April 11, 2010

Hey. Check this out. It's from Indiewire:

Perhaps more impressive was the relatively wide debut of DiCillo’s “When You’re Strange.  The documentary about The Doors - DIY released through Abramorama - grossed $65,371 from eight venues, averaging a respectable $8,171.

This is actually pretty amazing. We had a higher per screen average than How To Choke Yer Frikken Dragon. It is even more amazing when you consider it was accomplished by very little paid advertising, and in the face of two real stab-in-the-back reviews. And so, what does that leave? How did this happen?

It happened because of YOU. It happened because of the real FANS. You went out to the theater solely on your own interest and curiosity. And look what you did. There is only one thing for me to say--and I say it with every molecule of sincerity in my soul:


And you know why I say it? Not because of any personal attention or cash. I'm done. I've been working on this movie for free since 2009. This isn't about me. The reason I thank you is this: by going to the film you have enabled it to play a little longer--I have no idea how much longer--but your faith and support has kept the film alive and offered it up to others to experience. Why should I give a shit about that? Why should I care? Why should I keep working on this film?

Because you've written to me and told me how much it means to you. Just take a glance through some of the comments. Look at what people are saying. Thanks to Ida and Elaine. Nick and Joe. Therese, Matt, Baron, Jeff, Alan and Brittney and everyone else who was affected by the film.

When I introduced the film Saturday night at the Angelika someone mentioned the NY Times review. I asked how many people there had read it. About 20 people raised their hands. I was so moved by them showing up I think this is what I said to them:

To you all in particular, I offer my sincerest thanks. You read something about the film but you decided to come down here and check it out for yourselves. And you know what? I think it is OK if some of you watch this film and say, "I don't like it." That is your right. But, for you to not come just because someone dropped their opinion like a stale fart in someone's dining room, well, that does not seem fair. You have the right and privilege to make up your own mind. If someone expresses their opinion with the sole intent of making you not come to the theater that is not criticism; that is journalistic terrorism.

I have no idea what is going to happen next week. If people go then the film will keep playing. I'm hoping that the producers will show some faith in the film and appreciation for what you all have accomplished by taking out some ads and keeping the film's visual profile alive.

Congratulations to you all. Take a bow.

I think I believe in fate.
‘When You’re Strange’ played here in Windsor, Ontario only on April 15th and 17th. It was April 16th in the middle of exam time at the U and I want to chill so I’m looking at show times at our theater and I come across ‘When You’re Strange’… Before I saw it, I knew what this movie would be like. I felt that Stone’s movie made Jim look like a deranged maniac and I couldn’t help but feel that everything was a little exaggerated.
I felt that I had to see this movie by myself- it was a duty, something I had to do because of how deeply connected I feel with the music, which is so, so spiritual to me. I really did love your movie. You organized it in such a harmonious way that it sent out a great message. I cried at the part about the trial and how hard Jim took it; the look in his eyes broke my heart in a way. But I also cried, not out of sadness, but out of gratitude when the topic of his poetry was mentioned.
I’m doing a double major in Philosophy and English Lit at U Windsor. I’d like to become a writer one day, and I’ve been feeling a little discouraged lately since I find that not very many people that I know these days are interested in the aspect of poetry and literature. You showed James Douglas Morrison the Poet as well as Jim Morrison the rock star and I can tell that you appreciate both sides of him- it meant so much to me- it was actually rather rejuvenating. It provided so much closure to me.
I also want to comment on the choice of Johnny Depp as a narrator. I respect Johnny Depp so much as a talented man who clearly has an interest for art, literature, and music, and when I saw ‘When You’re Strange’ on the show times schedule described as a documentary narrated by Johnny Depp, I swear to you I got chills. He added another good level of depth to the film.
My favourite band and my favourite actor would finally be coming together. My sister even jokingly said, “I think this is movie was meant for you” and when I watched it, it really spoke volumes to me. It was also really amazing that I just happened to stumble across it on the show time schedule website since it was the day before the last day it was playing in the city and there was zero advertisement for it here, unfortunately. I would have had no way of knowing about it otherwise- coincidence?
You’re amazing for doing this. It’s lovely that someone out there with the power and resources to make a statement understands what the Doors are really about. We don’t know each other, but Aristotle said that our actions are an expression of who we are, and because of this, I respect you so much.
Also, you are SO bloody lucky you get to hang out with John Densmore, I’m so jealous! I can tell that he’s an amazing, passionate, and humble man. He’s been there- been through it all the way. Before I die, I want to have a coffee with at least one member of the Doors and say thanks to him too.
If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could you contact me by my email and send me an autographed copy of your movie, or even a letter or something? If you can’t, it doesn’t change a thing.
hi tom !
hope you are fine 🙂 please contact me via email, i got a great idea for promoting wys in germany …
best wishes,
andreas ochotta
As I was mentioning to Tom, I was hanging out on this blog and drinking a beer (a great state of mind, I must say) and Federico’s comment in Spanish above began to make some sense to me. Guess I didn’t sleep through as many Spanish classes in high school and college as I thought I had.
Anyway, this is a rough translation – there were some words I didn’t understand but figured I’d provide an English translation because I wasn’t sure when Federico would get the chance to comment again. So here goes 🙂
“Well, first I want to say thanks for making this film that many Doors fans have been waiting for after the bad one that Oliver Stone made. And like you’ve said, there will always be people who criticize great work, but I think this makes it more popular and more people then want to see it.
Lastly, I wanted to know if those of us who live in Mexico City will be able to see the film. Now there are many Doors fans in Mexico who want to see it. Do you know when it can play in Mexico?
Hopefully, hopefully, and soon it will arrive for all of us want to see the new Doors film.
And thank you very much for your hard work and dedication.”
Sorry if I missed some words in there, but basically the gist of the comment was amazing. So enjoy 🙂
Hi Tom,
I just came back from the Montreal screening. I’ve been listening to the Doors for over 20 years and have heard the band’s story ad nauseam. The fact that you could transfigure my perspective on them and Morrison is remarkable. Signed, a former jaded know-it-all.
Awesome movie, just got back from Somerville Theatre in Boston. I have been tracking progress since January 2009. This was a refreshing well though out picture of a band I admire. You should be very proud of this accomplishment, The narration with the images was very present but not overwhelming. Kudos and best of Luck.
Hi Tom
how are you?
do you think you’ll be also in Italy to promote/present “when you’re strange”?
all the best
Congratulations, Tom
Great news!
“No film earned more than $10,000 on the per theater chart, but The Square came the closest with an average of $8,546 in two theaters. Meanwhile, When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors was right behind with an average of $8,354 in eight theaters. That’s enough to suggest that other theater owners will be willing to book these films in the coming weeks”.
You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher
I’ve just found that When you’re strange will be release at the ”Banque Scotia” cinema, at montreal this Thursday ?
Can you confirm?^^
oh, and do you think you will pay a visit to montreal?
Thank you!!
Have a nice day!
Great news on the higher box office, Cathy – thx for sharing. My guess is that Box Office Mojo had access to some later Sunday numbers. Back when I worked at a movie theater in college, we had to provide sales number info to the various places on Sunday by a deadline–and that deadline usually never accounted for the late evening shows on Sun nights b/c the numbers people needed time to get their tally correct.
It’s great to see how word is spreading and that so many people are touched by your work of art, Tom 🙂 I’m planning on taking additional friends to see it this weekend again.
Hope the press/trip in Paris is more comfy than the plane ride over there!
Dear Tom,
I have been keeping an eye on your blog since I saw the Doors doc at the London Film Festival last year hoping that distribution in London and/or rest of UK would be notified soon.
