeze-frame from When You’re Strange

 

I did not know HWY was a separate entity when I began this film. Before the job was officially offered to me I was sent boxes of dvd’s with no labels except ones like “The Doors—Lab Roll 0045”. Outtakes of HWY appeared at random throughout the dvd’s, mixed in with many hours of footage of the band shot between 1966 and 1971. Most of the footage had no sound. Some had been recorded but the original 1/4″ tapes had disappeared.

As a result, the first wave of film was utterly silent.  Watching it was like entering another world; like falling sideways into a crystal sharp mirror of America; only one that was tilted backwards at a 40 year angle. The footage was stunning. There was nothing musty or nostalgic about it; it all seemed like it was shot three days ago. But the shots of Morrison wandering through the desert were mesmerizing.

From the beginning I was under tremendous pressure to come up with a Concept.

What’s the Concept, man?! What’s the Concept!!

After 3 weeks of sleepless nights an idea poked into my brain about how to use this footage of Morrison to connect the whole film. I won’t reveal it here because its surprise is crucial to experiencing the film. Out of respect for Morrison’s HWY only outtakes are used; no edited sequences. The shots are so personal and intense they give When You’re Strange the feel of a dramatic feature. In fact, a few people who’ve seen the film can’t believe it is Jim. At one screening some helpful genius asked, “So, who’d you get to double for Morrison?” This prompted several members of the team to panic and contemplate tacking on a disclaimer explaining the film used no actors or re-enactments. I’m happy to report that idea was quickly vetoed.

But I’ll say it here one more time just so there ain’t no confusion: every frame of the film is of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore. Absolutely nothing is re-enacted.

The Doors on Venice Beach

The power of all this original  footage sparked another idea; to keep the film entirely in its own time-frame. And here I reveal something that may thrill some fans and infuriate others: there are no contemporary interviews or talking heads in the film. The film tells the story of the band using only the real footage of The Doors.

For this offense I accept full responsibility. I felt there was more benefit in letting the images speak for themselves. It keeps that wild, 6-year moment completely fresh and alive so audiences can fall into the story and experience The Doors as if it were all just happening now.

But, don’t get me wrong; the film is still a highly detailed historical document of The Doors. I had private conversations with each member of the band. One afternoon at Robby’s house he told me his two sole addictions are the 2 G’s; Golf and his Guitar. He played me a cut from his new solo album with a guitar line so incredible I asked for a copy right there. He politely refused. But he blew my mind when he called the next day saying he liked my suggestion to add some urban grit to a drum track.

I spoke to Jim’s sister Anne and several members of her family. Anne invited Peter Jankowski and me to her home for dinner one night. After homemade strawberry shortcake she floored me by placing in my hands a rare copy of Jim’s first self-published books of poems.

Morrison’s self-published book of poetry

I met with Penny Courson, the impassioned mother of Jim’s girlfriend Pam. Ownership of the Morrison estate passed into her hands upon her daughter’s death and is now shared jointly with the Morrisons.

Jeff Jampol, The Doors manager, co-ordinated all of these meetings. Some of this water runs deep with tricky currents; it clearly revealed Jampol’s extreme skill in navigation. He also provided some real insight into the band that helped form the film.

I read the entire transcript of the Miami trial where Jim was charged with felony for “exposing” himself. The testimony reads like a scene out of Kafka written by the Marx Bros.

Prosecutor Terrence McWilliams: “How far would you say your organ was behind Morrison?”
Ray Manzarek: “Oh, a comfortable distance.”

I listened to every Doors album as if I’d never heard them before. I was 14 when their 1st record came out. I was on my way to a junior high school dance with a plastic shampoo bottle that I’d emptied and filled with scotch. I was sipping it when the original, long version of “Light My Fire” first snaked itself into my brain. Even now that song evokes the taste of warm scotch laced with soap.

I read every book and magazine article written about The Doors and found only in the rarest circumstances did any two people agree about anything. The most daunting challenge was trying to arrive at something personal and hopefully, truthful out of all this information. The last thing I wanted do was simply paraphrase everything that has been written or said about this hugely respected, hugely influential and hugely controversial band.

I began writing a narration to help connect the scenes. The first sentence was the hardest I’ve ever written. After a few days the words began to come a little easier. My editors Micky Blythe and Kevin Krasny were great, creative collaborators in finding and building the images into fluid sequences. But the process of discovering the film was a completely new experience.

Morrison in his film HWY and freeze-frame from When You’re Strange

Usually, when I write a screenplay, I’ll sit alone for a few months pounding out a 1st draft. I’ll show it to one or two people then start the 2nd draft; again working entirely alone. All the trial and error takes place between me and my keyboard. With When You’re Strange all the trial and error took place in public. At least 5 people witnessed each attempt at fitting narration to image. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn’t. When it didn’t there was no place to hide. With Micky’s and Kevin’s encouragement I basically discovered the film by thinking out loud for almost a year.

