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Filmmaking Lessons From David Lynch: One Of The Best Articles I’ve Read In Ages

In the three years I’ve been running and writing content for this blog, I’ve never shared any articles from other websites. Not because I don’t want to support other publications, but rather because the purpose of this site is and always has been to share original & personal content – whether it be in the form of reviews, advice, or otherwise.

In some cases that means I can’t post as often as I would like to (especially during busy production months), but it allows me to ensure that the quality of any material I post is up to my standards.

That said, rules are made to be broken, and for the first time I came across an article that was not only so rich in advice, but also so much in line with my own mentality on filmmaking that I had to share it here.

The article is titled “10 Lessons on Filmmaking From David Lynch” and was originally posted on watchindie.net. It features 10 brilliant points made by Lynch, most of which look at filmmaking on a macro level, which is refreshing to say the least.

It’s easy to lose track of the big picture when you’re so hyper focused on the micro details – a line of dialogue you don’t like, the brand of camera you’re shooting on, etc. It’s not that these types of details aren’t extremely important too (and in so many ways masterful filmmaking is all in the details), but they aren’t everything.

In my opinion at least, the only way to get the best work out of yourself is to master both the macro and micro levels of the craft, and in many ways this article is a great reminder of that fact.

I’ve gone ahead posted a link to the full article below, but wanted to also quote my favorite two points:

4. EVERYTHING MUST SERVE TO PUSH THE IDEA FORWARD.

I DON’T THINK ABOUT TECHNIQUE. THE IDEAS DICTATE EVERYTHING. YOU HAVE TO BE TRUE TO THAT OR YOU’RE DEAD. -DAVID LYNCH

For me there is always a plot. There is a story that makes sense to me. But in the story, there are things that are more abstract. There are feelings, and cinema can say feelings and can say abstract thoughts. Cinema can go back in time, or forward, and it’s very magical. But you do not do it just to do it. You do it to realize the ideas you fall in love with. The ideas are gifts, such beautiful gifts. And I am always so thankful when I get an idea that I fall in love with. It is a beautiful day to get an idea that you love. What we need is ideas. That is the only thing we really need.

 

This is my favorite point made in the entire article, and it’s something that I’ve come around to understanding in more recent years. So many filmmakers approach things backwards – looking at technique or style first, and then finding a story or idea that fits within that framework. As Lynch points out, technique is something that should be derived from your idea, not the other way around. Never skimp out on the concept development stage of your project just so you can go out and have something to shoot. It’s all about the idea, and when the idea is right everything else will click.

 

7. GET INSPIRED, NOT INFLUENCED.

I LIKE TO REMEMBER THINGS MY OWN WAY. HOW I REMEMBERED THEM, NOT NECESSARILY THE WAY THEY HAPPENED. -DAVID LYNCH

There’s a difference between influence and inspiration. I was never a film buff, and I was not really interested in art history when I was a painter. For me, I always say the city of Philadelphia was my greatest influence. The mood of that place when I was there, the feeling in the air, the architecture, the decay, insanity, corruption and fear swimming in that city are the things I saw in films.

I don’t really care what is going on in the world, nor with cinema. However, once in awhile, you can see a film that is truly great. Or you see some new paintings and say, “That person has really got something fantastic.” It is an inspiration, and it pushes you forward.

 

Another one of my favorite points in the article, especially since I can relate to the notion of not being a “film buff”. That’s not to say I don’t love watching movies – that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ll often watch a movie a day if I can, or at least a few a week. But I’ve never wanted to fall into the trap of studying certain films (whether classic or contemporary) to death, as I’ve always been fearful that doing so would impede on my personal style.

In many ways, it’s the same reason I didn’t go to film school… Not that there’s anything wrong with doing so (or being a film buff for that matter), but there is a point when studying in the traditional sense can actually take away from your own instincts. There’s something to be said about finding inspiration in other things outside of film, and I think Lynch’s point couldn’t have been more spot on.

To read up on the rest of the article, click here!

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About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

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