Having lost track of video gaming somewhere around the turn of the millennium, I admit that I have no idea which generation of Playstation you or a friend or family member may have joyfully unwrapped this Christmas morning. I only know that it probably didn't come advertised with a commercial by David Lynch, so why not take a moment out of your Christmas day to revisit the Playstation — the Playstation 2, to be precise — that did? At the top of the post, we have Lynch's characteristically surreal spot "Welcome to the Third Place," featuring flames, a mysterious glowing woman, ominous footsteps, skewed perspectives, organic oddities, a talking duck (whose voice actor I challenge you to identify) — everything, in other words, that a Lynchian hopes for.
What goes on in this Third Place? Why, the sort of vivid, inexplicable sensory experiences not accessible in everyday life — unless, as the advertising logic goes, you choose to pass through the portal of the Playstation. But the man behind Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet has “been living in The Third Place for quite a few years," says Playstation European marketing director David Patton in the making-of-video just below, shot by Luke Forsythe, who also worked on the commercial. "If there was one person that was gonna to understand what we needed to communicate, it was gonna be David Lynch.”
"I was 24 and it was easy to think having worked for so many impressive directors, that I wasn't bullish or hard enough to be a director," remembers Forsythe. "I was living with my parents watching films endlessly having to try and convince my mum that I was actually working. The next minute I'm in LA filming this. Meeting David Lynch, seeing how he worked so playfully and politely made me realise there are lots of ways to direct and be a director. It couldn't have been better. 15 years later I'm still directing and still full of memories of this lovely man and the time spent seeing him make."
"The resulting one-minute B&W trailer, shown in theaters in over a hundred countries except the U.S., ended up being classic David Lynch alright," says fan site Welcome to Twin Peaks. "Except maybe for the 24 major visual effects in just 60 seconds." Known as quite possibly the art-housiest household-name filmmaker alive, Lynch has shown more enthusiasm for making commercials than have many of his peers: "The money's good," he once said, "and the added bonus is that I get to use and learn about the latest technology." And though he hasn't made a movie in almost a decade, he hasn't announced his retirement either. Maybe the U.S. campaign for the next Playstation — and wow, now that I look it up, it'll be the Playstation 5 already — needs his services. Fifteen years have passed since "Welcome to the Third Place"; I'd say America's ready.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.