What is the Interview Project? David Lynch describes it as “a 20,000-mile road trip over 70 days across and back the United States” where “people have been found and interviewed,” and if you watch the videos this trip produced, you’re “going to meet hundreds of people,” all different, found “by driving along the roads, going into bars, going into different locations, and there they were. The people told their story. It’s so fascinating to look and listen to people.” This all comes straight from the Interview Project’s Lynch-starring introductory video above. As for its actual 121 video episodes, those come directed by Lynch’s son Austin and his collaborator Jason S. And what elements of the U.S. population have they curated? Let’s just say you wouldn’t hear these voices in the mainstream media — and probably not even on This American Life. “Today we’re meeting Jeremie,” Lynch père tells us in his opener to the Interview Project episode below. “The team found Jeremie in a restaurant in Hammond, Louisiana.”
From the corner of a hotel bed, young Jeremie, who looks at first like a Mormon missionary on casual day, describes his little-known town as “about 45 minutes from Baton Rouge and about fifteen hours from New Orleans.” He then recounts the impressive number of lifestyles he’s lived so far: in the military, on the streets, “the drug scene,” “the nature scene.” He then gets into the reasons behind his taste for one-night stands and orgies. In the episode below, the team meets Traci, a motel manager in Marfa, Texas, who tells them under the moonlight of her victory over alcoholism, her first encounter with her lifelong best friend, and her once-recurring dreams of a faceless man with a goatee. At an auction in Bellville, Wisconsin, they find Robin, who discusses his attempts to start a massage-and-healing cooperative, only to have them thwarted by the prevailing notion that “This is the Midwest. It’s not going to happen here.” The Interview Project has gathered small-town America’s personal stories of tragedy, triumph, and all those rich experiences in-between. “It’s something that’s human,” to quote David Lynch again, “and you can’t stay away from it.” And at three or four minutes apiece, you certainly can’t watch just one.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, literature, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Facebook page.