April 10, 2010

Last night I had one the most inspiring and amazing experiences I've ever had in this business.

I went down to the Angelika Film Center in NYC expecting to do a brief Q & A after the 7:30 screening. The show was sold out. I hung out outside the theater for a few minutes and took this photo while everyone was inside.

Doors at the Angelika

The first inkling that something was going on came as the film ended. Through the closed doors of the theater I heard the sharp burst of applause. You cannot imagine what it felt like to hear this kind of spontaneous appreciation from a room full of complete strangers who don't even know you're there.

I walked down the aisle and people were reaching out to shake my hand, calling out, "Thanks for making this movie!!" To my astonishment almost the entire theater stayed for the Q & A. I kept expecting huge droves to just get up and walk out after 10 minutes, 20 minutes--half-hour. No, 45 minutes later and everyone stayed.

The questions were fascinating and intense. Everyone wanted to know about Jim in the HWYfootage. I told them the story of the distributor walking out of the Sundance screening thinking it was an actor. The whole theater went crazy.

Many people said how fascinating it was to learn about Ray, John and Robby as well as Jim. A guy stood up and said the film and the music took him right back to that amazing moment in this country where young people were trying to change the world. He was a member of the SDS. I interrupted him for a moment and told the audience what the Students for a Democratic Society was in the late 60's, how brave and uplifting it was that college students were so vocal and so active in demanding change. The audience gave him a round of applause.

The q & a at the Angelika
DiCillo at the 7:30 Q & A. Photo by Ria Shibayama in the audience

If I seem a little dazed it's because I still am. The energy and interest coming from everyone was almost overpowering. The audience was filled with people of all ages. Some had driven in from New Jersey. Someone had come all the way down from Montreal. Their appreciation for The Doors, their music and for the film was more direct and pure than I ever could have imagined.

To the musician who spoke so eloquently about the timelessness of the Door's music : thank you.

To the young African-American girl who came up and told me so emotionally how much she liked the film: thank you. I asked how she became a Doors fan. She said her parents had turned her on to them. To her parents: thank you.

A crowd of people clustered around long after the theater manager requested finally that we move out into the lobby. The manager told me the film was "doing really well," and asked me to introduce the following screening. This one was more than 3/4 full at 10:15 pm. I walked up and thanked everyone for coming despite the fact there was such limited visible advertising for the film. They applauded.

Then I told them about Jim's movie HWY and asked them to repeat after me, "There are no fucking actors in this movie."

There was a moment of silence then the entire theater responded in unison, "There are no fucking actors in this movie!!"

With that I left them. But, again as I walked up the aisle hands reached out of the darkness and voices called out, "Thank you, Tom. Thank you for making this movie!"

And this from people who hadn't even seen the film yet.

The theater manager was so pleased with the way things had gone he invited me back for tonight. They had no time to advertise. They quickly put the notice on the Angelika website and said they'd try to put the news on their marquee. So, if you live in NYC help us spread the news.

I'll be joining the audience in a Q & A immediately after the 7:30 show tonight. I'll also stay and introduce the 10:15 show.

I learned this morning that shows had sold out at several theaters in LA last night. Here's a shot from my friend Michele in line at LA's Sunset 5.

The line for WYS at LA’s Sunset 5

 To all you Doors fans who took it upon yourselves to go the theater in NY, in Los Angeles, in Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Dallas: thank you.

Seriously. THANK YOU.

