September 29, 2008

Jimmy and I have not spoken for several days. His Superman flick is really picking up steam. Penelope Cruz has signed on with the only condition being she and Starlett Johannson perform a pseudo-quasi-hardcore sex scene to be choreographed by their lawyers. Every time Jimmy walks by me in the apartment I feel like kicking him in the balls. Really, really hard.

Perhaps I am jealous. Yes, the thought has entered my mind. Hey, I'm happy for him. I once considered him my best friend. But, the question here--and I don't think I'm out of line--is why the fuck should all this great stuff be happening to him?

But, mainly, I think it's his attitude. He's got this this look on his face now like he's smarter than everyone else even though everyone else knows his brain is made of mouse turds and stale marshmallows.  Actually, he's starting to look and smell like a Republican.

This morning he was sitting in my chair drinking out of my coffee cup when he finally broke the silence. "The limo's downstairs. I'm leaving in 10 minutes."

"Oh," I said, not looking up. "That's too bad."

"I see you're going to be a jerk all the way up to the last second."

When I said nothing Jimmy drained my coffee cup and set it down. "Fine," he stated. "Since I'm clearly a bigger man than you I'm going to swallow my pride, ignore your jealousy and turn you on to something before I split." He flicked the newspaper at me.

"Read that," he said, jabbing his finger at an article in the NY Times. It was one of 239 pieces that appeared this week lamenting the Sad and Sorry State of Independent Film.

"I read it already, " I snapped.

"Yeah?" Jimmy returned, pushing the paper in my face. "Did you read this paragraph?"

 Jimmy’s proof

"I said I read it!" I said and shoved the paper back at him.

Jimmy's laugh again struck me as eerily McCainish--dry and scaly like an old, blind cockroach running up a wall. "I don't know why I bother," he said. "But I guess deep down inside I still care."

He leaned closer, tapping the paragraph with slow, steady importance. "Everyone wants to know what's happened to Independent Film. Well, here it is spelled out in black and white; tattoos, bangs and a vintage dress."

That made me sit up. "Wait a second. Real ones?"

Jimmy nodded. "Yeah, dude. Real tats."

"No, I meant the bangs."

"What about them?"

"They were real too?"

"Of course they were! See what I'm saying?! She wore bangs to the Oscars!"

Jimmy gazed back at the article, his smile broadening in clear admiration. "It's hip and Hollywood at the same time. That's the secret. She's got both games goin'. That's how you win. You morph; you adapt."

"Wow," I murmured. "You're talking about something like Hollydent, or Indiewood?"

"Now you're gettin' it," Jimmy grinned. "See that? It's the attraction of opposites; the yin and yang. And look; she wore a vintage dress too."

If I was getting it, it was only for a moment. "That's where I'm a little confused," I said. "It doesn't say 'vintage' dress. It says 'vintage-looking' dress."

Jimmy's eyes quickly hardened. "What's your point."

"Well, some vintage-looking dresses cost a lot of money. Would that still qualify Ms. Diabldoll as hip and indie?"

Jimmy's lip lifted in a tight sneer. "That's your problem right there, man."


"Your sarcasm."

"Hey, I'm serious. I saw a cool shirt in a vintage store in LA but it cost 450 bucks. I'd have to direct three Iron Mans to afford that kind of life style."

Jimmy got up. "Yeah, but you never would, would you? You're just just too damn stupid to play the game."

I stood too. "That's kind of a mean thing to say."

"Stupid," Jimmy repeated.

Things got a little crazy just then. Jimmy sort of accidentally knocked over my guitar and I sort of intentionally hit him in the teeth with my coffee cup. He fell to the floor. I helped him over to the couch, taking care to make sure his head was tilted so the blood dripped on his shirt instead of the cushions.

I sat down next to him. "You keep mentioning the word 'game', Jimmy. But,  where's the joy in playing it? And what do you win?"

Jimmy didn't answer. I guess it wasn't fair to ask him questions since he wasn't quite conscious yet. So I just kept talking.

"See, independent film used to be just that--independent. Outside the system. That's where the joy was; making a film against all odds. Making a film that said 'fuck you' to all the restrictions of Hollywood. Making a film for no money because then you could make the film exactly the way you wanted.  That's where the kick was. You were free. You weren't governed by anything except your lunatic obsession to make a film."

I peered closer at him. "Do you know what I mean, Jimmy?" I thought I saw his lip twitch which encouraged me to continue.

"That's why Hollywood and Independent don't go together. They don't morph. If it's really Hollywood, and it's really Independent they cancel each other out. In fact they poison each other. It's like Church and State; Britney and KFed--both are better off when they're legally separated. Otherwise everything gets very confused and reviews start appearing about the "indie edginess" of action figure flicks that gross 200 million dollars. Independent once meant free from the money; free from the System. Now, it means fighting like meth-freaks to get into the System. It means doing whatever it takes to win the approval of the Suits, to make them happy, to make them Money. The real joy was in breaking all the rules, not playing by them."

I smiled at Jimmy as memories came flooding back. "Remember when we first started? Remember that guy down in Alphabet City who sold raw film stock for nothing? It was damaged shit that studio films were throwing out but we bought it and every inch of film that ran through our camera was a fuckin' victory for us."

I nudged Jimmy's leg, catching him when he started to fall over. "Hey, remember that girl who projected her first feature on the wall in that bar down on St. Marks Place? It was all shot on super 8 but it was a feature and we were in awe. Remember that, Jimmy?"

Jimmy stared at me, a flicker of some emotion struggling in his eyes. Just then the intercom buzzed. We both stood.

"That's my driver," Jimmy said finally. "I'm lettin' him in. He used to work for Vin Diesel. He's gonna come in here and kick your ass."

I looked at Jimmy for a long moment and felt an immense heaviness weighing down on me. "Alright then," I said. And I kicked Jimmy in the balls. As hard as I could. But, as he fell his finger found the intercom button.

A moment later my front door opened and Dr. Owen walked in. He stood staring at me with a strained, wary smile.

"Hello, Tom," he said. "It's been quite a while."

"Yes, it has," I said. "It certainly has."

I was glad to see him. It was a good opportunity to finally introduce him to Jimmy. But when I turned Jimmy was no longer lying on the floor behind me. All that remained was the faint shadow of a tattoo, some bangs and a vintage-looking dress.