And the more I learned about the band, the more the film kept evolving. When You’re Strange is not just the story of Jim Morrison. It is the story of The Doors–all four of them. Ray Manzarek once said The Doors in concert were like 4 sides of a diamond with Jim at the forward point, Ray and Robby on either side and John forming the point in the rear. Each side was equal to and supporting the other.

I absolutely believe this is true.

And, oh yeah; did I mention that nothing in the film is a fokkin’ re-enactment?

Posted by:Tom

91 thoughts on “ 53. MOJO RISIN ”

  1. Hey Tom!

    I can strongly sense your respect and connection to this project in your words above; you are a talented writer, my friend. It’s so incredibly amazing that one of your life experiences now includes this project. So cool 🙂

    I love the personal tidbits you’ve added in this post. Scotch and soap, eh? These are the snippets of youthful experiences that everyone who sees the film will remember, I think. They’re already remembering when reading your blog.

    Definitely keep us posted on any hint of a theatrical date. Know you need to do Sundance and Berlin, but hope it can be in theatres in 2009! So happy for you 🙂

    Elaine

  2. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for posting the information about the film (and the earlier post). Hope it all goes well at Sundance and the way this film is set up sounds like a huge thrill for both maker and viewer!
    My hopes are high for a theatrical release in Europe, hopefully not in the too distant future.

    Good luck and I’ll be checking in to see what else is new on here!

    Take care,
    Lucas Schlicher
    The Netherlands

  3. Hey Elaine,
    True story about the shampoo bottle. Thank god my old man doesn’t use the internet. It was his scotch.

    I appreciate your comments about my intentions with the film. It has been a hugely rewarding experience.

    Let’s see what the New Year brings. I wish us both the best.
    Tom

  4. Hey Lucas,
    Thanks for writing. I think a theatrical release in Europe is very likely. We go to Berlin in February and we shall see what the interest is from European distributors.
    I know the Doors had a great, exciting tour through northern Europe, including the Netherlands, and I think the dutch fans will really enjoy it.
    best,
    Tom

  5. Hey Tom,

    The shampoo/scotch memory was too funny!

    Thanks for the faith/encouragement in writing, and for new year’s wishes. I hope 2009 is great too!

    Went to see “Frost/Nixon” this past weekend; Sam Rockwell is in it. While I still think the Kid in Box of Moonlight is his best performance, he did well in this role. His character had scenes of irritation which worked, since Rockwell ‘pouts effectively’ on screen. There were many nuggets to walk away with, but the key one for me was this: If you believe in yourself enough, and take yourself seriously enough–no matter how many others may be doubting you–you can acheive great things. And it’s all the more rewarding if people are nearby who support that effort.

    Thx again, Tom. Happy New Year 🙂

    Elaine

  6. Hey Baron,
    I can’t give too much away here because I really feel the film will be best experienced completely fresh.

    But…yes, London…

    best,
    T

  7. Tom!

    Sam from Sweden, again. With the mission, remember? I am a film writer/critic here, any of the Swedish distributors in particular you think i should give a heads up? Or is it better if I don´t?

    It would be an act of total selfishness, this film will do just fine all by itself, naturally. But I really, really want to see “When you´re strange” on the big screen in Stockholm next year.

    All the best,
    sam

  8. Hey MonkeyBlue,
    It is my sincere hope the film will be released in France. It plays like a narrative feature and would be great on the big screen and I know audiences would dig it. So, let’s see what happens in Berlin.
    Thanks,
    Tom

  9. Hey Sam,
    Good to hear from you again. By all means you should mention the film to whatever Swedish distributors you know. Tell them the film is going to the Berlin Film Festival and February and that is where we hope to make the majority of our European sales.
    I think the best distributor for this film is someone who is smart and recognizes the power that Doors fans have all around the world.
    A theatrical release on a big screen in Stockholm would do very well for them. And of course for you.
    Many thanks for the assistance.
    Happy New Year,
    Tom

  10. First of all, happy new year! I hope it will be a big year for you.

    My congratulations for the film. I like very much what you write about it. No talking heads, the whole band as one true creative force (since this is a The Doors documentary, and not a Morrison biaography, it’s the correct way to follow), nothing re-enactment, just The Doors in their years, with their concerts, their interiews, their performances… inside that six magic years for the rock history. And, at the same time, for the audience of the film, having the feeling to look to something that it could be happening now.

    If I understand well (I’m from Spain) I think you have chosen a perfect and original point of view. You are a very talented autor so sure the film will be at the same level.

    I hope to see the film in theatres here in Spain (it’s the best way to feel the Doors and the film intentions).
    So if you can, don’t forget San Sebastián Festival (where you got some awards with the great “Delirious” in 2006). It could be a nice launchpad for the film in Spain, because of the notoriety of this festival in our lands.

    Good luck in Sundance, and have a deserved rest now if you can!
    (I am impressed with you answering one by one each comment… sure you are so busy, that’s so very kind)

    I wish you the best from the sunny south of Spain!

