Sept. 5. 09.
9 am.
I’m sitting in the back of a car looking out the window. The driver works through the outskirts of Paris and heads north for the 2 hour drive to Deauville. Landed at Charles DeGaulle an hour ago. Slept 3 hours on the plane. It is 2 in the morning, My Time, which might explain why what rushes by the window melts together in my brain like a stream of liquid confetti.

The driver  is young. He speaks no English. 5 minutes of attempting to talk with him have left me exhausted and silent. After a moment he quietly turns on the radio. A French techno station comes on. After a minute or two I begin to fixate on the beat: buhn duh-buhn duh-buhn duh-buhn duh…It’s locked in and as relentless as a dentist’s drill. I suddenly think of the Door’s music, how it changes, how it ebbs and flows, how it moves with a fluid, unregimented, unpredictable spontaneity. I think how utterly human it is; sweaty, intimate, disturbing.

The difference to what is on the radio is profound.

2 pm.
I sleep for a couple of hours then leave the hotel and walk along the beach. Deauville is a classic resort town with big, ornate hotels and casinos lining the ocean front. American flags are everywhere. All along the boardwalk are small cabanas where people keep beach umbrellas and chairs. Each of the cabanas bears the name of a celebrity that has visited the festival during the past 50 years.

 Cabana resident  Canana resident stares

I walk past Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Ang Lee, Sophia Loren, Matt Dillon, Kevin Costner…Although Living In Oblivion won Best Picture and the Audience Award in 1995 my name is not on any cabanas. I know this because I spent hours in the rain looking for it the last time I was here.

The beach is long and wide, leaving huge expanses of sand when the tide is out.

Deauville beach

I walk a mile or so. I think about the screening tomorrow, in the main theater which seats 1600. But the screening is at 11:30 on a Sunday morning. The festival director has already warned me that less people tend to show up for the documentaries. This is the first public screening of the film with Johnny Depp’s narration. I suddenly have a vision of the film playing in a huge, half-empty theater.

Sept. 6. 09.
10 am.
I go over to the theater for a sound check. The chief engineer leads me into the middle of the theater. It is empty except for a gathering cluster of sleepy security guards. “Roadhouse Blues” is blasting, swirling through the entire theater. It sounds unbelievable. The Doors’ producer, Bruce Botnick supervised the entire music mix in Dolby Surround 6.o. The engineer, a quiet guy in glasses and a graying ponytail, plays a brief riff on air guitar then stares at me for a moment.

“Ahh. Robbie Krieger,” he says in a heavy French accent. “Very fine guitar.”

11:30 am.
With a nudge from the festival director I walk into the theater. The first thing I do is look at the seats.  I’m stunned to see the theater is almost completely full. I step onto the stage and with the help of a translator, introduce the film.

On stage Deauville

I start by mentioning the Blake poem from which Morrison took the name for the band:

“If the Doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is; Infinite.”

I explain my take on its meaning; if we were able to free our minds and hearts of preconceptions and societal restrictions then we would be completely open, free to see the world in all it’s complexity and wonder. I have an ulterior motive for starting with this. The issue of people thinking the footage of Jim from HWY is re-enacted persists. The primary reason seems to be that the film looks so crisp and amazing. So I said, “You’re going to see something new today. You’re going to see something your eyes have not seen before. Be open to it. Every single frame of Jim Morrison, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore in this film is absolutely real. Nothing has been re-created.”

Then I say, “I think the Doors might be amused that the first screening of this film in France is at a time when most people are in church. Well, let us go to church. Let’s go to a small, dark bar somewhere in downtown LA, in 1966. It’s late, around 2 am. It’s hot, smoky, crowded. Everybody’s sweating. The smell in the air is not incense but beer, Jack Daniels and just a hint of weed. But the music that surges from the 4 members of the band on stage comes from the depths of their souls.”

The lights go down. I slip back into my seat. A gasp comes from the audience when the credit appears:

Johnny Depp’s credit

Then my name and a moment later applause. It is the first time I’ve shown a film that gets applause before the film even starts.

As the film plays the audience is very still. They appear to be intensely focused on the film. It is thrilling to see the images flowing together on such a big screen; gigantic–bigger than life. Depp’s narration is even stronger than I’d remembered. His presence in the film is quiet, assured, emotional and powerfully intimate. I watch 2 years of work gliding past my eyes and feel an enormous sense of pride and gratitude for everyone who worked so hard on putting this film together.

No one walks out. This is no small thing. Even at festivals–especially at festivals–attention spans are short and people will commonly walk out of films at any point. And finally, when the film ends, there is long, sustained applause. People come up to personally express how much they’d been moved by the film.

DiCillo in Deauville

Because I am at the festival alone, the press office schedules the unexpected interview requests that have come in since the screening. All of the questions are respectful and highly complimentary. Everyone remarks on the unique structure of the film, saying it plays more like a narrative feature than a traditional documentary. They say they found it moving and immensely informative.

I explain that the HWY footage looks so good because it came from the original 35 mm negative (thanks to the assistance of Frank Lisciandro, HWY’s editor). It makes me digress about Morrison’s dedication to film. He paid for HWY himself. It was not a Doors production. He took a small crew out into the California desert for a week or so. To shoot on 35 mm was expensive, even by 1969 standards. This was long before the existence any independent film movement.

As I explain this to the journalists my respect for Morrison’s effort increases. It strikes me that more attention should be paid to his deep-seated desire to be a filmmaker. His last film at UCLA Film School was awarded a D. It clearly had an effect on him. I can relate. My thesis film earned me a B, which the head of the filmschool explained was the worst grade in the alphabet as far as he was concerned for it was “neither an A nor a C.”

It took me 8 years to get over it and make my first film. As for Morrison, he never went to his graduation and when he resurfaced months later his friend and classmate Ray Manzarek found him wandering on the beach in Venice, CA. He’d been living on someone’s roof. He’d been writing songs.

