September 13, 2010

When John Densmore and I were in Paris a few months ago we met Alexandre Isard, a French photographer who was shooting stills for a magazine article about the release of When You're Strange.

Alexandre dragged us into some Parisian back alley and left us to fend for ourselves. As proof we survived he sent me these photos yesterday.

Without sounding too sappy it struck me in looking at these shots that Alexandre captured something real between us. I especially appreciate the last one.


j-and-t-alley-2.jpg j-and-t-alley-3.jpg



It should come as no surprise looking at these shots that being in Paris with John was one of the most enjoyable moments I've had in this business.

I'd highly recommend checking out Alexandre Isard's other work here He's got an amazing eye and an acutely human touch.

Rod Evans
I’m delighted that ODU is honoring you on Thursday for your remarkable creative achievements.I more or less double-majored in English and Philosophy(1974-1978)at ODU and than went on to get my graduate degrees in philosophy at UVA.Now I teach philosophy full time at ODU and write books on many subjects,especially quirky reference books,such as The Gilded Tongue,a copy of which I’d like to give you on Thuesday.I’m looking forward to seeing you on Thursday.
PS:If you ever make a film containing a charcter who is a quirky professor or author who is verbally obsessed,please consider me.
I meant to say Morricone fan! See what a little Pinot Grigio and lack of sleep does!
Tom, those are fantastic photos of you and John! I love the look on John’s face in the 3rd one. I also checked out Alexandre Isard’s website and his photos are really beautiful. The one of Vincent Schiavelli was particularly poignant for me as I thought it was so sad when he died. He’s one of those actors that you always recognized even if you didn’t remember his name and his performances were so interesting and quirky.
I’ve been suffering with some serious sleep issues but have decided to start drinking more Pinot Grigio and down some Imovane to nip that in the butt!
I’m anxiously awaiting your new CD! I’ve been working with a really nice guy from Savannah, Philip Palmer, who is making music somewhat like The Black and Blue Orkestre. You can listen to him at – I turned him on to your music and he loves it! So does Mike Scott of The Waterboys who is a real Ennicone fan. I think music is your next great calling!
claire Loiseau
Bonsoir Tom,
My favourite is the last one too indeed! I have been living in Paris for many years now; I don’t know if it’s a blast but, hey, Tom, I would be well happy if you came to live in Paris!
Last time I said to a guy : ” You have to go and see “When you’re strange” by Tom Dicillo!”, it was to an amazing guy who looked half like Jesus half like Jim Morrison. Damien, that’s the guy’s name, had just told me he had seen Jim telling him he was his sole heir.
And it’s been quite an astonishing night…
And it’s an astonishing movie.
A bientôt!
Rai Mechem
Hi Tom,
I didn’t realize that was the same actor playing Steve’s father. But of course. Funny, just talking about Delirious makes me want to pop it in the DVD player again. I love that movie!
Whatever you went through to get & work with those two, it was definitely worth it.
Hey Rai,
Glad you like the photos.
Boardwalk Empire. Yeah, Buscemi and Pitt playing almost identical roles that I originated for them in Delirious. And, they also cast Tom Aldredge who plays Steve’s father in Delirious as his father in Boardwalk Empire.
All I can say is that I wrote Delirious for Steve in 2004. It took me a year to get him to say yes to it. But, I knew he was the only actor who could really do Les Galantine so I kept after him.
I also knew Michael Pitt was the only guy who could play Toby. I also knew I would end up having to cut my arm off working with him.
So it goes.
Hey Renata,
Welcome home. I like the 4th picture too. But, it really was espresso. And believe me, I was so jet-lagged I really needed it. So, in that respect it was kind of like a shot of booze.
John was drinking tea. You know, the whole southern California herbal thang.
Hey Elaine,
I’m glad you responded to Alexandre’s work. I agree with you. He’s got an amazing ability to capture something alive in all his photos.
That’s what it’s all about, really.
Hey Mario G.
thanks for writing. I appreciate very much your kind words about the films I have made.
Believe me, I’d like to make more movies, more often too. That is a long, tedious story. Suffice it to say that the movies ultimately do get made.
