February 13, 2011

Well, blow me down.

When You're Strange just won the Grammy.

I'm celebrating right now. I urge everyone else to do the same.

Alright, I'm back from celebrating and doing what I should have done 3 hours ago; acknowledging the people who worked so intensely with me on this film. And I mean worked. The other people, you know; The Executive Folks, will be getting their congratulations all next week--and well they should. But, here are some of the people who worked in the pit, carving this film out of stone with me.

Micky Blythe and Kevin Krasny--Editors. Each was spectacular and crucial. The film was roughly divided in half; Kevin worked on one half with me and Micky on the other--in neighboring editing rooms. In its final stages when finances grew slim Micky took over and guided the film with me into its finished form. As amazing as the footage was, it might help to remember much of it was usable only in fragments. There was little if any continuity, or real chronology. Micky and Kevin helped me build a stone wall out of confetti.

Megan Robb--Assistant Editor. Megan edited many sequences herself. She was a wizard on the editing machine and also designed several of the graphics and photo montages.

Tim Deluca--Supervising Producer. When You're Strange was edited in the post-production offices of Law and Order, on the Universal lot in LA. Tim's job was to handle post-production on all the various L&O series--in addition to When You're Strange; which was an add-on, an extra, a neighbor's child hanging around for dinner. Tim fed us well.

Mark Dragin--Post Production Supervisor.  There was a great interaction between the editing room and Fotokem, the digital lab that handled all the different media used in the film. Mark co-ordinated all the excruciatingly fine details that went into making the final digital master, as well as making sure everything was organized and done correctly.

Paul Ferrara--Cinematographer. Paul shot Jim's film HWY and Feast of Friends, in addition to much of the footage in When You're Strange. Without the HWY footage, When You're Strange would be minus a massive dose of soul. To all the genius morons who thought the footage of Morrison was faked I urge you to give Paul a call. I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.

Andy Koyama and Chris Carpenter--Rerecording engineers and mixers. Andy and Chris blasted through an insanely brief studio mix period and offered great aural input in getting the final sound mix right for the film. It was very tricky balancing the effects, the Doors music and Johnny Depp's narration and these two did it brilliantly.

Jeff Kaplan--Dialogue Editor and additional sound design. Jeff and his team cleaned up all the dialogue and built all the layers of sound that bring such crucial energy, fluidity and surprise to the film.

Deborah Ricketts--Archivist and Footage Researcher. Deb spent months bringing us amazing footage from the period; between 1966-71. She listened to my crazy, specific requests and always came up with the gold.

Gus Comegys--Online Editor and Graphic Design. Gus designed all the moving graphics in the film, anything that wasn't a straight out shot of footage was created by Gus; all the freezes, zooms, text enlargements.

Kostas Theodosiou , at FotoKem--Colorist. Kostas sat with me for 3 days going over every frame of the film. He sharpened the images, brought the colors to life, adjusted frame sizes to their maximum visual impact. It is impossible to describe the enormity of what his eye brought to the finished film.

Kristel Crews--Peter Jankowski's Assistant. Crystal helped me in so many ways during my lengthy relocation out to LA. She was always a voice of reason, calm and support.

Ida Miller--founder and administrator of; the most comprehensive Doors site on the web. Ida came to an early screening and tactfully observed I'd completely left out any mention of Waiting For The Sun. Her suggestion ended up in helping create one of the strongest sequences in the film, I Am The Lizard King.

Jac Holzman--founder of Elektra Records, the record company that first signed the Doors. I interviewed Jac during my research for the film. Afterwards he came to several screenings and steadfastly offered his gracious enthusiasm and encouragement.

Peter Jankowski--Producer. Peter was the man who called me in 2008 and offered me the job. He was my ally in making this film for almost three years. We did not always agree but his passion for the film, and for the truth was just as relentless as mine.

Johnny Depp--Narrator. Johnny's voice to me is the spirit of Morrison. The fact that he brought so much of his own intellect, soul and passion to the film actually leaves me speechless. He is not a voice in the film. He is in the film.

And can I just say, I'm fucking thrilled the film won this award. A Grammy. Recognition from musicians.

