Last night I had one the most inspiring and amazing experiences I’ve ever had in this business.
I went down to the Angelika Film Center in NYC expecting to do a brief Q & A after the 7:30 screening. The show was sold out. I hung out outside the theater for a few minutes and took this photo while everyone was inside.
The first inkling that something was going on came as the film ended. Through the closed doors of the theater I heard the sharp burst of applause. You cannot imagine what it felt like to hear this kind of spontaneous appreciation from a room full of complete strangers who don’t even know you’re there.
I walked down the aisle and people were reaching out to shake my hand, calling out, “Thanks for making this movie!!” To my astonishment almost the entire theater stayed for the Q & A. I kept expecting huge droves to just get up and walk out after 10 minutes, 20 minutes–half-hour. No, 45 minutes later and everyone stayed.
The questions were fascinating and intense. Everyone wanted to know about Jim in the HWYfootage. I told them the story of the distributor walking out of the Sundance screening thinking it was an actor. The whole theater went crazy.
Many people said how fascinating it was to learn about Ray, John and Robby as well as Jim. A guy stood up and said the film and the music took him right back to that amazing moment in this country where young people were trying to change the world. He was a member of the SDS. I interrupted him for a moment and told the audience what the Students for a Democratic Society was in the late 60’s, how brave and uplifting it was that college students were so vocal and so active in demanding change. The audience gave him a round of applause.
DiCillo at the 7:30 Q & A. Photo by Ria Shibayama in the audience
If I seem a little dazed it’s because I still am. The energy and interest coming from everyone was almost overpowering. The audience was filled with people of all ages. Some had driven in from New Jersey. Someone had come all the way down from Montreal. Their appreciation for The Doors, their music and for the film was more direct and pure than I ever could have imagined.
To the musician who spoke so eloquently about the timelessness of the Door’s music : thank you.
To the young African-American girl who came up and told me so emotionally how much she liked the film: thank you. I asked how she became a Doors fan. She said her parents had turned her on to them. To her parents: thank you.
A crowd of people clustered around long after the theater manager requested finally that we move out into the lobby. The manager told me the film was “doing really well,” and asked me to introduce the following screening. This one was more than 3/4 full at 10:15 pm. I walked up and thanked everyone for coming despite the fact there was such limited visible advertising for the film. They applauded.
Then I told them about Jim’s movie HWY and asked them to repeat after me, “There are no fucking actors in this movie.”
There was a moment of silence then the entire theater responded in unison, “There are no fucking actors in this movie!!”
With that I left them. But, again as I walked up the aisle hands reached out of the darkness and voices called out, “Thank you, Tom. Thank you for making this movie!”
And this from people who hadn’t even seen the film yet.
The theater manager was so pleased with the way things had gone he invited me back for tonight. They had no time to advertise. They quickly put the notice on the Angelika website and said they’d try to put the news on their marquee. So, if you live in NYC help us spread the news.
I’ll be joining the audience in a Q & A immediately after the 7:30 show tonight. I’ll also stay and introduce the 10:15 show.
I learned this morning that shows had sold out at several theaters in LA last night. Here’s a shot from my friend Michele in line at LA’s Sunset 5.
To all you Doors fans who took it upon yourselves to go the theater in NY, in Los Angeles, in Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Dallas: thank you.
Seriously. THANK YOU.