  11. OK great I´ll talk to a few that at least should be all over it. By the way when I read about the narrative voice above I thought of Eddie Vedder. Maybe he´s one of the people you approached? Also Tom – you should see Swedish movie “Let the right one in” if you haven´t already. Better than Bergman. Would love to hear your thoughts!

    Best,
    Sam

  12. Hola David,
    Great to hear from you. I appreciate your comments on the film’s intentions.
    Of course, I will never forget San Sebastian. I would like very much to show the film there as I have had wonderful experiences there with “Delirious.” Also, there is nothing to compare with Spanish hospitality. I’m serious.
    I think we will need to see what happens in Berlin to determine what festivals the film goes to next. But, I feel strongly Doors fans around the world will discover something in the film.
    Best,
    Tom

  13. Hey Sam,
    Eddie Vedder was considered. I like him very much. The narration is kind of unusual though and I think requires the emotion and intention of a real actor. A good actor. Not just a name actor. The most important thing is that you believe what the narrator is saying–and you believe he believes what he is saying.
    I’ve heard great things about Let The Right One In. It has been on my list to see.
    best,
    Tom

  14. Hi Tom!

    I wanted to wish you the best of luck at Sundance with “When You’re Strange”! I watched it again this week and must admit I’m really liking the finished product. I hope you make it out west again soon, and if you do please let me know.

    Happy ’09,
    Ash

  15. Hey Ash,
    Great to hear from you. Glad you got a chance to see the finished product after all this time. I have a feeling I’ll be out in the near future as there still needs to be a color-correct pass made to generate the actual film print.
    I’ll let you know. Thanks for all your help on the film.
    And thanks for the good wishes for Sundance. I’m excited about the film and I hope we get a response that will help get the film into theaters.
    besst,
    Tom

  16. Hey Tom,

    Best wishes for an enjoyable and successful Sundance. Hope the Doors can make it to the premiere.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned during 2009’s dubious beginning, it’s that artistic endeavors are the highest form of passionate pursuit. It’s a glimpse into humanity’s soul, helping us make sense out of things in a world where many things make no sense.

    Let us know how the festival goes, and remember to enjoy the ride 🙂

    Elaine

  17. Tom,

    I’m really excited about this film. I heard about this on The Door’s board and the enthusiasm has been building. I’m so happy for you..best of luck with everything. I can’t wait to see this!!

    X

  18. Hey Xgirl,
    Thanks so much for your kind words. Listen, if people with your moving enthusiasm respond to the film (I think you will) and spread the word, there is no telling what can happen.
    My best to you.
    Tom

  19. Hi Elaine,
    Your commitment to art (yours and the world’s) is highly admirable. Between you’n me, it’s the only thing that keeps me going.
    I will keep your words in mind as I venture out into Mormontonia in three days.
    “Enjoy the ride.”
    I’ve taken the ride 6 times. It isn’t always a warm jelly donut but if I didn’t find a way to take some pleasure in it what a fool I’d be.
    Thanks.
    best,
    Tom

  20. Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the kind words re: art commitment. I’m not sure it’s willpower or even a decision on my part, though. Sometimes life events just hurl us into that place where we’re forced to look at what’s truly important. Aside from the usual, artistic pursuits are it for me. Anytime I see a great film, listen to a phenomenal musician, read a book that sticks with me–those are the things that intertwine with who we are and change us, if only briefly. It’s what I want to do more than anything else. What better way to spend one’s time?

    Yeah, 2009 has been thought provoking. I’ll send you a MySp email with more detail.

    For now, I’m thankful other artists had the guts to follow their dreams. Can you imagine life if the Doors had never come together? The world would be different. People’s memories of history would be different. And because they did have the guts, didn’t sell out, and did pursue truth–they were one of most phenomenal bands ever.

    You’ve kept going despite hard times for Indie film too, and I’m happy you did.

    Here’s to 2009 – the year to keep on going, never quitting!

    Thx 🙂
    Elaine

  21. Hey Tom, best of luck at Sundance I wish everybody the best. Oh by the way I got my hands on one of the posters. I’m glad you, Big Jeff and the Doors made them available. Thanks again and enjoy the snow.

  22. Hi Tom
    I am so excited about the Doc only 2 days and counting !!Are you nervous 🙂 ???I want to tell you Thank You and Best of luck to you and all of the guys who helped making this film!!And thanks for finding the time to answer all our questions here!Well i have a little question ,when is the new website about When You’re Strange coming up ?

