David Lynch Interviews -- Uncut
Interview with David Lynch No. 1
March 10, 2006
Scott Thill: Thanks for taking time out to talk to me. I know you're a busy man.
David Lynch: No problem, Scott.
ST: Also, I'd like to tell you that you're one of my favorite directors, if not the outright favorite.
Lynch: Thank you very much, pal.
ST: Back when you started DavidLynch.com, you said the internet was still "sleepy" and slow. But now with a few years under your belt, has the sleeper, to quote Dune, awakened yet?
Lynch: The sleeper hasn't awakened yet. It's weird. Obviously, the internet is huge and getting bigger, but it is divided. Right now, everything is getting divided. Divided, divided and more divided. And I guess MySpace is the place where people go now, but even that's divided, know what I mean? But over here, we've got our thinking caps strapped on. We've got a great bunch in our membership who all really like each other and find things to talk about. And when we get new members, they really like the site and say that it's different from other sites.
I guess our job is just to keep going. It's all an experiment. I want to find things that fire me up, and see if it works for the people. I'm really interested in my bird feeders, and those are down right now. But we're going to come back with new and improved bird feeders. The technology has improved, so we should have better live pictures. And it's coming up to springtime now, Scott, so the birds will be with us.
ST: How do you feel taking your work onto the internet years ago has changed you as a filmmaker?
Lynch: Well, it's huge, because I like to conduct experiments. There are only 24 hours in a day, and my top priority is working on my films, but I love short film experiments. And because of the internet I've learned about After Effects, Flash animation and discovered and fallen in love with digital video. So I just think that going onto the web was so good for me. It's just sort of starting, but it's a beautiful world. A beautiful, modern world, and getting better. I always like random access, and I like the idea that one thing relates to another. And this is part of the internet: It's so huge, that it is really an unbounded world. And I think that if we keep our thinking caps strapped on, we could find something beautiful out there in the ether.
ST: You're saying the net is being divided up. What do you mean by that?
Lynch: Well, everybody has a site or a page of their own. Everyone is on the internet but they're not all talking with each other. There are groups upon groups out there, but they don't talk to one another. So while the internet brings everyone into a shared space, it does not necessarily bring them together. And there's just something I like about bringing people together.
ST: Do you feel that your site has brought what used to be a bunch of scattered Lynch communities together?
Lynch: In a way. Because it's a membership site, it costs money to join, which keeps a lot of people away. They've got other things to spend their money on. So we've talked about making it a free site with advertising, provided we can get some really good advertisers involved. I think that's possible, but the membership is really a good bunch. It's spawned at least one marriage, and brought people from all over the world into one place to talk, make friends and more.
ST: Is there a fear that going with a free site may fragment that community somewhat?
Lynch: I always want to keep at least a membership chat room up and running, so that people can be with a smaller group of friends. But I think that opening it up, in some cases, might be a better way to go. So we're thinking about it.
ST: How has the site enabled you, if at all, to strengthen your creative control over your work?
Lynch: Well, I believe in creative control. No matter what anyone makes, they should have control over it. See, I was a painter first, and there's zero problem with control in that world. An artist makes a painting, and nobody bugs him or her about it. It's just you and your painting. To me, that's the way it should be with film as well. But you need a crew, you have to build a tight-knit machine that goes beautifully down the road together, and you've gotta keep control otherwise the whole thing won't hold together.
The business side of film has goofed up so many things, but even that's changing. It happened to the music industry and now it's happening to the film studios. It's crazy what's going on. But artists should have control of their work; especially if, as I always say, you never turn down a good idea and never take a bad idea. You have to have control over every element of a film and not walk away until everything feels correct.
ST: Was taking your work to the site one way of counteracting that business side of the film industry that keeps screwing everything up?
Lynch: No, I wouldn't do it for reasons like that. Websites are places where we can all go and, although perhaps no one will see it, at least put out our work, whether it's high-quality still and moving images or sound and music. I can create, finesse and post these short works, and it's a beautiful thing. And where else could you do that? You can't book theaters for short films or experimental cinema, because it would cost a fortune. The internet and its technology are there for everyone, and the price for the equipment is becoming more and more reasonable. It's a great place to be creative.
ST: And digital video seems to have made the whole process of filmmaking easier for budding auteurs.
