Before official reviews are published by film critics, studios often have to face the wrath of first reactions on social media. These responses can make or break a film in 280 characters or fewer (which is part of the reason Cannes altered its scheduling this year), and they’ve become so central in shaping the buzz around a film that some studios impose social-media embargoes in addition to proper review embargoes. Speaking at his Festival of Disruption in New York City, David Lynch condemned the rise of these instant responses.
“You finish a film these days and right away you have this pressure to write about it in words,” Lynch said when asked by an audience member about social media. The director advocated for the need to sit with one’s thoughts and explore the abstractions of any given film without feeling pressured to instantaneously comment on it. In some cases, Lynch said it’s better not to comment at all but live in your emotional response to a film. He summed up his argument by saying, “Unless you’re a poet, words will fail you.”
Lynch also expressed disappointment with sharing videos on such platforms as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. The director banned festival-goers from using their phones during his hour-long discussion on May 20, with everyone in the audience forced to put their mobile devices in locked cases that could only be unlocked once they’d left the venue.
Lynch argued that not only do video phones make people more occupied with capturing an experience than actually experiencing one, they also can’t provide people with the benefits of memory. The director said that camera phones “don’t shoot your interior,” so you’re better off reliving an event by relying on your memories of the emotional experience than by watching recorded video footage of whatever it is you’ve seen.
Courtesy of the David Lynch Foundation
Lynch’s hourlong discussion with New York Public Library director Paul Holdengräber was a highlight of this year’s Festival of Disruption, which took place May 19-20 in Brooklyn, New York. The filmmaker is infamous for being a tough interviewee, often using short sentences or one-word answers when responding to questions, but he still managed to delight the crowd by not saying much at all. When asked what kind of pop culture he’s obsessed with in 2018, Lynch said he’s not really watching peak TV.
“I’m interested in painting right now,” Lynch said. “I watch some crime shows and I watch Velocity channel. I love to watch people build and customize cars.”
The highlight of Lynch’s discussion occurred early on, when he spoke extensively (for Lynch, anyway) about his love of tobacco. The moderator asked Lynch if he preferred things messy or clean in his work, which prompted the director to share a story about his cigarette addiction that left the audience roaring with laughter. Lynch recalled loving tobacco since he was five years old. Several years ago, he was sent to Seattle for a press tour and refused to stay in a fancy hotel because management wouldn’t let him smoke in his room.
“I left and decided to check into a Motel 6,” Lynch said. “Fantastic room! Soiled carpet and all. Nobody paid attention to my smoking.”
Lynch got more serious when talking about the dangers of fame: “Success is dangerous. Failure gives you freedom because you have nowhere to go but up. That’s a beautiful feeling. Success is nice, but work is work and success gets in the way of making work.”
Lynch’s most recent directorial effort was the critically acclaimed “Twin Peaks: The Return.” The director has not announced another film or television project in development. For now, as he told the Festival of Disruption crowd, he’ll just keep painting.