“I don’t really care what is going on in the world, nor with cinema. However, once in a while, you can see a film that is truly great. And you say, ’that person has really got something fantastic.’ It is an inspiration, and it pushes you forward.” David Lynch.
David Lynch, one of the more imaginative filmmakers of our time, rarely talks about the way he thinks about his films. However, in November, 2014, at the Lucca Film Festival, he was awarded a Lifetime Acheivement Award. He had some personal ideas to share about the way he approaches creating his films.
1. The true excitement of screenwriting is in the search for a good idea.
A big believer in Transcendental Meditation, Lynch talked about freeing up his subconscious to write screenplays using TM. He believes the process helps him catch ideas on a deeper level.
He feels meditation expands his consciousness, giving him access to more and deeper information, which make hunting ideas more exciting.
With his consciousness opened, Lynch said, he finds that “catching ideas” comes more easily to him. Using TM, he went on, allows him to feel more joy in the writing process, and more “self-assured” about his writing.
2. The writer must stay true to his original idea.
Lynch feels that the writer can’t let his mind drift over to how the movie will be filmed, who will be cast or how much money it’ll cost. He feels the idea is the key to creativity. The idea creates the mood of the characters, and how they talk.
By staying true to the idea, the story will unfold and even the details will be revealed. If your thinking drifts, your writing won’t stay true to your original idea, and will become flawed and jumbled.
3. Lynch feels that “inner strength” is critical to writing a good screenplay.
Transcendental Meditation allows him to feel, as he said, that life “is more a game than a torment. Everything feels happier.” It also makes him feel a boundless energy.
He joked that he once wondered if TM would make him just so calm, that he didn’t want to do anything, to the point where he’d become “this bland person who just sat around eating nuts and berries.” Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Combined with meditation’s stress-reducing qualities, Lynch said it gave him an inner strength that would help him overcome even the most difficult obstacles.
It’s the “inner strength” that he credits with focusing his mind on catching ideas and weaving them into his screenplays.
4. A positive attitude is essential to the creative process.
Some writers insist the more they suffer in real life, the more conflict and depth they’ll be able to write into their screenplays. Lynch feels that one only has to understand suffering, not live it, to write with depth.
Lynch stated that the notion of the “suffering artist” is a romantic concept. If you think about it, though, it’s romantic for everyone but the artist. He posits that if an artist is really suffering, his ideas won’t come easily.
It’s only with a positive attitude that writers can access the ideas that make for a great screenplay.
5. Lynch says he wants to be inspired by other films, not influenced.
The director talked about being inspired, viewing the great work of other filmmakers but not influenced. He never tries to emulate another filmmaker. He doesn’t appear to be influenced by world events, either.
Other filmmakers, like David O. Russell, and Aaron Sorkin for example, have drawn stories from what’s happening in the news. Oliver Stone seems to make films almost exclusively about world events.
However, Lynch says living in Philadelphia was his greatest influence as a filmmaker. “The mood of that place,” he stated, “the feeling in the air, the architecture, the decay, insanity, corruption and fear swimming in that city are things I saw in films.”
Thinking about films like “Eraserhead,” “Wild at Heart,” and “Mulholland Drive,” it’s clear he hasn’t been influenced by another director. As a result, he might be one of the true originals currently making films.
For help writing your screenplay, or to break in, succeed, survive and thrive in your screenwriting career, click here and talk to a veteran writer-producer/therapist for a free phone consult.