One journalist expresses surprise that I have no interest in visiting Jim’s grave at Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris. I try to explain that making this film has brought me closer to Morrison’s spirit than I ever would have expected. Compared to that living spirit, a rain-smeared plaster bust of dubious likeness and offerings of whiskey bottles, no matter how reverent and well intended, would seem like a trip to the circus.

Sept. 8.09.
Standing in an endless line waiting to get through US passport control in Newark. I went to bed at 1 the night before. Had a 6 am pickup for the 2 hour drive back to Paris. Pitch black in the car. The driver was an older Frenchman who barely spoke English. He was extremely courteous and kept asking me detailed questions about my family and offering lengthy details of his own family in return. I was unable to keep from falling asleep after 5 minutes.

I finally step up to the Customs agent, a young police officer in a sharp, clean-fitting uniform. His hair is cut close to the scalp. He asks me where I’ve been. As usual I immediately feel the distinct sense that I have something to hide even though the only thing in my pocket is a wadded up paper napkin. Through a brain heavily fogged by sleep deprivation I say I’ve been to a film festival in France.

“What’s your film about?” the cop asks without looking up at me.

“The Doors. It’s the first feature-length documentary about them.”

He stamps my passport. As he hands it back to me he finally makes eye contact. There is an unexpected flash of interest in his eyes. “Ah. John Densmore,” he says. “That dude could really play the drums.”

Posted by:Tom

95 thoughts on “ 62. DEAUVILLE ”

  1. Amazing and moving account, Tom. I’m typing through tears, especially after your mention of the rapt full house at 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning — and your comments about Jim’s grave and why you chose not to go to Pere Lachaise. Salli and I have taken a fair amount of flak on the Doors boards over the years because neither of us has been there and neither of us has any particular interest in going, for reasons you’ve articulated so very, very well. Thanks for that, and for this wonderful film.

  2. What’s The Latest on “When Your Strange” Coming To Scotland Tom?? Would Get a FANTASTIC Reception Here.

    When In Paris, Did You Show Any Interest in Meeting Any Of Jim’s Parisian Friends??

  3. What an excellent and touching accounting of the screening in Paris. I can’t wait for this to hit theaters in the States. The more I read about it, the more I want to see it. I’m happy and excited that it received such a positive response and am very impressed that it played to an almost full house on a Sunday morning. That is rare. Congratulations Tom! I wish this project much more continued success.

  4. Tom,

    This is an amazing post! You have an incredible talent for sharing the details in a way that helps us take the journey with you. It’s no wonder why I liked your film diaries so much!

    Like the pics too.

    I’m thrilled to hear how well things went, and am glad to know I wasn’t the only one brimming with tears when I read about your film playing to a full house (thanks Janet!)

    Congrats to you and best wishes for the upcoming festivals!!


  5. Hello Janet,
    Thanks very much for your comment. It’s funny with this one; I just kind of put down my thoughts and realized much of my experience is now distinctly colored by what I discovered about the Doors while making this film.
    There is so much more there than people realize–even the people who profess to be the hardest of hard-core fans. Jim was complex. They all were complex. Their music is complex. It all has many, many meanings.
    my best to you,

  6. Hey Stuart,
    I know there is negotiation underway for UK theatrical distribution. My understanding is that this might include Scotland.

    To be honest, I never really stopped in Paris long enough to meet anyone. If I go back for the official French release perhaps I will have a chance to meet some of the people who knew Morrison.

    As to your question about Jim’s potential as a filmmaker. I can only say this; his respect for the medium was genuine and profound. He was clearly not interested in the more traditional forms of film storytelling–both his student films and HWY really show that.

    HWY plays more like a long music instrumental, or a tone poem by Rimbaud. There are lengthy sections where there is little “action”. There is very little if any “dialogue”. I think Jim was interested in film’s ability to alter your sense of consciousness, to take you to another state of reality or awareness. Also, he was assisted in the making of the film by cinematographer Paul Ferrara and editor Frank Lisciandro. Both of them say that while shooting there was not always the sense that there was any one director around. Many of the directorial decisions were communal.

    Of course, Jim wrote the script and he starred in the film so it is fair to say his presence and artistic intent guided the whole production.

    As far as judging it, I am in no position to do so. He made the film he wanted to make. Clearly its form and style interested him. I doubt whether he thought about the film’s potential to reach a mass audience. But, by all accounts he was very proud of it and eagerly welcomed the opportunity to show it at several festivals.

    My sense is that his interests in film were geared more toward the experimental. This word barely has any meaning by today’s standards. It only makes me respect his film more.

  7. Hello Ruth,
    Thanks very much for writing. I’m still savoring the experience in Deauville myself. It is my strongest wish that the film have the same theatrical life here in the US. I believe that it will.
    I greatly appreciate your positive wishes.
    I’m going to Spain with the film in a few weeks, and then to London. I’ll let you know how things are going.

  8. Hey there Elaine,
    I’m glad you liked the post. Every now and then they just sort of happen. I think being there by myself might have had something to do with the tone of some of the observations.

    It’s also the first time I took my camera, with specific intent of adding visual information to the post.

    Now, I appreciate the enthusiasm but you must keep the appreciation accurate: it was not a full house. It was an almost full house. But considering the fact the theater sat 1600 it still was the single largest audience the film has had.

    Seeing it this way is really moving; it’s the way the film should be seen. It really was like being in church. There was a sense of communion, a sense that a large group of people were discovering and appreciating something at the same moment.


  9. Tom, Thanks For Taking The Time To Answer My Questions, It is much Appreciated, My Friend And I have Emailed The Filmhouse Independent Cinema In Edinburgh,Scotland About WYS, So Fingers Crossed.

    I’d Like your thoughts on this song, it was written by Phil Trainer who met Jim In Paris in Early April 71, Dont you think this would have been a great song to put over the end credits,just ponder on the lyrics…

  10. I love the Church of The Doors versus normal Sunday church attendance. I can see Jim grinning.

    A question. How do you juggle it all – the noir murder script rewrites, the travel, the screenings, this blog, and still maintain what is often laughingly referred to as “a life?”

