All posts by Tom



Shadowland Poster small

My new film, Down In Shadowland, will screen twice in NYC this month. First will be at The Anthology Film Archives on Nov. 10 at 8pm as part of a retrospective of my films.

“Made over the course of seven years, DOWN IN SHADOWLAND is an impressionistic, haunting portrait of the NYC subway system. Filmed secretly, in the tradition of Walker Evans’s renowned Subway Portraits, SHADOWLAND is at once a vérité portrait of the world beneath New Yorkers’ feet, and an evocative, carefully structured, almost musical filmic composition. Taking the subway as a microcosm of the world at large, it combines the private and the public, the personal and the political.”
Jed Rapfogel

Bird in station

The film will screen again on Nov. 14 at The Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem. I’m especially thrilled to have the film screen at the Center. It was founded by Albert Maysles, who with his brother David directed such powerful and evocative documentaries as Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter and Meet Marlon Brando. Ticket information and directions HERE.

Woman drinks 2

I’ve been working on the film continuously since it screened at the Woodstock Film Festival a year ago. It was just presented at the Vermont International Film Festival as a Special Filmmaker’s Screening.

Man Woman station 3

“If the whole of humanity were marched before our eyes, it might resemble DOWN IN SHADOWLAND, a descent into the subterranean universe of the iconic NYC subway. Told in eight parts, each probing ever more deeply into the human psyche, SHADOWLAND is a profound meditation on the human condition. Bold, masterful and entirely unpredictable with a soundtrack that propels us forward with the velocity of the train itself, SHADOWLAND is a remarkable film that leaves no doubt we are in the hands of a master.” –Barbara Pokras, ACE

Girl drinks

Down In Shadowland



Anthology Film Archives                 Nov. 10   8pm
Maysles Documentary Center     Nov. 14   7:30 pm

I will be doing a Q&A at both screenings.

127. DiCillo Retrospective at Anthology Film Archives

The famed Anthology Film Archives in NYC is having a retrospective of some of my films. They’ll be showing 35mm prints of Living In Oblivion and Delirious. Steve Buscemi will be joining me at both screenings,  plus some other members of the casts.

I’m equally excited that Anthology will be premiering my new film Down In Shadowland.


My great thanks to Jed Rapfogel at the Anthology for pulling this all together.

Anthology Film Archives


November 10 – November 11


Tom DiCillo is a key figure in the wave of bold and vividly inventive independent narrative filmmaking that reinvigorated film culture in the U.S. in the 1980s and 90s. After training as a director at NYU’s Graduate Film School, he made his mark with the 1991 feature film, JOHNNY SUEDE, and went on to direct five more feature films (as well as the Doors documentary WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE), all of which have established him as a keen and deadpan funny chronicler of American culture (whether that of music, filmmaking, celebrity, or of society at large), as well as a peerless director of actors. His films mix genres and tones in elegant and innovative ways and are studded with performances by a who’s-who of gifted performers such as Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Kevin Corrigan, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, and Denis Leary.

Despite all this, DiCillo hasn’t found it any easier to get his projects funded over the past decade. Taking matters into his own hands, he has returned to a more self-reliant, handmade mode of filmmaking for his latest work. Made over the course of seven years, DOWN IN SHADOWLAND is an impressionistic, haunting portrait of the NYC subway system. Filmed secretly, in the tradition of Walker Evans’s renowned Subway Portraits, SHADOWLAND is at once a vérité portrait of the world beneath New Yorkers’ feet, and an evocative, carefully structured, almost musical filmic composition. Taking the subway as a microcosm of the world at large, it combines the private and the public, the personal and the political.

Anthology is thrilled to host Tom DiCillo for screenings of DOWN IN SHADOWLAND as well as two of his finest fiction features, LIVING IN OBLIVION and DELIRIOUS.

Special thanks to Tom DiCillo; Richard Abramowitz (Abramorama); David Spencer & Matt Jones (University of North Carolina School of the Arts); and Alexandre Mallet-Guy & Rémi Dupéroux (Memento Films).

Upcoming Screenings

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The bonus features for Shout! Factory’s “Living in Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition” have just been announced! The Blu-ray edition includes:

-Audio Commentary with writer/director Tom DiCillo.

In Our Own Oblivion: The Miracle of Making a Film;  a 45 minute featurette with brand-new interviews with writer/director Tom DiCillo, producer Marcus Viscidi and cast members Steve Buscemi, James Le Gros, Danielle Von Zerneck, and Peter Dinklage.

–On stage Q&A with Tom DiCillo and Steve Buscemi as they discuss working together on the film.

–One Deleted scene. Almost every frame of what we shot ended up in the film. This is the one scene that I loved but couldn’t find a place for.

–The Blu-ray edition also comes with a DVD free of charge.


I’m really excited to announce the 20th Anniversary special release of LIVING IN OBLIVION on Blu-ray and DVD.


