A documentary film project by George Ripley and Priscilla Lee
Length: 120 minutes
Format: HD
Expected date of completion: December 2015



STORY


Tommy Hall (born September 15, 1942) is an electric jug player from Texas. He was a founding member of The 13th Floor Elevators.  Tommy Hall is also the band's primary lyricist and philosopher.

He was born to nurse Margaret "Perky" Perkins and Dr. James Tidwell Hall (a Colonel in charge of the hospital in Paris during WWII) in an upper middle-class family. With music in his blood, Tommy Hall spent his formative years in jug-band country with an ear to the ­progressive-jazz station and a record-collecting habit. He liked Little Richard and Chuck Berry, but had little to say about Elvis Presley. Tommy Hall is an aficionado of jazz to this day.

In 1961, Hall enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, where, fascinated with how the mind works, he studied philosophy and psychology. At night, he continued his musical education, hitting blues bars with songwriter and future Elevators contributor Powell St. John.

There are some who consider Tommy Hall to be the finest lyricists of his generation.  In his high-minded lyrics, Hall penned elegant lines about trust and spiritual bonds. This musical mysticism attracted a following in Texas.

Christine Bland of the Black Angels, an American psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas, “whose stoned sound has ancestral ties to Hall's sonic ideology,” says on Tommy Hall’s lyrics, “He's been in a constant struggle since the days of the Elevators to figure out the meaning of existence. I hope he realizes the importance of his lyrics. They changed my life, and are one of the reasons The Black Angels exist. Hopefully he's never forgotten. He's one of the forefathers of psychedelic rock n' roll.”

Hall’s poetry is solemn, visionary and controlled. Examining the Anglo-Saxon literary tradition, it is in fact hard to pin down Hall's sources of inspiration. One has to reach far back, beyond modernism and symbolism to the Romantics and Victorians. It is here, in the final incarnations of poetical Classicism, that we find the poetry that most closely resembles "Slip Inside This House":

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 
A stately pleasure dome decree 
Where Alph the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea..."

-- "Kubla Khan", a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A special aspect of The Elevators' sound came from Tommy Hall's innovative electric jug. He ushered the instrument into the electric age. The jug, a crock-jug with a microphone held up to it while it was being blown, sounded somewhat like a cross between a minimoog and cuica drum. In contrast to traditional musical jug technique, Hall did not blow into the jug to produce a tuba-like sound. Instead, he vocalized musical runs into the mouth of the jug, using the jug to create echo and distortion of his voice, the echoes of his voice producing the Elevators' ghostly je ne sais quoi.

"The first thing you notice, before anything really, is Tommy Hall's electric jug sound," notes Elevators fan Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain. "Never could quite work out how that sound was made."

Tommy Hall was a prophet and found that rock music was a way to get his cosmology and philosophy out. “Tommy is a walking talking true cultural artifact if there ever was one,” according to Bob Simmons, a well-known photographer.

This project is to showcase his life: his childhood, his days as a student at UT in the 60s, his studies in Gurdjieff, Korzybski, Herman Hesse, and the Indian Vedas, and philosophies in consciousness and cosmic human experience, the inspiration behind his art, the forming of his band, and aspects of The Design (his current work).


Photo 13th Floor Elevators 1966 by Bob Simmons


CHARACTERS AND APPROACH
Slip Inside This House will tell the life story of Tommy Hall through vintage and contemporary photographs and numerous interviews with members of The 13th Floor Elevators, and their soundman, contemporaries and audience members from the sixties as well as Tommy's former wife, his stepson, his brother, and his sister.
 

Hall children by their father, Dr. James Tidwell Hall, MD
Left to right: Peter Hall, Tommy Hall, and Carolyn Hall


Personnel/Credits


Producer/Director
George Ripley was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and grew up in rural Maine. He also lived in San Antonio, Texas in the mid-70's. As an artist, George was in a band from 1978 -1999 and also shot many live music videos of bands, such as "Spirit" and "Concrete Blonde". In the last ten years, George has filmed most all shows Powell St. John has performed in California. In regards to this documentary, most importantly, he has been Tommy Hall's closest friend for twenty years. He has followed The 13th Floor Elevators ever since seeing them perform on "Where The Action Is" in 1966.


Producer/Director
Priscilla Lee was born in San Francisco and grew up in Chinatown and the Sunset District. She earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a profession writer and the author of the poetry collection Wishbone. Her honors and awards include a Poetry Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies, an Emily Chamberlain Cook Poetry Prize, and a James D. Phelan Literary Award from the San Francisco Foundation. She is currently working on a screenplay about growing up as an Asian American woman.

Music Advisor
Award-winning Austin singer-songwriter and film and music producer Troy Campbell, the Austin liaison for The House of Songs. Campbell has won numerous awards for his eight CDs and recent projects with Collection Agency Films. Campbell’s music has been featured on TV soundtracks, and he worked as music supervisor for the film “Levelland” and on the documentary “Antone’s: Home of the Blues.” His and filmmaker Alan Berg’s short documentary, “A Place to Dance,” won the Audience Award at the 2004 Austin Film Festival.

Music Supervisor - Fred Mitchim current 13th Floor Elevator Guitarist

Poster and promotion artist - Sean T French

Web promotion and development - NextGen Web Inc.

Project Status

The Project started in April 2015 when Tommy Hall gave both his cooperation and blessing to the project.

Currently the project has obtained numerous photographs from various time periods of Tommy Hall's life. It has also obtained a scan of the Texas Governor's proclamation directly from the Governor's office.

Also of note, Tommy Hall has re-recorded three of his old songs to be used in the soundtrack, and as well, he is contributing several new musical compositions for the soundtrack.

The project has interviewed many people closest to Tommy Hall including:
Tommy Hall: 5 hours of interviews so far
Clementine Hall: Tommy Hall's former wife
Roland Hall: Tommy Hall's stepson
Carolyn Hall Laurence: Tommy Hall's sister
Peter Hall: Tommy Hall's brother
Ronnie Leatherman: 13th Floor Elevators bass guitarist
Danny Thomas: 13th Floor Elevators drummer
Dana Erickson: Wife of Roky Erickson-13th Floor Elevators guitarist/vocalist
Powell St. John: Songwriter (for The 13th Floor Elevators) and performer
George Kinney of The Golden Dawn: close friend and supporter
Christian Bland of The Black Angels: supporter and follower
Billy Gibbons of The Moving Sidewalks and ZZ Top: close friend and supporter

Many other interviews with others close to Tommy are forthcoming.
We are attempting to get rights to use Stacy Sutherland (the 13th Floor Elevator’s lead guitarist) and Sandy Lockett (The 13th Floor Elevator’s soundman) interviews with their estates.
Gay Jones, Tommy Hall’s significant other of 48 years, is pending.
Because of their total commitment to the project, the filmmakers have self-funded all production to date.

All pre-production and filming will be finished no later then October 3rd.
Editing may begin on October 4th if editors can be obtained.


Photo at the Porter Ale House in Austin Texas, Saturday, May 9, 2015

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