What You Have in Common with David Lynch
Sometimes you may feel alone as a filmmaker pursuing your dream, making your dark but brilliant narrative short or shooting your social-issue documentary or developing your comic-genius narrative feature. Then take some comfort in knowing you are not alone. You may especially feel alone when faced with your budget and the daunting task of raising the funds to make your sweetest vision come true. That computer screen looks like the frozen tundra when you sit down to write your grant proposal or donor appeal letter. And the only person calling on the phone is your mother, wondering if you are still pursuing that “film thing” or if you have found a real job yet. Sigh. It is lonely.
Don’t get down. All filmmakers feel this way, even the ones with the big names, the accolades, the credits. Even somebody like writer and director David Lynch, the creator of Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart, and Blue Velvet. If you want to draw some inspiration and some comfort from a man whose films may be outre or chilling but who has a very real and warm heart, then check out his book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity. David Lynch is one of my film heroes and role models. His film, Eraserhead, touched my life in a remarkable, therapeutic way just when I needed that kind of life-preserver tossed my way. So I was surprised to read in his book his admission that “When I was making Eraserhead, which took five years to complete, I thought I was dead…I told myself, ‘Here I am, locked in this thing. I can’t finish it. The world is leaving me behind….At one time, I actually thought of building a small figure of the character Henry…and just stop-motioning him through and finishing it. That was the only way I could figure doing it, because I didn’t have any money.” Just think. David Lynch in despair about finishing his film because he had no money.
He continues, “Then, one night, my younger brother and my father sat me down in a kind of dark living room. My brother is very responsible, as is my father. They had a little chat with me. It almost broke my heart, because they said I should get a job and forget Eraserhead. I had a little girl, and I should be responsible and get a job.”
Thank God he didn’t do the responsible thing. Instead, he found a way to complete Eraserhead, and his career was launched. Thank God he finished that film, because Eraserhead saved my life.
Don’t ever forget that in the dark times when you’re not sure where the money is coming from. Just focus on the film and have faith that you will find a way.