As far as my Italian origins I wish no offense but I rarely think about it. I’m only half: my father was Italian, my mother New England American. I’m just a guy living in NYC, no more–no less than that.
hey Salli,
We were just playing in the photos of course. But, it was my idea to do something whacky like that, and to go on opposite sides of the alley at the end to “relieve” ourselves.
But, that’s the great thing about John. He’s very open and willing, at least with me. I think that came when he saw I really did have his best interest in mind in making the film.
My favorite photo is the last one.
I’ve got three scripts now that I’m pushing to get financing for. It is a maddening game of pin the tail on the donkey. But, I’m not giving up.
I hope you are well and writing your own self.
hey Mario,
I agree with you. That driving footage from HWY is mesmerizing. I saw clips of it on the blu-ray. Man, you feel like you’re right in the car with Jim. All those stoopit fokkers who thought we used a double. Jeezes, I can’t believe sometimes that everyone was born with a brain.
We played with sound all through the movie. Most of the concert footage was SILENT. There was no sound. The Miami “Concert” was recreated using hundreds of shots from other shows, all showing Jim from behind because at Miami he had a beard.
As far as a movie of my life, well–believe me, you’d want to drop acid, smoke a massive doobie and drink a demerol martini after about three minutes.
Hey Kevin,
Been traveling a bit and have not had computer access.
That’s a cool connection you made between When You’re Strange and Elliot Murphy said about The Velvets. If When You’re Strange struck you that way than I feel extremely gratified. I tried hard to treat the film as if I knew nothing.
I also appreciated the quote you sent from Elliot’s piece on WYS. I had not read it. Densmore got to Paris the day before I did and I think that is the screening Elliot is referring to.
I agree with him that some mention of Jim and Paris would have been appropriate.
Hope all is well,
Rai Mechem
Those are great photos, Tom. Wanted to ask if you’ve seen the Delirious duo (Buscemi & Michael Pitt) on HBO’s new series, Boardwalk Empire. Do you think your pairing influenced the subsequent casting? Or is that a stupid question?
Very truly yours,
I’m back from vacations in Brazil and it was nice to see your new blog entry.
I like the fourth picture best.
What you’re drinking seems like coffee judging by the cups but you both have the looks and attitude of somebody holding a bottle of whiskey. 🙂
Best wishes on your work.
Hey Tom,
Looks like the photographer updated his site again…now that one of you and John is on the home page!
I really do love his work…I browsed again through the author portraits and am intrigued and amazed at some of the poses (for lack of a better word, because that isn’t the right word) he shot of the people.
Hope things are well,
Mario G.
Hey Tom, I just wanna tell you how much a appreciate your movies, especially Box of Moonlight and Delirious, but I’d like to have new movies more often.
Also, I would like to know about you Italian origins, you never talk about that! Saluti.
Personally I liked the first picture. To me it could depict the essence of creative inspiration which evolves from communication whether it be disagreement or agreement.
or…on the surface just a picture of two men about to box. Who won the round? 🙂
When I interviewed you earlier this year, I’d quoted the liner notes that singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy had written for the album 1969 VELVET UNDERGROUND LIVE:
“It’s one hundred years from today, and everyone who is reading this is dead. I’m dead. You’re dead. And some kid is taking a music course in junior high, and maybe he’s listening to the Velvet Underground because he’s got to write a report on classical rock ‘n’ roll, and I wonder what that kid is thinking.”
I said that WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE had struck me that way: a rock & roll history lesson in the best sense.
Shortly after I interviewed you, I e-mailed Elliott in Paris and recommended that he keep on the lookout for your film. This morning I noticed (and I apologize if you’ve already seen this) that he mentions the film in his latest essay at his webpage (
“Do go see Tom DiCillo’s fine documentary WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE, a wholesome journey into a brilliant lost soul. I saw the film in Paris, which was ironic as that’s where Jim was laid to rest. Doors drummer John Densmore came to introduce the film and received a standing ovations that went on for quite a while. He let us in on a nice Jim anecdote but I was surprised he didn’t mention Paris, because after all this is really where the band broke up … forever. Johnny Depp narrates the film, and, I for one say … thanks.”