  23. Hey Jennifer,
    Val was under consdideration for a while. I have great respect for him. The feeling was there was too much of a connection to the Oliver Stone film.
    best,
    Tom

  24. Hey Elaine,
    Well spoken; eloquent as usual. As the times get stranger, so things get stranger too. I’m grateful for even a glimmer of truth these days–though not so grateful that I can’t be fokkin’ pissed off at the size of the morsel.
    I’m gone for a week.
    Who knows where my heart and soul will be when I return?
    best,
    Tom

  25. Hey Baron,
    Good snag on the poster. Thanks very much for the words of encouragement. The film screens Saturday night (Mormon time). My goal is to enjoy the experience.
    best,
    Tom

  26. Hey Teo,
    Yes, only 2 days. I’m not nervous about the film. I’ve seen it enough times to know that all the work that went into it really holds up. In fact, I’m really excited to see it with a real audience.

    I’m actually more nervous about where I’m staying. I’m told I have a small room in the basement of a thermal underwear discount outlet store.

    I’m asking about the website myself. I’m told, “Soon…soon…”
    best.
    Tom

    best,
    Tom

  27. Hi Tom,

    I am very intrigued to see your film. It must have been an amazing experience to talk with all those people who were friends and family of The Doors. I love making films myself, and I appreciate you making a film about this mysterious, thought-provoking band. Are there any unusual stories or facts about Jim that really stick out in your mind after spending much time with his closest friends and family? Also, what did you think of the movie HWY?

    Andrew

  28. Hey Tom,

    Good points amidst kindness again, thank you. Truth is scarce, but when it’s there–it radiates from the screen and directly into the audience’s heart. I’ll never forget that “wow” moment upon first seeing Box of Moonlight. I went online to buy all your others, sight unseen, the next day–because when that soulful spirit exists, it’s there regardless of subject matter. I’m sure the Doors film is riveting, and can’t wait to see it.

    Where will your heart and soul be upon return? Hmm. Between that impassioned spirit of yours and a wicked sense of humor (a thermal discount outlet underwear store?! Do dwarfs show up in ski apparel?) — I’m hoping for inspired.

    Enjoy the festival and the panels. Noticed you were on a panel about Indie films. That would be a cool blog subject eventually.

    Thx
    Elaine

  29. Hi Tom, I’m sure you were planning on doing this but I think a lot of us would like to know what you thought about the opening night showing with an audience tomorrow night. Also, during a first showing are you watching the film all the way through or are you watching the audience to see what they might be thinking? Just wondering. Thanks and Good Luck.

  30. Hey Andrew,
    Yes, it was pretty amazing meeting and talking to Ray, John and Robby; as well as the members of Morrison’s family. I frankly never would have imagined something like this happening when I was 14 and listening to The End.
    There are many stories I could share. I will go into more detail later but one little bit of info I found fascinating is that Jim’s two favorite singers were first, Elvis, and then later Frank Sinatra.
    I thought HWY was very good. It is not entirely my style of filmmaking but I really respect the way Jim and his friends just went out and made a film exactly the way they wanted.
    best,
    Tom

  31. Hey Elaine,
    Just got in to Sundance a few hours ago. Saw your comment and wanted to thank you once again for your great generosity of heart. The task of keeping my sense of humor over the next few days will be crucial–and exhausting.
    More on why later.
    Yes, a blog on the panel could be informative. My only fear is that it turns into a 3 hour Whine Session. I’ll be the Anti-Whiner.

    Big day tomorrow with press and the screening at 9pm. Then press all day Sunday. I’ll be off the radar for a while.

    Very best,
    Tom

  32. Hey Baron,
    As I just wrote to Elaine, I got in a few hours ago. I’d love to try and keep a running commentary on events here but frankly it’s like going into warfare for the next 3 days and I ain’t gonna be able to swing it.
    But, tomorrow night is huge. It is the first time the film will screen in front of a real audience. It is the world premiere of the film. My attention will be split rather madly between watching the film and watching the audience. I just finished mixing and color–correcting only 2 weeks ago and I still haven’t seen the whole film in its completed state.
    And of course, the audience. Their reaction will be key in determining the future life of the film. And of course the press. And of course any interest from US distributors and of course if you dwell on any of this shit for more than 2 seconds you go insane.
    I will try to watch the film with my editors and producers and appreciate all the months of heart, sweat and tears that went into it.
    More to come.
    T

  33. Hey Tom,

    Before Jim left to face the judge in Miami on October 30th, he said to me that he was going to take his humor with him and wear it like an armoured tank. I wish you a tank of humor to combat the critics whether they be audience, film reviewers, or distributors.

  34. Ah, Salli,
    What a wonderful–and wonderfully helpful note to get.
    From this and the article you wrote on Jim it is clear you had a real connection with him. He seemed open and completely trusting with you. I can actually hear him saying those words.
    I will remember them.
    Thank you.
    Tom

  35. Hey Tom, it was great getting to meet you today, so thanks again for stopping! I hope there was a good turn out at the premiere. I’ll be seeing it on Tuesday, in Salt Lake, and I’m looking forward to it!

    Have you seen, or are you going to be seeing any of the other films that are in the festival?

    Jessica

  36. Tom,

    As with everything, you’re very welcome 🙂

    Hope the premiere/press days are going great for you. Yup, I can imagine how exhausting it must be. Hang in there! Been thinking about ya and sending great festival buzz wishes your way!

    Saw a brief commercial on TV last night. Robert Redford was talking about Sundance, how much he likes documentaries and how he’s glad the festival has that category. Wanted to pass that along.

    You offered great advice to me once, which I’m offering back at this crazy time. Keep your head up, keep your integrity, and keep your smile. And don’t let the bastards get you down 🙂 Wish I could add something to it, but truth is, it was fantastic advice to begin with!

    I’m pulling for you!
    Thx, Elaine

  37. Hey Jessica,
    How cool to run into you! One of the highlights of the day.

    I am pretty fried but the good news is that most of the heavy press is over. Things are going well. More later.
    best T

  38. Hey Elaine,
    good return advice. thanks also for the card. it was included in my sundance package when I checked in.
    Massively exhausted. Great response to the film. Great interaction with the band members who are all doing press with me.
    “Must sleep now.” Homer Simpson

  39. Hi Tom-you must be a sleep w/ the angels as i type this.

    Sounds like(besides the fact your exhausted)that things went relatively well w/ the press and the bandmates.

    Just wondering why we have not seen or heard too much about this doc. yet?I know it just had it’s premiere the other night,but thought there would be more reviews &/or comments on it from those that were lucky enough attend it.Was the premiere for close friends,families and associates?

    It is my understanding this is all set-up and ready to go for the media’s go around.Think that goes tonight.Will we then begin to see and hear more stuff about it?

    Are you guys lined up(or have you already done)interviews w/ major entertainment tv programs?Such as Access Hollywood,Entertainment Tonight,Extra,etc?I ask because i am really thrilled that this is off the ground for you and wanna have my recorder ready to record any media you folks do for television or major magazines.

    That’s all.Call me impatient,but,i am hoping by the press premiere we will see the site up for the doc and have enough information(including pic snaps you’ll be putting up on your page here of the doc.)to keep us satisfied(or perhaps merely i)for a time.Well,before this reaches(fingers firmly crossed)the home blu-ray dvd market sometime(i hope)in the Summer or Fall.

    Thanks Bro.

    And keep on,keeping on!

  40. Tom, I must say, I am enjoying your blog and the interactions of your friends, colleagues and DOORS fans. I have always felt the very first place I’d go with my Time Machine, would be a Doors concert.

    Thanks everybody!

    Please believe me
    The river told me
    Very softly
    Want you to hold me, ooo

    Free fall flow, river flow
    On and on it goes
    Breath under water ’till the end
    Free fall flow, river flow
    On and on it goes
    Breath under water ’till the end
    Yes, the river knows

  41. Tom,

    That’s FANTASTIC that the film premiere went well!!

    Glad the card made it there. I had no idea how long it took the post ofc to reach mormonland.

    Congrats on the premiere and keep us posted!

    Elaine

  42. Hey Tom!!!

    Saw the Faith Salie interview with you, Ray and Robby. Great stuff! I loved Ray’s comments on Jim, always being with them.

    Hope you’re surviving and enjoying Sundance, and that you’re not too exhausted 🙂 Utah is warmer than the South this week; it’s freezing here!

    Keep up the great work, Tom. I so can’t wait to see the film.

    Thx,
    Elaine

  43. Hey Tom,

    Okay, I admit it. My name is Elaine, and I’m a blog-aholic when it comes to films/artists that inspire me.

    I know you’re slammed–wanted to list a few URLs of interviews in case your blog readers wanted to read/see them. It took some browsing for me to find these since so much is being written on Sundance–this way they can easily find them.

    Sundance Channel Interview:
    http://www.sundancechannel.com/festival/blog/2009/01/festival-updates-interview-tom-dicillo-when-youre-strange/

    SpoutBlog Interview:
    http://blog.spout.com/2009/01/20/tom-dicillo-when-youre-strange-interview-sundance-2009/

    Geoff Gilmore note on the film (I swear I saw his name listed with this blurb the other day. It’s a great little piece on the film.)
    http://festival.sundance.org/2009/film_events/films/when_youre_strange/

    I also put the Sundance Channel interview on my blog, linked back to the Indie blurb and inserted some comments. The URL for the blog post is:
    http://thewriterscanvas.blogspot.com/2009/01/when-you-strange-interview.html

    Noticed the critics are out in full force too. Remember what Goddard said: critics are soldiers who fire on their own troops. You’ve got the Doors by your side, believing in your film. You’ve had great audience response to the film. You’ve got the rest of us Doors and DiCillo fans who aren’t in Park City and can’t wait to see the film. And you’ve got an admitted blogaholic that will shout its praises from Southern rooftops.

    Keep up the good work, Tom, and keep that sense of humor.