  11. Tom Dicillo,

    I realize you don’t know me from Eve. I just wanted to Thank You for revealing the true Jim to the masses. I’m a writer who has been inspired immensely by Jim, and his like….Rimbaud, Hendrix, Blake, Kerouac, Burroughs, Alexander, Thompson, and others. Morrison gave me the confidence, and the keys to the kingdom to search deeper and truer for the truth. To seek pure art, truth, and freedom, and most importantly to celebrate life. Tom I would like to invite you to perch on the window sill with a select view, the writhing herd terrifying our view. Westward we stream, Westward we dream. Cool grass shade sliding dandelion fade – wish there was no sand there. Did you know that palm trees created ceiling fans and the whirling madness ’till they both fly silver. Standing on the far shore waiting for the Sun to bend, sinking in glassy horizon at Ocean’s end. Shiny gold drips madly from our lashes, pooling emerald as the Far Shore beckons. Tom I hope your film inspires people to live their lives blazing, like Comets, as Jim did. Once again, Thank You.

    Adam Tevis

  12. Hey Tom,

    Seems I’ve been doing that lately – putting down the wrong phrase when it’s not what I meant. Not a good habit for writing, now is it?! Congrats on the almost full house (or crowded theatre on Sunday morning) when in Deauville. *wops self on head*

    I like your church analogy. Movie theatres are my church–a place of discovery, wonder, etc. Hence why I occasionally put on my Elizabeth Hurley personality from Double Whammy and am tempted to throw a roll at people who talk loudly on their cell phones in the most delicate scenes of a movie. (I told you that scenes from your movies accurately describe different moods on different days!)

    Hope to hear news of a USA release soon!


  13. Hi Tom. How are you? I’m fine, working hard here. I was looking the dossier for the San Sebastian Film Festival and I saw ‘When you’re Strange’ is in the Zabaltegi-Specials Section. That’s good. I really want to go to San Sebastian, but I think this month it’s complicated for me, so probably I’ll have to wait for watch your film.
    I also saw in the dossier that Jim Jarmusch will be presenting ‘The Limits of Control’ there. It’s funny, because you both often coincide in our great Film Festival. Is it intentionally? Hahaha.

    Regards from Spain,
    Victor M.

  14. Okay okay, so it wasn’t a completely full house, but even a mostly full 1600 seat house is pretty damned impressive at 11:30 on a Sunday morning.

    So sue me… 😉

  15. Hey Tom, I really dug your blog here on Deauville. Man, I find myself totally seeing you as I’m reading it. Great writing. This one was my favorite just ahead of the Sundance one. I loved the Sting story. Awesome stuff but this was a shade better. I’m really starting to wonder if and when we here in the U.S. are going to be able to see this on the big screen. I feel this will be the best way to see the film. Please tell me one day we will because I’m getting worried over here on Cape Cod we won’t. Is a U.S. deal close? Thanks again Tom, great read as always. Best of Luck.

  16. Thanks Tom for sharing these experiences of unveiling WYS to the world. It sounds like the crowd at the L.A. Film Festival showing, quiet and attentive (I believe that was the first public showing with Depp’s narration, right? Not Deauville). It’s kind of a film that whispers, which is different for rock doc. It’s in keeping with the interior world of Jim’s lyrics.
    That would be interesting if you could talk to the French people who knew Jim in his last days and post about that. But I appreciate your very personal chronicle of the film. Thanx!

  17. Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the trip to Deauville. It’s so true – the way you write brings us right along with you. In fact, I’m feeling a bit jet-lagged and I haven’t left my chair. Good pic of your hair. Always appreciated. 😉

    Your pal,


  18. Hey Stuart,
    thanks for the link to the song and video clip. Clearly it was made with passion. I chose to use Doors music for the end credits because the film is about all 4 members of the band. I will keep stressing that. As powerful a figure as Morrison remains, the Doors were a strong, solid unit of 4 immensely talented individuals.

  19. Hey Salli,
    I was actually kind of thrilled with the screening coinciding with church time. It gave me something to hook into for the introduction. Believe me, they are not always easy.

    I wouldn’t call myself a workaholic but I do get a certain pleasure out of getting things done, especially if they are in some way creative. I just set myself specific amounts of time for things. But, this post was the first in 2 months so I can’t really say I’ve been burning up the blogosphere.

    And the script? Well, you can’t start the endless, hopeless yet somehow hopeful process of raising the money until you’ve actually got something written. So, I guess it’s really just about trying to keep the seeds of survival covered in fertile ground.

    But, right now I’m drunk, stoned and have been watching TV for 3 days straight.


  20. Hey Adam Tevis,
    I’m glad you find the kind of artistic inspiration in Jim Morrison that you do. I’ve been somewhat surprised to see that many people “celebrate” his spirit simply as an excuse to worship at the bottle of Jack.
    He was an artist. He believed in opening himself to all aspects of life, as fully and immediately as possible. I wrote some narration to end the film that touches on the comet image you mention.
    Thanks for your support. Keep the flames going.

  21. Hey Elaine,
    No worries about the full/half full theater. It’s more my issue. It’s like filmmakers who tell you their films got a “10 minute standing ovation” when in fact half the audience clapped politely for about 23 seconds. Even a 1 minute ovation is very hard on the hands.

    We share the same reverence for the movie theater experience. I have upon numerous occasions flung various objects at audience members who violate it.

    I too am anxiously awaiting some definative news on US distribution.

  22. Hey Victor M,
    Well, I’m sorry you can’t make it to San Sebastian. What part of Spain do you live in?
    I know the plan is to try and sell the film to all the European countries and Spain is high on the list. So, hopefully there will be a theatrical release in your country sooner than later.
    But, the film will play on the 24th in the massive, beautiful main theater at San Sebastian just in case you might still find a way to get there.