Lynch: Digital video is so beautiful. It's lightweight, modern, and it's only getting better. It's put film into the La Brea Tar Pits.
ST: So you are serious about working exclusively in DV from here on out?
Lynch: For sure.
ST: Because of its mobility and lower overhead?
Lynch: Everything about it. In one word, film is heavy. It's gone, just gone.
ST: DV is a much easier route for new filmmakers to get their work seen, rather than have to rely on film festivals and the like.
Lynch: Absolutely. Like I always say, everybody has access to a piece of paper and a pencil. You can write a story with it. Anyone in the world can do that. And more and more these days, anyone in the world can make a film. There aren't that many great stories out there -- there's a bunch, maybe -- but at least now people have access where they didn't before. Films used to cost a fortune to make.
ST: You started a paid subscriber site when the dot-com world had pretty much gone bust.
Lynch:It was already busted by the time we went up.
ST: Did it pay off for you?
Lynch: Yes. We've got such good members, but the question is would it be better to open it up and go with advertising. That's the question we've been asking.
ST: Well, the cycle seems to have come around again. Advertisers are dropping millions into the internet.
Lynch: Yeah, because everyone is still on the internet. But advertisers are not going to give away any money without getting results.
ST: So what else is in store for the site, save for a free portal with ads? Eric (Bassett, DavidLynch.com's managing consultant) told me that you had envisioned it as becoming its own media or broadcast entity.
Lynch: Well, Eric says a lot of things! (Laughs). I love him and he's always thinking. But it's a lot of work to make one piece of new content, especially when I am in the middle of making of film, like I am right now. So the idea was, if the site went wide, that people would have the opportunity to submit short films to the site and see what happens. We're considering having contests of that sort to showcase good, new short films. That's mostly because it's a short-film platform right now, but pretty soon it will be a feature-film platform.
ST: I agree. Theoretically speaking, a director of your following could finance, produce, create and distribute a feature film exclusively through your site. Is that a possibility for you?
Lynch:It's going to be that way. Right now, it's that way for music and it will be that way with film as soon as tomorrow. For sure.
ST: Do you have a project in mind for that eventuality?
Lynch: Well, I wouldn't distribute it strictly through my site, but definitely the internet. Satellites will also be squirting films onto the big screens from space, or so I hear. But it's no longer going to be a world where trucks carry cans of film around anymore.
ST: Well, I would imagine that a free DavidLynch.com site allowing new filmmakers to submit their work to the site for you to judge or critique would generate an enormous response.
Lynch: That would be good. People are out there working away, and they always were, but they don't yet really have a place to show their stuff. Nor do they have anyone saying, "I think this is really good, take a look at it." It's a possibility.
ST: What about some of the other projects I hear you have in the works?
Lynch: Well, we got ringtones. And the bird feeders are going to go back up. I like seeing the dynamics between the birds and the squirrels, so I think that'll be big. But back to ringtones; they kind of had their 15 seconds of fame. (Laughs). But they are important to have, and we've got some good ones coming up very soon. We're all ready to go right now; it's just all about settling the contractual details.
ST: How about the intellectual property issues? You're into creative control, but the digital world is an eminently easier one to hack and steal from. Are you worried about that?
Lynch: Everybody would like it if people respected the work of others. But there is a lot of ... I think things need to be balanced out. For sure, there are pirates out there who just want to do it to do it, but when you download something and really appreciate it, you should send something to the person who made it.
ST: You have to support the artists or works you really admire.
Lynch: I think that that would be good.
ST: Can that ideal survive in the digital world?
Lynch: Yeah, I think so. Of course, it all depends; you have to go person by person. But a lot of people feel the way you do.
ST: Well, it makes philosophical and economical sense.
Lynch: For example, a lot of people decide to download music, but rather than buy it they decide instead to support the band by going to see them on tour. But if you're not a touring band, you're fresh out of luck. That's your only source of revenue and people are taking it. But it's better to change people's thinking, because right now they're going to do it if they're going to do it. There aren't any rules and people can hack into anything. You have to go person by person.
ST: Has the work you've done for Lynch.com helped support Inland Empire?
