Tom Script
1. Opening
fade in opening, then fade in TOM in caps, one letter at a time.
Tom on telephone sync: “OK, I look rather gaunt. What should I say? Okay, I’ll put the phone down. My name is Tom and this is my city.”

2. Immigrants
old man in hat, large crowd waves hats (backwards and forwards), CU old man in hat, 4 men smoke and point, couple w/kid woman steps down, 6 kids, kid in hat looks back, girl w/doll, woman, woman and 2 kids, 2 men and boy man steps up

Off the Boat
people w/suitcases, porter helps people w/suitcases, men w/hats over eyes out door, people walk across square, look from window

In the City
track down market w/tom blue face supered, archival street kid looks back, Tom DV on bench (film effect), dissolve to horse and cart dissolve back to Tom on bench dissolve to 2 men look at camera one walks l-r and freezes once he’s behind the other, dissolve to Tom’s hands CU

3. Building the City

Tom at edit bench intercut with building construction.
Aerial shot NY superimposed with sink, Tom.
Tom walks underground where he is being born.
Fetus, woman with inner explosion, a woman split and reunited.

4. Baby

man walks through two sets of doors
night train into station
supered with: baby scrubbed, nurse hands baby to ma, ma walks home with child , ma breast feeds baby by window

5. Ma kills firstborn

long dolly cityscape to window into house to man playing piano
supered with: fade in/out Tom sidewalk walks into sunflare
man playing piano, CU piano, woman on couch man turns on light
Tom v/o begins here: “My mother said she took music lessons in a large town near a small town where she lived.”

movie couple kiss slow motion
silhouette couple up stairs , couple walk to edge, couple on ferry , couple holds hand
man looks through doorway , door opens to show couple kissing

Tom v/o: “And that she had seen a number of romantic movies that she wanted to emulate the kissing scenes to. She was I think 16 or 17. She began kissing her piano teacher and they apparently had sex and some months later she realized she was pregnant.

Depression Montage

man closes gate, hammers closed sign
Men shuffle in a line, CU feet shuffle, soup doled out
Tom v/o: “She had no idea kissing or sex had anything to do with having children. She had to leave the town and go to Chicago and get a job during the Depression.”

men on bench, behind bench, 3 men alone, CU face, CU shoe, CU head
group of men with guns, crowd of assembled men – guns shoot – modest fight, (cops vs labor)
woman appears in smoke (run backward)

image: couple go up stairs, open door, she carries bucket into kitchen, then another bucket, he goes alone to bedroom (neg/pos intercut) super baby
“She finally married a much older man who apparently was a numbers runner for the mob who she met while she was working at a barbershop and he married her to give the baby her father’s name so it wouldn’t be born out of wedlock. It was a boy and they named it Tom.”

kid on tricycle
kids run looking at cam down crowded street- 2 freeze frames
supered with: blue dancers fade in and out

archival porn man massages woman’s breast
intercut with: boy runs
archival porn man massages woman’s breast
supered with: blue dancers fade in and out
boy runs out of frame

Tom v/o: “He insisted as she told me on having his husband’s rights to have sex with her even though that wasn’t the intention of the marriage and she became pregnant with my older sister.
boy runs towards cam slow motion and falls
Tom v/o: “He was annoyed with her for becoming pregnant even though she knew nothing about birth control and he had insisted on having sex with her without protection.”

image: boy/moon/boy CU face
visions of light: woman in storm clutches at tree

“So she said while she was confined to bed during pregnancy the baby crawled into the kitchen and got under the kitchen sink and ate some rat poison and died. My sister believes she poisoned the baby. I want to believe it was an accident but it was a very desperate moment in her life and maybe she made a terrible impulsive decision.”

6. Tom shaves

Tom enter door, goes up stairs
supered with: man swims underwater in house. Shaves.

Tom: “I was tired when I was shaving. I think it was yesterday, I went and sat in the kitchen chair, I had what I had when I’m writing email when I’m tired, I drifted off and I put shaving cream all over the place. There was no rhyme or reason, I had it on the collar, I didn’t even take my shirt off.

Actually what I’m doing now, this is remarkably good even from when I first had it. I sometimes had more shaking in my right hand. My left hand was always steady and now it’s not always. But at the moment they’re both pretty steady. On the days when it’s bad, and it was this morning, I couldn’t have shot of shaving.

Mike: I never see you angry.

Tom: Sometimes I tear up paper. I tore up a whole bundle of papers without even looking to see if I needed any of them out of frustration because they’d been there so long and I was having so much trouble sorting them.

Mike: But do you have any sadness over a life that you used to have?

Tom: Yes. I began experiencing that maybe even more intensely when I was a child and my family sold the family house and moved away. They actually started leasing at first. I watched every summer as we came back, everything changed and became inaccessible to me, that just a few months before had been a childhood refuge.

7. Magical kids, boys fight, adult sex, elephant dreams

kids at watery piano, kids with skeleton masks at piano, boy looks into mirror then: kids in bed/primal scene
kids fight/CU boy dark shadow, one eye moves into light, he looks at something
kids fighting
woman caresses man, blowjob, fuck
elephants on street (4 shots)
2 shots elephants enter house, elephant knocks down chandelier, causes fire, elephants thru house, elephants kill piano, 3 elephants walk
CU elephant feet supered w/Jay’s kids, this super continues over:
2 shots kids watching

image: man/woman skate circle slow motion
over second skate shot: fade in super tom’s face upside down flipped sound: sfx skating

cut to: ceiling fan cam moves own to wall
tom and ceiling fan
intercut with: 2 shots down hallway
cut to: man on bed flinches

Tom v/o: “Through the years you fill rooms with pictures of animals, stars, Finally you realize this traces the image of your own face.”

3 shots people w/binoculars look from deck of high building
cameraman on deck of high building

8. That Beauty

studio beauty shot,
newspapers come off press (3 shots, all CU),
newspaper stand – man buys paper (2 shots),
map w/red mark, CU red mark, another map w/red mark, stripped lot city in distance,
3 shots: 3 men pull down walls,
Tom sit and coughs turning away from camera,
2nd dancer w/whirling scarf, use begin and end,
group men tug down wall (plus two following shots: fire and man hosing down fire zoom into smoke)

Tom v/o: “When I worked at the sex fantasy club a number of them reveal their vulnerable real sides. I remember one man who was considered one of the two most attractive and desirable employees at the service but was also considered a gold digger as he sometimes called himself. He told me about how he became sick to his stomach when he saw certain men cruising him because he was repelled by the fact that people desired him for his physical appearance without wanting to know who he was. He actually didn’t see himself as beautiful he saw every blemish every rash and pimple. He saw himself as very vulnerable emotionally and physically and in telling me about it one day he had been sharing his real feelings of love for someone (cries) and he began to sob and I put my arms around him and held him. I felt I knew where he was. I knew how hard it is to be vulnerable enough to fall in love and express that love and to risk in failing in an imperfect world due to one’s own failings and he said Mike can I say that I was touched by his vulnerability which wasn’t what the world saw at all nor did he want them to see it when he composed himself and realized the other employees would be arriving soon he wiped the tears from his eyes and sat up and said please don’t tell the other guys about this.”

9. Boy on stair sees sex

from behind boy climbs stairs looks left
man takes off shirt
boy looks right
couple embrace solarized, cock ejaculates

10. Mom and bed

man in small room to keyhole
kid with naked women-from b/w to colour
ma white dress slow motion goes to kid in bed shot
CU boy face shocked, ma floats to bed supered w/hand over pregnant belly, ma holds boy in arms, boy gets up from pa’s arms, ma gets up from boy’s arms
ma pats boy’s head looped three times

11. Mom at home

woman closes door, woman in hallway, hallway shadows, woman at window

12. Running away

boys on stair loop intercut with
boy goes up escalator wrong way #1,
boy in field with ma’s face supered,
boy fades out then archival NY train fades in/out,
burning smoking background, figures move right to left,
beautiful pan from behind, 3 figures seat apart, boy/woman/man: huge blaze in front of them
supered with: clock moves to 5, workers at desks leave, run out doors,
night aerial pan over water,
super ed with: kid runs with rifle, pretends he’s killed

13. Pictures

boy supered with street, boy and photo
photo/dissolve eye, back of boy blue light at drawer, boy opens drawer, photograph, boy and man photo
Door montage
Montage of photos, Tom in studio
last shot of Tom slow motion

14. My brother

Skin boy runs backwards slow motion into house
Tom v/o: “My homosexuality is inextricably linked with memories of my brother.”
Keaton house falls to ground man stays standing freeze last image and super in home movies
image: colour home movie: boys come out of house, then ma and pa
Tom v/o: “I think we both had the sense that the other had feelings for our own sex and even for each other when we were growing up. Our family moved from location to location so our most consistent friends and playmates were each other. (as we reached adolescence I think we began to feel some erotic feelings about one another.)
Keaton shot resumes motion, he rushes out of frame,
2 boys into window (shot from inside house)
eye at peephole

In the streets

in the streets montage: slow-motion CU boy’s face, then boy runs slow-motion, then boy running hits someone with sack (extra-slow mo)

Tom v/o: “He was easily more well read and could dominate conversations with most people quite easily. I partly resented this growing up and even resented this seeing him again but I felt the force of it and realized he used it for erotic purposes too.”

Boys on street and sacks, then freeze frame boy’s just been hit, water sprays on street out of tub, pan up building with water, boy with carton on head walk thru spray, kids run on street. Freeze frame loop boy gets hit by sack (3 times) intercut with tom in public showers (3 shots)

Tom v/o: “I had known two brothers who had been lovers when they were growing up, the older had seduced the younger and I told him about it and suggested that that had been latently in our relationship and we should experiment and see what acting on it would be like. He was very put off by the idea but as we were going to bed he quietly said he had thought about it and he wanted to try it and we did. I knew he was a top so I bottomed, and then on another occasion I came back to the hotel room after a party (he was showering and) I joined him in the shower and we had sex for a longer time, more forcefully again. And there was a third time. And then we went home at Christmas to visit our mother and her new boy friend we perceived ourselves as brothers again.”

Shower and Photograph

backlit Tom in outdoor shower from behind (slow-motion) (over last v/o)
backlit Tom in outdoor shower from the front (slow-motion)
Tom and Caspar in outdoor shower (slow-motion)
LS kid in street, another kid takes photograph, upside down street/kid moons him


pipe with water flow
water pipe-bucket-boy shower-super w/hands, dancers,
birds and head, then cut to begin of trailer: eye-phonograph-hand opens door-mouth yells,
super over last of images trailer: rosenblatt kid gets up, looks into door,
eye dissolve to poured drink (sin)/underwater table/tom swim/underwater door/hallway water,
flooded streets,
man swims up staircase in house,
water tower burst montage, last image slow motion,
last image: backwards mirror shot from Blood of a Poet

15. Taking Medicine
masked yellow neg hands, then one hand waves in MS, comes off,
masked yellow Tom holds DV camera,
tom takes pills
supered with: LS NY city with clouds moving over it,
tom in doorway/tom walks/many cameras shoot him

16. Tom and Caspar

Tom and Caspar talk in cafe
Tom on metal stairs (s8 and DV intercut), Tom under steel mechanism, Tom silhouette
Mike shoots Tom and Caspar (s8) intercut w/Caspar shoots Mike and Tom
C and Tom eat on roof (they talk, C drinks, T eats, many shots) NY skyline-sun
supered with:
lights at night – several shots
lit up LS at night
col ferris wheel turns side (long)
people in spinning dishes (2 shots)
spinning people – people on spinning dishes