  23. Hey Janet,
    I concur. I concur. See my note to Elaine above. I just didn’t want to suggest that I was inflating the numbers.
    But, yes; getting even a partial full house out of 1600 seats was hugely gratifying.

  24. Hey Baron,
    Great to hear from you. I’m glad you liked this post. It had been a while since I’d written and I was honestly getting a little concerned that my blog muse had left me for twitter.

    I still like the Sting story though. I can’t believe how close I came to starting a brawl only seconds before he stopped me. How would I have looked if had met him moments later, with perhaps blood running out of my nose, or both my arms wrenched behind my back by three jackbooted Mormon bouncers? “Hey, Sting. How’re you doing? It’s me; Tom DiCillo.”

    Now, don’t worry about US distribution. It’s going to happen. First thing to keep in mind is how totally dry the US theatrical market is right now. Nobody is spending a dime to support smaller independent films. We’ve got several offers and I’m confident that in a month we’ll be able to announce something.


  25. Hey Jeff,
    Yes, you are right. The LA Film Festival was the first public screening with Johnny Depp’s narration. I may have left the word “international” out inadvertently. Plus, we did some music tweaking and picture adjustments after LA, making this current version the most accurate.

    A whole film could be made about Jim’s time with Pam in Paris. After the screening in Deauville an older Frenchman slipped up to me and whispered, “I know the truth about Paris,” and pressed his card into my hand.

    I said, “What do you know?”

    He walked off, looking back and pointing to his card in my hand. I emailed him a day later. Never heard back from him.

    I think some people expect a kind of expose revealing new “truths” about Jim’s death. For me, the Doors as a band came to termination when he died. I’m not that interested in the myths or superstitions about how he passed. Bottom line, he’s gone.

    Spain is next, on Sept. 24. Let’s see what happens there.

  26. Hey Rai,
    I’m glad you like the post. Every time I make a trip over I try to find new ways to beat the jet lag. None of them have worked.
    But, I’m not complaining. Sometimes the jolt in time perception throws the brain into unexpected areas of seeing things.

    And, yes; of course–the hair. It is always a useful subject of discussion and no director should ever undervalue its importance.


  27. Hi again, Tom. I live near Madrid. Between my town and San Sebastian there are about 600 kilometres (370 miles), but my problem is not the distance, but the availability. Anyway, like you said, sooner or later and with hopefully, I think I could watch the film like I watched all your previous and great works.

    I hope you have a good trip in Spain. I’m sure the beautiful main theather will be totally full.

    Victor M.

  28. Hello Tom!. Finally I will travel to San Sebastian to see your film. I have already got my ticket! I will see your premiere the 24th september, and to kill two birds with one stone, I will see Jarmusch’s film “The limits of control” (my friend Léa Rinaldi has made a wonderful documentary about Jarmusch’s shooting of this film, “Behind Jim Jarmusch”. May be you remember her from this beautiful interview she made to you two years ago in Paris. Greetings from her

    I wish to have the chance to meet you!
    I’m music composer and I would like to gift you something of my work. I will be roaming around the pretty city of San Sebastian all the day, so if you need something, company, beer, heavy drugs… 🙂 just tell me!

    I can’t wait to see your film in that big screen!

    best wishes,

  29. Hello David,
    That is great news. You should just come up before or after the screening and introduce yourself using the password “Heavy Drugs.”
    Please bring Nembutol, Ofukitol, AntiProzac and most importantly anything with a morphine derivative.
    Tell Lea hello from me. I really enjoyed meeting her and found her desire to break down the formal interview process refreshing.

  30. Thx for the youtube link, David!

    Hey Tom,

    That Lea Rinaldi interview with you is one of my all-time favorites. Isn’t MK2 doing the French distribution for WYS too?


  31. Great! I have got the password, and morphine derivates are my specialty!

    Léa is a very special and talented person, I hope you get the oportunity to see some of her work.

    And good news Tom, the tickets for your last screening in San Sebastian are sold out, the second is almost sold out, and the premiere in the auditory (with 1800 seats of capacity) is, by the moment, more than a half full! I have found this information in the site where is selling the tickets.

    By the way, I didn’t know your talent like a singer, I have found your myspace in an old entry of your blog

    the songs sound great! I want more!

    I’m starting my “myspace”, it only has one song by now (and with problems with mp3 compression..) but here is, a present for all this blog family

    See you soon,

  32. Hey David,
    Thanks for the news about the tickets. That is very encouraging. Maybe the Spanish Doors fans will descend on San Sebastian and help us sell out the big theater. Spread the word.

    And I’m serious; just come up to me with the “password” and we’ll get acquainted.

    I will listen to your song tomorrow. Thanks for posting it here.
    As far as my singing talents, well my cats always get up and quietly leave the room when I start. Will Crewdson and I are working on another song now.

  33. Crawled home form Denver last night at 2:30. . .Owlsley’s Goldedn Road. . .Robbie Krieger playing in a loosely titled jam band, Strange Days.

    Well I’ll tell you a story of whiskey and mystics and men
    And about the believers, and how the whole thing began. . .

  34. Hi Tom, Just to Let you know That myself and a friend are emaling and trying to encourage other people to email the filmhouse in edinburgh,scotland to try and get a demand for the filmhouse to screen it.

    Maybe you could come to Edinburgh and Introduce it if that happens??.

    If Anyone out there reading this would like WYS to be screened in Edinburgh,Scotland at THE FILMHOUSE Please,Please Contact them at

    And Let them Know!!!!

  35. It is entirely fitting that the best arbiter of the Doors’ presence on film should be you—an immensely talented filmmaker who has had to undergo the necessary crucibles of opposition and rejection before going on to create some of the most thought-provoking work of the last two decades.
    Morrison’s art and that of his musical compatriots could not be in better hands—thank you for this cogent tour through your experience, and for embodying the true spirit of The Doors’ musical example: creating excellence beyond the ring of approval.

