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Onyanserat med Tom DiCillo

When you´re strange.

Living in Oblivion är min favoritfilm enda sen jag och min far såg den i en tom salong på Sergel 1995. Den handlar om en filmregissör (spelad av en pressad Steve Buscemi) som försöker genomföra/överleva en filminspelning.
Detta var långt innan jag själv gjort min första långfilm och då trodde jag aldrig att jag skulle utsätta mig för saker som Buscemis regissör gjorde. Saker som ständiga kompromisser, pretentiösa skådespelare, trytande budget, fattiga fikabord och allmän inspelningsångest.

Så fel jag hade…

Hur som, för något år sedan började jag maila med Tom DiCillo och vi fann någon typ av gemenskap i våra diskussioner om sakerna jag listade här ovanför. Nu är han aktuell med en ny film ”When You´re Strange” som är en dokumentär om The Doors.  Jag mailade min ”pen pal” och bad honom berätta lite om den.

How did the Idea of a Doors movie come about?

I was dragged kicking and screaming into directing an episode of Law and Order by Chris Noth, a friend of mine and an actor on the show. Chris was later fired. I went on to direct five episodes. Amazingly my phone rang one day about two years ago. It was a call from Peter Jankowski, one of the producers of Law and Order. He knew of my indie film background. He was trying to put together the first ever feature documentary about the Doors and wanted to know if I would be interested in directing.

I said yes immediately. Who would ever have thought such a liberating and creatively challenging job would have come from a TV show about cops?

Were you nervous about the reaction from the band/people that was close to them?

Yes. The main thing that worried me was the fact that so much has already been said about the Doors, much of it from people much more knowledgeable than me. My biggest challenge was trying to come up with something new and truthful. I ended up treating the film like it was one of my own. In that way I decided to present Morrison like a lead character and therefore just show him as truthfully as possible, not judging him in any way. This ended up ironically giving me a huge amount of sympathy for him.

It was not until later that I realized how personally some Doors fans feel about the band and their music. They feel that their own personal obsessions are the only truth and they look very suspiciously at anyone trying to interfere. The nastiness and destructiveness of some of these people was worrying at first. Now I see it as just a small part of the reaction. Most people respond to the film with great joy. I think that is because I was able to succeed in my main task, to present all four musicians (and especially Jim) as human beings. I have a lot of footage of Jim playing, laughing, dancing with some children in the desert. This boyish part of him was just as much a part of his persona as the alcoholic, the showman, the balls-out artistic genius. If people just come to the film with open eyes they will see something about the Doors they have never seen before.

Was it your Idea of Johnny Depp making the narrative?

Yes. He was my first choice. I knew from the beginning that the narrator had to be someone who really cared about the words they were speaking. He could not just be some ”movie” voice. I came to that decision as I was writing the film. Most of the discoveries about the band were mine. I felt very personal about them. I felt very intimately involved. Also, you should know all the footage is from 1966-71. It is all original footage, including outtakes from Jim’s film Highway which very few people have seen.

There are no interviews. No talking heads. Therefore the film is very dependent on the narration. That is why I knew the voice had to be one that believed in the film, someone who really believed the words they were speaking. Depp was my first choice. Originally he was unavailable. I had to use my voice for Sundance and some other screenings because we had no other voice. I’d recorded my voice during the editing process so we could have something to cut to.

Some critics have said Depp changed the narration?

He absolutely did not. He speaks the words I wrote exactly. What he does bring however is a great acting talent, a real intimacy and intelligence that makes the narration amazing.

What was the hardest part in making the movie?

Coming up with the structure. I knew very early on, after seeing all this incredible archival footage, that the film would only be with this real footage. Nothing was shot or recreated. But, as exciting and powerful as this was, it meant I somehow had to piece the footage together in a form that had some kind of progression or chronology.

And the more I learned about the Doors, the more the film changed. I was writing the film in the editing room. This is the opposite of my normal experience on my own films where I spend months writing a script and then shooting some version of it. Usually I go into the editing room with at least a basic idea of what my film is and where the beginning, middle and end is.

In this case, it was like cutting my way through a vast jungle. Sometimes it took days just to put together a 3 minute sequence. The film changed considerably from cut to cut. It also changed considerably after we showed it at Sundance. It immediately became clear to me that I’d used too many words. I went back into the editing room and cut at least 10 minutes of narration. We finally got Johnny Depp, who’d heard about the film after Sundance, and with his nuance and emotion he was able to make all the connections with fewer words.

Have you started planning a new movie or will you take some time to ”Heal”?

I had two scripts written before I started the Doors film. I work on raising the money for them every day. I ”heal” while I’m on the phone.

What is your:

Favourite Movie(s): La Strada, The Conformist, Midnight Cowboy, A Place In The Sun, Wild At Heart, Sunset Blvd, Double Indemnity, The Asphalt Jungle, Mulholland Drive, Belle de Jour, Rashoman, Caddyshack, Fargo, Thin Red Line, Breathless, Woman In The Dunes, Aguirre the Wrath Of God, Lilya 4ever…
Least favourite Movie: anything with Jim Carrey.

Favourite actor: Marcello Mastroianni.

Least favorite actor: Can’t say because he lives next door to me.

Most underrated Director: The Director at the World Office of Human Resources Toward the Healing Power Of Love.

Most overated Director: The director of Marketing at any film distribution company.

Finally Tom, what do you think of Oliver Stones movie?

I respect him for making the movie he wanted to make. But, knowing what I know about the Doors now, his movie had literally nothing to do with who they really were.


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