I just want to congratulate you again for an exciting fantastic film. You set the record straight from the damage that that clumsy fictional garbage in the early 90’s did. You should be very proud.
Visually,seeing The Doors perform on the big screen was a genuine film spectacle,I was smiling alot while watching.
I was at the Angelika on Fri and I was present for the Q&A,it was a special treat.
I was the guy who asked to shake your hand when you were walking out afterward up the aisle; it was real gratitude,thanks again.
Great Movie Tom,
I was the first person to got to the 4/9 show at 11:00 am. The side entrance to the angelika was open but not the front gate. Needless to say i entered,,, black cow palace, San Fran doors concert T-shirt on. I eventually met the manager on the theatre who initially thought i was with the escalator repair crew. When i told him that i was not.. he informed me that i was trespassing for the gate had not officially opened… Imagine getting locked up for going into a movie theatre to see a doors movie!!.. (with a ticket) ( i had purchased it online.. incase of a sell out… also i was there early to get a good seat.
The concert footage was tremendous. Is there any way to view a actual doors concert???…Not the Hollywood bowl of the European tour. but a concert from the “other footage you had used. Again it was great.
I realy enjoyed the movie and i am especially looking forward to seeing it again…this time after getting mellow prior.
I am especially glad to hear that the movie was sold out later in the day. I have even heard an advertisment for the movie on 104.3 FM NY
Tom I am proud to say that i was the first person to see your film at the angelika in NYC,,,
All the best and i sincerely hope that this grassroots movie takes off!!!
Hey Tom: You are highly articulate and you did a great job. I was confused when I saw the young Jim Morrison and did not understand until you explained that was really him so you being there and talking about the film was really important to me. I did not go to see the film for the reason the majority of the audience — and it was jammed packed — did go…I went because I am an intense passionate artist and I feel thwarted and I want to revisit the passion and intensity of Jim Morrison and The Doors. I went home and posted a YouTube about my feelings and my YouTube audience has told me they are going to go see your film. I posted a small clip of you talking and I am glad because you did an excellent job.
thanks and best,
Suzannah B. Troy
passionate NYC artist
Hi Tom,
You’re very welcome.
I will do my best to be your eyes and ears in Canada and send you an eye witness account of the Kingston premiere and I’ll look for news for you online for any reports from other cities here as well. I think that Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver should be very successful cities for the film, but hopefully some of the smaller ones will show it to sell-out crowds too.
The Facebook event that I received and accepted an invite to for select Cineplex Theatres across Canada now has 1,143 confirmed guests and for a Facebook event, those are pretty good numbers.
I write for a couple of online magazines and one of them has picked up my blog about the film. I’ll write a review of it when I see it and have it posted on Press 1 entertainment magazine ( as it has over 3 million readers.
Thank you for acknowledging what I said about Michael Madsen too. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.
I will check out Delirious.
All the best,
Hey Christine,
Thanks very much for writing. I’m really curious to hear how the film goes in Canada. Why don’t you be our eyes and ears and send in an eye-witness account?
Thanks for your post on your blog as well.
I know Michael Madsen. We met some years ago on the set of The Natural. I agree with you; he’s a very gifted and unique actor who should be working more–in more interesting films.
Check out Delirious. I think you’ll dig it.
Hey there Ms. Ida Miller,
Wow, that comment was a keeper. Coming from you it has extra special meaning. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your support has been extraordinary from the beginning–remember it was you who noted I’d glossed over Waiting For The Sun and that helped me go back into the film and add more depth to it.
Like I said to your sister soldier in arms, Elaine, the numbers will now be the determining factor for future life of the film. I’ve done all I can.
I can say I’m more proud of the film than anything I’ve done. You’re right; I did fight a lot of battles. I came away with a few scars but I made the film I wanted to make. And for me, that is victory.
Most sincerely,
Hey Elaine,
I’m so glad you responded to the film–after waiting all this time. And I’m betting that some of those folks who drove up from Kentucky saw your posters along the highway.
Tomorrow morning the distributor will look at all the “numbers” from the different theaters across the country and determine the next step for When You’re Strange.
Who knows what will happen?
Hey Nick,
First of all, thanks for going. I’m serious.
2nd, thanks for your support. That theme you mention, of young people getting involved, really impressed me when it happened during the 60’s. I have enormous respect for that effort. Look how hard it is to make any real change. Look how hard it is for anyone to hear the “truth” let alone speak it.
And these college kids and highschool students were at the barricades.
