Category: Doors documentary

Hey all,

The brain cells are fading as I get older. A friend recently pointed out that, while I’ve been posting news, links, interviews, and all the goody stuff about the Doors documentary “When You’re Strange” – I haven’t yet written a blog about seeing it.

Hearing this was like a DUH slap across the back of my head. Like having my writing critique partner recently say to me, “Um, this scene is great, but why is this character in the kitchen when he’s supposed to be out of state?” Again, DUH. I just grimaced and replied, “Because he was back in town in my head?” To which she narrowed her eyes and told me to put that on the page.

Anyway, on to the film. First off and great news, the film’s opening weekend numbers did so well (click here to read the article) the film is being released in more cities. Check the site to see if it’s playing near you.

So my husband and I trekked down to the Cinefest last weekend to see this Tom DiCillo film, narrated by Johnny Depp, that I’ve been waiting 2 years to see. I found it amazing and refreshing to talk to the other patrons. There were women there from Kentucky, who’d picked up their friends in Alabama, and driven to Atlanta that morning to make the afternoon show. There were also locals like me, who’d been following its progress and waiting for it to finally come to the big screen. One woman said that had it not opened in Atlanta, she was planning a trip to Europe to see it when it gets released there.

The camaraderie was wonderful and we took our seats. And when the lights dimmed, the magic began. What a ride. DiCillo, with that artistic soul of his, wove pieces of Jim Morrison’s own film ‘HWY’ throughout Doors concerts, rehearsals, photos, and rare footage even some band members had never seen. Out of respect, only outtakes of Morrison’s film were used, but the color, angles, and symbolism as Jim wanders through the desert was both haunting and mesmerizing, and served as a motif throughout the film. It was a bold but brilliant move on DiCillo’s part, when some audience members were expecting a bunch of talking heads reminiscing about old times. The thing is, the footage and narration tells this story perfectly; talking heads would’ve spoiled the mood and weren’t needed.

I learned things about The Doors that I never knew. For instance, I didn’t know Jim had been a filmmaker. I was also struck by a mention that in the height of the band’s career, when audiences, women, and money were in abundance, Jim continued to have some self-doubts about his voice. This factoid struck me as wonderfully human, something DiCillo worked hard to convey. He didn’t want to follow others’ interpretations of Jim by only portraying him like some sex symbol or drunk wild child. The result? Jim and all members of The Doors were portrayed as human beings. As people everyone, even the non-famous, could relate to.

I was awestruck by Ray, Robby and John, and their dedication to their friendship and music with Jim. Many times, they had no idea what he would do on stage, or how it would affect them. They stuck by him anyway. Quite cool.

Johnny Depp did the narration, offering a reverent and unobtrusive way to communicate the information. While I love his Captain Jack Sparrow performance as much as the next gal, I’ve always admired his quiet, soulful nature like in this film and in personal interviews. (FYI, one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen of him was on Inside the Actor’s Studio. I highly recommend it.)

There was a classic ending line to “When You’re Strange” but I won’t put that spoiler here. Suffice it to say my husband has been quoting it and making references to it during the past week. Check it out for yourself at the theater if you can. If you aren’t near where it’s playing, it will air on PBS in May and the DVD should be out in the next few months.

Hopefully DiCillo will be back Stateside before then, as he is stuck in Paris (after doing film press) due to the Iceland volcanic ash.

So there you have it. 5 Stars for this gem of information, artistry, and beauty. Hope you check it out.

It’s almost that time – the Doors documentary “When You’re Strange” releases in select cities next weekend, April 9. Other cities to follow.

For those in Atlanta, it will be playing at the Cinefest Film Theater, near Georgia State Univ. Email me or leave a comment if you need directions. I’m planning on going with a crowd on Saturday.

Seeing as how I’ve been patient oh, the last two years waiting to see this latest film by award-winning writer/director Tom DiCillo, I printed out some fliers and hit the town to spread the word. The 5-day journey proved to be interesting, almost like the stars were falling into perfect alignment.

Below is my 5 days journey. My thanks to Tom for sending me the flier, Willena for going on the photo excursion with me, and Diane for the enthusiasm, help, and the beer.

Day 1 – Doors fans are cool


Doors fans are amazing. There’s something in their spirit that transcends the daily irritants and fosters a connection between all human beings. This energy brightens up the most humdrum of days.


I begin my quest to put out fliers for When You’re Strange by going to the copy/print shop to get some pricing estimates for fliers. The guy behind the register, maybe in his middle 30s, looks at the sample I’ve brought with me, admires it and says, “I just love these guys.” He gives me the price breakdowns; I tell him I’ll figure out how many I need and get back with him. I start to walk toward the door and am only steps away from exiting when he asks, “What’s the name of that film again?”


Smiling, I walk back and show him the flier. He tells me about his trip to the Tribeca Film Fest a few years back. I mention that I’m trying to spread the word on WYS, and that the film starts on 4/9 at the Cinefest in Atlanta. He grins wide. “Theaters like the Cinefest are the best places to see films like these,” he says, still admiring the WYS poster photo of the young Jim, Robby, Ray and John. We chat briefly, I wish him a good day and walk to the exit once more. With my hand on the door, ready to leave, he pipes up and says, “You know, I really like what you’re doing. I could probably take another, oh, 10% off your order.” I smile, say thanks, and I’ll let him know. He recites “When You’re Strange” to himself, as if to memorize the title so he can tell others. I hand him my flier and tell him to keep it, to hang it up and spread the word. Beaming, he takes it.


I’m in a great mood the entire drive home. While a brief encounter, this simple exchange made the day seem brighter. Doors fans are everywhere; there’s an undeniable vibe.


Day 2 – It all comes full circle


After the usual Internet updates (I’ve become a Facebook, Twitter, MySpace expert these days) to spread the word about all things Doors related—the updated web site, a 30-second clip of the film, a great review from the Wall Street Journal—I take fliers in hand and venture out into Atlanta.


So many places are conducive to Doors music; it’s almost hard to know where to begin. But that doesn’t stop me; fear of too many choices only results in paralysis. The trick is to just start somewhere, and always keep moving. So I hit my share of artsy coffeehouses, eateries, eclectic art stores. Everyone is charming, everyone is more than willing to let me leave a few for their customers and to pin up a few on their main store-front window pane. As I drive away and head toward my last stop, “Roadhouse Blues” starts to play on the radio. I can’t help but think Jim Morrison is watching, mischievousness in his eyes, happy to see word is spreadin’.


I save the best place for last: a 1970s style pizza/beer place near my house. There aren’t many pubs/hangouts nearby, so this laid-back atmosphere with its tie-dyed spiral graphics on the walls and posters of Joplin, Dylan, and The Doors pinned up is more than a favorite hangout. It’s where the subject of The Doors naturally comes up.

I stop by early, before the crowds arrive, and see my buddy Diane who waits tables there. A Doors fan herself, she’s one of those rare types who has a pint of my favorite beer ready when I walk in. If the place is crowded and there’s a wait, she brings me pints in line. For years now, I’ve loved her youthful and down-to-Earth spirit.


She’s expecting me, approaches and says, “Whatcha got for me?” I hand her a stack of WYS fliers. She hands me a beer. I consider this a great exchange. She tells me to relax and look at a menu, she’ll hang them up.


The place gets busy; she’s flitting around and about the many tables, taking orders and serving drinks. I figure she’ll put up the fliers during a break or when her shift is finished. To my surprise, a few minutes later when I look up from reading, she’s hung them all over the place, including two on the main window by the entrance, where everyone who walks in can see it.


I haven’t been by in a few weeks, so when she comes to take my order, she says, “Where you been? You’ve been a stranger. And you know, people are strange, when you’re a stranger…” and she hums the Doors tune. I laugh, loving her odd sense of humor.


I drink my beer, happy and content, and “Break on Through to the Other Side” starts to play over the speakers. I chuckle to myself at the coincidence. Particularly because I don’t believe in coincidences.


As wonderful as it is to be there, and have fliers hung up on the main entrance, on every wall, and several left over for customers to take with them, I can’t help but also feel a bit melancholy. This spot is more than a place to hang fliers; it also has a history. Back when Tom went to Sundance with WYS, he wrote a poignant post about a young woman who’d approached him, her eyes welling with tears, and complimented the film. She then mentioned how much her father loved The Doors, and he’d passed away the week prior.


I remember reading Tom’s post and being touched, but I didn’t realize how much. About a week after that, my husband and I went to dinner there. I found myself describing that post, and the emotional floodgates opened—and wouldn’t stop. I’d seen my own father lying in a hospital bed one month prior, with every doctor telling me he wouldn’t make it out alive. Amazingly, he did—yet this extremely close call, combined with reading Tom’s post, sent my tear ducts into overdrive.


Diane noticed my effort to cry, talk, and breathe at the same time (not a good look for me) and she immediately plopped down two drinks on the house. Gulping them down, I tried to collect my emotions, and once I had, I told her about that post and the Doors film. She mentioned she loved The Doors, and when the film came out, I could hang up fliers there. That was January 2009. Now, over a year later, I sat in the same place, drinking beer and watching her go to town with pinning up fliers to help promote the film.


It strikes me that things have come full circle, and I can’t help but smile and think there is a pattern, however obscure, to all of life’s moments.


Day 3 – Photos, anyone?


I’m beginning to have fun with this documenting fliers journey, but I’ve forgotten my camera. So I take it and hit the town, stopping by some key places I’d been one day earlier, taking photos of WYS in the window. I recruit one of my friends to take pictures as I hang up fliers in more windows and put them on car windshields. We hit a few gyms and music stores. All have bulletin boards or windows to pin fliers. Atlanta is a driving city, so I have the radio on between stops. “Touch Me” starts playing, and I honestly laugh out loud at how many Doors songs I’ve heard during this excursion—more than ever before.


This unique coincidence (or, as I prefer to see it, sign) urges me on. I stop back by the pizza place. A guy tossing dough in the air looks at me, dubious, as I take photos of their front window. I step inside, wanting to reassure him that no, I am not trying to overtake the world’s pepperoni supply, I’m just trying to get some photos of the flier. To my surprise, even though it’s daytime, Diane is working again. She grins wide when she sees my camera. “Documenting your flier journey?” she asks. I hug her, amazed at how much she understands this grassroots movement of promoting WYS.


I stay for a bit; we chat; we laugh. In the midst of our talk, “Break on Through to the Other Side” comes on once again. I didn’t believe in coincidence before. I am utterly convinced now. There is no such thing as coincidence.


Day 4 – Radio bursts, and there are Doors fans at work, too


I go out to lunch a few minutes before noon, and upon starting the car, “Light My Fire” plays on the radio. I am no longer surprised; it’s as if the Doors music now keeps me company as I work to spread the word about the film. What DOES surprise me though, is seconds after the song ends, the DJ starts talking about WYS. She says she can’t wait to see this incredible Doors documentary, starting in Atlanta in April. I am stunned and yet elated. And her announcement happened during lunchtime driving traffic. I laugh out loud, thrilled for this shout-out for the film.


Later in the afternoon, I email her (along with other DJs) and tell them how much I love hearing Doors music, and I list the WYS web site, Tom’s site, the theater’s web site, and how much I’m looking forward to the film…and any shout-outs or info they can spread is appreciated.


I meet a friend for drinks later that night. As we part ways, I give her a few fliers. She knows many Doors fans and says she will also put up the flier at work, where everyone enjoys their music. I set aside the last few fliers to bring to work myself, knowing one of my sixty-something buddies loves not only The Doors, but independent films. And he has several film buddies he can share the remaining fliers with. We chat every Monday, discussing whatever films we happened to catch over the weekend. Like me, he’s been waiting over a year to see this film.



Day 5 – Web Grassroots is Building


It’s been a productive few days. 100 fliers passed out and good times have been had. I check back on the Internet, where I’m thrilled to see the news and updates still “a buzz” with info. The event with John and Tom in LA at the Apple Store has over 1000 viewing the link, spreading the word and getting “When You’re Strange” into people’s consciousness. Tom’s press event in NYC also has lots of buzz, and I’m happy word is spreading.


But most of all, even with all the updates and keeping abreast of all the news, I am utterly thrilled that on April 9, I will finally be able to see this film. And I plan to go back on April 10 with more friends.

What seemed to take forever will now be shown on the big screen, and in my city, to see. Atlanta is already beginning to see more people out in the evening hours. Cherry blossoms and white lacy blooms adorn all the streets, making the city look like she’s dressed for a party. And on April 9, what a party it will be. Join me, won’t you?


Update 3/23/2010:

WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE wins award at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas. Read the article here.

Update 3/15/2010:

WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE – the first-ever documentary on The Doors, will open in the following extended cities on April 9, according to Doors manager & film producer Jeff Jampol:

New York City – Los Angeles – Boston – Philadelphia – Chicago – Dallas – Houston – Seattle – San Francisco – Nashville – Madison, WI – Houston –

Atlanta (opens at the Cinefest Film Theatre)
Athens, GA (opens at the Cine theater)

Word has it that it will also open in New Orleans on 4/16, and in Albuquerque, NM in May.

See the new and updated site, and follow The Doors on Twitter!

Earlier Post:
Earlier this week, I blogged about artistic passion–a fitting precursor for today’s post. Why? Because today I’m giving updates on When You’re Strange, the Doors documentary I’ve been waiting to see for over a year.

When You’re Strange will be released in 8 cities on April 9th. Once word spreads, more cities should follow. Atlanta is 1 of the 8. (Excuse me for a moment while I do the Snoopy Dance down Peachtree Street…)

The cities are: Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

Whether you’re a Doors fan or not, these 4 artisans were an influential part of our history. Seeking, questioning, and expressing how they saw the world, even when others didn’t understand them. Particularly Jim Morrison. Whether the public liked them or not, “got” their message or not, they remained dedicated to their art and made music the way they wanted to make it. In today’s world of pop culture and celebrity (and everything for sale in between) I must say, that element of sticking to one’s convictions is a rare and precious thing.

And while I’m talking about artists who stick to their vision, let me add here that When You’re Strange is written/directed by Tom DiCillo, an award-winning filmmaker as well as one of my favorite artists on the planet. For a complete listing of his previous films, click here. (These are all in my DVD collection, by the way.) You can view the trailers for his other films on the main blog page, links are to the right.

And did I mention that When You’re Strange is narrated by Johnny Depp? Yep. I think he’s an ideal choice for a narrator, seeing as how there is a soulful and reverent quality about him.

So if you’re near one of these 8 cities, help spread the word and go see this film. More cities will follow, and let’s keep the word spreading.


My original blog post on the topic

When You’re Strange website

Writer/Director Tom DiCillo’s Blog for updates

When You’re Strange soundtrack listing

When You’re Strange film by Tom DiCillo –

updated links: Read about the screening in Georgia in 2010 here.

Older Links:

Watch the When You’re Strange AMC News Interview with writer/director Tom DiCillo and Doors members Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger (2 minutes)

Watch the When You’re Strange Sundance Channel Interview with Tom, Ray and Robby (4 minutes)

Watch the When You’re Strange In the Can Sundance Interview with Tom, Ray and Robby (9 minutes)

Read The Doors Magazine Interview

Well, perhaps I’m strange. I’m posting a blog to promote an Indie which hasn’t even been released yet. Why? Because I’m excited about this one and want to get the word out. Plus, this documentary is written/directed by one of my favorite Indie filmmakers, Tom DiCillo. WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Jan 09, and is being shown at the Berlin Film Fest in Feb 09 and the SXSW Film Conference and Festival (SXSW) in Austin in March. The documentary is about Jim Morrison/The Doors. Stay tuned for additional details on a theatrical release.

Wolf Films (the folks who do Law & Order) is planning to do a full theatrical release of the film, which includes music and footage. Read Tom DiCillo’s blog post on this project.

Mention Jim Morrison in mixed company and you get an array of responses. Myths, legends, and ambiguous feelings all come together. Yet despite much being written about The Doors (some of it incorrect over the years), I encourage everyone–whether you’re a fan or not–to check out WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE when it’s released.


* Indie filmmaker Tom DiCillo has the rare, precious talent of extracting intimate, soulful moments on screen. He’s able to sift through the external muck surrounding everyday topics and enhance the gold underneath. His films always nourish my spirit, and I’m sure this one will too.

* DiCillo’s artistic eye–everything from music to cinematography–should make for an amazing film experience.

* I’m willing to bet this film will be a different take on The Doors than you’ve ever seen before.

* The music will be incredible with today’s sound technology.

* Learning more about those who influenced history with their quest for artistic freedom and truth helps us make sense of our own humanity.

* Because I’m recommending it, folks! Keep WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE in your memory. It will be worth it when it comes out. More details to follow!