Thanks Mario, yes the storms did veer away from where I am. Most of damage was in AL and the areas in GA were about an hour northwest of me, so we were very fortunate.
Biking everywhere in Sweden and making a vignette of what you see sounds amazing – any way to attach a camera to the bike? Even if it’s just a homemade project, that sounds like it could have some great blurred color images. Have fun!
Tom – whatcha been up to these days? Any updates or progress on the scripts??
well thanks Elaine for thinking of me! I’m over in Sweden on a job assignment Uppsala, just north of Stockholm a place I’ve ben coming for many years. I bike everywhere. I do wish I was a film maker filming 30 second vignette of what I see. Molecular motion. N
I hope those storms veered from you. Jeez. Mario
I miss the activity on the blog these days!
Tom – can you post a pic of the grammy on your blog at some point? I also wanted to say thanks and interesting on your previous blog response about film locations. I dunno – they get me giddy for some reason. I think I just love the magical aspect of knowing where a specific film was done, and seeing how the camera and director portrayed a site that looks different once it’s in a movie.
I saw Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator” last week; it was filmed in Savannah, GA – one of my all-time favorite places, and throughout the film I enjoyed seeing how they cut and pieced the various locations together.
Wayne – how’s film school going?
Salli, Rai, Mario, everyone in blog-land – hope everyone is having a good spring so far 🙂
Elaine 🙂
Bonjour Tom,
Congratulations for your Grammy! Awesome!
Félicitations pour ton Grammy! Génial!
Enhorabuena! My (late) congratulations Tom and crew, a deserved recognition to your beautiful contribution to Rock’n’Roll History. And, if I am not wrong, this supposed to be the first grammy for The Doors too… Six weeks after, sure everybody still breathing happiness, today I take a puff of it.
the best from Spain!
Hi Tom …. it has been six weeks since that exciting and well-deserved Grammy win for WYS. Have you received the statue yet? I’m probably not the only one who would love to see a photo of you holding it. I hope your latest project(s) are going well.
Hey Sam,
Once again I can only thank you with utmost sincerity for your appreciation of some of the things I worked so hard on in my films.
That incident with Elvis Costello was entirely Steve (and Elvis) but the element in the script was actually inspired by something that happened to me. I was with Steve in London where we both had films screening. I went to Steve’s film and afterwards he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey Tom, do you know Paul?”
I turned to find myself face to face with Paul McCartney.
I’m not someone who attributes superhuman qualities to other human beings, nor am I someone who finds excitement in meeting celebrities. But, that moment rendered me almost as speechless as Les Galantine in Delirious.
I’m glad you liked the moment where Toby walks home in his lover’s dream. I worked hard on that. Believe it or not I actually felt the film should veer slightly toward the similar moment in the musical Singin in the Rain at that point.
Michael Pitt was very collaborative and giving in that moment himself. And the music is by the vastly gifted composer Anton Sanko.
Hey Rai,
Now that is interesting. I did not see the show with Buscemi but some of what you say starts to make some sense. Originally Steve resisted my approaches for him to play the part, even after I told him I’d written it for him–which I did.
I never quite understood his reluctance but somewhere I think I intuited there was something in the character that might be touching something very personal in him.
His finally taking the part, and commiting as intensely as he did, is not only a tribute to his great courage as an actor but equally I believe in his trust in me.
I think he knew Les Galantine very, very well.
Thanks for sharing this.
yore pal,
Rai Mechem
Hey Tom,
Don’t know if you saw Steve Buscemi’s story on “Who Do You Think You Are?”, tracing his ancestry, this past Fri on NBC. I was struck by the similarity of the house & neighborhood where Steve’s real parents actually live to the one you used for Les’s in “Delirious”.
your pal,
Dear Tom,
A long overdue congratulations on the Grammy. We met at Sundance when you came for your interview. I produced all the coverage for Sundance Channel for ’07–’09.
Thought I’d send along the link to your interview. Hope all is well.
Buscemi is just out of this world amazing in Delirious – especially during his encounter with Mr Elvis Costello. That just blew my mind in all kinds of ways. Sorry for using the word “truthful” by the way. It seems that word has really been polluted lately – you know? Wich brings to mind the way “Box of moon light” was way a head of its time concerning conspiracy theories and the explosion of that. Have you noticed??
But the thing that made the most impact om me the last time I saw Delirious was when Toby stepped out of the hotel in the morning after having spent the night with K´Harma. That might be the best depiction of happiness/falling in love I have ever seen on the big screen. So accurate! And the music is just wonderful!
Hey Sam,
thanks for sending the notice about Delirious being on Swedish TV. I appreciate very much your enthusiasm for the film. I confess (at the risk of sounding self-promoting) that I share your puzzlement about how the film was received by the world.
Who knows why or how films find audiences? I don’t. I do know that a certain amount of money spent on advertising has some kind of effect. More than anything I feel that Buscemi’s performance was an amazing gift to me, the film and the world. It is supremely unfortunate that it was never recognized.
Hey Mario,
No, I don’t film locations, though once someone gave me an inexpensive little video camera and I took it around with me for over a year. Didn’t really look at locations with it, I kind of documented some of the experiences of being with Delirious in Europe and some of the US festivals. Lots of shots of me alone in hotel rooms.
I do love taking stills though of locations. I keep a log of places that strike me, especially in NYC. Many of them have ended up in the films I’ve shot here.
God Tom, “Delirious” is on Swedish television at the moment. That is one helluva beautiful film you made there. Why this film is not more famous is just beyond me. Maybe too truthful for people to handle? Hopefully one day it will reach the classic status it deserves.
Hello Tom!
Hope all is well!
Curious, do you ever make ‘home’ movies (handmade), for fun, to check out an idea or location, etc.
Great news you ol dog.
New plan for raising financing for the next film: enter conference room, set grammy down on table, unzip pants, urinate on the carpet, exit.
Awesome, awesome news Tom!! Congratulations!
You should sweep the Oscars too, but that´s another question.
Well done, Tom. “We’re trying for something that’s already found us . . . “
Adam Tevis
I think I heard once, I think I read. Just turn it over man, because otherwise it will pass you by. The Film Man and his Talisman (Camera) rolling westward w/absolution.
Adam Tevis
Tom, as a 56 year old retired business (and a long haired leaping nome in the 70s), I didn’t really appreciate the music and story of the Doors until I viewed your wonderful film. WYS film captured the essence of the members of the band, their music, as well as the “feel” of being young and alive late 60s and early 70s.
Thanks to you and your associates for your creativity, artistry and dedication in creating this wonderful documentary. I’m sure John, Robbie and Ray feel fortunate to have made your acquaintance!
CONGRATULATIONS !!! A well-deserved honor !!
Your film has greatly enhanced the Doors legacy.
The Grammy is confirmation of the immense importance and affect the film has (and will continue to have) in people’s lives for many years to come.
Although it wasn’t released on a wide scale in the U.S., it was a huge hit internationally where many prints were distributed (such as France). We all now how commercially successful the film would have been EVERYWHERE if it was given the proper release it was given in places like France.
It’s great to see the film’s continued run on PBS and it would be great to have it continue on big screens around the world for years to come. Why ever stop showing the film to theatre audiences if people internationally want to see it? As I mentioned before, the Doors are (and will always be) a GLOBAL phenomenon. When you look at The Doors YouTube viewer locations, you will see a huge number of fans from OUTSIDE the U.S..
Many new Doors fans from around the world will be made and become lifetime Doors fans due to seeing the film. It will have the affect much like “Dance on Fire” and “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” had on me back in the 80s, when I was first introduced to the Doors.
Take care, Tom. Best wishes on future endeavors. And again, congratulations !!
– Don
Tom, we have a cool saying in Portuguese: the dogs bark but the caravan moves on. It basically means that trivial things do not disturb the course of important things. The important thing here is your movie – you made it, it’s real, it’s GREAT, the appreciation for it will only grow with time, and nobody can change any of that anymore, no matter how loud they bark ha ha. 🙂