Lynch: For sure. And people who appreciate the work know the deal. Many times I've been told that so-and-so has my work up on their site or selling it somewhere on the internet, but things travel fast. If people are with you, it's a beautiful world. It's in the ether, but it's real.
ST: What was the experience of shooting Inland Empire in DV like?
Lynch: I'm telling you Scott, it's a new world. The quality is pretty terrible, but I like that. It reminds me of the early days of 35 mm, when there wasn't so much information in the frame or emulsion. But the human being is a beautiful creature; you act and react, and the medium starts talking to you. So I love working in digital video. High-def is a little bit too information to me.
ST: A little too clean.
Lynch: Yeah, but the thing is, in the modern world, you can degrade it. You can do anything you want with it. So it's just that much more control for the filmmaker.
ST: How did the actors respond to it? Did it make a difference to them?
Lynch: It makes a difference, because you've got a 40-minute take rather than a 10-minute take, so you can just keep on rolling. In my last couple of films, I've started talking to the actors while we're shooting, which is not the smartest thing to do in a way. (Laughs). Because you're goofing up the soundtrack. But I like to talk, and with DV, it's not like millions of dollars are flying through the camera every second. It's a different kind of feeling. You can get into a mood and stay there without breaking it because you have to stop and reload. This is money in the bank. This is getting in there, and it's very beautiful and important.
ST: It's more like guerilla filmmaking.
Lynch: For sure. You're leaner and meaner, and you can get more good footage.
ST: So is DV a foregone conclusion for the film industry?
Lynch: It's think it's a foregone conclusion. I love the quality, feel and history of film. I love the pictures of the giant cameras and the way it was. But it was slow. It was so slow that it would kill you. And now there's no going back.
ST: On to Inland Empire, which I know nothing about and don't really want to know, since I love to be surprised at your films.
Lynch: Good, because I wouldn't tell you anyway.
ST: And then there's that. But you've been a resident of Los Angeles for awhile now, and your last film dealt with the city and its mythology in at least a peripheral manner, just as Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet did with the Pacific Northwest. Do you find that the region inspires you to build films about it, or are these films already in your head and the setting irrelevant?
Lynch: It's both, really. Every place is rich and fertile, but I love Los Angeles. People try to find a place that speaks to them, and that's for me, that's L.A.
ST: Do you find that Hollywood, the real and hyperreal environment, is buckling under the weight of the digital realm?
Lynch: It already has, but things change all the time. We live in a world of change. If I were the studios right now, I would be sweating bullets.
ST: Speaking of, when is the DVD for season two of Twin Peaks coming out? It's been forever since the first box set dropped.
Lynch: I think we're going to do the 5.1 mix for the next season, which means we haven't done it yet, which also means that the DVD won't be coming out soon. I don't know what's going on with the pilot, but it's so absurd that the pilot hasn't been brought up. It's crazy. This is all the world of business, and I don't really know about that.
ST: Is it the same world creating problems for the DVD for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me that includes the deleted scenes that your fans have been campaigning for over the last few years?
Lynch: No, that is gently in the works.
ST: OK, let's talk about your foundation for transcendental meditation. Why did you decide to start it?
Lynch: Scott, because I know what it's done for me. I meditate every day, and I have for 32 years. And it's a long topic, but there's a thing called consciousness, and though consciousness is pretty abstract, it is also the ability to understand. It's awareness, it's wakefulness and it's bliss. Extreme happiness. It's intelligence, creativity, love and peace.
Consciousness is the "I am"-ness, the self. Of course, everybody has consciousness; we know we exist. But everyone doesn't know that you can achieve more consciousness. There's an unbounded, infinite ocean of it within every human being. You just need the technique to dive within and get wet with it.
When you really and truly experience pure consciousness, when you transcend and experience the ultimate reality, it starts to grow. Then you've got more happiness, creativity and ability to understand the complexities of life. It's very important for a filmmaker, it's very important for a human being. But nobody really knows about it; we're not taught about it in schools. And people are in trouble: They're filled with fear, anxiety and stress. And this clears it all up. When you ramp up the light of consciousness, just like darkness clearing the way for sunlight, negativity starts to recede. Fear and pressures begin to lift, and you're free to do your work, to get more enjoyment out of it. It's beautiful, that's how come I do it. When you expand your consciousness, you can catch ideas at a deeper level, and understand them more.
ST: Your work has always seemed to be open to consciousness, as far as I can tell. You seem to have more trust in your ideas, no matter what shape they may take, than other artists out there. Has meditation helped you build that trust?
Lynch: Absolutely, Scott. The ocean of pure consciousness is an ocean of all-knowingess. Think about it. It's the home of total knowledge, and it's right there. Modern science calls it the unified field. And now modern science like Vedic science says that every thing that is a thing emerges from this field, which is unmanifest, yet manifestation comes from it. So the unmanifest unified field of pure consciousness gives rise to every single thing that is a thing. Think about the intelligence that's there, and the creativity that's always been there, and you can dip into that. Now you start growing in intuition in an ocean of solutions, so you can see your way into making a thing feel correct. Like I keep saying, it's money in the bank!
ST: (Laughs) One of those solutions seems to be that you develop an appreciation for things outside of yourself, which this War-on-Terrorized world could use a bit more of these days.
Lynch: Yeah, you start loving things and people, and appreciating their differences. It doesn't happen overnight, but it happens, and some things happen right away. The anger that I had when I first started meditating in 1974 lifted in two weeks. It kinda just went away. It was weird. I didn't wish it away or imagine it away; it just went. And so I set up this foundation to raise money to give this to mainly students at first. We're trying to raise enough money to give transcendental meditation to any student that wants it, so they can dive within, start expanding that consciousness, start expanding that bliss, and get on the big, fast train to enjoying life.
ST: Well, it makes more sense to have kids meditate in class on the things in the world around them rather than have them pray to some monotheistic entity.
Lynch: Well, people from all religions meditate. It's not a religion; it's a technique to take you to that ocean which is unbounded, infinite and eternal. It'll take you right there! And it's the only experience -- where you transcend into pure consciousness -- that lights up the full brain on the EEG machine. It's called a holistic experience. All avenues of life start getting better. So instead of taking Ritalin, Prozac or any of those other drugs, you just sit and meditate for 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon, go about your business, and watch things get better and better. For the kids that have done it, it has changed their lives.
ST: Can this approach work in a digital environment like ours, where attention spans are getting shorter by the minute?
Lynch: There's an expression: Where the attention is, that becomes lively. When you start meditation, you can achieve a deeper focus, and generate a better understanding and appreciation through that focus. So you can say, "OK, it's a fast world, and this sounds too abstract" or whatever, but that's the way I felt two years before I started. If you think about it in another way, we're all human beings, and it has been said throughout time that the human being is very, very special. True happiness is not out there, true happiness lies within. Meditation, and especially transcendental meditation, will change your life. And you're built to have that experience; you're built to unfold it. And your full potential, Scott, is called enlightenment, and that is a real thing. We're all on that path together, but transcendental meditation accelerates it. Things get better. Real good.
ST: Well, we could use something that brings us together today, because the world is being torn apart by differences.
Lynch: They call it the unified field. At that level, we're all one. And enlivening the field of unity doesn't take away diversity; it makes you appreciate it more. The unified field is real. Better times are coming for this world.
ST: On that note, I want to talk about your coffee.
Lynch: I like the coffee that I drink right now.
ST: I thought you were considering a branded David Lynch.com coffee?
Lynch: We are, but I haven't found a coffee better than the one I'm drinking now.
ST: How many have you tested so far?
Lynch: Well, we haven't tested that many Scott, so we have more testing to do. And I think I have a testing next week. The idea is to really get ? well again, this is all subjective but I know what good coffee tastes like to me. And if I got that, we might do a David Lynch.com coffee.
ST: Oh man, that would be awesome.
Lynch: It would be awesome, Scott. We gotta have some coffee and some good times.
ST: Yes we do. Well, it was great to talk to you David, so thanks much for this interview.
Lynch: It was great to talk to you Scott. Keep up the good work, pal!
David Lynch Interview No. 2
Sept. 26, 2006
Scott Thill: First, let's follow up on the non-Inland Empire projects you had in the hopper when we last talked in March.
David Lynch: Well, the ringtones are up. And I think ringtones had their moment about five months before ours went up! (Laughs) It took a long time. Every phone is different, so you've got to build them for like 15 different ones, so it was a big, big deal. But they're there, and there are a lot more on the way, but I'm not even sure how they're going. I've been working on my film, and just finished it. The coffee is also close to getting done, and that will be great. A new compilation DVD of content from DL.com is coming out soon as well, so those are the main things. And a lot of those pieces will look better on the DVD than they did on the site.
ST: So let's talk about Inland Empire. It's 172 minutes long, shot entirely in DV. And last time we talked, you said the quality of DV was terrible. So I'm thinking to myself, David Lynch thinks DV quality is terrible, but he nevertheless made a three-hour movie with it.
Lynch: Well, here's the thing. It's not terrible; it's just not the quality of film. I really love DV; I love what it can do for making films. I love it.
Then there's this machine called The Alchemist, which up-reses (increases the resolution of) the quality of your DV footage. See, in film, you sit with a timer, and time every scene and shot. And you can't stop the projector, or the film will burn up, so you're working on the fly. Then you make changes and go back and do the same thing the next day. And the bath can be a little different, because weird things happen. You look at it and time it some more, until you've finally zeroed in. It's a long, involved, tough procedure. Then you get it just right, and that's called an answer print. All of these things come off the negative. Then you make an IP, which is an interpositive print taken from the negative, which looks strange but nevertheless makes a beautiful negative. And that negative is the one you use to make your release prints. Through these processes, you often find that you get a lot more contrast, so you've got to check those prints. And for one reason or another, they might drift in color, light and dark, so you might have to put a few timing lights in the negative. So there's another thing.
ST: A serious process.
Lynch: Yeah, and now you get to the DVD. The timing you established for the film won't work for the DVD, so ?
ST: You have to start all over again.
Lynch: Start all over, Jack. In the telecine bay. Now, with the telecine bay, you've got control over blacks, midranges, whites, color and so on. You can stop and tweak stuff, get ideas and change things. It's beautiful, but it takes a long time, and normally you don't dick around with changing things. You just go make the color the way it was on film. But with DV, you put it through The Alchemist and you're there in the telecine bay -- first stop.
The Alchemist was a dream. Incredible! So now you've got close to a HD feel, and you drop that into the telecine bay. You've got so much control. You make a negative out of that, print it, and it's almost perfect. You can tweak it beautifully, and believe it or not, 98 percent of DV looks to me just as good as film. I love it. There are some artifacts in a few places, and those could be gotten rid of if you had the money to go in there and hand-correct it frame by frame.
ST: The way you did the Eraserhead DVD?
Lynch: No, cleaning is much easier now. It isn't a big problem anymore, but to go frame-by-frame on certain things is useful. If you've backlit someone, for example, you can sometimes get a shadow which is not a pretty thing. It turns into a black line, but it's OK. It's only in a couple places. But either way, DV looks so good. I really couldn't believe it.
ST: I'll take 98 percent.
Lynch: Yeah, but now that's yesterday's story. There are cameras coming out now that are going to make shooting digitally a serious dream.
ST: When you think about how you started out as a filmmaker and then about how today's artists are getting a head start with all this convenient tech, what jumps out at you?
Lynch: It's a dream world now. But like I always say, everybody has access to a piece of paper and a pencil. But how many great stories are written? Now everybody has access to at least a pretty inexpensive camera, and if you get the ideas and think on your feet, you can make a feature film. You can get a little Pro Tools rig, a DV camera, an editing system and some drives set up, and you can make a feature film. It's so great. So great.
ST: In your eyes, how has this exponential innovation changed the power structure of the industry?
Lynch: We're watching it go away, every day. Look at what's going on in the music industry and you will see what is coming for the film industry. Everyone and their little brother these days has a digital still camera. Some people pay for their music on iTunes -- although a lot get their music for free -- and now TV shows and movies are on iTunes as well. So there are going to be some serious readjustments!
ST: Do you think they're ready for them?
Lynch: Nobody's ready for them.
ST: Where do you see yourself in that relationship? In one sense, you're an insider. But on the other hand, you've struck out on your own, with the site, with DV, with film narratives that resemble Gordian knots.
Lynch: You just do what you do. I live in Hollywood, but I don't hang out with industry people. And I haven't made a studio film. I've never made a studio film. Dune was between Dino de Laurentis and Universal, and The Elephant Man was sort of between Paramount, EMI and Mel Brooks, although Brooks' company was the one who did it. And Dino really did produce Dune.
