David Lynch’s INTERVIEW PROJECT: the inner life of small towns

David Lynch has a penchant for small cities and towns and the people in them, and he has set a lot of his films in such places.  Towns like Deer Meadow (from TWIN PEAKS, not to mention Twin Peaks itself), Lumberton (BLUE VELVET) and Laurens (THE STRAIGHT STORY) come to mind.  His bios seem to always remind us that he grew up in Missoula, Montana and was an Eagle Scout. So… in what seems like an ode to this world, David Lynch has embarked on INTERVIEW PROJECT with filmmaker team Austin Lynch (his son) and Jason S. This 121 part documentary series premieres on his website on June 1st and will continue unleashing its short (3-5 min.) episodes for a year, each episode featuring a person from a new place in the country. What exactly is INTERVIEW PROJECT? Watch David Lynch explain this “20,000 mile road trip” here….

Most of the sample interviews made available to us are set in places like Dumas, Arkansas, or Bozeman, Montana or Graham, Texas. The interviews are edited together without the questions, so the interviewer remains silent and out of sight. The effect of this is a monologue that seems to delve into each subject’s inner life as they discuss subjects like dreams, memories, regrets and death. In comparison to an Errol Morris style interview (see FIRST PERSON) the interviews seem gentle and meandering with transitional endings rather than suspenseful build towards an obvious climax. This approach grew on me. Especially this one with Jenny Brown, a seventeen year old who’s suffered through some trying times and now just wants to “relax.” The most poignant moment is when asked about her dreams, she claims to have none…at least not yet.

In another episode we meet Anthony, who was found “riding his bike down Cherry Street.”  He talks about his son’s drive-by-shooting death and segues into a discussion of Satan in such a matter-of-fact way that for a moment I thought he was talking about someone he knows.

I can’t help but wonder if the filmmakers consciously sought out Lynch-like themes in the people they found or shaped them in the editing process. I’m struck by the melancholy and sadness lurking below the surface in almost all of these stories. Paired with a painterly frame, cameras locked down (no shaky-cam here), and attention to beauty and strangeness (a white lab with an amputated leg lopes through frame), the feeling of real world meets Lynch is amplified.

This is “humanity” as David Lynch says in his intro… and I would say yes, through a Lynch frame. But there’s always going to be a frame so if I have to pick one… this is a keeper. I’m curious to see the rest.

To see more about the project:  The Interview Project

Watch for two more interview segments on SUNfiltered in the coming days.