I hope all’s well with you.
As always,
Hey, Tom the pictures are terrific. Hope the writing is going well. 🙂
Hello Ioannis,
I’m glad you liked that image of Jim getting out of the car. I had a few meanings in mind, including the one that reminded you of Goldstein’s quote.
I was also thinking of the car as a tomb. It is partially buried in the sand. You can see how hard it is for Jim to open the door. This idea was to support my suggestion that this Jim is kind of a re-incarnation; like his spirit really is crawling back into the world.
I did not know WYS was in the Athens Film Festival. Thank you for this news. I hope as many Greek Doors fans as possible get to see it.
Thanks for the response (#82)!
I can only imagine what impact The Doors had on other bands.
My band growing up was The Tubes, they were notorious, with a massive stage show, I don’t know if you ever caught them in their day, but I feel no Doors, no Tubes.
Interesting what you did with the sound! You have an eye (and ear) for detail!
I’ve watched a very low res version of HWY on the net, it would be cool to see it in high res. That drive by scene (10 plus minutes) is fascinating, if you like that kind of thing.
I just read an interview that Jack Holzman recently gave, may have been linked from your blog, but he said something to the effect that after Jim died, he put up another billboard on the Strip honoring the Doors. Be interesting to see what that billboard looked like.
Good luck on your future projects, perhaps you should make a film about a day in the life of Tom DiCillo?
Hi ,Mr. DiCillo .
I’m sure you have heard thousands of comments about “When you are Strange” so ,I don’t think one more will do any difference . I saw your movie and as a huge “The Doors” fan I’ll just keep the opening scene ,when Morrison comes out of the smashed car in the desert(reminded me the line from a fan in Richard Goldstein’s article in New York Magazine “The Shaman as a Superstar’ “ I like to think he just arrived-you know,he just came out of nowhere” .I do hope ,maybe few years later you “revisit” the movie .
Finally ,“When you are Strange” for two nights 16 and 22 of September at Athens 16th International Film Festival .Good luck Mr. DiCillo .
My best regards .
Hi Tom,
Yeah man I start film school next Wednesday and this coming Saturday I start my film lecture series at which I will be speaking. The inch of Scotch over ice beforehand sounds great, I may need one during the break in between the two hours as well! 🙂 The whole college thing I have never experienced before, I went straight from school to work, but now’s my chance, I can’t wait!
Yeah this country hasn’t got the most trustworthy politicians in office at the moment either, doesn’t give one much hope for the future. My paradise so far has been St Louis, I really loved that place, such a different vibe from Ireland, especially small town Ireland, but then again i’ve never been to New York or Chicago, but soon hopefully.
Great new blog and pics, man! Always to cool to hear from you.
Hey Wayne,
Great to hear from you. I’ve been pretty pre-occupied with some music and writing so havent’ had much time to replenish the blog.
Yeah, it was fun hanging out with John. He’s got a great spirit, still full of life and curiosity.
Get over to Paris, man. The way things are going in this country I may have to relocate there permanently.
Have you started film school yet?
Hey Elaine,
I’m glad you checked out Alexandre’s work. I really think he’s got something special. And I look forward very much to that day when you get that backcover photo taken!
Hey Tom,
A legend of film and a legend of music right there! The photos are great, a change from the moodier pics that some photographers would have John (and The Doors) pose for; nice to see you guys having fun and chilling out with a coffee. Never been to Paris (only ever been to Milan, Italy and St Louis, Mo) but it seems like a blast, I may have to go.
May the good times continue to roll, man! 🙂
Hey Tom,
Great pics of you and John! Thx for sharing them. Yep, despite the volcano keeping y’all in Paris for longer than you would’ve liked, the blogs, info and pics are indicative that these moments were a rare privilege. Glad you had the opportunity 🙂
AND you have now effectively spoiled me on photographers. Alexandre’s work is amazing…I love some of his author shots that he has on his web site. Guess I should start saving $ for Paris to get that back-cover author pic made by him someday! Amazing work.

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