ST: And Blue Velvet as well?
Lynch: Blue Velvet was distributed through Dino's company, so I've never really made a studio film. And now I work with the French, Canal Plus, and they've been so good to me. Before that, I worked with CiBy 2000, but when the owner died I lost that gig.
ST: Do you think that, when the industry wakes to these changes, they'll feel they have been having a dream or a nightmare?
Lynch: Well, it was a pretty good dream, and now it will be a pretty good nightmare. You can feel it. It's real different.
ST: How about your latest works, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire, both of which are films sort of about the practice of filmmaking, its industry, its actors, its vicissitudes, its virtues and so on. There are so many metafictional layers there, so I'm curious how the strands come together for you.
Lynch: Ideas. You get ideas. Ideas tell you everything. There's a cart and then there is a horse. And the horse is supposed to be in front of the cart, pulling it along.
ST: So you're the horse?
Lynch: No, the ideas are the horse. So you don't start by saying, "I'm going to make my film a commentary on Hollywood." Some people do work that way, and that's fine. But I'm going along and get an idea I happen to fall in love with. So the ones I fall in love with, you discover ways in which cinema can make them happen. It fires me up, and I start going. It's a trip, and I don't know a lot of the time where it's headed, but it's beautiful nonetheless. And the idea dictates everything.
ST: Recalling our conversation on TM earlier, you explained one of its tenets as being "Where the attention is, that becomes lively." Do you feel that, in a way, because you're in geographical proximity to Hollywood and part of its industry to a certain extent, that your attention is firmly on it, and that your films are enlivened exercises of that attention?
Lynch: Not really. I always say that it's desire that drives the stream of ideas coming in. You desire something and it starts pulling the ideas. We are truly influenced by our environment and our world, but now the input is not just coming from the surrounding block or city, but from all over the world.
ST: Like the internet?
Lynch: Yeah, that's the "all over the place" part. The whole world is now flowing in, if you want it to. So there's a ton of information flying in. I will also say that you can get an idea and then check it against this cloud made up of everything, and see if it's an idea that seems to go with the now. Sometimes I do that, but I don't know. It's catching ideas. That's the thing. You can catch the same ideas anywhere.
ST: Do you think the industry takes it personally?
Lynch: Well, I don't know. Critics are human beings, and they have the opportunity to write their opinions. And I never really say what my films are about for me, because the films should stand on their own. It's common sense. So people are allowed to invent their own conclusions. Critics see tons of films, and there are all different kind of critics.
ST: But not just critics, also filmmakers and the like. Some of them might look at Inland Empire and say, "Lynch is making another film trashing the industry."
Lynch: I don't know what to say, because they say what they say.
ST: I read a quote of yours in a review of Inland Empire that spoke volumes, something to the extent that you never understood why people expect their art to make sense when they accept that life often does not.
Lynch: But it does make sense. It can make beautiful sense, but what I meant was that if everything is just on the surface, then you're going to get just that. And if you use your intuition and think your way into different places, then you can get more out of it. I always say film has an ability to communicate abstractions, things you can't say in other ways. So you experience art and film, and in that way it is like life. We're experiencing it. People can look around and some will find clues in everyday life and others will see what they want to see. It's fine. But a lot of people get frustrated when they encounter an abstraction. I don't. I love abstraction.
ST: I do as well, if only because they shift the burden of interpretation onto the viewer.
Lynch: Well, if you take a painter like Franz Klein and have him put one of his abstract expressionist works from the '50s into words, it's a joke. So that's the painting. Film has got the same beautiful things. And it's not abstraction for abstraction's sake: It's a way, it's a language, and it's based on ideas. And you see what it can do to those things. It's so beautiful. So beautiful.
ST: How did the process of filmmaking change for you working with DV, compared to the old tech of Dune and the rest? How did the actors react to the technology? Talk about that a bit.
Lynch: Well, it's a bunch of different things. But DV is a miracle, a beautiful miracle.
ST: Do actors feel uncomfortable working with something like the 40-minute takes that DV provides?
Lynch: No, they don't feel uncomfortable at all. They feel way, way good. How about this? You're in the middle of a scene and you run out of film. But people get used to it. You stop and reload. Some guys can reload super fast. That changes with DV. Or the actors: I've been talking to them while shooting for some time now. But with DV, we can talk and talk and film and film and get in there and perhaps hit something, some button that we wouldn't have been able to capture if we had to keep stopping to reload the camera. It's magical.
Say I want to turn around and shoot the reverse: I can that turn around in a millisecond. With a 35-mm camera, the turnaround isn't a millisecond, it's a long time. Some people say that you need to make sure that the lighting is correct and all of that, but you see what you've got. If you need to tweak something, you tweak something. But if you're happy with the setup, you can get into a scene without interrupting it, really get into it, popping back and forth, back and forth, talking the entire time. It's a beautiful thing for an actor. Beautiful, for me and the actors. It's so good.
ST: It would seem like they don't have to turn it off and turn it on again, depending on the whims of the camera.
Lynch: Well, when you turn it off, it's not always so easy to turn it back on again. Sometimes, you catch a thing that is so delicate, and if you turn it off then on again, it's not there anymore. That's the thing right there. It's real delicate.
ST: From what I've read from the Inland Empire actors so far, including Laura Dern, Justin Theroux and others, working with you on a film is serious fun.
Lynch: It should be fun. Life should be fun. There are all these stories about people wanting to visit film sets, and after being there for half a day, they all want to leave. It's so boring, because there is so much downtime. As for the actors, after going to their trailers, something happens. They go to their trailers quick, but come back slowly. You know, you want to get everything they can give on tape, and with DV you have way more chances to do that.
ST: It's so interesting to hear them say that it's fun, though. Theroux called it a "goof."
Lynch: Well, it's not a goof. He may have said that, but he meant it was fun. It's supposed to be fun, meaning it's not supposed to be something you hate doing, or have an uncomfortable time doing. What good is that? It's like common sense. Anything different than "fun" is peculiar and absurd. Why shouldn't it be fun? It should be fun, and it can be fun. And that's when you get good stuff, good work. You discover things together. It's beautiful.
ST: And it's wonderful to hear the actors you've worked with talk about how much fun they had making films that scare the hell out of people watching them!
Lynch: Again, it's based on the ideas. A one-genre film is limiting -- but in a way every film is limiting. Soon as you get an idea, it indicates a path. And when you start going down one path, it means you're not able to go down all the others. You've been directed down only one, so it's limiting. But going down there, it can be a wide beautiful path. And there's room for all kinds of things. But it's the ideas.
ST: You said you started meditation in 1973, and have used it to approach these ideas. Has that processed changed for you over the last few decades?
Lynch: The way I catch ideas?
ST: Yeah, the way they come to you, they way you follow them into your films, and so on.
Lynch: OK, I've been working on this book called Catching the Big Fish, and it's all in there. It's changed for me. It's gotten better. If it just stayed the same or got worse, I'd stop meditating. People get up and brush their teeth. They brush their teeth so they don't get cavities, right?
ST: God, I hope.
Lynch: But if they brushed their teeth and were able to dive within to contact that pure ocean of bliss and consciousness, they'd get a huge blast of euphoric energy and be wider awake. And that ball of consciousness would expand over time, so they would really look forward to brushing their teeth every day.
It always strikes me as amazing that everyone doesn't meditate. Because they haven't had that transcendent experience, they don't think they're missing anything. I was in the same boat. I never had that, or I didn't know I ever had it, and I was curious. I wanted it. And that's the key thing: You've got to want it, even if you don't know why. Something is there that you feel but do not know.
But I've always felt that there were other things to life that were not so obvious. Everyone sort of feels that there is more in the world than meets the eye, and its pull grows stronger and stronger, until they say, "I want to know what the full potential of a human being is. I want to unfold that for myself. I don't want to stay exactly the same as I am. I want to rapidly move forward."
David Lynch Interview No. 3
Dec. 6 2006
Scott Thill: The distribution deal is interesting news. Can you tell me why you decided to take over that aspect of the film?