The film has been completely remastered digitally under my supervision. It looks amazing. This new release by Shout Factory has added bonus features, including interviews with cast members Steve Buscemi, Peter Dinklage, James Legros and others.

Pre-orders can be made HERE.


Girl in Million

“The Black and Blue Orkestre are pleased to announce their new single, GIRL IN A MILLION. The track is the latest from core Black and Blue members Tom DiCillo and Grog Rox. Written by DiCillo the song is an edgy, groove driven, noir ballad that has Grog sharing the lead vocals.

Guest guitarist Wayne Byrne provides the aching, moody twang.
Bass and vocals by Grog. Guitar, drums, vocals and arranging by DiCillo.”

Wayne Byrne is an Irish writer, musician and esteemed film scholar. He contacted me several years ago with the suspicious intent of writing a book about me. Five years later Wayne has completed the first book on me and my films; INCLUDE ME OUT, The Films of Tom DiCillo.

The book covers all my films from Johnny Suede to When You’re Strange and is comprised of in-depth essays on each film by Wayne as well as a series of equally probing Conversations between the two of us.

Wayne is currently submitting the book to publishers. Listen to his guitar playing while they make up their minds.


My step-cousin on my mother’s side, Boone Welles is a young, aspiring filmmaker. She’s just directed her first music video for a new group called The Trygger Twins. She asked me to share it on this most American of American holidays.

The views expressed in the video may or may not reflect my own but as all 38 Republican candidates for Prez proclaim this is still a free country and I respect Boone and The Trygger Twins for coming out on a hot-button issue that is red, white and blue all over.

Plus, here’s a cool article on The Trygger Twins that gives Boone a nice mention.



I recently found these photos. They’re going in a book Wayne Byrne has just completed called Include Me Out, The Films of Tom DiCillo.

The book will have many more photos but something about these three struck me and I thought I’d share them now.

DiCillo-Keener LIO
Tom DiCillo and Catherine Keener on the set of Living In Oblivion


DiCillo-Pitt-Keener JS
DiCillo, Brad Pitt and Catherine Keener on the set of Johnny Suede


Dinklage-Buscemi LIO
Steve Buscemi and Peter Dinklage in Living In Oblivion


A few months ago I found one of my student films,   GOD SAVE THE KING.

GOD SAVE THE KING was my first sync sound film when I was in NYU film school. Back in 1977 student films were shot on real film and the move from silent to sound was considered a huge step. The original 16 mm print was recently discovered in a box under a bed in the basement of a juvenile correctional institution near Miami.

Jay McCormack and Joe d’Angerio in God Save The King

I wrote and directed the film in my 2nd year at NYU. It was loosely based on an incident that had happened to me one steamy August night a few months earlier. The punk movement was in full spasm. For some performance photos needed for the film we went to CBGB’s one afternoon and they let me shoot Joe and Jay on the stage for 20 minutes.

Joe chokes Jay mouth openJay chokes Joe with guitar

After graduation I decided for some reason to scrape some money together and re-edit the film. I added titles, did a sound mix and made something that was almost unheard of for an ex NYU student with no job–a real 16mm print.

Liz Roker in God Save The King

Eight years later when I submitted my first screenplay Johnny Suede to the National Endowment for the Arts, I sent the print of God Save The King as an example of my work. They gave me $25,000.

A year later I submitted the Johnny Suede screenplay to the Sundance Director’s Lab. Once again, I sent this only print of God Save The King as a directing sample. I got accepted.

close joe and jay
Jay McCormack and Joseph d’Angerio in God Save The King

In some ways you could say this little film started my career.

120. Mr. Dynamite; JAMES BROWN

A few months ago Nick Dawson from The Talkhouse invited me to write a piece for the magazine. He’s put together a great site where filmmakers and artists share their thoughts about recently released music and films.

The film pieces are not “reviews”. They are personal reflections about the films that offer a perspective missing for the most part in contemporary film writing.

It took me a while to find a film. But, when I saw Alex Gibney’s Mr. Dynamite, The Rise of James Brown, I knew I had something to write about.

Tom DiCillo

Talkhouse brown

Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion) Talks Alex Gibney’s Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown

In this fine new HBO documentary about the legendary soul singer, you hear, feel and see the great man’s music, and also learn the stories behind it.

Go to Talkhouse and the direct link HERE.


I always loved this song by Johnny Cash and U2. But, recently I wondered what it would sound like if it had a little Black and Blue added to it.

So, I laid down a new arrangement that brought in our solid beats and funky spaghetti surf sound. Then I recorded the lead vocals and sent the mix to Grog. She added the throbbing bass and then came up with a set of shimmering background vocals that take the song to a whole new realm.

We also had the great pleasure of working with guest musician Tim Carless. Tim wrote and laid down the lead guitar line which adds a great twang and bite. Tim is based out of North Carolina. We hooked up with him through my friend and composer Jim Farmer who did the scores for Johnny Suede, Living In Oblivion, Box of Moonlight and The Real Blonde. Thanks, Jim.