That question has haunted Jeff Finn since 1985 when he first researched the infamous vocalist and lyricist of the legendary 1960s rock band, The Doors. Finn is the writer, director and narrator of Before the End: Searching for Jim Morrison, a forthcoming limited film series that rips the hinges off Morrison’s purported official story. Indie film production company Z-Machine has released a new extended preview of this hard-boiled but empathic documystery. What If everything we think we know about Jim Morrison is wrong?
Z-Machine, Finn’s indie production company, has released a new extended preview of his hard-boiled but empathic “documystery.” Like a DNA-era Sherlock Holmes, Finn deconstructs Morrison’s quicksilver existence from his 1943 birth in Melbourne, Florida to his reported death at age 27 in Paris, France in 1971.
Featuring exclusive interviews with Randall Jahnson, Anne Moore, Salli Stevenson, Todd Schiffman, Ellen Sander, Mirandi Babitz, and the only on-camera talk with Jim’s brother, Andy, the docuseries reveals 75 lovers, friends, classmates and associates who experienced Morrison as a person, not a persona, including Robyn Wurtele, Morrison’s shadowy assistant during his brief French exile.
“No autopsy. Sealed coffin. Phantom doctor. Jim’s death was never proven, yet everyone takes it as gospel,” Finn states. “Deciphering his life became my calling. BTE is unauthorized because there’s the ‘truth’ and then there’s the real truth.”
Nine years in the making, Before the End is a Day-Glo trip down the Morrison rabbit hole that cuts through 50 years of myth like a power washer blasting away rock god graffiti.
“Jim’s legacy morphed into a marble bust stolen from a beer-stained grave, but he was brilliant – not the wasted narcissist of his clichéd media caricature,” explains Finn. “With BTE, I’m excavating the human Jim Morrison: a seminal poet, artist and revenant. I’ve also unearthed his darkest secrets, which are beyond strange, like real-life Twin Peaks.”
Finn feels aligned with Benjamin Statler, whose unauthorized Soaked in Bleach film resonates as a blistering Kurt Cobain analog to his Jim Morrison documentary.
“Just as Statler’s movie is about Cobain, not Nirvana, my film is about Morrison, not the Doors,” explains Finn. “The band played a large part in Jim’s life, but he lived 21 years prior to forming the Doors. Before the End is a figurative and literal search for James Douglas Morrison’s truest truth.”
- Before the End features exclusive on-camera interviews with those who knew Morrison the boy and/or man, not just the rock star: Jac Holzman, David Katz, Randy Maney, Bill Thomas, Jim Merrill, Rosanna Norton, Anne Moore, Judy Huddleston, Trina Robbins, Philippe Dalecky, Gilles Yepremian, and many others.
- Most of those interviewed elected to speak about Jim on-camera for the first time, including his brother, Andy Morrison; Jeff Morehouse, Jim’s earliest friend and George Washington High School classmate; Ash Jones, his Alameda High School swim team coach; Bryan Gates, friend and Florida State University classmate; Ralph Turner, FSU medieval history professor; Philip O’Leno, friend and UCLA classmate; Bill Adams, UCLA film instructor; Salli Stevenson, Jim’s friend and lover, with whom he shared one of his final interviews; Todd Schiffman, booking agent for The Doors; Gareth Blyth, Doors roadie, 1969-70; groundbreaking rock critics, Richard Meltzer and Ellen Sander; and more.
- Hours of off-the-record/off-camera conversations with Jim’s first girlfriends, Tandy Martin and Mary Werbelow, helped put puzzle pieces in place. Further illuminating off-the-record/off-camera discussions were shared by Anne Morrison-Chewning, Jim’s sister and executor of his personal estate, Frank Lisciandro, Jim’s friend and film collaborator, who helped copyright owners of his poetry gather his work for posthumous publication, and Alain Ronay, his UCLA roommate and friend who visited him in Paris just prior to July 3, 1971. All were generous with their time and personal memories.