Photo by Will van Overbeek.

Jonathan Demme got me thinking about Jim Morrison the other day.

I first met Demme, the great American auteur, in 1982, about a year after I graduated from film school at the University of Texas at Austin and moved to Hollywood to finish my feature-length debut, Taking Tiger Mountain. Demme was starting preproduction on his first big-budget studio picture, Swing Shift. (Ten years later, he would win the Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs.)

My roommate in Hollywood, Brian Hansen, another UT film grad, had recently bonded with Demme in Manhattan after Demme had hosted a screening of six short films from Austin at the prestigious Collective for Living Cinema that included Hansen’s Speed of Light and a film I co-created with Will van Overbeek, The Death of Jim Morrison.


Now, almost four decades later, the same six shorts are being released commercially by UT Press as the package Jonathan Demme Presents: Made in Texas, produced by Louis Black, cofounder of South by Southwest and The Austin Chronicle.

Strange days have tracked us down, indeed.



  1. All of my favs in one article: music, films, Texas (Austin that is) and the history of my youth. All this inside scoop from one who was on the cutting edge of cool. Alas, it was not me, I was always a fringe fan, so my heroes were there mixing it up. I admire those who lead with a true artist heart; who were in it for expression of the times. Throwing the American dream back in the face of established values with questions of loyalty to a facade.
    So much energy and brilliance all around me, exciting stuff, to expand thoughts and powerful changes. It shaped who I am and for that I am grateful. I can look back and still get excited and provoked. I need to see these films. I need to be shocked and motivated again to see how art is reflected by culture. Or is it that artist that leads culture?

  2. Great piece — superb storytelling. I saw The Death of Jim Morrison at the SFAI Cinematheque in 1981 — part of a “punk/new wave” film festival. It is the only film I truly remember from that night.
    I’ve looked for it for years. Last week an old girlfriend sent me a box of my stuff found in her attic. It had a SF Chron story about the film festival and mentioned “Morrison’s” director, uh….you!

    Having THAT piece of info, I tracked down this article AND the Demme/Black DVD set. It’s on the way! Can’t wait to see all the films, but especially TDOJM after 38 years. That mushroom soaked
    night was one of my favorite SFAI “trips” of all-time.

    Best to you, Mr. Huckabee. You made a fine-ass film.