  36. Tom, greatly admired “Living in Oblivion” when it first came out. Had a chance to see a private screening of “When You’re Strange” tonight and thought it was absolutely fantastic. Bravo! Knew immediately with certainty that the desert footage with Morrison was authentic, and despite being captivated by the narrative structure (Jim Morrison as some kind of wild and free spiritual entity, imagining or experiencing a kind of vision of his own life, death and afterlife), spent most of the film trying to figure out where the hell it came from, how you got hold of it, how something of such astounding cinematic quality had somehow never surfaced publicly before, and what a brilliant framing device you had created with it. May you find a distributor and reap the success this deserves! Certainly one of the most original, compelling and memorable documentaries I’ve seen – Depp was an inspired narrator choice, and delivered brilliantly for you. Congratulations on some truly fine work.

  37. Tom Dicillo,

    Dharma Bums roll untumbled. I decided to write this after reading Joel’s post (Sept 24th 2009 @ 3:27am). Listening to White summer by Jimmy Page as I muse(1970 Royal Albert Hall, worth a listen…youtube). Page, what an artist, reminds me of Jim, and you, and I, and us all. Tom it seems like you get Jim, (like the desert night waiting to burn). Hope your film paints the big screens in the US. Wait till they get a load of Jim. We’ll see if they get him the 2nd time around.


  38. Great video from San Sebastian. I liked that you mentioned Jim’s playfulness, it’s true that he often gets painted this dark creature when his childlike wander and lust for life was always very evident.

    Looking forward to it playing at London, any news on if you’ll be in town for a Q&A.

    One question Tom, were you around at all for Depp’s narration, if not how come?


  39. Hey Tom,

    San Sebastian gets my vote for the most organized website. They put everything in one convenient place. Here you go, Doors and DiCillo fans–film synopsis, photos at the festival, audio copies of the press conference, videos of the press conference, etc. – all on one page.

    The beach looks beautiful! And I thought your mention of how the Doors never sold out when that’s a common thing in our culture today was well-said and right on target.


  40. Hello Tom, I’m back after an intense week that started with Leonard Cohen’s concert in Barcelona and ended with meeting you in San Sebastian. Just great!

    First of all I wish to thank you very much your efforts to make that meeting possible despite you were so busy. Your humility and friendliness exceeded all my best expectations. Thank you again Tom. And excuse my english speaking. I had wished for a fluent and deep conversation. To write calmly in english is more easy for me.

    About the film “When you’re strange” I must say that is a wonderful effort to tell The Doors story objectively and honestly. Splendidly structured and narrated, has almost all that happens in that six magic years. Using only real footage, their music, their words and the rhythmic narration of Depp, the story is very well conducted. From the begining, the news on the radio, during Morrison’s driving (I don’t want to reveal too much) to the end, I love all that intelligent use of the scenes from HWY like a connecting thread.
    The Doors were four big musicians and this is well documented on the film. The differents styles, inspiration and influences from each member and their contribution in the whole thing. At the same time is great to watch and listen to the technical elements in the studio recordings, the labour of Rothchild and Botnick (the 5th 6th Doors members). I could see interesting neverseen footage from the band in concert that shows the funny and crazy Morrison in his splendor. Less than 90 intense minutes, full of good music, that fly. I wish to have the chance to see it again in a big theatre.
    And I am sure that the more than 1200 persons that was there applauding think the same.

    So congratulations Tom for this very good and passionate work. I hope the film gets the distribution that it deserves. Maybe putting a little of Ofukitol in someone’s glass of wine could helps… 😉

    If there is anything I could do to help you to find distribution here in Spain, be sure I will do

    Wishing you all the best,


    (thanks Eleine for the san sebastian links!)

  41. Hello Sujewa,
    Great to hear from you again. I’m glad you liked the post. Thanks for the mention on your site which is very cool in its own right. I think I’ve linked to it. When my brain says hello again I’ll make sure.

    Still working hard on getting the US distribution deal.

  42. Hey Stuart,
    Man, I really appreciate your help in trying to get the film screened in Edinburgh. I would definitely consider coming over for it; especially if it was in conjuntion with a UK release.
    Keep me informed.

  43. Hello Vanderwolf,
    Sorry for the lag time in getting back to you. Just returned from Spain and I’m several time zones from coherence right now.
    Thanks so much for your extremely supportive note.
    I did feel a strong connection with the band, what they created and what they’ve come to stand for. Particularly from what I’ve learned of Morrison, I’ve become even further convinced of the necessity of fighting forever for something you truly believe in.
    That gift was to me.

  44. Hello Joel,
    Again, I apologize for the delay in responding. Your comment meant a lot to me. I’m curious where you saw the screening of When You’re Strange?
    More importantly, I greatly welcomed the fact you seemed to appreciate the film on the level with which we made it. I happen to feel there is a lot of meaning there, if one simply allows themselves to be open to it.
    The footage from Morrison’s film HWY has been around for years. Snippets of it are on YouTube–shots of him waving a leather jacket at cars passing on the desert highway are right from HWY. I didn’t use them because of that.
    Like I said, we kept pushing and pushing on trying to locate the original negative knowing it had to be somewhere. And literally at the 11th hour, we found it.
    I believe there are plans to release Jim’s film on dvd, which makes the outtakes I use in When You’re Strange so powerful because apparently they will be the only pieces to get the benefit of the big screen.
    The response in San Sebastian was just as passionate as the one in Deauville.

  45. Hey Elaine,
    You’re getting a lot of fans here for your amazing efforts. I’m back now and completely wasted. For some reason the jet lag really hit me hard on this trip. But, it was a great trip and I’ll get to writing about it when I learn the alphabet again.
    Yes, MK2 is the french distributor. I’m thrilled so have someone of their calliber and experience.
    Rumors I’ve heard speculate a theatrical release in France near the 1st of the year.