17. Puddle-Distortion

then: watery people pass colour ferris wheel,
LS car wavy drives,
video-effected mother’s hands reach to touch,
guy in mylar mirror recoils,
video-effected boy takes off shirt, chased by father

18. Underground

Tom colour face train comes in, fade in archival train arrives,
CU train goes by,
legs wait while others get out:
“Peter and I were moving through countries whose languages…
people out of car door:
“…we didn’t speak and we didn’t speak one another’s language very well.”
people walking dissolve to people sit on car:
“And we started to exchange w/out realizing it a lot of mental energy…”
train goes by very CU
window “with each other so that”
hand on silver “when we pulled apart and came back to
overhead shot person sits “Berlin separately”
cam pan out window “I felt that I was”
cam turns to tunnel – black “hearing other people’s thoughts.”
train stops, CU freeze frame wheel, ice storm train lights on, CU wheel moves
slow motion door opens – people leave
people up stairs “When I sat in a cafe it was like being in a little paper boat
poppe up stairs
upstairs super slow motion woman’s heels w/fast people “an ocean of mental energy”
outside people walk supered w/people walking downstairs (“I wouldn’t always understand the words they were in different languages.”)
people walk out to turnstiles slow motion “I remember that on one occasion”
people walk in subway corridor “where a man came up to me after me must have been thinking
fast loop people at head of stairs “the introduction to his opening line over and over”
pan to door, hand reaches door, opens it “and suddenly I realized he was saying it to me and I had to answer.”

Tom walks thru door (s8) supered w/archival people jammed in leaving subway train,
archival train tracks supered w/archival subway crowd,
train tracks outside supered w/CU archival faces subway crowd,
Tom dv colour stands on subway,
cam twirl to tunnel super w/tom dv face,
dissolve to human tunnel,
subway tunnel blue super w/tom and curtain,
flicker tunnel super w/colour human,
cloudy human stuff super w/pixillated traffic

19. Traffic/City and Blood
escalator and cell,

then: field of cells supered with
aerial stockbrokers.
Stockbrokers supered with:
fantastic LS cells

field of cells
many cells converge supered with: train station cam pans down, many people

stadium crowd turns into a rose (3)
excellent LS cells

massive flag display
Busby Berkeley shot balls held by people, high angle, then ground angle can see they’re people
cells-zoom out-they’re onscreen in Times Square

20. Hospital

my shoes,
blue object w/hand,
red subway floor and subway pan at window,
tom leaves subway shot,
hospital front (very slow motion),
tom walks sun flare,
tom feet walking intercut w/hospital ext. door and sorrow sun,
tom walk under NY hospital awning,
2 nurses close windows,
tom walks through turning glass door to security guard slow motion hand says no,
surgeons stare ,
dissolve Tom in: Tom takes pill leans into fountain CU,
animated: 2 figures walk down hall, skeleton,
Tom and new machine-light in eye

21. Spotlights

moon is spotlight,
roofs of houses lit up by spots,
headlights night ,
kids race, tunnels, light in tunnels, man with light,
Tom in drag (blonde wig),
Tom on bed: “One of the pleasures of the fetish scene is that you don’t have to be beautiful to be a narcissist. All of the ugly kids from high school can have their day in the spotlight.”

22. Drag Tango

tom in drag mylar mirror
Tom in mylar mirror with his camera
guy on seat (begin tango music here)
Man down stairs
1st drag queen in glittering headpiece
Afterbirth rip curtain (2 shots)
Sorrow down stairs
Afterbirth naked guy towards cam intercut w/drag queen (black glitter dress blond wig
drag queen: guy w/feathers from distance shakes a pose (brief), then
drag queen: smiling blond man against wall (just before 2 blank masks)
Sorrow man whips back
kids with gun
drag queen: after sad masks guy makes gestures to cam and man in boat turns around and heavy man towards cam

23. Shave

Tom lifts himself on fence (supered with opening garage, then alone)
Tom winds camera intercut with Razorhead footage, Ken (Tom’s brother) shaves man superimposed with tunnels. Aerial views of the city, men with torches in tunnels.
Tom walks in park with camera, winds camera, man undresses, Tom on boat supered with tattoed man being shaved.

Tom v/o:
1. Razorhead was the first time I saw him shave someone. It was a man who came from San Francisco specifically to New York for the first time to meet my brother and be shaved by him.
2. When he’d created stripes and chequerboard patterns of hair and shaved scalp he put a collar on the man, dressed him in army fatigues and took him out to a bar.
3. I made a high-contrast black and white print of that so the black areas would be bled through with white from the negative.
4. I began to see white light around his body. Later I was doing meditation and realized it was the outer edge of what most transcendental yoga meditation perceived as the aura around the body, a rainbow of colour fields, the outermost being the white light.

24. Light, Dead Brother

blue light, cop and flashlight, boy with flashlight, blue hallway light, man at stairs flashlight, flashlights down stairs, derelict hallway-graffiti
rainy floor and window, underwater light, cop light, helicopter light, light in cityscape, Tom turns to face camera. Tom silhouette face supered with man walk in alley.

Tom voice-over: I also talked to my brother about this when I arrived at the hospital the day he died. He was unconscious and in intensive care on a respirator.

Tom in bed, gets up and takes HIV meds, supered with tracking shot through planets.
Tom voice over:
The hospital staff said he had reached the point where they suspended the rules about only one person at a time visiting and they encouraged us to talk to him because they said patients seemed to hear although they might not respond and that voices of loved ones sometimes brought them back when nothing could be done medically. I told him many things but then began to remind him of our talks about the light. I asked him if he could see the light and told him he could go into it.

I told him he could swim back to the shore where I was and Howard and Andy and Andy’s friend Peter (who came to show Ken his new green-dyed mohawk haircut). I told him I wanted to show him some old photographs from when we were children but I told him that if he felt too tired to swim back he could let himself drift into the light. I stroked his arm while I spoke. His pulse raised once while I was stroking his arm. But later I was told that he had been administered a stimulant to start his pulse up again and that when it only perked momentarily the doctors knew he was probably going to slip away.

Everything in this world is constantly changing. Eventually everything is gone or not what it was. Our attachment to it causes pain and joy, satisfaction and frustration. Practicing at non-attachment is a preparation to deal with the gradual loss of everything. I write this as one who cried and wailed with grief at the death of my cat Spider. I am writing these thoughts because they relate to that moment in my kitchen when we speak, and what happens to us. Hope to talk with you soon
All my love,


25. Going Out in leather

Tom gets dressed in leather (studded gloves, hat, all in his apartment)
LS street corner leather men (slowed down)
fade in super: neon sign woman on swing
Edison lights by itself
2 boots on floor, 2 boots come to join him (can’t see faces)
Tom in black leather outfit
dolly down street many men excellent
intercut with short bursts of tom and camera
silhouette heads of 3 men
MS undo belt buckle no faces
2 guys very CU embrace
silhouette man against cityscape LS
spot light cam pans right men walk under bridge pans to black then to men group grope
super with this: flashing hustler fades in/out, then again

26. Ferry
Tom on ferry turns behind glass (slow motion)

Chrysler Eagle

prow of boat is eagle-sunny, water passes behind
construction Chrysler Building eagle (3 shots)
prow of boat is eagle-sunshine, water passes behind
Chrysler Building night w/eagle prominent

Ferry and Keaton

Nosferatu archival water
ferry flag, water wave over ship
Keaton people fall slow motion on deck (50%) then get back up again (reverse motion)

