December 22, 2015

Here's Why David Lynch Wants Filmmakers to Focus on Donuts

Whether you spell them "doughnuts", "donuts", or "doh-nuts" (I assume this is how Homer Simpson does it), David Lynch thinks they are the key to creativity.

In this video from Eyes on Cinema, the eccentric director advises you to "keep your eye on the donut" in order to stave off that which aims to derail your creativity and stop your flow of ideas.

Even though Lynch's lecture starts out sounding like he's awkwardly explaining the birds and the bees to a bunch of kids who probably don't want to hear it, his point is truly salient. Focus on the donut instead of the hole, because, as Lynch says, "the hole is so deep and so bad." (As I'm writing this, I'm finding it harder and harder not to let my 12-year-old-boy mind go straight to innuendo.)

But it's true -- think of all of the things that get in the way of being creative: work, family, friends, money, skill level, blah blah blah. That's the hole -- and it's never-ending. The donut is your idea, your vision, and it's surface area is limited, and not only is it surrounded by things that want to steal your focus, but it's filled with them, too.

Which are you focusing on right now, the donut or the hole?      

Your Comment

18 Comments

This might have to make it onto a poster.
Also the quick way to explain Inland Empire

December 22, 2015 at 11:03PM

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Family and friends "get in the way" of your creativity?

December 22, 2015 at 11:16PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2270

Or they are one of your biggest inspirations: https://vimeo.com/149514849

But I get it, it can take up a lot of your time, but thats life. I think if you only make films and stop living, that's when the inspiration stops and you start to suck.

December 23, 2015 at 7:41AM, Edited December 23, 7:41AM

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Gerbert Floor
DP / Director / Camera / Editor
232

Agreed. I really disagree with his outlook on this. It is a fast track to nowhere (happy), that mindset.

December 24, 2015 at 11:26AM, Edited December 24, 11:27AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2270

Yeah, Lynch got nowhere with that mindset.

January 8, 2016 at 3:18PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
874

Professionally, it works. Obviously, less time with family/friends = more time for you/career.

It's no secret that some of the most successful people have disastrous personal/family lives, though.

So "getting somewhere" is relative. You don't know how far he got in other areas of life.

January 16, 2016 at 2:22PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2270

Let's not be faux-naïf about this. Everything can get in the way of creativity. Alternately, everything can be an inspiration.

Example:
1.) My daughter teaches me every day about authentic humanity, which helps me write better scripts.
2.) My daughter broke into my stash of over 200 fun-size Kit Kats and decided to bath herself with them, which kept me from writing my script.

December 24, 2015 at 8:55PM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Strongly disagree.

Life first, work second...no matter the vocation. It is a universal truth. Not much grey area. I have found exceptions only lead to distance and loneliness. Is your script worth it? I am not perfect, talking from experience here. I have learned my lessons.

Work is never that important, family and friends are. Might mean less money, less fame, and less success but that is the price of happiness and it IS worth it.

December 25, 2015 at 12:44AM, Edited December 25, 12:48AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2270

Also, obviously part of my stance on this is due to my own life and not everyone will share that view. That is just my two cents. No offence meant, V. Just something I believe strongly in.

December 25, 2015 at 1:07AM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2270

That's only true if you see work that way. I don't think artists see their "work" that way at all. It's not done for money, or for fame but because that's what makes them happy. It's in their nature to do that. If they're paid in the meantime fantastic. I don't think anyone could accuse Lynch of doing it just because it's work. It's in his DNA.

January 8, 2016 at 3:22PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
874

That is the essence of my argument though. It is the number one problem with doing something like this for a career. It's not like a normal 9 to 5 where you check out and leave the job for the weekend. It is a passion. An obsession. It never leaves. Even when you're in the presence of others...you're not really there.

Unless you actively prioritize your life to put the important things above the obsession it will slowly erode everything else. Just like an alcoholic, just like a drug addict, just like a smoker. It's like Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac. He wasn't being paid to do the research but he was obsessed with it and it made him happy. All of his free time was spent thinking about it.

It eventually drove the people he cared about away. Some people "want it" so badly that they won't even care and that's fine. If true success in your field is something you desperately want...go get it.

I just think if you're young and you love David Lynch and you hear him say that you might follow it without truly understanding the consequences and there ARE, without a doubt, consequences.

January 16, 2016 at 2:30PM, Edited January 16, 2:31PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2270

You already said it " You're not really there"

My point being, dont focus on the hole. How you feel about fulfilling your family and not yourself using your family seems to me more of what this is about. family has its own needs and no one meets them. Its about learning that time is precious and enjoy what you get out of it, make out of it. I can endlessly think about whole weeks I missed with my now wife that I spent shooting. I tried to be there for her and fulfill the needs of the relationship but the hole is focusing on the times I missed, dinners we could have had, laughs and all that. Thats the family hole. To me at least.

October 18, 2016 at 8:16AM

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Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer
913

Oh WOW, bathing in Kit Kats? You win. Impressive.

October 18, 2016 at 10:53AM

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Patrick Ortman
I tell stories. Sometimes for money. Sometimes, not.
388

i get the idea. but creativity comes by inspiration. meaning different people gets inspired differently.

December 23, 2015 at 1:34PM

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Daniyar Seisenov
Filmmaker / Editor / Writer
148

Lynch is clearly familiar with the great philosopher Burl Ives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzV-8TofHTw

December 24, 2015 at 1:32PM, Edited December 24, 1:32PM

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Tom Abray
Indy Videomaker
360

I've been hot for chronuts lately?
Am I too new school?
Mike D.
Www.Mikedvideo.com

December 24, 2015 at 5:50PM, Edited December 24, 5:50PM

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"...Which are you focusing on right now, the donut or the hole?..."

Well, I'm reading this article instead of working on my scene art for my "Coming Soon" movie poster, ...so, I'll take, "The Hole" for 500 Mr.Trebek ???

December 24, 2015 at 6:53PM, Edited December 24, 6:53PM

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m.t. justea
filmaker
8

Maybe I didn't see the larger context of this interview, but just because the article presupposes that Lynch is talking about family and relationships, it doesn't mean he is. Or it doesn't mean that's one way to take it.

I think it lends itself well to the struggle of not letting the negative things in life get in the way of making that story, and letting ideas happen happily. Things like, I dunno, existential worries. "One day even this won't matter because I'll be dead and everyone will be dead. What is the point?" or, "We don't have freewill and we're doomed to fail or succeed apart from our desires to do either" or any number of other things.

That would be the hole. That would be aspect of life to ignore. When you start a movie and then think, "It's not good enough." or "There's no way I'm going to be able to make this, it's too complicated" or even "what's the point?"

The story's the point, the creating of something you find beautiful, etc.

You can argue all you want about if kids get in the way or not, but that argument right there is the hole. You're missing the point, the beauty etc.

Or did I misunderstand this piece of transcendental meditation wisdom?

October 18, 2016 at 10:30AM, Edited October 18, 10:30AM

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"...the hole is so deep and so bad."
And this is, what David Lynch's films are about. He is not talking about "all of the things that get in the way of being creative" but -maybe unconsciously- talking about the essence of his art. From "Eraserhead" on, his films are a journey into the hole, the deep and bad hole.

October 19, 2016 at 5:21AM

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Jens Koenig
Engineer
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