September 26, 2005

Sept 16th, the day the film opened in NY! My girlfriend and I went down to Ludlow St. looking for TG-170. When we got out of the F train, my old friend Brendon was just standing there on the platform (Brendon performs as BARR, I've written about him in past blogs). He's one of the more postive/supportive people you'll ever meet - so seeing him randomly on this day is GOOD OMEN NUMBER ONE. It was nastolgic to be back on Ludlow, my old neighborhood, the place where I met so many friends and in lots of ways figured out how to be the person who made Thumbsucker.

GOOD OMEN NUMBER TWO. TG-170, a great clothing store, is owned by my friend Terry. Inside I'm attacked with kindness by her three matching dogs. As you may know I think spotting dogs on important days is a good sign, so imagine meeting three of the same dog - it was like I struck it rich on some good omen slot machine. This dog had a little piece of black string stuck to his nose. I guess this dog and it's string are telling me that things we have no real connection to can get attached to us. We might not even notice this thing has become a part of us, and while it may be very small - it changes everything.

That evening I went to the theatre to introduce the film and do Q and A's at the very first public screenings of Thumbsucker. I must admit that I got chills seeing the name flash by out in the open like that. All of a sudden the word "Thumbsucker" seemed way to personal to be on the side of a building, or like some obscenity you just don't say in public. I felt very proud but also like I just did some graffiti on the side of this building and I better go and hide before I get in trouble.

GOOD OMEN NUMBER THREE: I enter the lobby of the movie theatre and there is this dog cruising to the ticket line. When was the last time you saw a dog in a movie theatre lobby? I'll answer for you; never - you never have . As we went up the escalator to introduce the film I started to feel incredibly nervous. These people are literally the first to pay to see the film - we are out of the safety-net of the film festival audience. What if they all dislike it so much they attack me and want their money back? What if they are all just visibly (but silently) disappointed? That's my biggest fear; they have to be polite because I'm there but I can tell they don't like it.

Here are some of the very first people to ever buy a ticket and watch Thumbsucker. Thank you all once again. And all you people in the back standing up and waiving your hands, don't think I don't see you putting in the extra effort. After all the nervousness, I'd have to rank this as one of the highlights of the whole filmmaking experience. People laughed at the right places, they were quiet in the right places, and I got to sit with my favorite person in the world to see it happen. At the Q and A after the screening, a little girl (I mean little) was there with her mom and dad. She asked if I liked making the film. I said "well, I've been doing it for 6 years now, so it was like..." I wanted to say having a girlfriend but I couldn't say that to her so I said it was like having "a relationship" for 6 years. Did I just say the word "relationship" to this little girl? She might not even be six. I asked, "well, how old are you?" she answered "8". I said, "well, I've been making this film for most of your life.... have you liked your life so far?" That was the best I could put it. By the end of the night I felt inappropriately intimate with everyone in this picture, like we all lived through an airplane crash together and we're starting our lives over from scratch in this theatre.

Saturday the 17th. I fly home to LA to introduce the film in my hometown during it's opening weekend. There is a party at the Agnes B. store for the photo book we made for Thumbsucker. You can see parts of it in the BOOK section of this site. A car picked me up at LAX, but by the time I got home there was another car waiting in my driveway to take me to the party. I know this seems like bling-bling bragging, but it's the best picture of my life on this day. I basically transfer from one air conditioned black interior to another. At the party I see the book for the first time and I am relieved - it looks great. Here's Ed Templeton, one of the photographers featured in the book signing an autograph. One of my first films "Deformer" was about Ed's life in Huntington Beach, his wife Deanna, his skating and artwork. I first met Ed at Aaron Rose's Alleged gallery back on Ludlow St where I was the day before, and now he's in this book and Aaron published it. It's great all these people are still my friends and are a part of this bigger, more public project. On this day I felt like I was graduating from college and having my 10 year high school reunion at the same time.

Cortez, my Godson, at the Agnes B. party. Look how smart he is - avoiding the crowd, looking out the window, plotting his escape. He's such a solid little piece of meat you really do want to eat him. This day, the 17th, is also the one year anniversary of my dad's passing away. Yeah I know, obviously that's why I'm starting to feel crazy. On the final page of the Thumbsucker photobook (which every-one is holding at the store) there is a picture of my dad reading Walter's Kirn's book at our Portland set. I forgot about that page of the book - it was startling and perfect to see him there, on this day. It's so strange that he's not here to be a part of all this, and equally hard to understand that Cortez is a part all this (in his own little-person way).

CONFUSING OMEN NUMBER ONE. That evening, the 17th, I go to the Sunset 5 to introduce the film with my friend Cayce. On the way to the theatre we came across these banana peels. What kind of a sign is this? Seems ominous but hard to decipher: Does this mean there is a very messy hippy going to see my film? Or a run-away child that finished the last snack he brought from home? Someone on there way to Crunch was so busy and Crunched-out they couldn't wait for the trash can? Someone was actually diligently carrying these to a trash can but was startled by something and ran off? My intuitive response (in terms of negative or positive) is that one peel would have been a bad sign, and somehow two peels cancels that out. The second peel makes a joke out of the first one and it's hostility.

In the courtyard of the Sunset 5 I meet this dog. I'm just stating the facts. GOOD OMEN NUMBER FOUR.

The 7:20 screening of Thumbsucker in Los Angeles. Okay, you guys in the back, I see you and really appreciate the wave and outstretched arms! Meeting the audience at these screenings has made the filmaking experience so much more grounded. Being in the same room, seeing faces and sharing the air makes me feel more like I cooked a meal for all these people.

The next day, Sunday the 18th, I headed off to Seattle for more press. I came across this drawing in the Burbank airport. You may know I'm a big fan of the Panda Cam, so it's funny to see this crayon cam of a Panda. But look at his face, his wobbliness and confusion, It felt like a drawing of my face that morning. Those lines captured how all the hype and anticipation of the film release was catching up with me - how exposed and responsible I was feeling. By this point in the trip I was feeling so self conscious I didn't even know how to sit in my tree anymore. I was trying to wrap myself around it with my strange leg (or arm?), but it looked like I'd slip off backwards any minute.

Seattle, Sept. 19th. I am reunited with Lou. In-between interviews we built a sculpture in our windowless room. See what I'm saying about Lou? I would have never thought to climb through the sculpture.

Same day, Lou and I are in the Seattle airport on the way to Portland and we came across this very large poster of a Panda. I was too tired to feel much, I couldn't tell if this was just a coincidence, or a sign, a good or bad omen. I will leave it as - EXCITING COINCIDENCE I'M TOO EXHAUSTED TO INTERPRET. I'm frustrated by this because his/her eyes really seem like they're saying something, and I of all people should know what the message is.

mike mills

Sept. 19th, Portland. Lou and I did our first live television show. One of those local morning talk shows with an "in-studio audience." But look at this audience! I'm not making this up. I know that many of you must be very over this dog thing, like someone thinking it's fun to play with the stereo volume nob on a long road trip. I'm sorry, but If you believed that dogs were good omens in association with this film, what would you think when you saw this audience? I'm calling it, AMAZINGLY GOOD OMEN NUMBER FIVE.

mike mills

Sept. 20th. My girlfriend and I leave Portland. If you haven't seen the movie, I am reinacting one of the last scenes that we shot on this spot.

The next day we went to San Francisco to be part of Res-Fest. While this is a film festival, these people paid for their tickets and most of them aren't in the traditional film industry so I'm calling this a "real" audience. Yeah you, way in the back with your arms up, I'm waving back at you as I write this. It's still a trip to think that large groups of strangers sit in dark rooms and watch this thing we made. I often feel that the film is just a figment of my imagination, or something that only makes sense to me. This is the only time that I'm able to really digest that all these separate, autonomous people might to relate to it on some level. Communication blows me away.

Thanks again to all the people I met at the theaters in NY, LA, and SF you were a part of one of the bigger events in my life. Because of you guys, I'm pretty sure the film happened. Thanks to all the dogs and Pandas for helping along the way. Thanks to my favorite person in the world for coming along and making it all mean so much more.

Posted at September 26, 2005 10:27 AM