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The Doors on film March 1968 and 1970

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“There’s the known and the unknown and in between are the doors.“ Jim Morrison

The end of March finds us with a couple of items in Doors history. One is widely known, the other not as well known an event, but the lesser known event we’re sure of the date, the more widely known we’re unsure of the date, so let us explore both the known and the unknown for the end of March in Doors history.

Lets start with the known quantity, “Feast of Friends.” The Doors started shooting “Feast of Friends” in late March of 1968 (the exact date is unknown) perhaps inspired by Bobby Neuwirth’s filming of The Doors on the road for a film titled “Not to Touch the Earth” (see related articles below). The Doors shot the film from late March until leaving for their European tour in September. The summer of filming captured some classic Doors shows including their performance at the Hollywood Bowl in July, and Morrison’s impromptu “Ode to Friederich Nietzsche” at the end of the tour in Sarasota Springs, New York. You can read the full length article “The Doors Decide to Film Spring 1968 Tour.”

The Jim Morrison Film Festival was held March 27, 1970. It was sponsored by ‘Poppin’” a magazine that was having a bit of financial problems and the film festival was to be a benefit for the magazine. The festival included all the films made by or about The Doors including “Hiway” (as it was then titled), “Feast of Friends,” “Break on Through,” “The Unknown Soldier,” and the BBC documentary “The Doors Are Open.”

The film festival came about when Hank Zevallos, the publisher of “Poppin” wrote an article praising Jim Morrison as an artist rather than a sex symbol. Morrison read the article and wrote Zevallos a note of thanks, when Zevallos mentioned the magazine’s financial problems Morrison suggested he show “Hiway“ to raise funds for the magazine.

The film festival idea started out roughly, Zevallos assumed “Hiway” was a full length feature film, 90 minutes long but when he got to L.A. he discovered the film was only about 40 minutes long. Together Zevallos and Morrison came up with the Jim Morrison Film Festival idea that was originally supposed to include Ray Manzarek’s and Morrison’s UCLA student films (they were unable to secure the films which might have saved Morrison’s student films for posterity). The second problem was technical “Hiway” was on 35mm film but the theater that Zevallos had rented out only had equipment able to show 16mm films. They hit upon the rather unique solution of hiring a nearby theater that had the proper equipment to use after their last show and they would have the audience at the Jim Morrison Film Festival leave the first theater after seeing the other films and then walk the couple of blocks to the second theater to screen “Hiway”. The audience was told this was the stipulation of Morrison loaning the festival the film, that the audience had to participate in the film in some way.

“Hiway” was received with silence at the conclusion of the film. The benefit of the “Jim Morrison Film Festival wasn’t enough to save “Poppin’” financially, and the magazine later folded. “HWY” was shown at other film festivals including the Atlanta International Film Festival.

Note on Sources: The information on the Jim Morrison Film Festival came from the article “Recalling The Jim Morrison Film Festival” by Hank Zevallos that was reprinted in the book “You Make Me Real,” and the Ben Fong-Torres article “Jim Morrison talks about his own film,” at Wolfgang’s Vault.

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