Hey Tom B,
I guess it’s admirable. Sometimes the choice of path was not my choice at all. Just the way things are, the way things fell and an unfortunate inability on my part to deal with idiocity without resorting to violence.
Thanks for your comment.
Tom D
Tom – Two truths: First, you could be a highly successful (i.e., commercially and critically) writer/director-for-hire. Second, it’s admirable that you chose to avoid that path.
Hey Sally,
Well, it was my choice. After much discussion and procrastination from a lot of people. See the explanation in the new post.
sally stevens
Hi Tom – seems like a title has been selected for the Doors movie, and I wonder how you felt about the choice? I am not sure I like it.
Hey Tom,
Speaking of Sundance, you need to tell the folks at to update your filmography to include “Independent’s Day.”
I watched it today and was surprised and delighted that they had interview snippets w/you. The DVD description made it sound like it was a 3-5 people panel about indie film so seeing so many filmmakers including you offer thoughts was wonderful.I truly enjoyed it and would have rented it sooner if I’d known you were in it.
Hope your Thanksgiving was good! Good luck finalizing everything!
Hey Sally,
very innaresting. Let’s see what develops over the next month. It would be a shame considering how much support the festival has given the gay community almost from its beginnings. It just strengthens the argument that almost all problems in the world stem from Mormons.
sally stevens
The boycott seems to be leveled at the person who owns the Cinemark in Park City, who apparently donated $10K to Prop. 8. So, it’s gays who are boy/girl cotting. I haven’t seen anything lately, so perhaps they might be ratcheting down. After all, why blame an entire festival for the behavior of one person. This is the latest blog post I could find.
Mormons traditionally don’t flock to Park City, period. Bars, degenerate behavior, and other what-not. They prefer the staid atmosphere of Salt Lake City. The one time I went there – in the winter – I wasn’t surprised that Gary Gilmore went crazy. There’s something really creepy about the area, especially out by the Great Salt Lake.
Anyway, hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
Hey Sally,
No, I have not heard anything of this boy or girlcott. I am a little confused though by the butt you are scuttling. Are you saying the Mormons may boycott Sundance? How would they do this; keep all the wives in the minivan during the gay-themed films?
sally stevens
There’s some scuttlebutt about the Prop. 8 crowd attempting a boycott of Sundance because of the Mormon connection to Utah, etc. Are you hearing anything about it from your end, Tom?
Hi there Elaine,
Some good titles are floating around. We’re close to finalizing one. I’m working like a crezcy dawg on finishing all the work. One of these days I’ll get a moment to update the blog.
And, I’m thinking it may be time to revamp the whole site now that Delirious is about 3 years old. I know you had some thoughts about that. I’m just finding it hard to find the time.
I hope your writing is going well.
Hey Tom,
Thanks for the film recommendation! It arrives via Netflix tomorrow. Will let you know my thoughts.
Melanie Diaz was great in “Double Whammy” as was everyone. She and Luis Guzman are starring in a movie due out this December (something about the holidays?). Looking forward to it.
Did they ever pick a film title for the Doors film? Hope the prep continues to go well! Can’t wait to see it!
Hey Rai,
Good to hear from you.
Yeah, I did notice Delirious showed up on Showtime. There is some satisfaction that at least two or three more people will get to see it. You better get that remote fixed.
First trip to LA, huh? It is a unique burg to say the least. I relate to your walking weirdness. I live in NYC. To me, and 9 million others, the feet are the essence of transportation. Walking in LA is like walking on the moon–there’s no one there. Everyone is sealed inside their cars. You feel that any moment you are going to suffocate from lack of oxygen.
Thanks for your support. I’m touched by your response to Delirious.
Hey Elaine,
I hadn’t noticed that Double Whammy was on the Comedy Channel. I think that’s a good place for it. I think there is some very fine comic work from the cast, particularly the newcomers. I cast Melonie Diaz in her first film. I gave her the part after her 2nd audition. She broke into tears.
Prep is going well. Still much to do. And the dayz are flying by.
I’m glad to hear your writing is going well.
Did you ever see a French film that came out a few years ago called, The Beat That My Heart Skipped? I’ve seen it twice now. It’s a very impressive film. Your video store may have it. I think you might like it. It’s a rather intense story but has flashes of humor and especially fine writing and acting.
Rai Mechem
They’re showing Delirious on Showtime tonight. I’ve watched it a dozen times, but my remote wouldn’t leave when I flipped to it. I love this movie! Just back from visiting my bro in Bev Hills. My first trip to LA. Why does the traffic trump everything else there? I walked several blocks and people looked at me like I was crazy. Hope you’re doing well, Tom.
Hey Tom,
How goes the prep for Sundance? Wanted to mention that I’ve noticed “Double Whammy” playing on the Comedy Channel during the last month. Usually your films are on IFC or INDIE, so it was a nice thing to see one playing on a more mainstream channel.
The writing is going well–somehow facing the fear of the blank pages always works out.More later!
Hey Sally,
Thanks. I’m very excited about Sundance. There is a lot to do to get the film ready. I keep hoping to get a moment to write more about the film but the days keep jumping by.
I greatly enjoyed my extended stay in Noho. It has a character completely unique to itself. Memorable memories:
–the group of people that live under the tree at the corner of Weddington just north of Lankershim.
–the line of kids waiting to get into the combo sushi/rock club/disco on Lankershim; mainly the ferociously enthused bouncers who kept the hopeful entertained by leading them in cheering those fortunate enough to get in.
–wandering through the Howes supermarket at 1am and stopping to listen to a visiting meat expert on the best ways to barbecue porkchops.
All this beats the Chateau Marmont hands down.
very best,
sally stevens
Great news on Sundance!
Hope you didn’t run into Tregor with anything too fast-moving or fatal! Though he seems indestructible.
Thanks for visiting with us in NoHo.
Look forward to more news as it becomes available.
Hey Chris,
Thanks very much for writing. Your words of support are simple, to the point and 100% TRUE. Thank you for reminding me why I keep banging my head against the wall.
I’m glad you found Delirious. I wish you could have taken a picture of it on the shelf. In Belgium, on a US Army post. Is the store run by the Army? If so, I’m very impressed with their buyer. I have a hard time telling people here in the States where to find it.
And I will keep up the work. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.
I enjoyed Delirious. I found it at my local video store on a US Army post in Belgium.
Keep up the good work. It drives you crazy and doesn’t leave you rich, but at least you make good stuff.
Hey Elaine,