    I’m glad you liked the press conference; and the words about selling out. I know that last line was going the be the last line of the film long before the film was finished. And it is something I truly respect in them. Not everything is for sale.

    Thanks so much for finding the links and making them available.

  46. Hey Adam,
    I’m glad you decided to write. Good comparison, with Page and Morrison. And I liked your saying that somehow great art really reminds us of us all–ourselves.
    I think I got Morrison a little bit. But, there is no way I could have gotten him completely. He was an immensely complicated human being and I firmly believe much about him will never be known. If anything, I think I may have opened the door for people to simply take a clearer look at the flash that was Jim Morrison as it streaks by in the blink of an eye.
    I hope people are open to seeing him as a human being the 2nd time around. He deserves it.

  47. Hey K,
    I think I’m going to London. Not sure at this date. If I do come I’ll certainly do a q&a somewhere.
    The dark side was definitely there with Morrison. No denying it. I was just as fascinated though (as you observed) with the other side. I think his genius came from both.
    Johnny did the narration on his own, kind of on impulse. He’d heard my temp version of it and I felt very comfortable letting him find his own way. He’s too good of an actor, and too smart, to feel like I was putting him in a box in any way.
    I listened to every one of his takes. Some lines he did 10-12 times, constantly searching for meaning and rhythm.
    I’ve sent word of my great appreciation of his effort.

  48. Hey David,
    It was great to meet you in San Sebastian. Thanks for writing your response to the film. I do think it played well and the applause at the end felt genuine and strong.
    I like your idea of putting Ofukitol in some distributor’s drink. It is a very powerful drug though and I’m not sure I could handle the resposnibility of a “bad trip.”
    Great to see you and I wish you the best with your music. I’ve listened to it and I think you are quite talented. KEEP DOING IT!!


  49. Great stuff!

    Please let us know which screening you’ll be attending as I shall book tickets for that one!

    Looking forward to the film.


  50. Hey Tom,

    You’re welcome for the links. I was impressed that San Sebastian put all the info on one page. Most film fest websites keep it scattered. Made my quest easier 🙂

    Good luck on the jet lag! I find that alphabet soup helps my brain resume to its normal state, though perhaps it’s just psychological that eating letters will actually produce them on the keyboard 🙂 Look forward to a post about the trip once you’ve rested up.

    Wanted to mention something I didn’t “hear” until just now. It’s part of your press conference, where you mention that for Ray, Robby, and John to be on stage with Morrison, never knowing what to expect next, was a combination of sheer terror and the biggest high they’d ever felt. It struck me that you’ve said the same thing about the actual days of shooting a film; that the month you spent shooting “Delirious” was the most alive you have felt, yet it was like driving a motorcycle on the edge of a cliff.

    Wolf Films made a wise choice in you for WYS–not only because of your talent, but for your ability to make a personal connection which comes through on the big screen. There were aspects of Morrison you identified with (fathers in the military, etc.) and aspects of John, Ray and Robby you identified with.

    Glad to hear WYS played well at San Sebastian. Can’t wait to see it in the USA!


  51. Howdy
    Just came across your info- The film looks great! I live in Miami- love to see it in the theatre-

    Quesiton for you and to everyone else who loves the Doors and Morrison.

    I used to have on tape years ago..a very rare Doors/ Morrison tune.
    CAnt seem to find it anywhere and it was amazing. Sounds like The Dorrs added Music to one of Jim’s poems after he dies. Very ahead of their time – really cool- eerie sounding/ true alternative kind of Kraftwerk sounding.

    its been years but I do I remember some of the lyrics.

    Let’s go to the grave- dig up history. In the begining was the divine corruption- the devil on the wire..
    jesus christ was all right
    a little overstated
    alil over rated ultimately killed and hated
    pass the plate the lord wants your money

    Anyone who knows this tune- or has it Please post it or let me know where i Can get it.

    Many Thanks


  52. Hey there.
    Ive been reading reviews of the when youre strange docu and wondering if it is going to be shown in Scotland? I know is screening in London this month. Any chance of a Scotland screening at all? I have a whole bunch of people dying to see it


  53. Hi Tom

    Hope all is well.

    I’m totally bummed as I’m now going to miss your screening and the entire London Film Festival because I had to go abroad and will be away for over a month!

    Been looking forward to seeing it for ages!

    Have a good time in my city while you’re there!



  54. Hello Neil Kerr,
    It looks like a UK sale is moving forward to completion. Once that is done they will determine when to begin the theatrical release throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
    So, wait a month and we’ll see what shakes down.

  55. Hello Tom, thanks for your kind words of support. It was a real pleasure to have the chance to give you something of my work. I have enjoyed your movies and I wished to do some kind of creative feedback. Like a way to thank you for your works, making you enjoying a little with mine.
    And sure I will keep doing music, even though we must allways fight against this modern hard life and its modern needs..

    Nice news, It seems that England distributors won’t need any Ofukitol.. but what do you think about Spain?… Will be possible to see your film again in theatres? Is there any negotiation?

    Greetings and Good Luck!

  56. Heya Tom,

    Mario was right–you are the marathon man. Links below from recent Woodstock Film Fest:

    Brief interview clip of Tom talking about WYS: (aprx 1 min)

    Film panel at Woodstock Film Fest discussing music in film (aprx 9 min): filmmakers Jonathan Demme, Tom Dicillo, Tze Chun, and composer T. Griffin
    (Elaine’s note: the sound is scratchy in the first minute or two but it gets better)

    Tom, I’d read about your Box of Moonlight music headaches in the diary, but hearing you tell the story added something more. Good stuff!


  57. Hello,

    Very good question, Stuart! When will “When you are strange” be in Paris? I would love to see it. I thought it would be on. Ithought MK2 was distributor. Or is it that I’m too impatient and I’ll just have to wait…
    Aaaaah…I suffered for you Tom when I read your trip in the French taxi playing techno! I think I might have thrown up in the taxi…!

  58. Hello David,
    There is no news at the moment of a Spanish release. I think it will happen but it will take some time. If there is a theatrical release I beleive it would only be in your big cities, Madrid and Barcelona. That is unfortunately the state of independent film these days, especially with documentaries.
    So, you should consider yourself very luck you got a chance to see it on the big screen.
    Keep making music.

  59. Hey Elaine,
    Actually Woodstock was very leisurely and embracing. The on-camera interview was right after the screening and I only had to be coherent for a few moments.
    The panel was very interesting and went on for quite a while. They did a good job of editing it.
    I did try to make it entertaining but some of the audience response to my composer story took me by surprise. I realized that in my dealings with the composer I sounded like Steve Buscemi in Living In Oblivion.
    Thanks so much for finding these clips and placing them here.

  60. Hey Claire,
    Great to hear from you again. I believe Stuart was asking about Scotland, not Paris.
    We have made an official sale to MK2 in France and they are working on their plans for the theatrical release now. So, it will be in French theaters late this year or early 2010.

  61. Hi Tom, I just read an entertaining article* about your stay in San Sebastian in one of our best newspapers called El Pais. It was written by Pepe Colubi. Very funny. He talks about a strange event with a psychotic woman in the Maria Cristina Hotel, about Jim Jarmusch, Bob Dylan and your boxing, about the cheered release in the anphitheater, about beers, and about a delicious dinner at Branka’s on the Ondarreta’s Beach. Probably San Sebastian is one of the best places in the world for eat, don´t you think?

    My best wishes to you, and keep on rockin’ in the hard world.
    Victor M.


  62. Hello Mr. DiCillo.

    I would like to know if the film will get out on a DVD or something in near future, because I don’t believe it will be screened in Slovenia. I am a big fan of The Doors and this film is something what I really wish to watch.

    Best regards

  63. 2 Questions for you Tom! Are you and John Densmore going to be at the london film festival screening of WYS later this month?? One of my Very good friends THE BAD COWBOY will be attending the screening!!.

    2nd Question- Do you think this song suited being in HWY?? I Love it

  64. Hello Victor “M”,
    My good friend Pepe Colubi wrote that article for El Pais. I met him many years ago at the Gijon Film Festival and found his particular style of insanity was close enough to mine to make friendship possible.
    He hung out with me for 24 hours at San Sebastian and put just about everything that happened in the piece. Except the fist fight with the drunken dwarf.
    San Sebastian is a magical city. And it is the best film festival in the world.
    It looks like there is talk beginning for a sale to Spain.

  65. Hey Rocky,
    Thanks for writing. I think there is going to be a long life for this film. I feel very confident you will be able to see it in a theater and am certain you will be able to buy it on DVD. Many things are happening right now that involve sales to territories around the world.
    Keep your eyes open.

  66. Hey Stuart,
    The music is incredible. It is very raw blues. It actually reminded me of a middle eastern contemporary band called Tinariwen. Do you know them?
    It goes beautifully with Jim’s film.

    It looks like at the moment John Densmore will go to the London Film Festival. He is going to the Austria Viennale and will stop in London for the second screening. The UK distributor feels it will be better for me come a later in the year when they officially release the film.

    This suits me fine because I’m still recovering from the double whammy of jetlag from Deauville and San Sebastian.

    Please tell your good friend THE BAD COWBOY how much I appreciate him going to the screening. And where did he get his name?

  67. Tom,Im not 100% sure Actually How he got his name!!! He’s a great guy, love him to bits.

    This is Him In Paris at a Poetry Readiing in 2006, a lot of us did to pay tribute to jim, just outside Pere Lachaise In Paris.

    And This is me at the same Poetry Reading!

    What do you think of the clips?!

    Regarding Tinariwen: I had not heard of them nor heard them but i will look them up on youtube and get back to you:)

  68. Tom,

    “Sounds like champagne!!”
    Thanks for your answer, Tom.
    It’s always so nice to read you.
    Thank you Stuart for the link.
    I really love Jacques Demy and Agnès Varda.

  69. Hi Tom,

    I keep looking for dates to screen the film in Germany (after Berlin..).

    Is there anything planned yet?

    When is it planned to bring out the film in a format like DVD or something else?

    Thanks in advance!


  70. Hey Tom,

    Guess this is the weekend that WYS plays at the London film fest. Hope it plays great there! With the various markets picking up the film, I hope the USA will hop on board soon. I’d love to see the film in theatre 🙂


  71. Hello Mr. DiCillo,
    I’ve been writing articles as The Doors Examiner and have written a couple on When You’re Strange. I’d like to offer my Doors Examiner as a venue to you when you want to announce news of the documentary. The Examiner of course avails itself of all the search engines and to news outlets.

    Feel free to contact me I look forward to hearing from you!

    Jim Cherry

  72. Hey Jim,
    Great to hear from you. I really appreciate the offer of support. I’m adding your cool site to my blogroll now. There is a lot of activity with the film. It’s just coming at a snail’s pace, which I guess is better than no pace at all, and it is probably more accurate for the current state of the film distribution landscape.

  73. Hey Stuart,
    It is a deal. That sounds like a great tasting brew. I have no idea what the UK distribution plans are at the moment but as soon as something solidifies I’ll let you know.

  74. Hey Jochen,
    thanks for writing. My understanding is that a German distribution deal is in the works. As soon as something emerges I’ll let you know.

  75. Thanks Tom for you taking the Time to Reply to my Questions, I must ask you this about WYS-

    Regarding The Miami Concert In WYS ,what were your Views On The Miami Concert and trial As You were Putting WYS together? Were There any Pre Conceptions of The Concert/Trial You Had Before and Did they Change/Evolve As You learned More about It??.

    The Poor Guy Was Railroaded In That Trial.

    There Are A couple of Pints Of Tennents Lager With your Name On It waiting to be consumed by You:)

  76. Hi Tom,

    thanks for your answer, but what does your understanding mean exactly ? 😉

    What do you think: Will Germany be able to screen the film around the same time it will be screened in France for example or are there always different negociations going on?

    Would be great to get a few more insights into that process please.

    Thanks in advance!


  77. Hey Jochen,
    Good question. Here is the way it works. Every country has the opportunity to buy the film. Each country that buys it will have their own specific release plans. There is generally no attempt to co-ordinate the releases in different countries to happen at the same time.

    So, if the deal with Germany goes through, the German release will be at a completely different time of year than the French release.
    It also takes several months after the deal has been closed for the
    buyer to create a strong release plan with publicity and advertising.
    I hope this is helpful.

  78. Hey Stuart,
    That is a very complex question about Miami. I spend about 10 minutes in WYS showing the concert and the events that happened afterwards. I went into the film with only the desire to explore the facts.

    Everyone admits Morrison was drunk and in a very strange mood that night. As a result the Doors performed fragments of only 4 songs. Morrison kept taunting the audience, saying they didn’t want to hear music but would rather see him pull his pants down. Many photographs show him pantomiming this.

    The hard fact remains that there is no proof Morrison exposed himself.

    I think his conviction (and sentencing to 3 months of hard labor in the Dade County jail) had a profound effect on him. When he died the Miami conviction was still hanging over him.

    And then of course there is always this story: according to Danny Sugerman Jim admitted to Pam he did pull it out because he “wanted to see what it looked like in a spotlight.” As usual, always hard to tell where the truth lies with this man and his myths.

    Nevertheless, the public reaction changed Morrison deeply. The film shows this.


  79. Hi Tom,

    thanks for taking your time to answer this.

    I got a few more questions if it is OK:

    – How does every country have the opportunity to buy the film? Who is offering that for you so to speak? Is that some kind of agency or how can I imagine all that?

    – You know, I just want to see the film – soon 😉 I know that is has already been shown in a few countries, so where is the deal to put it out on DVD in those countries? Are there any plans to put out a DVD in the US sometime soon?

    I just can’t get around the fact that just because I live in Germany, I probably need to wait longer for it than if I would live in France or England. 😉


  80. Tom, I don’t know what to make of Danny’s story, but Jim told Salli he DIDN’T do it–and you just know if he had, somebody would surely have got it on film.

    I can’t get hold of Salli right now to ask her, but IIRC she hadn’t asked him about Miami, he was the one who brought it up.

    So my theory has always been that anyone who asked him about it got a smart=assed lie (even Pam); but when he was the one who broached the subject, he told the truth. (And I fall somewhere in the middle, because I never brought it up–I figured he was thoroughly sick of the subject–and he didn’t either.)

  81. My understanding is that Jim did not want to talk about Miami, officially. Circus wanted comments – who wouldn’t? Personally, I didn’t know much about it, as I was in transit from London to LA at the time. Seemed to me that Jim, like many artists of the time, was bent on bucking the institution, and whether he did or didn’t really isn’t the issue. The issue was how society reacted.

    I heard a version from an Elektra executive that is interesting to ponder. This individual asked Jim if he did, then why? Jim responded, “They kept screaming for more, I didn’t have any more. So …. ”

    I recently saw the movie “Control,” about Ian Curtis and Joy Division. Sorry to say I was pretty unfamilar with Joy Division, but there are some notable similarities to the Doors. If you get a chance, see if you can check it out. Not at all the same as WYS, but shot entirely in black and white.

  82. Dear Sally and Janet,
    Regarding Miami: one thing that fascinated me in researching the film was hearing the details of Jim’s encounter with The Living Theater the week before he flew to Miami.

    The radical performance group clearly had a huge effect on him. He went to every show. But, most amazing was his confession to the group’s director backstage, that though he had the ear of a generation deep inside he felt he never really had anything to say.

    This from a 27 year old whose music and persona had already transfixed the world.

    But, I think he was being truthful. I think he was deeply torn between the “pop star” success he had and another impulse to really do something more “serious” or artistic on a broader social level.

    It is only my theory, but I think he brought this conflict with him to Miami. If you listen to the audio tape from the concert he seems to be struggling to say something new. “I’m not talking about a revolution. I’m not talking about a demonstration. I’m talking about having a good time. I’m talking about love. Love. Love. Love. Take your fucking friend and love him.”

    I think he wanted to say or do something profound, to shock the audience into awareness, the same way the Living Theater did the week before.

    It is also important to remember the Living Theater placed great emphasis on complete openness from its performers; many times complete nudity.

    And, as he freely admitted, he was drunk.

    But, Sally’s point echoes my own. Who cares if he did or he didn’t? It was the phobic response from the public (including the Rock press) that is the real issue.

    We haven’t come too far since then.


  83. Hi Tom,

    I have just read on your news page that WYS has been sold to Germany for a theatrical release.

    That’s fantastic news, congratulations!

    Do you have any more infos to share (date, venue etc.)?

    Would be great!


  84. Hi Tom,

    Thanks so much for your blog, I’ve only recently discovered it and am enjoying reading your posts! Just a quick question: will you keep us updated via the blog on the release of “When you’re Strange” in France? I’m so sorry to have missed it at Deauville and am so impatient to see it!! (I nearly fell off my chair when I read you’d made this film, having been a fan of your films and the Doors since I was a teenager!). Please keep us posted when it’s released! Looking forward, as always, to seeing your new work!!

    Best wishes,
    Marisa in France

  85. Hello Marisa,
    Thanks for writing. I appreciate very much your comments about my films and about the Doors themselves.
    I will definitely let you (and every Doors fan in France) know as soon as I know something specific about the French release.
    What I know so far is that the French distributor, MK2, is planning a theatrical release in late Spring.
    So, that is not that far away.
    Keep checking here.

  86. That’s great news! Thanks very much for your response; I will look forward to seeing the film this Spring then! Best wishes for wide distribution across the globe!

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