October 02, 2005
David Lynch Speaks on Filmmaking, Life, and Conciousness-Based Education
From the highest, steepest balcony of the epicly grandiose and overwrought Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, I had the privilege of hearing David Lynch speak. He was here in support of his new foundation "For Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace", which aims to raise seven billion dollars to be put towards using transcendental meditation to restructure the very way society functions. He was joined by Dr. John Hagelin PhD, best known for his appearance in What the #$*! Do We Know!?.
The discussion of what they believe and the scientific basis for it was strange and surreal. At one point, a Dr. Fred Travis was brought on stage. He gave a Powerpoint presentation on the brain and then Shane, a student who has been meditating since he was five, was brought on stage. He sat in a chair and what hooked up to Travis' setup, which monitored brain activity. As the presentation continued, the brain activity was charted over the projector onto the massive screen behind. When he went into meditation, the different readings came into sync with each other and slowly worked their way into super high levels of activity. I'm still not entirely sure to make of it all, stuff which seemed so utterly ludicrous and yet was presented in such a thorough and comprehensive manner that I was forced to pay the proceedings some attention.
Before all of that was covered in the main presentation, however, Lynch had requested a Q&A session with the audience to make confronting the massive audience less formidable. Not part of his fan base, I knew the man by reputation only. The person who came to the podium had a face somewhere between Sean Bean and Dustin Hoffman, and a head of hair that can be described only as uniquely his own. He addressed the audience with a reedy voice with a slight nasally quality, his fingers twinkling through the air when he jabbed his hand in the air to drive home a point. Low-key and personable, he will linger as one of the stranger people I have encountered.
During this question-and-answer period, he spoke at some length about his film career. When asked about Dune he left open the possibility of doing another "big spectacle" picture, but thought it would be unlikely because studios are less willing to give up final cut on those pictures. But he noted that this is slowly changing as DV (digital video) brings the cost of filmmaking down. Someone asked about "the baby" in Eraserhead, which Lynch refused to say a word about. In compensation, he allowed the student to ask another question. Someone else asked about his policy for sharing a script with his actors. Noting in today's environment production secrets show up on the internet as a matter of course, he prefers to work with the actors to fill in the context for their respective roles rather than just handing out the script. Another person asked about his direction code words. "More wind means more mystery," he told us, noting that these code words are tools he uses to overcome his difficulties with talking. Rehearsals are also key, a necessity "to get each person that's helping you to go down the same track."
He made clear his views of filmmaking as a precarious and fragile thing, noting about editing a scene at one point that "you go by intuition and you realize that one or two more frames and it brakes it."
He made clear his allegiance for digital filmaking, telling us he fell in love with DV while working of content for his website. "It's much freedom, you have a forty minute take" instead of a twelve minute take, he declared. He doesn't think he'll ever work on film again, noting "it's a dinosaur."
He views his involvement with transcendental meditation as essential. "It's a great thing for [a] filmmaker," he declared early on. He wrapped things up with a simple statement of how he views life: "I really love film and I love catching ideas ... each day gets better and better."
Freelance Film Critic Albany, NY Boston, MA Contact me

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