David Lynch, Uncut, Part Three

David Lynch Interview No. 3 Dec. 6 2006

ST: 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.”

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.