Tom shot on ferry

Tom walks length of ferry
Caspar shoots Tom 1
Tom looks at railing (belt, MS, then colour DV head turn)
kids jump from rock
2 shots man w/light falls underwater supered with tom swims in water
supered with:
b/w aerial pan over NY
b/w pan across foggy harbour – motion reversed
super with: two kids swimming
fade to black

27. Father died

desert drive, 2 kids in back seat, ma, boy, pa(out of focus) and ma, boy and pa gets in car, boy CU face pulls away in back of car

Tom v/o: “I had a dream I was riding in the back seat of the family car. My mother and father were in the front seat, my father was driving as usual, my brother was sitting behind him, I was sitting behind my mother and I suddenly wanted to talk to my father, I thought I haven’t talked to him in years. And when I woke up I burst into tears realizing he was dead. I seems rather comical but it was the first time I felt allowed myself to feel the grief. It was the first time in a long time that I’d been able to close the door and be by myself.”

Tom v/o: “My sister said you know I haven’t seen you shed a tear since I got here when she arrived for the funeral. I felt I had to be there for the others in the house. They were all hanging onto me crying and I felt I couldn’t. When I saw him in the casket it didn’t look like him. The lips were thin and hard, the nose was narrow and angular, the eyebrow was too severe and the skin colour was all off and very powdery looking. But I do remember the casket was in front of the altar and everyone walked by to take one last look at the body which I didn’t see any point to since it didn’t seem to be him, just a memento of him. But my mother needed support. My brother and I held onto her arms to walk her to the casket. They had closed the glass lid over the body but left the metal lid open when she got to the casket she bent down and kissed the glass over his…”

LS people and bikes move away in rain slow motion
pa and son stand in rain
Tom v/o: “…face and cried, “Jack. Jack.” She began to sob uncontrollably. My brother and I had to…”

b/w archival boys run down crowded street cam behind them, dark, murky, end
supered with: Tom CU face
Tom v/o: “…pull her back and she walked leaning from one of us to another out of the temple.”
Star Theatre torn down time lapse. People walk in endless line. Workers into assembly plant. Car assembly plant intercut with splicing film. Man shouts, whistle blows.

28. City Destroyed and Rebuilt

workers rush from factory into streets, cars jam, crowds rush across roads, pan across crowds, building blows up, confetti, crowds, man takes off hat on top of building, building destroyed confetti, parade, crowds shopping, milling, building fire, firemen, crowds an traffic, trolley, old cars, cars on street, train station destroyed, cars thrown into street, Chrysler building ruined.

29. Endgame

blindfolded man climbs building, people watch, man off diving board, hand clenches, man turns in air, Tom at video controls, street tilt, boy walks on stick, pan up Tom, people point up in air, flying person, Tom at video controls, night wild life, mouth and eye, people walk on eye, photographers, Tom turns on ferry, looks up in blue, entire movie plays backwards in slow motion, Tom injects himself supered with Chrysler building peak. Tom on couch disappears. Tom lies down supered with clouds.
Tom voice-over: Death wasn’t even a frontier anymore. Just something he drifted across, while walking from the bed to the window. Everything was turning white.
Then he realized it was snow.”

Last Walk

blue night smoky guy back to cam walks into night w/glow yo-yo
supered with: man walks stairs fades in/out
supered with: Tom CU face removes grin mask (blue night shot fades out leaving this as last image)

30. Credits

ghost co-pilot: Caspar Stracke
nosferatu man hoists light supered with: miracle editor: Mark Karbusicky
ma and kid dust bowl slo-mo supered with: additional footage: Jason Boughton, Mark Meyer, Gary Popovich, Velcrow Ripper, Jay Rosenblatt
shot: archival crowd (slo-mo) (life in the 30s) (oac credit fade/wiped on)
this portrait was made possible by the generosity of the Ontario Arts Council
shot: Garbage rock video light spins, super title:
thanks always to Tom for his generosity and the white light
-billboard workers put up billboard: THE END
supered with: C. (Crossed out copyright in circle) Mike Hoolboom