Left NY today. Heading north up into the Vermont woods. I leave Delirious on its own, playing on two screens daily. With every mile that passes beneath the wheels I feel a sharp twinge of distress, like I'm abandoning a newborn infant on the sidewalk. With every mile I hear it crying. It is hungry. Alone. Terrified. And surely without me there to protect it, it will perish.
Oh, for the love of christ, Tom--you sound like Sally Struthers channeling Sally Fields.
You're absolutely right. I apologize. The birth metaphors always get me. I’m in a strange limbo. The film is out. There is very little I can do about it now. The moving on is necessary and completely disorienting especially with the post partum depression sneaking up and peering in every window. Where am I now that the 6 year conception is complete? Who fucking knows? I feel like I’m on acid (an experience I’ve had only twice, once by accident) and everything I look at slowly and quietly turns inside out.
So, where do we go from here? Shall we go back to the beginning? Back to the little sperm that sidled up the Fallopian Tube of my brain and said to the sexy egg standing there, “Hey, babe; wanna dance?”
I was on 67th and Park. I remember that. I was doing a shot for my movie, The Real Blonde. The light was fading. Daryl Hannah was crossing the street toward the camera. I was frantic with haste. This was the last take we would get before the light went. The shot was almost complete when to my utter astonishment some paparazzo jumped into the frame and began shooting Daryl.
I went insane. I ran up to the guy, grabbed him by the neck and flung him into the street. "You fucking idiot!" I yelled, "Get out of my shot!" In an instant he was bleating like an enraged goat, "You touched me! You fucker, I'm suing you! I’m suing you!"
I was speechless. This whackjob ruins my shot and he's suing me?! How did he come up with that kind of logic? What goes on in his brain that makes him so instantly and irrefutably the offended party? That was it, right there—that question started it all. I felt like a biologist looking at a species; both fascinated and repulsed by the paparazzi at the same time. What draws someone to their profession? What do they get out of it? How do they justify their heartless, vicious intrusions into people’s privacy?
A few years later I ran into this same guy at a party. Something made me walk up to him and say, “Hey, can I talk to you for a second?” I’ll never forget the way he flinched, as if I was going to punch him. I told him I was thinking about doing a film on paparazzi and asked if I could hang out with him for a while. His name was Chester and his initial defensiveness evaporated the instant he saw that I was seriously interested in paying attention to him.
I ended up spending over 2 months with him. He took me to parties, fashion shows and movie premieres. He drove me around in his car. He allowed me into his apartment. The first time I rang his buzzer a scowling Ukrainian super poked his head out the door and said, “Who you look for?!” When I told him he spat and turned his back on me, “That fokkeen asshaul!” This was indeed how the world looked at Chester and his profession. Bottom feeders. Maggots. Parasites. Vultures. I asked Chester how he felt about this perception.
“Fuck ‘em all,” he said. “I’m just doing my job. These people judging me are the same ones who rush out and buy the magazines with all my pictures in them.” Then he shrugged and thought for a moment. “But some of these paparazzi fucks are scumbags and they ruin it for the rest of us licensed professionals.” He showed me his press card, proud to have the tangible proof he was not a member of the cesspool. And this was the way Chester responded to every one of my questions; first defending himself and all paparazzi and then absolving himself by insisting he was above them. It quickly made something clear to me--he was a total schizophrenic. Part of him believed he was good, righteous and even equal to the celebrities he stalked. The other part was absolutely convinced he was a dirty, slimy, disgusting piece of excrement. And these two identities were in constant, relentless war with each other.
Coincidentally at this time I was making some realizations about family dysfunction. In particular the way a child will fight to maintain the belief that a parent is noble and good even when the parent is in fact a monster. This need to keep the parent good is so great the child will ultimately make him/herself the one at fault; the one to blame; the one clearly unworthy of being loved and deserving of such horrific treatment. This had a lot of resonance for me especially in Chester’s presence.
Every night I’d get out of his litter-strewn car, take a long, hot shower and write down my observations in a journal I was keeping. There was no central idea for a film yet. There were not even scenes, only fragments. But I knew without a doubt I had my main character.
THIS JUST IN: apparently my pangs of distress about the abandoned infant were not unfounded. Delirious has just been pulled from its two original screens in NY and and moved to a different single theater. The same thing has happened in LA. Not really in the mood to write much more tonight. Good night, my friends.
Great to hear from you. Thanks for the interest and support. Rome looks like a fine festival. Congratulations on setting it up.
Let’s talk later about a retrospective. I’m going to go right into full press mode on trying to get the next film going so I’ll be a little preoccupied so to speak.
Let me know if you see Delirious in Cambridge. You can be my eyes and ears there. Let me know what sort of advertising you see, particularly if it is the same mouse running around Kendall Square with Delirious tattooed on its tail.
Hope we can meet soon.
I didn’t realize how the whole thing read until I went back a few hours after writing it. Ignore everything except:
That’s a pretty amazing comment you just left, mate. I’m glad you saw the film, and I’m glad you SAW it. One of the things I tried to do was make a film that had deeper resonance but not let it clog up the story, or interfere in some moralistic way with the audience’s experience of the film.
I’m immensely rewarded by your observations. They most definitely inspire me to continue, not only fighting for Delirious, but staying true to what I feel is important.
I could not agree with you more; the world right now is utterly disjointed from its own humanity. For me the only solution/salvation is to return to it with as much honesty and courage as possible–and let us really look at ourselves.
Unfortunately, the news about the UK release is not good. Despite my endless impassioned cries of protest, Momentum, the UK distributor is only going to release the film on DVD. Of course the first question I asked them was why did you buy a film if you were not going to release it theatrically? The only response I got was nothing–I heard through the film’s US foreign sales agent that Momentum was so insulted by my question they refuse to ever speak to me again.
Spread the word, my friend. Thanks so much for going to see the film.
Thanks, I read your piece on TISBuscemi too. You know, it is not really that I, or anyone, deserves this. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I will of course continue fighting. If you could see what I’ve been through the last two days just dealing with these people you would understand–the fight goes on, and always will. I’m not looking for pity. There are however some hard facts. To keep making films like this requires more and more effort. The well of financing is not endless. Every film I make that stumbles at the box office is another splinter of doubt in investor’s minds. It is yet another “perception” of me I need to combat. I would be more than happy to keep making films the way I do. It is not so simple. Someone with money has to have faith in me. Unfortunately, that’s the bottom line. So, every film opens or closes the door on the next one.
I appreciate your support enormously. Don’t worry about me giving up. It is never going to happen.
Six years? Six effing years?
It’s but a knot in the great tapestry of time.
Tosh to them all!
Six years of enduring the process defines your humanity, THAT’S your legacy to yourself.
In my opinion. You, Tom are a distinct and underappreciated artist
You made something that didn’t exist before. It’s pure. It’s beautiful. It exists. You will live on forever in the vast pantheon of unheralded creators, sipping the nectar of secluded internal satisfaction.
I think the approbation of imbicles would disgust you as much as it would fascinate you.
I saw your film in NYC.It is a much deeper piece of work than most people realise.
I have no doubt that, in time, they will.
I urge all who come across this Blog to spread the word.
See this film! It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s deep, it’s absolutely the kind of film that should be made right now. Questioning the world and the values that we all live with.
I disagree that this is an “indie” film, whatever that means. It’s suffused with humanity and if humanity is not universal then we are all, each of us, guilty of drinking the Kool Aid.
Regarding your struggle to get it to the screen, I admire, as I have for some time, your indefatiguability.
When will it come to the UK?
I think it will do well here.
I don’t know what else to say. You really don’t deserve this.
It has been a very stressful couple of days. You just made me smile. For that I will always be grateful. I have no idea what is going to happen with the film. If people don’t go this weekend in NY and LA they are pulling it from the theaters. There are still plans to open in other cities which are listed on the Delirious website.
But the battles I am fighting right now with these people are extremely dispiriting. They instantly lay all the blame for the small opening weekend on the Film.
My wife is right. You are right. I only wanted people to see the film and to see the joy we all put into it.
My very best to you.
Thanks so much for writing. This has been one of the toughest battles I’ve ever fought. Just when I think I’m ok something jumps up and sticks a knife in my gut.
Understand one thing; it is not recognition or respect I am after. I want now, and have always only wanted, for people to get the chance to see the films I make.
If I wanted recognition I would have married Britney Spears.
All my best to you. I hope you get a chance to see the film.
It is a tough time. They’re not granting me an inch. I will continue fighting.
I live in Canada and I’m not sure if it will be released in any theaters. Any idea? Or else, I look forward to seeing it on DVD.
I’m so empathetic about and sympathetic toward your situation, it’s making me feel like shit. A real injustice. I think after all these years, however, of making movies that weren’t given their proper due, knowing that you still have some smart people that have followed you troughout and appreciate your work, makes it all worthwhile.