Jim Morrison, Sound Man

Jim Morrison and Camera

All Doors fans know that Jim Morrison was a film student at UCLA before starting The Doors (as was Ray Manzarek). When you’re a student filmmaker your classmates are your film crew.

On May 13-14, 2011 at the Billy Wilder Theater, the “Celebrating Orphan Films” project will screen the films of two former UCLA film students and classmates of Jim Morrison: Alexander Prisadsky’s “Five Situations for Camera, Recorder and People” and Ronald Raley’s film “Patient 411.” Both are student films that Morrison worked on as a cinematographer and soundman, and both presentations will include the filmmaker’s recollections of Jim Morrison as part of their crew.

Alexander Prisadsky’s film “Five Situations for Camera, Recorder and People” was filmed after Morrison’s famous (or infamous) student film, which seems to have affected Prisadsky enough that it made him reevaluate the film he originally wanted to do. One of Prisadsky’s ideas for the film was to have his fellow students in it wearing black suits (in a scene that eerily anticipates the opening sequence of “Reservoir Dogs“). Morrison was the only one that didn’t have a black suit, so he acted as the soundman on Prisadsky’s film.

It seems that Jim Morrison, future Doors lead singer, already had a knack for sound, overlaying Bach and the roar of thunder to make Prisadsky’s film more mysterious. Morrison suggested a scene where he got into a crowd with a microphone and produced a distorted concussive sound that Prisadsky liked and used in the film. At one point Morrison told Prisadsky, “Maybe I should be in radio instead of film.” You can read more of Prisadsky’s recollections at the article: “Recollections of a UCLA Film Student: Working with Jim Morrison on Five Situations for Camera, Recorder and People.”

Raley’s “Patient 411” was another student film that Morrison worked on as cinematographer and, evidently, partial director. Described as “A faux case study of a male hustler, produced by the “California Institute of Neuropsychiatry,” the film lives in the UCLA archives and is screened publicly on occasion.

Originally published April 27, 2011.

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