I’m glad you liked the film. I hope it gets a chance to flicker to life around the country.
Hey Therese!
What a wonderful surprise to see you after the screening. You look great. I really appreciate your comments. There was some studio b.s. and it took every ounce of my strength and concentration to keep this one what I knew it should be.
I’ll keep making films as long as I can. You do the same.
Hey Stuart,
I have no thoughts on it because it is not a review. It is just sputtering from some moron with cockroaches in his brain and access to the internet.
There will be hundreds of thousands of people with different reactions to the film. Some will be good. Some will be bad. Some will be as useless as the one you sent me.
Do me a favor, keep them to yourself.
Stuart Henderson
Tom, What’s your Thoughts on this Review of WYS?
Fantastic to see you and your film Friday!!
Glad to see you able to create something personal and hopefully without
all the studio B.S.
Please keep on making films.
Agreed…Al Fountain forever.
My very best to you,
Nick Detisch
Hey Tom!
I was at the 7:30 Angelika screening last night and it was, as your blog describes, a truly energetic, communal experience. I applauded hardest at your notion that the counter-cultural spirit surrounding the Doors’ music has been all but lost on us younger generations. There’s such a jadedness about rock’n’roll and all its cliches that it feels impossible to imagine what it must have been like to witness a rock band encapsulate the essence of an era. Hearing the former SDS member fondly recall such an era gave the whole evening a deeper meaning.
Many people commented on the fact that the Doors’ music spoke universally, and that their message will always be relevant. Congratulations on making a film that proliferates the band’s undying spirit, and debunks the “mythology” that only serves to cloud it.
“Speak the truth!”
Thanks for writing Wran. I hope the film gets to Connecticut.
Ah, Al Fountain. Ironically I just ran into John Turturro the other night and he was telling me how Box of Moonlight ranks among his favorite films.
Hi Tom!
I’m going to see the special event, Kingston, Ontario screening of WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE on Thursday, April 15th and I can’t wait! As a long time fan of The Doors (who has even had the privilege of meeting Ray Manzarek in Toronto in 1999), I couldn’t be more excited about seeing your film and am so grateful to you and everyone involved for making it! I’m sorry that I won’t have the chance to sit in on one of your Q&As. I’m following your blog and have written a blog about your film tonight for my own:
I’ve posted on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter too…spreading the love for you!
I also enjoyed your films Johnny Suede, Living in Oblivion and The Real Blonde. I’m looking forward to seeing Delirious as soon as I can.
I hope that you will some day do a film with Michael Madsen in a lead role because I think you could do some really interesting work with him. He’s an awesome poet as well as a very talented actor but he needs help choosing good scripts. He’s too good for most of the stuff he’s been in but as you know, he’s given some unforgettable and fantastic performances in many films as well. Give it some thought.
BEST OF LUCK to you for more success for WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE than you could have ever imagined!
Love & light,
On behalf of myself, my friends, the fans who have been writing me through my website for months in hopeful anticipation, and the many friends and fans I have heard from since yesterday’s theatrical opening … we ALL thank you in spades for ‘When You’re Strange’.
The Doors have been “my band” and #1 focus (except for family, natch) since 1968. I can only begin to imagine the challenges and hurdles you met and overcame to bring this film to fruition.
In truth, I had never heard of Tom DiCillo before your involvement in this project. But, after following your blogs and your sincere responses to the fans for more than a year as the film struggled to be appreciated at film festivals around the world, I can say that I have joined the swelling ranks of “Fans Of DiCillo”.
Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for ‘When You’re Strange’.
Ida Miller
I just got home from seeing WYS in Atlanta, and lemme tell ya – the fans traveling to see this movie isn’t just happening up North. There were people there who had driven from Kentucky, picked up their friends in Alabama, and drove into Atlanta this morning for the afternoon showing. Others were local and said they were ready to go to France and see it in theater there if it hadn’t opened here in the States.
I’m amazed at how congenial everyone was as we waited to go inside the auditorium. I’m also here to say that until today, I had never seen an audience who stayed to watch all the credits without getting up. Nobody moved. Everyone remained in that bubble of time you created on screen for them.
My husband and friends loved the use of HWY throughout WYS. Discussions about the movie carried on during the several train trips home.
I’m thrilled for you, Tom 🙂 Great news on the NYC screening. Grass roots, man, grass roots 🙂
Congrats on the successful screenings AND on the great reviews I’ve been seeing online!
Hoping this film shows up in Connecticut sometime soon!
P.S. Al Fountain forever!

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician