June 9, 2010

The trip to Paris last week was short, fast and intense.

Started press with John Densmore a few hours after I arrived, took a break, had dinner with MK2, the French distributors, and then went to the premiere.

The 450 seat theater was full. The translator introduced me as being from Iceland. I have no idea why. I then introduced the film, thanking MK2 for an amazing promotional campaign and reminding everyone the footage was all real. Then I introduced John and he told the story of how Jim wrote "People Are Strange."

We were quickly ushered into another theater downstairs where an overflow crowd was waiting. These were mainly fans who'd waited for hours trying to get in. John and I were asked to introduce the film again. I looked at the group of long-haired young French kids sitting in the front row and their eagerness was so contagious I asked them if they'd brought a joint for me.

Then I thanked MK2 again, but said I was a little disappointed because originally they'd told me that as part of their promotion they were going to pass out doobies at every screening. In closing, John told his Jim and "People Are Strange" story and as we walked back up the aisle the group of kids were all swaying and singing the song in unison.

On my way back to the hotel I spotted this ad for a magazine MK2 put together for the film.

French poster for When You’re Strange magazine

The entire issue is about When You're Strange. A friend of mine took the picture. The poster was on a moving roll with three other ads. A moment later a guy arrived in a van to change out the roll. He put in a new roll, again with a poster of the magazine. My friend told him I was the director of the film. The guy immediately took out a razor blade.

Then he lay the old roll of ads on the sidewalk, cut out the poster for When You're Strange and gave it to us.

The next day I did press from 11am to 8pm. And the next morning I flew home. But, before I headed to the airport I decided to run into the subway and see if I could find any posters of the film. I entered the subway station and saw nothing. I figured the posters were deep in the subway system and I'd have to buy a fare and ride around until I found one.

Then something caught my eye. I turned around and saw this behind me; looming right at the entrance to the subway.

French ads for When You’re Strange in the subway

I asked an old guy just getting off a train to take the picture.

Please forgive me for these two shots. I was a little...happy. Based on my experience here in the US part of me just simply could not believe there were actually posters for the film put up where people could see them.

When You're Strange opened in France today. The official word from MK2 is very good. Just got this email from them:

Hi Tom,
Hope you are well, I have great news for you! Today is the first day of release and the film is doing really good: 5, 500 admissions in Paris today and around 10, 000 in the rest of France (at least $100, 000!).

Reviews are very good, admissions too, we are so happy !

All kind of audiences: young people, elders, teenagers… The film is the event of the week here. It is currently the number two highest grossing film in the country, just behind a French comedy.  Everybody is here at the MK2 office celebrating and share with you a glass of champagne!

Well, well. Vive les Doors.