    Elaine

  44. Elaine, you are an angel. Thanks so much for putting those links together. When I come up for air I’ll put them in the blogroll.
    Ah, yes; the critics. Full force indeed.
    All I can say is, strange. Very strange.
    very best,
    Tom

  45. Elaine, thanks for those links! It was cool to see Tom in action! Tom, you said something in one of your interviews, “Jim was a boy” (or something to that effect). I think that simple observation has been lost in the celebrity machine. I doubt many of us would want our 20’s examined under an electron microscope, I know I sure wouldn’t.

    Never mind the critics dude.

    “Take a walk with me and everything will turn out fine”

  46. You’re welcome 🙂 I’d been browsing the Sundance site and knew your fans would like the interviews too.

    Apparently critics not only fire on their own troops, but they hurl punches at film reps? Interesting news on IndieWire this morning. Just goes to show there are strange events all around…

    Enjoy and keep on 🙂
    Elaine

  47. Hey Tom,

    Congrats on getting the Doors doc done & out to Sundance – just read the interview w/ you at Spout.

    The doc sounds very interesting – looking forward to checking it out. I am glad there are no re-enactments in it – those usually ruin the illusion of reality that I like kept intact when I watch docs.

    Also, my new movie Indie Film Blogger Road Trip will have its premiere on 2/17 at Anthology in NYC, come by if you are in town that day & want to see the first documentary about blogging – the flick is all about people who blog about independent films, I made it last year all the info. re: premiere here:
    http://indiefilmbloggersmovie.blogspot.com/2009/01/world-premiere-of-indie-film-blogger.html

    Best of luck on ’09 projects!

    – Sujewa

  48. Hi Tom,

    I just came around to straighten out some of the chronology of the footage used for the film. The Doors’ organization has kind of lost track of when/where things are from (hence the unmarked reels, and missing audio recorded by Babe Hill), so I thought I would shed a little light on the actual origin of the footage in context.

    The footage shot by Paul Ferrara doesn’t actually cover a five-year span, as I’ve heard quoted often recently. The HWY footage was shot over one weekend in early April of 1969.
    The Feast of Friends footage covers time on the road/concerts between mid-April and September 1st, 1968.
    I put together a simple list of those, as I was going to try to clear some of the questionable dates with Paul soon, which you can find here: http://radioismoaning.com/fof.php
    The question marks are all dates where we know of footage being shot in that city, but not necessarily at that particular concert.
    The main page’s Tour History section has a chronology of 65-72 shows with links to photos, memorabilia, etc. in a less stripped-down form.
    If you need any help identifying any of the photos/films, drop us a line.

    Good luck with getting some solid distribution, looking forward very much to seeing the film out in the Midwest.
    – Chris

  49. Hey Tom,

    More links for your blog readers. Y’all appear more relaxed in this longer interview. It also confirmed what I instantly felt upon seeing the earlier interview–Ray Manzarek is a classy, classy guy. I like all the members of The Doors, but I’ve been particularly impressed by Ray’s spirit.

    A 3 1/2 star nod for the film:
    http://www.film-finder.com/Review.asp?ID=70082

    Interview with Tom, Ray and Robby:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v319aHuzt2Q

    Artisan News piece on the film, plus Ray’s comments on the Oliver Stone film versus Tom’s version:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK25lV0gfII&feature=related

    Ray and Robby performing Riders on the Storm:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0b0eFXqRaw&feature=related

    Ray and Robby performing Road House Blues:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G2bxveo2VM&feature=channel

    Enjoy!

    Elaine

  50. hey tom!

    first off, congrats on your new film!
    and now to go off topic…i just saw ‘Delirious’ the other day (which i thought was awesome) and it brought back memories of ‘The Real Blonde’ – which i’m not sure you’ll remember me from but i played “Sheila” 😉
    i’m very proud to say that a film, ‘The Death of Alice Blue’ that i produced (my 1st feature!) was invited to screen at the MOMA – if you are still living in NY and around in March….well, it would be an honour to have you at a screening (program takes place the 18-23 but don’t have specific time/date of screenings yet.

    best wishes,

    alex

  51. Tom,

    Wanted to send my best wishes for the awards ceremony tonight!!

    I’ve grown fond of the music group “Muse” lately; one lyric says “You set my soul alive.” That’s what your films and great art do for me 🙂

    Best wishes–when you come up for air, fill us in on the details!

    Elaine

  52. Hey Tom,

    I was lucky enough to get the chance to chat with you and John up at Sundance and I just wanted to say that the two of you made my trip. Thanks for the interesting discussion and best of luck with everything. Keep in touch and let me know if you ever need anything from my end of the world.

    Cheers,
    Alexis

    I’ll drop you a line when the interview is live.

  53. Hey Alexis,
    great to hear from you. Sorry about the delay. Been a little crazy since I got back.
    I really enjoyed talking with you too. John is great to do these interviews with. A few times I had to shake myself to really realize I was sitting with a member of the The Doors talking about this film.
    The same thing happened with Robby and Ray.
    What a trip it has been. Let me know when the interview goes up. I’ll post a link to it.
    best,
    Tom

  54. Thanks for the trailer link, Elaine. I just added it to the site. Also, thanks for the detective work on the other opinions of the film. I added one or two of them to the site as well.
    T

  55. Hey Alex, how wonderful to hear from you. Congratulations on your new film. Let me know via this page when you get your dates confirmed.
    I may have some traveling to do with When You’re Strange but I’m sure I’ll have a chance to see it.
    best,
    Tom

  56. Hey Chris,
    Listen, man, thanks very much for this very useful and specific info. I knew HWY was shot over a brief period of time but did not know that about the other footage.
    I’ll check out your site asap.
    Just know that I was trying to tell the most comprehensive story of the Doors using as much live footage as possible. Some large periods of their career had very little live coverage. So, some of the footage may be a little off date for what is being discussed but every effort was made to keep it as accurate as possible.
    Thanks again,
    Tom

  57. Hey Sujewa,
    Great to hear from you. Sorry it took a while to respond. Been a little jammed up here.
    Your doc sounds very cool! I will check out the info and come by if I can.
    It is the weirdest thing about the rare footage. Since no one has seen it before, and it looks so incredible, people still aren’t believing it is Jim Morrison. And it is!! Some jerk walked out of a screening in Sundance because he was furious we’d used a “re-enactment.”
    I chased after him, yellin, “It’s real! It’s real!”
    Who could ever have imagined that something real would cause me so many problems.
    I wish you the best with your film.
    sincerely,
    Tom

  58. Hey Mario,
    I didn’t realize the truth of what I’d said about Jim until you just pointed it out.
    We all forget he was only 27 when he moved on. Subtract 5 and he was only 22 when the Doors blew open.
    It was his boyish innocence that made a real impression on me in looking at all this footage. He was like a 12 year old; an eternal juvenile delinquent.
    Now, that’s something i can personally relate to.
    Thanks for the support.
    Let’s see what happens with this thing.
    best,
    Tom

  59. Hey Dave,
    Your comment came in while I was up there on the ice. By now you can see that the reaction was pretty intense. Check out the next blog, Round One. That will explain a little why some of the info on the film was slow in getting out.
    The premiere was open to all. It was at a smaller theater a little outside of town. Very little press was there. Most were at the premiere of the new Aston Kuchner movie which premiered at the same time.
    I’m still trying to find out when the official site is going to be up. It may be already. Try all combinations of whenyourestrangethemovie.com and see if anything comes up.

  60. thanks! and will keep you posted! i am going to be in berlin and was looking at the schedule and noticed your film is screening – will definitely try and get to one of the screenings 🙂 congrats!

  61. Tom in the film what would you consider the most rare footage that no one has ever seen before? sorry for my bad English, I’m mexican.

  62. Hola Mauro,
    thanks for writing.
    The main footage that has not been seen before is from Jim Morrison’s own film called HWY (Highway). I use outtakes from it and we see Jim Morrison in a beautiful and strange way.

    There is other footage of the band on stage and off that few people have seen. And there is film of Morrison swimming in a river when he was very young that almost no one has seen.

    best,
    Tom

  63. Hi Tom,
    thanks for replying back.
    just wanted to say that you can see Jim’s own film HWY on youtube, also the part where jim is swimming in the river is also on youtube but there are videos where you can see for only 2 to 3 seconds rare footage, I hope we get to see all the footage that was taken on live shows,backstage, and more.

    thanks!

  64. Tom,
    I am so hoping I will get the opportunity to see the film. It’s refreshing that it’s a film about The Doors, and not just a Morrison biopic. The Oliver Stone film didn’t seem to give much care or thought in portraying the entire band. Thank you for giving us fans of music and film a portal into the world of the Doors, a band of the visual and sonic realms fused together.
    Regards,
    Don

  65. Hi Mauro,
    I think there is a lot of footage from HWY and the Kern river that no one has seen. And they have not seen it the way it looks in the film; rich, beautiful and interwoven into the story of the band.

    There is of course film that some have seen before–but the other stuff is amazing.
    best,
    Tom

  66. Hey Don,
    Thanks for writing. I’m proud of the way the fim attempts to treat each member of the band equally. Morrison was certainly the most extreme but Ray, Robby and John were his perfect counterparts.
    I really do believe it was the talents of the 4 of them togther that made the Doors what they were.
    And all four were indeed, uniquely gifted.
    The film tries to actually explain how each of their different talents affected the Doors sound.
    Rest assured; you will see the film.
    best,
    Tom

  67. Hi Tom,
    Well I just wanted to say that you’re a very nice person and that I hope we can see the film in theaters or on DVD soon, also I hope you and the three doors can come visit us in San Francisco soon!

    thanks!

  68. Hey Mauro,
    Thank you for your kind words. I think there is a very good chance the film will show in theaters in San Francisco. I’ll do my best to come and bring the Doors with me.
    Tom

  69. Hey Jou,
    No, not the whole concert because I don’t think that was ever filmed in its entirety. But I do have the footage of Morrison being arresteed on stage, which I know is on YouTube, but it looks incredible in the film as it is restored and color-corrected.
    best,
    Tom

  70. WOW I see you uploaded some pictures of ”when you’re strange”
    is there a way you can make them bigger??

    thanks!

  71. Hey Mauro,
    Thanks for the tip. I fixed it. One little button I did not click. Now you will see the bigger images.
    best,
    Tom

  72. Hello Tom ,
    First of all i would like to thank you for making this movie , i am extremely excited about it and i am sure it is a dream come true for all doors fans around the world . I just wanted to ask you , i read somewhere that you saw almost 2oo hours of footage ,do you think more rare footage could be released on the dvds , As the movie itslef only covers 90 minutes . Any ways i would like to thank you once again on behalf of all the doors fans here in pakistan .

  73. Hello Agha,
    Great to hear from you. I think for you, and for Doors fans around the world the film will offer a great visual doorway for experiencing the Doors again.
    Yes, much of the footage is incredible. I have taken the best of it. I don’t know if there are any plans to release the rest of the material on dvd. Honestly, I don’t think it will happen. But I do think there are plans to release Feast of Friends and HWY ond dvd.
    Tell all your friends and the fans in Pakistan that the film will not disappoint them.
    best,
    Tom

  74. Hey Mauro,
    I had access the entire Doors film library. That is where these shots came from. But in my film you see the whole shot, not just these little pieces. Plus, the material is in its original 16 mm or 35 mm negative original. It looks amazing, like it is brand new.

    You will see these entire shots and much more. There is material from Jim’s film HWY which we just got the original negative for and it looks unbelievably beautiful.

    Mainly, the material is put together in a fluid and emotional way to tell the story of the Doors, making sure the shots are specific to where they occured in the Door’s story.

    best,
    Tom

  75. Hey Mark,
    I can try to get some more stills up with in a few weeks. I created the stills myself from the last finalized dvd output of the film. As soon as I get the newest version I’ll pull some more shots.
    best,
    Tom

  76. Spent a lot of time with Pamela Courson and a circle of “groupies” (Zappa’s GTOs included) with whom she was acquainted back in my college days, and I’ve always wanted this story to be told with real compassion and “authenticity.” I’m looking forward to this! It’ll be slightly painful, but…it sounds like the real deal. Thank you.

  77. Hey Cyn,
    Nice to hear from you. I did try to tell this story as authentically as I could, with regard to everyone–not just Jim. I know Jim’s relationship with Pam was complex. I know there is a whole film to be made just on the two of them.
    But, I tried to capture something truthful about them. It is tricky because both of them have entered the realm of myth at this point. I’ve discovered some people prefer to wander that fantasy land.
    I’m much more interested in them both as real human beings.
    Again, the film’s main focus is on the band and their music so veering too far away from that into the day to day workings of Jim and Pam’s relationship would have thrown things off balance.
    Quick question: there is some debate on the exact date Jim left LA to join Pam in Paris. Do you know anything about this?
    best,
    Tom

  78. Mr. DiCillo,

    You might be the only person who will be able to assist. Several months ago I purchased a musical book from a Salvation Army thrift store in Corona, CA. Long story short, it appears to have belonged to Pamela Courson with her signature appearing in in the front of the book. Inside there are 7 or 8 poems and one is signed J Morrison. I would like to talk to someone about this who might have more knowledge.

    You have my email and I have photos as well as a description detailing the what, where and hows.

    I need some help and direction.

    Thank you very much.

    Tom

  79. @ Cyn:

    Hi, there!

    I’m in the process of writing a book about Pamela, and would love to speak with you.

    As someone long fascinated with Pamela, I’ve always wanted a true account of what she was like as a person. Please let me know if you wouldn’t mind being asked a couple of questions. I’m in contact with a few of Pam and Jim’s friends, but not so many, and so all accounts are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Raeanne.

  80. Hi, Tom,

    I have so enjoyed reading your blog and following updates regarding “When You’re Strange.” I am more than excited for its release and thankfully live in NYC, so I’m looking forward to next month.

    I have a quick question — in that photo from HWY, where Jim Morrison has the unlit cigarette in his mouth and is talking to the guy in glasses, is that Pam Courson in the car? I didn’t realize she was in the film. I saw Highway on the big screen once in Paris in 2001, when Ray Manzarek and Danny Sugarman had a wonderful Doorsfest for the 30th anniversary of Jim’s death. Thanks again, and I am very excited to see your film!

    An unadulterated Doors fan

  81. hi Tom,
    I’m Stephane from France, i write a critic of your movie for a nice french webzine, Critikat.com. Your film is very interesting for a fan like me. You show the life, the music, the group (not only Morrison), and not only the death like an other director…Nice too see that. Thanks for your movie.

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