OK, at least some joik didn’t steal it. Yes, it is wonderful to be home. I was really gone a long time.
I’m glad the writing is going well. There is nothing like that feeling.
I will write a few posts on The Doors in a few days.
Hey Josh,
Thanks for writing. Yes, I’ve got some things planned, or in the works as they say, for after the Doors film.
I have two very different scripts I’ve written that I’m trying to find funding for. I’m sure you know it is a very tricky time now for independent film. Very few are being financed, even fewer are being distributed. So, the waters are murky.
One of my scripts could be made for very little money and I am focusing on that most. I have to say I hate the process of raising the money. I always have. You hear 100,000 “No’s” before you even get the slightest nibble of a “Yes,” and the nibble comes just as you are really, really this time about to give the whole thing up.
So, you get excited again. You get positive. And you keep going. Only a year later do you remember that the nibble disappeared into nothingness merely a week after it came in.
Hey Sally,
Great to hear from you. Yes, there is room in the manger for us at Sundance this year. Much to be done but I’m thrilled. My next post will be Doors specific. It’s about time.
I’m back in NY now. I do kind of miss the laid-back trauma of North Hollywood though.
Not sorry to leave the Loftes. Ran into Tregor on the way out.
Hey Tom,
I’m just wondering what’s next after The Doors doc. Do you have another project lined up that you can talk about? I’m sure you have several projects you want to make (as we all do).
Just curious, and looking forward to seeing your next film.
sally stevens
Hi Tom – mouseturds and marshmallows is about right!
Looking forward to updates on the Doors project. Someone mentioned Sundance.
Hey Tom,
Am attempting to comment again- hope this one goes through.
Nah, didn’t send vodka but blaming it on Jimmy seemed fitting. He’s an interesting creature, after all!
Hope you can post a Doors update soon.Must be good to be back home.
Writing world is going. Unsure where, but it’s going. I sent ya a couple emails on that.
Good luck w/next projects!
Hey Spencer,
Great to hear from you. Your observation on the blog was eye-opening. I’d really not thought of its connection to my films.
Thanks for the kind words about Delirious. I enjoy doing the commentaries even though they are kind of weird experiences. You basically sit alone in a dark room, with a microphone and the film playing on a small screen in front of you–and talk as 5 years of your life unfolds in silence. There is a technician running the recording but there is no escaping the fact that you are really just talking to yourself.
I make a few notes and give myself guideposts along the way and just try to be as honest as I can without incurring a lawsuit.
Crummy jobs are interesting. Believe me, I’ve been there. The most revealing part though is when you realize, “You know what? This job is fucking crummy–too crummy. And I’m moving on.”
Sounds like you did.
Don’t check the site too frequently. These posts are becoming more and more time-consuming. And now that Jimmy is gone I’ll have to start scratching for new antagonists.
Thanks very much for the words of support and encouragement. I wish you the same.
hello ~
another great post.
i’ve been an admirer and fan of your work since i first became aware of your films, during a particulary crummy time in my life (several years ago, as an underpayed peon with a small, semi-local video store chain). i guess it never occurred to me that someone like you would have your own site/blog where you speak directly to people and relate some of your most personal experiences and tribulations as they happen. the more i read, the more it started to make sense to me. these entries are similar to your movies in that they’re funny, genuine, and able to make your heart break all at once.
so, needless to say, i’m visiting your site at least twice a week.
thanks for everything, tom.
~ spencer
p.s. Delirious was an exceptional film, and i enjoyed your commentary on the dvd immensely. it was certainly worthy of a much, much wider theatrical release. it had all of the sincerity that Juno was severely missing — not trying to bash anyone, just being honest and stating the nearly obvious. stay away from bangs and vintage dresses.
Hello Sam,
Thanks very much for your comment. I’m glad you liked Box of Moonlight. It holds a special place in my soul. It was actually one of the toughest films I’ve made. Capturing something carefree and beautiful on film takes a fuck of a lot of work.
I’m glad you liked Delirious too. You’re not the only one who was unaware the film had been released in Sweden. But if you go back into some of these blogs and follow the relationship between the distributor and me you might get a clearer understanding why.
I appreciated your comment on actors and writing. I developed a deep respect for writing early on but it wasn’t until I started studying acting that I realized the powerful potential a great actor brings to the party. You know of course Steve Buscemi is one of my favorite actors. His gift is so enormous that it was a pleasure to write the part of Les Galantine specifically for him.
In cases like that, as a director all I do is roll the camera, sit back and watch in wonder.
Thank you for your new “mission.” Believe it or not your efforts will be very helpful. The current financing situation for independent film in the US is horrible and many filmmakers are seeking funding from wherever they can; European sources will become more and more important.
Sam Mesterton
Mr DiCillo!
Im a Swedish journalist/writer and a huge fan of yours. I saw Box of Moonlight by pure chance at Stockholm Film festival sometime in the 90s and was floored. One of my better moviegoing experiences of all time. Have seen it probably ten times since. Just picked up Delirious at my local videostore, I could not believe it had been released here, and i didn´t know it.
I absolutely loved it! Gave me the same feeling that BOM gave me that first time. I guess it has something to do with that rare combination of great writing and great acting.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I´m gonna make it a mission of mine to get as many Swedes as possible to see your films.
All the best,
Hey Elaine,
As far as the description of Jimmy’s brain I just kept thinking, “Republican, Republican.” And that is what dialed up.
Aah, Jimmy is gone now too. Maybe he will run into Tregor one day and they both will bust me up.
I’m back home now. I’m girding up to start posting more details about the Doors film.
You never told me, did you send vodka? Cuz if you did and some joik stole I’mmona bust some ass my own self.
You keep going.
Ah, Tom. Another hilarious blog from you with core truths. And let’s not forget – – Jimmy also stole your vodka. THAT is worth kicking him in the balls too, should you ever see his tattooed self hobbling around 🙂
Jimmy’s brain is made of mouse turds and stale marshmellows? How do you think of these brilliant descriptions, my friend? Guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This from the same bizarre mind which coined the ‘hostess twinkie’ line in Living in Oblivion.
Keep breakin’ all the rules, Tom. Don’t become a tattoo 🙂

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician