Tom DiCillo is a stubbornly independent director whose career began as a cameraman on Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise” (1984). With films like “Johnny Suede” (1991) and “Living In Oblivion” (1995), DiCillo worked with such rising stars as Brad Pitt, Steve Buscemi and Catherine Keener. Curiously enough, DiCillo’s gig on “When You’re Strange” came as a result of directing an episode of long-running TV series “Law and Order,” which impressed the NBC producer handling the Doors project. In an interview with The Japan Times, DiCillo says that times have never been tougher — “I think we can honestly say at this point, American independent film has simply evaporated” — but that “When You’re Strange” was a happy exception: “I was in my apartment, the phone rang, I was offered the project, and for the first time in my life, all I had to do was say ‘yes’ and begin to work.”
On his approach to the film: They were pressuring me for a concept, because they had all this amazing footage that had no real continuity to it. So I said, if you really want me to give you a concept, I’ll have to see every inch of the footage you have. So for the first 3 weeks I did nothing but look at footage, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The thunderbolt hit me when I just became so saturated with this footage; I said, if I break the spell of this incredible footage that shows The Doors in their prime by cutting away to old farts talking about the significance of “The End” or something, then I will be f-cked. The only way to do it is to somehow stay in that world and never break out of it.