Got some good news after returning from Istanbul. Gestation has formed its own distribution company and will make Delirious its first theatrical release. What excites me most about this is that the film will now be distributed by the same company that financed it. They know me. They know the film. They have as much invested in its success as I do. It’s still going to be risky. The advertising budget is microscopic; there won’t be any newspaper ads, no TV, no posters in the subway, and no billboards. The film will open in 12 cities in the middle of August. Any further expansion will be completely dependent on press reaction and word of mouth.
So, in May I accepted an invitation to go to the San Francisco Film Festival. They’d invited Delirious as the Festival’s Centerpiece Film in May and I thought going could help a possible release there. I had a 7am flight out of LaGuardia. For some reason they were playing disco music at full volume as if the plane was some air born after-hours club. I asked a stewardess if she could turn it down. She smiled stiffly, convinced I was just a “downer” or someone so high-strung and mentally imbalanced any little thing would make me go insane. I turned to the white-haired man beside me and rolled my eyeballs. “Man, is this music loud enough?”
He stared at me. “What; it’s loud?”
He later confided he was a priest and was the director of a musical theater in his church’s basement. As he detailed how he’d also played the King in Anna and the King of Siam I started to doze off. The stewardess came by with a plastic wicker basket of snacks. Through half-closed lids I saw the priest select a Snickers bar. He set it on the tray table in front of him then bowed his head and prayed silently over it for several seconds before opening and eating it.
In San Francisco I checked into the hotel and went out looking for a fruit store. A woman I asked said there was a liquor store 3 blocks away. I didn’t even ask; it was California. On the way to the fruit/liquor store I passed 9 homeless guys, one with a sign that said, “Me’n my dog are hungry.”
The dog wore a sign too that read, “Ruff times.” The liquor store did indeed have a food section comprised mainly of candy, potato chips and cookies. An empty Smirnoff box held 3 bananas and 2 apples. I took them all.
As I put my stuff on the counter the cashier eyed me warily. Clearly, to her everyone who shopped there was a lunatic. To be honest the whole neighborhood seemed populated by schizophrenics, crazies and whackjobs off their meds. I’ve noticed California does have a very particular brand of homeless people. Many of them appear to have walked in off that lost episode of Gilligan’s Island that David Lynch directed.
The screening of Delirious the next night was sold out. Alison Lohman was there. She hadn’t been able to come to Sundance and this was the first time she’d seen the film. She’d put a lot into the part and I wanted her to see how strongly audiences had been reacting to her work. At the Q&A afterwards people complimented her for giving K’harma such complexity and dimension. Again, the audience seemed deeply affected by the film. There were several comments about Les’ dysfunctional family which affected me strongly. That morning I’d driven up to visit my sister whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years. A woman asked me, “I really liked your film but I didn’t like the ending. Les should have shot the kid.”
I took a deep breath before I responded. I’d put so much thought and care into the ending, making sure that it felt real and true to me. Finally I answered, “This is the movie I made. You can like it or not like it. That is your choice. But I don’t think you should be telling me what I should have done differently. Otherwise, it would be a movie that you made, not me.”
There was uneasy silence from the audience. It’s so bizarre how people treat movies as if they own them. You never hear someone say, “Yeah, that painting needs a little more yellow right there,” or, “That poem should have more words that rhyme.” People treat movies as if they’re public domain.