If you've noticed off-hand that the world -- and particularly that of cinema -- has been missing a little bit of a beloved strangeness recently, there's a possibility that's because David Lynch hasn't made a feature film since 2006's MiniDV-shot Inland Empire. He's been active (and acting, in several cases) in media of other kinds, and directed a 2010 promotional short for Dior, but I for one have found myself wondering what exactly has been stopping him from a return to the big screen. Thanks to a recent interview with Lynch by the Hollywood Reporter, we now know his opinion on the internet and the digital future of film, plus answers to the question my title poses both in the spiritual and literal sense.
It's been so long you may have forgotten (not really, I'm exaggerating) some of the David Lynch films you've already seen. So, to put his absence of more recent days in perspective, here's a trailer for Mulholland Drive, one Lynch's most acclaimed films.
And in recognition of just how long the David Lynch canon has sat within the dark sub-conscious of american filmmaking, here's the trailer for 1986's Blue Velvet:
Lynch spoke with the Hollywood Reporter in lieu of receiving a lifetime-achievement award from the 20th Plus Camerimage, a Polish festival dedicated to the art of cinematography (the recent Sony F55 short film Dig also made an appearance there). One of the topics brought up in the interview was Lynch's feeling on the direction of filmmaking -- and its inevitable transition into the digital realm.
THR: A big subject at this festival is digital cinema versus analog. Where do you stand on the subject?
Lynch: What [digital power to the people] will do is let people express ideas that they love, whereas before they could not afford to express these ideas. Now they can. The problem is, there are no more art houses left, really. There are just blockbuster theaters for the sole purpose of making money. The Internet is the friend of the independent filmmaker now. So it might be harder to find an audience for your work, but those things that are relevant for today and are considered “cool” -- they’ll find an audience. And it’s pretty beautiful.
This is a little surprising to read having seen Lynch's beautiful treatise on the folly of watching a film on a cell phone (and he makes a good point), which is readily available. Then again, having cut-out many a middleman, opted for MiniDV, and outright embraced the new direction of filmmaking with his most recent feature, it may not be all that surprising after all. Even more interesting is Lynch's reasoning for why he hasn't stepped back up to the full-length director's chair in some time.
THR: You haven't made a feature film in a long time. From the outside, it looks like you don’t want to. Is financing the problem?
Lynch: No, no, I have no problem getting financing. I have a problem catching ideas that I fall in love with for the next feature. I think part of the reason ideas haven’t come in is that the world of cinema is changing so drastically, and in a weird way, feature films I think have become cheap. Everything is kind of throwaway. It’s experienced and then forgotten. It goes really fast. And you have to do those things you are just in love with.
There is that expression, “Man has control of action alone, never the fruit of the action.” So you better enjoy the doing of a thing and not worry about the outcome. And I think that somewhere along the line, ideas will start coming and I may make a feature film. But I don’t hold out any hope for an audience. I just make it because I’m in love.
And I'm in love with Mr. Lynch's answer, because it makes me hopeful that great filmmakers will never lose sight of that which is perhaps most vital about what we do, which is our love for doing it. I wasn't expecting to get all misty-eyed writing this, and of course, making money along the way is only reasonable -- but at the end of the day, I'd like to think we do what we do for the passion, as well as the paycheck. For more invaluable material from Lynch, check out the clip in our recent post of renowned directors' advice!
Are you guys as hopeful for a Triumphant Return to Form from David Lynch as I am? How about his reasoning for not making a feature these past few years, do you feel the same about your own projects?