Cinema, painting, photography...
They never die, they just change.
Filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist
«There are days when I wake up in the morning as a painter, in the afternoon I am a photographer and at night I dedicate myself to writing films».
One of the foundations of TAI is the interrelation of arts, being one of the few schools in the world where all artistic areas are studied in theoretical and practical interaction. David Lynch, known worldwide as a filmmaker, is also a versatile artist with a wide creative universe as a musician, plastic artist and photographer, among many other disciplines. Like Lynch, TAI supports the free and independent nature of artists in the creative process.
During his visit to the school, the multidisciplinary artist gave a masterclass on issues as creativity, cinema and its relationship with other arts or transcendental meditation.
David Lynch began his artistic training in Fine Arts in Philadelphia, at the Pennsylvania Academic of the Fine Arts and continued his film studies at the American Film Institute, in Los Angeles. Philadelphia occupies a preponderant place in David Lynch's creative universe, being one of his main influences. Although he lived for a short time in this city, it became his inspiration for many of the most surreal and terrifying scenes in his films.
He made his first short film at the Pennsylvania Academic of the Fine Arts and later received a scholarship to study at the American Film Institute, Center for Advanced Film Studies, in the summer of 1970. Despite being a 2-year program, Lynch passed 4 years in this last school and he made his first feature film there, Eraserhead, released in 1977.
A multidisciplinary artist
Although Lynch is primarily known for his filmography, he has also continued to work in painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and music. In TAI we encourage students to practice multidisciplinarity between the different artistic disciplines (film, visual arts, music and performing arts). We asked Lynch if he believes that cinema is the art in which different artistic activities come together. “There are things from painting that are in the movies, music is in the movies, photography, of course, is in the movies. All these things are linked, it is a very magical language, a medium”. For the filmmaker, it was cinema that allowed him to reach photography and, in some way, also music, considering it "a very exciting medium".
Regarding his creative process, Lynch compares it to the act of fishing: “How do you catch your first fish? It's very weird. You have to go fishing and you don't know what you're going to catch. So every day we are looking for ideas, even though most of them are not that exciting. But every once in a while, you catch an idea that's tremendously exciting. I like ideas for two reasons: for the idea itself and for how cinema can tell this idea. But this idea could only be a small fraction of the whole movie. So I focus on the idea and write it down to remember that feeling, to think and reflect. Many times it is a way to attract fish to it and hook them. And something will start to sprout.”
“Cinema can sustain everything. It can be surreal, romantic, a crime story or a mystery, all in the same movie".
Known for being an independent artist, Lynch jokingly claims to have no connection to Hollywood, although he likes Hollywood as much as Los Angeles, for the light and the feeling of freedom. However, he has never made a movie with the studios, but with producers who worked on his behalf. In this sense, we ask him if the films Mulholland Drive e Inland Empire are, to some extent, dark portraits of Hollywood. Lynch says that there is no movie that can show Hollywood in its entirety, but rather, it depicts bits and pieces of an ever-changing city.
Regarding the differences between American and European cinema, the filmmaker considers that, although historically there has been a distinction between both modalities, it is currently less due to the great influence of Hollywood blockbuster films. For this reason, Lynch vindicates the importance of spaces for alternative cinema, which currently has few rooms for its exhibition, unlike commercial cinema.
Among his influences, Lynch highlights filmmakers such as the Coen Brothers, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, Aki Kaurismaki, Hitchcock and especially Fellini. He claims not to know Buñuel's work, and, in this sense, also demystifies his relationship with surrealism, once again vindicating the diversity of themes and genres in his creations: “I love surrealism and the absurd, but I like many other things. The cinema can support everything. It can be surreal, romantic, a crime story or a mystery, all in the same movie.”
In fact, his highly successful series, Twin Peaks, was a revolution in television narrative compared to the classic linear stories precisely because of its innovation in the combination of genres and the peculiarities of its narrative and visual style. With complex characters and full of hidden meanings, Twin Peaks is a puzzle that combines the police investigation with hints of surrealism, black comedy and terror, all from the particular perspective of David Lynch. The filmmaker affirms that he likes stories with continuity, there is already a lot of territory to explore beyond the beginning, middle and end formula that a film allows.
The importance of music
The union between music and image is another of the fundamental elements in Lynch's filmography: “When you have an idea or ideas that come together, it's as if you were seeing them, but you also hear them and feel the environment. Music and sound are very important elements for the environment. The goal is to get all departments to go in the direction of those ideas. But before they appear, you have endless possibilities. Once these ideas emerge, they mark a path. You try to make everyone you work with understand that path.”
Regarding his collaborations with Angelo Badalamenti, the composer with whom Lynch has relied on many of his creations, he comments that they work in depth to create a piece. The process takes place while the musician begins to play the piano and Lynch tells him about the environment or other details. Badalamenti interprets the filmmaker's words until he manages to "satisfy the needs of the environment of the idea."
“What I like about cinema is that it is like music. It can have a rhythm based on an idea”.
Lynch insists on the importance of music in the cinema when asked by one of our students about the concept of time in Tarkovsky's work and the peculiarity of cinema as art: “Cinema can work with time. You can go back, forward in time, slow it down, speed it up. But what I like about cinema is that it's like music. It can have, based on an idea, a rhythm. And rhythm is so important to me, how it flows, how sounds come in, how big they can get, how they disappear. It has to do with time, but also with the feeling of how time should flow. Cinema can say concrete things and very abstract things, like music. He can get into the strange dream time and speak with the logic of dreams".
Loyalty to oneself
Regarding the peculiarities of his narrative, Lynch maintains that the fundamental thing is being happy with your own work and faithful to the ideas that inspire an artistic project. This is precisely the advice he offers our students when asked how they can enter the industry as young filmmakers: “never make a film without a final cut, be true to your ideas, be true to yourself, don't accept 'no' ' per answer and don't drop any item until you feel it's correct. And then the elements can be united into a whole. You put something into the world that you have no control over. The public is strange, the most important thing is that you love what you do”.
In TAI we believe in the transformative power of arts and the essential role of artists in changing the world. One of our students expresses this idea that is so present in artistic training at our school by asking Lynch how we can transform ourselves and, at the same time, transform the world. The filmmaker considers that this is a fundamental question, affirming that "the secret is within us." He explains the importance of transcendental meditation in his creative process and how this technique can help everyone, especially artists, to reach their full potential.
David Lynch firmly believes that in transcendental meditation we can find the tools to grow as people and artists, as well as to face the obstacles that arise in the creative processes: "If you imagine the world as a tree, and the branches are fallen and the leaves are yellow, it is not a very healthy tree. Until now, people have acted at the level of the leaves, a superficial cure […]. But the experienced gardener waters the roots. He gives the nourishment at the deepest level and automatically the tree improves to perfection. And watering the roots of the world tree is feeding the unified feeling at the base of all matter and mind, feeding unity knowing that in the midst of diversity there is peace. Authentic peace is not the absence of war, it is the absence of everything negative".
Filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist
David Keith Lynch, better known as David Lynch, was born on January 20, 1946 in Missoula, United States. After completing his secondary education in Virginia, he moved to Washington DC to study at the Corcoran School of Art. After a year at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, in 1966 he settled in Philadelphia and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). It was there that he started making his first short films.
Since the 70s, Lynch has worked exclusively in the cinema. While in Los Angeles to attend classes at the American Film Institute, he began shooting his first feature film, Eraser head (1971). The film attracted the attention of producer Mel Brooks, who hired Lynch to direct the film. The elephant Man (1980), achieving great commercial success with 8 Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Lynch.
In 1984 it was released Dune, , produced by Dino De Laurentiis, who also financed Blue velvet (1986), a film with memorable performances by Isabella Rossellini and Dennis Hopper and currently considered one of the masterpieces of contemporary cinema. With great critical success, Lynch was nominated for best director at the Oscars for the second time.
In the late 80s, he began collaborating with television producer Marc Frost on the television series Twin Peaks, obtaining great success and revealing itself as an international cultural phenomenon. His next feature film was an adaptation of Barry Gifford's novel, Wild at Heart, a road movie starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. The production won the Palme d'Or at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1997 Lost Highway was released, co-written with Barry Gifford. Two years later he appears A true story, produced by Disney. Her next feature film was Mulholland Drive, a complex story that delves into the darker aspects of Hollywood. Starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring and Justin Theroux, it is considered "the best film of the XNUMXst century" by BBC critics.
His films are characterized by being visually striking, with distinctive elements such as vibrant colors, a surreal aesthetic, the importance of dreams and editing to connect the characters' thoughts and multiple emotions in a sequence.
Since the premiere of blue velvet, Lynch has become one of the most prominent and original authors in the film industry. His artistic activity also extends to the field of painting, music, photography and even furniture design.