Hi Tamara,
What “not my decision” means is that someone at the UK distributor apparently decided my presences was not a. necessary, b. within their promotion budget.
Too bad, really. I think the French example should be proof that the more put into the film, the more it delivers, ie returns on the investment.
But, like I said, these matters are completely out of my control.
Thank you for the update Tom.
Too bad you cannot make it to the UK 🙁
What does “This is not my decision” mean really? Is there something we can do to help getting you here?
Stuart Henderson
Tom, I take it there is no chance for you to do a flying visit to Edinburgh,Scotland on july 2nd to introduce WYS and do a q and a?.
Then you could debate with me:D!!
It’s great you got a boost from the WYS reception in France, but keep trusting your guts on this – this movie is a gem, beautiful, special, and there is nothing inherent to it that would stop it from being well received by most people. It’s frustrating what happened in the US but the issue here indeed had again to do with distribution, not with the movie’s artistic merits.
It was a bit shocking to notice when I moved to the US 10 years ago how art in general is less visible than in other countries. I´m not saying there´s less great art here than there, just that it does not get the same mainstream exposure and attention that it gets in some other countries. Maybe it’s because it’s easier to make money with less sophisticated stuff. In the US it seems the main thing is making money, so there’s less interest in backing and focusing on artistic endeavors that are actually real and meaningful to human beings.
The problem with this “profit first” choice applied to art and everything else is of course that there are more important values for a society than money and when people lose sight of this and forget to foster and spread those values, then things start to get off-balance. By the way, there’s this movie called Idiocracy (Mike Judge). Sometimes I think some of the stuff in this movie is happening here already, you know. Serious.
Hey Tamara,
I wanted to let you know this asap. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I’ll be coming over to the UK at all. This is not my decision.
I was really looking forward to coming over and supporting the film.
I sincerely thank you for all your support and I hope you get a chance to see the film.
I read that the Latitude festival will now show it! I like to think that this stems from my previous suggestions 🙂
When do you think you will have a firm idea of your Q&A date in London? I keep on checking listings for early July and I am little nervous about tickets flying once it is announced. I want to make sure I get mine before it gets sold out.
Congratulations on the latest news from France!
Hey Staci,
Yeah, I don’t know where the guy got the idea I was from Iceland. I wasn’t even wearing a sweater with snowflakes on it.
The response in France continues to build. I’ve heard from people who saw it here on PBS too. You should check out Larry Kirwan’s piece on the PBS event. It seems many (if not most) people had no idea the film was even playing in theaters.
I don’t know that much about Bukowski but I do know he did not tiptoe through life on rubber soled shoes. I do want to get back to the narrative form though. I really enjoy working with actors and discovering things in the moment on set. Don’t get me wrong; I was completely immersed in the joy of making the Doors film. In fact, an interesting piece of criticism came from a German journalist last week who said what he liked about the film was that it did not seem like a documentary at all.
And I agree with you; that is a great privelege and joy of a journalist to identify and support smaller films like you do. Most audiences I think simply want to know that what they might go see actually has the basic elements of good entertainment. Frankly, almost everything I’ve seen recently seems like it came from the bottom of a cereal box.
Thanks again for all your support.
Hey Stuart,
That’s a great link to the interview. The woman really knew a lot about the Doors and I really appreciated the way she showed so clearly the HWY footage was REAL.
Hell, her interview made me want to see the film!!
I’m glad you’re finally going to get a chance to see it projected.
Listen, here’s my advice for you. Try to clear your brain of everything that’s been said about the film; even stuff I’ve said. Give yourself a few days beforehand where you kind of try to rinse your brain out. And then just go to the screening and try to let the film just live in front of you.
Just let it be.
That will be the best way for you to see if anything in it touches you.
Hey Ms. Ann Onymuss,
Thanks so much for your passion and your enthusiasm. Response to the film in France continues to be very strong.
And yes, I must confess–it does feel good. It’s a huge relief. And huge validation. All it took was a distributor with a little courage and intelligence.
Let’s see where it goes.
Hey Larry,
Really great to hear from you. Sorry for the delay in the response. Again, your essay on the film after seeing it on PBS was a real pleasure to read. I sincerely encourage anyone reading this to head over to Larry’s site and let his words wash over you they way they did for me.
Also check out Larry’s music with Black 47. Very strong, very connected and very engaged in what is happening in the world right now.
That’s cool that you’ve hooked up with Ray. I like him a lot. He’s a very passionate and expanded (shall we say) individual.
And, you’re a very good writer. I’m going to check out your novel.
Thanks Baron.
Again, I know this is a late reply. Been a little crazed. Yes, the news from France is incredible. But, like you, I can’t help but compare it to what happened here and feel a sharp twinge of disappointment.
The way the French distributor, and France itself, embraced the film is really beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m really seeing only now how nasty and bitter the response was from this country. It is puzzling and frankly, disgusting.
Hey Christine,
Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I’m hoping the success in France will inspsire some of the other European countries to build their promotions like France did.
The film opens in England and Germany very soon. They are not having anyone come over for press which realistically gives a sense of how much they’re willing to spend to promote the film.
I’ve told the French distributor their promotion for WYS was the smartest and most inspired I’ve had on any of my films.
hey Renata,
Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I really appreciate your comment and your support. You’re right; I do feel a bit of healthy vindication. The French showed that there was a good film there. They spent some time, some money and some thought on their promotion and the results are right there at the box office.
Sure, there will always be people who for whatever reason just don’t get the film. But, seeing the response of audiences in Paris I feel much stronger in knowing there is a good film there. All people needed was a way to find it.
Hey Tom Pao,
Were you at the French premiere?
Regarding the DVD, the French have a completely different system–regulated by the government actually. There is a law that says films cannot be released on DVD or TV until a full year after their theatrical release.
Sure wish we had that law here in the US.
Hey Wayne,
The narrative of your life continues to amaze me. I loved your revelation here that you spent time working as a hairdresser. Now you’re going back to college?!
I’m thrilled you’re going to keep writing. And I’m extremely pleased the interview we did turned out so well in the magazine.
It is great news about France. Seems like a dream after the wretched release here. I heard from the French distributor again today; the film is still doing very strong and they’re making more prints.
Now that would be a great interview subject; distributors and how they have courage or they don’t.
Good luck with all your new endeavors, Wayne.
Hey Rai,
Well, you know, hair today, gone tomorrow. I had short hair all my life, up through highschool–thanks to my father who was a Colonel in the Marine Corps. So the first chance I had to grow it out I went for it–and never looked back.
I’m glad you like the photos. I still can’t believe them.
They introduced you as being from Iceland? Talk about a chilly reception. (Why, yes… I do have my own personal rim-shot cued at all times.)
Sounds like you’re getting a much warmer reception in Paris, good to hear that. On this side of the world, fyi, I’ve been getting some feedback from friends and readers who saw the film on PBS and bought the DVD.
Stuart Henderson
Got News for you Tom, Very good news for you. WYS WILL be shown IN EDINBURGH,SCOTLAND on friday july 2nd!! I cant wait to see it on the big screen!!!!.
Not at the filmhouse BUT here, i got told this by the admin at filmhouse in an email cameo edinburgh&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=the cameo&hnear=Edinburgh&cid=2807901958667377609
No chance of you popping over to scotland for a brief visit then?!!
Persian night, babe
See the light, babe
WOW!!!!!!!!! You WILL hit #1 in a week!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am SOOOOOOOOO happy for you! Kudos to MK2 for what they have been and continue to do to make WYS an international success!!!!
What a wonderful souvenir! See, timing is everything! You are beaming with happiness and may you continue to feel that on your journey with this film! I think I speak for everyone that WE ARE ALL VERY EXCITED for you!
Warmest Regards,
Ms. Ann Onimuss 🙂
Stuart Henderson
Hey Tom, I just watched this about WYS on, have a look, i think you may like it!
Hey Tom: Just got your note about my piece on your great movie. I was thrilled to see something that actually captured the essence of rock & roll – as opposed to rock music. Amazingly, I live down the street from the Angelika and hadn’t realized that When You’re Strange was playing there. In fact, I had no idea that it had a commercial release. Good luck with it. I can see how it would do so well in Paris – would do wonderfully over here too, if people knew about it. Give my best to Ray. He wrote a lovely piece for my novel, Liverpool Fantasy, some years back. I hope all is well in his world too. All the best, Larry
Congrats Tom, it’s really too bad the film didn’t get the same treatment here in the states. Terrific news. Enjoy it.
This is fantastic news and I’m so happy to read it! Congratulations and may it just keep happening all over the world! The photos are great too.
PS At the Yahoo France page right now, the second most searched item is… The Doors. Merci, Tom!:)
Wow, now that´s fantastic news, how wonderful to see that the movie is doing so well in France!!I´m very happy, for you, for the movie, and for things like the concept of justice and fairness in the universe, this is a GREAT MOVIE and finally it got the reaction and reception it deserved. By the way, screw the bad critics and those without the vision to see and believe in its quality. Now they can watch what happens in a situation where the public actually KNEW about the movie being out there and had the opportunity to go see it. Hope those people feel very stupid, as they should, because they are.
Again, congratulations, and the pictures are very cool too, thanks for posting them.
Love the photos and the post. Glad to hear they did it right.
And at least Athens, GA is doing it right too – their employees start hanging up fliers all over town/campus this weekend. I can’t make it opening weekend but I’m going the weekend of 6/25 and will take some pics for ya there too!
It was a beautiful night !
Thanx again !
Have you got a release date for the dvd in France ? 29th june too ?
To quote one of the greats: “I love it when a plan comes together!”
Well fucking done my friend! I am over the moon about this great news. The French obviously know a great film when they see one. I also received in the mail yesterday our interview! There it is in a beautiful glossy colour magazine: “Tom DiCillo interviewed by Wayne Byrne”. Never thought I would see it happen. The piece looks great, the photos from the film look amazing, I will be framing it 🙂
I’m absolutely fucking delighted with the French news Tom! Great stuff altogether! The next glass of wine is going to go down even sweeter 🙂 Also, I got accepted into college to study film as a mature student! I start in September, still get to be film critic on the side part time 🙂
Cheers man!
Rai Mechem
Hey Tom,
Awesome trip & love the photos. Your hair is looking particularly outstanding, I must say.
Funny, I always thought you were from Iceland. You think you know someone…
Great news! I’m so thrilled for you and the film.

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