I alerted friends & acquaintances back in October both in UK and in the Continent and I am regularly asked if I know of any future screenings. Having read your latest blog, I was prompted to drop you a line. Any plans for screenings in UK this year? Would you come along for Q&As? I know I would have many questions.
FYI, there was one isolated screening a few weeks ago at the Curzon Soho in London but nothing else so far to my knowledge.
It is a remarkable documentary and watching that treasured footage was such a privilege: it felt like being parachuted straight in with the band and suddenly living and breathing the 60s. Being a child in the 70s and having always felt that I just missed out on the whole 60s scene, there was an additional magical quality to my viewing experience.
One more thing: I would have loved to get up and dance during parts of the doc, but I was restricted by the seating and was too shy to move to the aisles. Would you consider doing screenings in a concert venue (possibly one of those ex-cinemas we often get here – no seats on the ground floor and seats available on the levels above)? Ideally it would turn the occasion into a gig where people are free to sing along and dance on the spot if they want to (I know I would – I am very comfortable within the anonymity of an audience) – It could make it into an event with a couple of bands doing small sets before the screening or DJs sets before and after the screening.
I would also recommend proposing screenings at upcoming UK outdoors festivals such as Glastonbury – – and Latitude – – unless you have done so already.
Congratulations on the great figures stateside & all the best with your new plans!
Cathy Vocke
By the way, one small thing- Box Office Mojo actually reported a slightly higher weekend box office than did indiewire: $66,833.
Excellent news!
My friends,
These comments are INCREDIBLE!! I just arrived in Paris a few hours ago. I’m here for 2 days with John Densmore to do some preliminary promotion for the French release in early June.
I’m completely wasted. The seat I was in was so uncomfortable I tried to sleep on the floor. Didn’t work out too well.
But, reading these thoughts and experiences from you all has made my day. I will get back to you. It just may take a few days.
Wow, Lindsey, I am speechless. I can’t believe you’ve seen the film so many times. Yes, I remember meeting you with your father at the Apple Store. I’m so glad you liked it. Federico, can you write en Ingles, por favor? We all want to know what you wrote.
Again, my deepest thanks to you all.
Hey Tom!
I am a so called film critic myself, but I´ll say this: Fuck the critics! Do they still have an impact still though? Take my fellow Swedish director Lasse Halmström`s latest film “Dear John” – slaughtered by the critics, yet ending up in the history books as the film that took “Avatar” down from the number one spot Critics seem to always fire people up I have noticed, you should write a movie about a critic, Tom.
Anyway, I am thrilled to hear all the latest news, the last couple of blogs have made my days!
Lindsey Taylor
There are no words to describe what a truly amazing film you have created.
Last Monday I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Apple Store in Soho after your Q&A, maybe you remember. To be quite honest I had never heard of you before then but my father convinced me into attending the event. You told me you hoped I liked it and after seeing it Friday night at the 10:15 show (and hearing you introduce it) I thought it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Watching it for the first time, I was completely in a trance as was the rest of the audience. I’ve been at the Angelika every single night since Friday bringing my friends to see WYS and they all agree that it’s beautifully done.
At the moment I’m sitting in Aud 3 of the Angelika, my fourth time seeing the film and I’m still as excited as the first time. I think this film is really just genius and as much as you thank us, you deserve the thanks and much more.
bueno en primera quiero darte las gracias de hacer este proyecto que muchos doorsfans esperabamos por el mal sabor que nos dejo la de oliver stone, e igual decirte que siempre habran personas que critiquen los trabajos buenos como el tuyo,pero eso hace mas popular y mas personas quieren ir a verla.
lastima que aun no la eh podido ver puesto que vivo en la ciudad de mexico, y ahora todos los fans de the doors en mexico se preguntan
¿Cuando llegara esta joya a Mexico?
ojala,ojala y pronto llege porque todos esperamos anciosos por ver nuevo material de the doors.
y de nuevo gracias por tu trabajo esfuerzo y dedicacion.
Mike McKeever
Your credibility and respect for art continue to impress me Tom. It comes through in even your shortest interviews.
I am glad I stumbled across your talent, truly inspirational.
True Art must cause a reaction. Good or Bad, Sad or Glad, Fear or Faith…. it does not matter, just so it stirs emotion and thought.
Your film WYS has definitely stirred up people’s emotions and interest.
They feel the need to review and comment on your film, some feel the need to try to tear it down, and some are hoisting it up high.
Either way….. They are thinking about what you have created.
Your film has made them think, As Jim would say “WAKE UP”.
Well done my friend.
– McKeever ,
– Minnesota Artist.
Hi Tom,
Congrats on a great film. I loved it! I saw it in Somerville, MA Sat. afternoon. I had goosebumps and tears throughout the movie. My 15 yr. old daughter whose been with me on all our “Jim was here” tours throughout L.A. and CA. saw it and loved it. She couldn’t wait to add some Doors music to her Ipod! Thank you, Tom!!
B. Williams
Many, many congratulations from Spain, Tom
I wish you good luck with the film.
Many people hope the release can come over here soon. Do you know anything about it?
Sorry for my english.
Hey Tom,
THANK YOU for a great day! This Sunday I paid to see WYS twice, and both times it was a blast. I think there’s an expression, “twice on Sunday”, so it seemed appropriate. Or at least I loved it two times.
It was a nice bonus that I saw it on Sunset Blvd. where all that history took place. Afterwards, I strolled down to Santa Monica and La Cienega to summon the spirit of Morrison. He didn’t show, so I went to the restaurant that used to be the Doors office and workshop, where they recorded the “L.A. Woman” album. I bought a beer for me and a beer for you. No need to thank me, you deserve it. The chicken “macho burrito” was delicious (“I eat more chicken any man ever seen”). I made sure to consume enough to earn the use of the famous bathroom where Jim did his “L.A. Woman” vocals. They’ve got a plaque, pictures of him and burning candles in the bathroom. I give them credit for being respectful and not offering Morrison Tacos with Light Your Fire hot sauce.