David Lynch: Scott, you know more than I that the world is changing. And Inland Empire was done in such an unorthodox way, from the equipment used to not really knowing what I was doing at the beginning. It was kind of an experiment, a grand experiment, the whole thing. And it makes sense to me to continue that same way of thinking with distribution. It is sort of frightening but, at the same time, I think it is the future. The reason is I can work with these great people that think in a new way, and are open to trying new things. I can take more control myself, and then go out amongst the people, meet the theater owners and others, and see what that aspect of distribution is actually like. It's pretty exciting.
ST: I think it's a great idea. I mentioned it during our first talk, and you kind of brushed it off, but I wasn't sure if that was because you were already thinking of doing it!
Lynch: (Laughs) Well, it's a big risk. I put a lot of money into this film already, and I don't have a lot of money. But this way, honestly, I've never seen a nickel from every distribution deal I've ever done in this country. That's the long and the short of it. And that sucks!
ST: Will the website come into play, whether streaming the film, making it available for download, and so on?
Lynch This I don't know. That's the future for sure, but whether or not that time is here, at this minute, I don't know. I can just say that we are going out theatrically and with DVDs, and downloads are probably right behind that.
ST: I think it'll work well for you.
Lynch: I hope so, Scott.
ST: Speaking of getting out to the people, I saw video of you in Hollywood stumping for Laura Dern with a poster and a live cow.
Lynch: That's exactly right. You know, there are a bunch of Academy members and all sorts of other awards activity going on out there. And people solve problems with money normally; well, I don't have any money. And I also feel that the Academy members must be sick of seeing ad after ad after ad costing a fortune with no one really paying attention. Honestly, I'm out there with the cow, and meeting the greatest bunch of people. The other day, we had my friend (director of USC's Polish Music Center) Marek Zebrowski out there playing piano. It was so beautiful, such a great day, out with Georgia the cow, beautiful piano music, meeting so many great people.
ST: Yeah, from all the clips I saw, everyone looked pretty happy to see you.
Lynch: I was happy to be there!
ST: Some of the Rabbits footage shows up in the Inland Empire, and I was just wondering whether those scenes were extensions of the DL.com series, or new material?
Lynch: Everything was re-shot for better quality, but the Rabbits series started something going in my head for Inland Empire.
ST: Do you feel the site is a good place to test those ideas out and get feedback before moving them into a feature film or larger project?
Lynch: Scott, experiments lead sometimes to wondrous things. And the whole reason for the site was to put experiments up, and by doing these experiments, like I've said before, one thing leads to another. That is how I discovered the Sony PD150 was so beautiful. That's how I discovered that digital editing was so beautiful. That is how I discovered everything. It all comes from the experiments done for the site.
ST: Do you feel that process, once it's picked up by other artists and directors, will change the way films are made? Do you think that they might use their sites to create formative experiments online that will balloon into feature exercises?
Lynch: Every single step ... it's like they say, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, you know? Scientists are so beautiful. They come up with these things, and then the other side of the coin is that artists grab hold of them, and who knows what can happen? The world is always changing, that's rule number one. And many times, the form or the medium will start to speak, and it dictates what comes out of that communication. It's a beautiful thing.
ST: It will be interesting to see how the medium of the web will change the way films are made, viewed and distributed.
Lynch: They felt that way about TV, the way it influenced things. The internet will influence things. Events in the world will influence things. We're all kind of finding our way.
ST: The new film is about three hours long. Did you leave anything on the floor?
Lynch: Well, I always say the same thing: A film isn't finished until it's finished, and when it is finished that means it feels correct to the filmmaker. And some films are so many minutes, and others are so many minutes, and that's just the way it is.
ST: Do you think the site would be a cool place to show off what didn't make it into the film?
DL: Some could be on the website, and some could be on the DVD as stand-alone scenes. Who knows? But when you're making a film ? if you talk to 100 different filmmakers, they'll tell you that some things end up on the cutting-room floor. It's a process.
ST: A curse figures into Inland Empire. Do you feel cursed, or is there continuity with other similarly cursed characters from your past films?
Lynch: No, no. The thing is that when an idea comes, sometimes you fall in love with it, and that's they key to starting a project. You get an idea that you fall in love with. And I started getting these ideas, and I wasn't sure how they related. I was shooting them, not just writing them down. Well, I was writing them down and then directly shooting them, so I didn't know where they were going. But the film is based on those ideas, not on anybody from my past. It just comes out. Now, is it somehow related to things in the world? You know, I hope so.