Nice to see the other people involved in the making of the film getting recognition here too.
Hey Tom, congrats on the Grammy win. Nice to see the hands-on workers mentioned on the thank you list. WYS totally rocked and deserved the BIG win indeed. Thanks for making this film a homerun.
Stuart Henderson
Tom,You know that you and i have went back and forth about what i call a few errors in the documentary but as i said APART from that it was a tremendous effort and will surely stand the test of time as a Beautiful Piece of Filmmaking.
If the Naysayers want to complain and nit pick then fine they have that right to express and view their opinions on it.
Give them the same budget and access to people and footage you did and let’s see how THEY do and if they could do any better…
It was a Very Full and rounded Portrait of the Band/jim that you did and a few errors in my view should not detract from that.
Tom, You did your best and it was more than good enough and to quote the Brave political prisoner, the late,great Bobby Sands-
“It burst forth through pitiful Paris streets,
And stormed the old Bastille,
And marched upon the serpent’s head,
And crushed it ‘neath its heel.”
That Powerful burst of Awesome Creativity that resulted in WYS i think will outlive any of the naysayers thoughts and opinions on it tom
Congratulations Tom, you deserved it.
Doug Ruth
Tom, As a long time Door’s fan I appreciated both the movie and the fact that you received recognition for your effort. It was very unique how you shared with all of us the process of making the film. Thank you, Doug Ruth
Congratulations Tom!!! Well deserved…
Steve Mudd
Great job on everyone’s behalh! A well deserved Grammy for everyone’s passion to tell The Doors story! An amazing film with all historical footage.
Ida Miller
Hi Tom … once you actually have that Grammy in your hot little hands, please post of photo of you posing with it!
sally stevens
Tom – you and the team richly deserve this one. Congratulations!
Great news. Congratulations. I loved seeing WYS in the theater and getting the full impact of the images. I hope this gives it another run on the big screen.
Rai Mechem
Excellent news, Tom. Well deserved.
your pal,
Like I said last night Tom, I’m not in the least bit surprised and couldn’t be happier for you because I know you deserve it!! And the film deserved to be recognized in this way!!
It was good to read about the other people who were a part of When You’re Strange: a sensational ride that I take over and over again with different friends – and to know that you’re celebrating and enjoying every moment of this!
Congrats Tom to you and your collaborators. Well deserved!
Wow!!! I didn’t watch the Grammys due to a schedule conflict, so when I just happened to check your blog, I was blown away by this news!!!
Congrats to you. I’m thrilled to see the film and your hard work recognized.
*celebrating across the South*
Joan Miller Case
Congratulations and another “well done” by my sister, Ida Miller who you acknowledged before. Ida believed in this movie and made sure that both of her sisters watched it. Ida is really a walking encyclopedia of “The Doors”
Congratulations! Never doubted it for a second from the first time I saw it. You keep the vision and beauty of The Doors alive! This night truly is on fire.
Lindsey Taylor
So well deserved! Congratulations!
Faces come out of the rain. . .
congrats success is always to be respected
you seem to be a perfectionist
perfectionists always want to achieve more & if you could make the move all over, what would you do different?
people make their achievements in spite of difficulty not because of it, does this apply to Morrison?
in your movie, not so much..
making a movie is harder than i’ll ever know, have a great night you deserve it
Cathy V.
Awesome news Tom, congrats! I’ve been rooting for it!
wow – congratulations!
It’s been a while since I heard of someone winning the grammy who actually deserved it.
we’re happy for you!
Stuart Henderson
CONGRATULATIONS FROM SCOTLAND TOM!!!! Well Done!!!! WYS is a magnificant piece of filmmaking!!!!
Wayne Byrne
Happy fokkin’ days my friend! 🙂 I’m so happy, extremely deserved! Just popped a cold one in your honour, man! Enjoy the evening, have a blast!
Janet Erwin
WOO HOO!!! I was just about to head out to buy a bottle of wine for this evening, but I’ll be getting the kind with bubbles in it after this news. Congratulations, Director Dude!
WOW!!Sometimes it happens: those deserving of winning something actually DO win, and this is definitely one of those times!! Congrats, Tom!!!!!I’m very happy for you and for the film!!!Very cool!!

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician