One of the wonderful things about David Lynch is that, despite interviews, several documentaries on his creative process, plenty of behind-the-scenes footage of him directing, and the release of a whole memoir/biography told both subjectively *and* objectively...despite all that, the man is still an enigma. Even when he returned 25 years later to familiar ground with the third season of Twin Peaks, there was no sign of self-parody, and he delivered some of the most brilliant work of his career. How the hell does he do it?
That being said, if you have read his book Catching the Big Fish or have heard him in interviews, this short film directed by his son Austin Lynch and Case Simmons, and presented by Stella McCartney, might not be anything new. If you are just now discovering Lynch, then this is a quick primer on his creative process and his devotion to Transcendental Meditation as a way to dive into that creativity and, eventually, bring peace to the world.
Austin Lynch is one of three Lynch children to work in entertainment. The eldest Jennifer Lynch directed Boxing Helena and wrote the Twin Peaks spin-off book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. Riley Lynch is a musician and appeared in two episodes of the recent Twin Peaks.
Given the pedigree, Lynch and Simmons manage to honor David Lynch without copying his style. The short abstract profile also features very short cameos by Stella McCartney, Børns, Lola Kirk, and several others.
The director appears here and there during the nine minutes, backlit by subtle colored lights in a private screening room, watching a movie. What movie? It doesn’t matter.
“It’s so magical, I don’t know why, to go into a theater and have the lights go down,” Lynch says. “It’s very quiet and then the curtains start to open. And then you go into a world.”
The directors link this to a familiar Lynch tale of the beginning of his film career, when Lynch was painting at the beginning of his art school years and the canvas started to move and make sounds. No matter how many times Lynch tells this story, there’s something so odd about it. Is he talking in metaphor? Did he hallucinate? Did he get visited by a force beyond this reality? Are his greatest Lynchian moments his way of trying to make sense of that one episode?
He also talks about the circle that goes from the film to the audience and back, a feedback loop that musicians also talk about, and is the reason Lynch still loves the cinema as an event space. Performance spaces figure prominently in his works, whether it’s the Club Silencio in Mulholland Dr., the Lady in the Radiator in Eraserhead, or the various lodges and performance areas in Twin Peaks. (It’s also why he despises watching films on iPhones, apart from the size.)
Lynch explains here how he became a filmmaker through studying meditation, how it saved him from anger and despair, and how these techniques led to landing bigger creative fish from “the ocean of solutions” and expanding artistic intuition.
Is Lynch enlightened? No, but he’s closer than most of us:
“Every day for me gets better and better,” he concludes. “And I believe that enlivening unity in the world will bring peace on earth. So I say peace to all of you.”
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.