As for seeing the film again, I was struck by how incredible the opening is. And I could see more how much of a tightrope you were walking with the limited footage but you made it work. It’s very cinematic, not a clip fest. The ’60’s context worked great for me this time. I loved how you summed it up at the end.
Thanks again.
Cathy Vocke
Selfishly, I am thrilled to see that the film opened well, because I’m in the DC area and hoping the powers that be will see fit to release it here. Either way, I’ll surely be getting the DVD.
I’ve been following this blog for over a year now. I first learned about the film as a fan of Johnny Depp’s, but I also grew up with The Doors and have cherished their music for decades. I’m not a die-hard, so I really feel that I will learn a lot about The Doors from this film. I just wanted to thank you, Tom, for always being so accessible and for keeping everyone updated on the progress of this film. Congrats and good luck!
I saw that great news about the box office opening on Ida’s wonderful site, Congratulations!!! This is awesome news.
I know WYS will play in Atlanta until at least the 18th, so that gives it this week and into next weekend. The theater is also on a city college campus (made it kind of tricky to get to, but hey, nothing was stopping me) and that means various students will be seeing it this upcoming week when many people are working.
As far as reviews, I didn’t even know there were some negative ones out there b/c I kept hearing how many people were showing up to the theaters. Don’t listen to the negative ones, and many of them are clueless and ill-informed. An Atlanta reviewer fell into this category, unfortunately. But did I mention I responded to him and chewed him up like a midnight snack? *grin – a Southern gal has to get her kicks somehow*
I talked to the theater on the phone today, and they said once again how many people had driven from around the Southeast to see it in Atlanta, and that today’s crowds were bigger than yesterday’s. They were thrilled with the number of people coming to see WYS.
You’re a talented artist and this film was wonderful. I was happy and proud to see it on the big screen, and I think the grass roots effect is really happening. Jim would smile.
There is an Einstein quote that puts the Doors into perspective “great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
Right after the film, The art critic Clement Greenberg crossed my mind. He wrote an essay called avant-guard and kitsch. If you have not read it, I recommend you do because it will contextualize reactions not only to your film, but to the Doors. If you have not read it, it summarizes as follows: Greenberg suggested that Kitsch and Art are a dichotomy. Kitsch is safe, entertaining and challenges nothing. To be art, it must transcend banality to be regarded as such. He also says that most people prefer Kitsch over art because it does not require investigation. That which is art is understood by the few, not the many. As I said in the theater, The Doors were the most avant-guard band of that era, maybe ever. Most of their fans do not even understand where Jim was going and what he was describing. This is why the spectacle sadly overshadowed the substance in Doors performances for many listeners and detractors. Jim Morrison delved into places that frankly, terrify most people. He faced things that people tend to avoid thinking about. As for their music, it was a combination of elements and styles that never happened prior or since. The music was too sophisticated for the average listener and for many, it still is. As for their talent, Jim had such a beautiful voice and the Doors were all world class musicians. In my opinion, Robbie is the most understated guitarist of that era. I contend that he was beyond Clapton or even Hendrix because of his ability to write music that was aesthetic. Ray and John are right there as well. I rank them as the most ground breaking educated and talented band in the history of rock music. Your film lays this out without being pedantic. The Doors were men, real men of culture, talent, poetry and forward thinking.
Despite our conversation, I never got to introduce myself at the theatre. My name is Matt. Again, thank you for making this film. Don’t worry about the New York Times or other reviews that are not favorable. They don’t get it nor will they. You made a daring decision in how you approached this documentary: you didn’t try to entertain people. There is no sensationalism. There is the footage, the music and the narration. You allowed the elements to speak for themselves. Most people like things spelled out for them. You didn’t do that.
For what it is worth, if there is anything I can do to assist in the advocation of this film and for the legacy of the Doors, I would be happy and honored to be of service. It is a worth while cause. I can discuss Morrison and the Doors music at depths that most other people cannot. My credentials are that I have a masters of fine arts with a heavy background in philosophy and aesthetics. I have read, Rimbaud, Neitzsche, and many other poets and thinkers who wrote about art and aesthetics. I am a painter, a songwriter (I play seven instruments) and a poet. I started writing at 15 and never stopped. My affinity towards Jim was in how much I could identify with him as a person. There were many thoughts and ideas that he espoused that I thought of on my own and learned about his perspectives later. There were periods of my life that were very similar to his as well. My appreciation for him runs very deep. I consider him in a way to be a visionary even before a poet. The lyrics to the Soft Parade predicted the yuppy phenomenon that began in the 70’s and continues today. Not to touch the earth could have been written yesterday. Animosity towards Jim came from many places, even from the counter culture itself. He rejected flower power, and exposed the majority of the youth counter culture for what it was, a hollow movement. He didn’t see peace and love. He saw the thing for what it was and shed light on the parts of that nobody wanted to acknowledge.
Thanks again for the documentary and your time. Your work ensures that yet another generation will benefit from their art and vision.

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician