Transcript of the set report that run on April 2nd 1996, BBC 2
With many thanks to William de Bruijn.
Introduction by Howard Schuman (in studio BBC's Moving Pictures)
"David Lynch has rightly been called the first popular surrealist. In 1990
he was riding precariously high, still basking the television success of
TWIN PEAKS. His delirious road movie WILD AT HEART won a Palme d'Or at
Cannes. But two years later even Lynch-fanatics were bewildered by his
PEAKS-inspired feature film FIRE WALK WITH ME. It flopped at the box office
and its lethal backlash began, sending this comic visionary into cinematic
limbo. But now Lynch is back at work on LOST HIGHWAY, co-written by WILD AT
HEART's Barry Gifford, and starring Patricia Arquette. Chris Rodley met
Lynch on location and tried his best to discover what the new movie is all
David Lynch (on the set): 'You're sitting quietly and something unfolds...in your mind...'
Shot-sequence: black and white photograph, bowling alleys (set), Lynch directing, rushes, Lynch talking to actors, scenes being played and talked about. (we hear David Bowie singing 'I'm Deranged')
David Lynch (con't, hesitating): 'It's a dangerous thing, you know, to say what a picture is. I can't really talk about that. I can say, it's, you know, it's...I wouldn't be able to say it in a short, you know, time.
Shots on the set.
Mary Sweeney (editor/producer, present wife of David Lynch, interviewed in editing
room): 'I think David would kill me if I'd trie to answer that for you. I' m gonna have to pass on that, I'm sorry'.
Shots on the set.
David Lynch: 'It's about a man in trouble...'
Chis Rodley: '...a particular kind of trouble...'
David Lynch: 'Yeah...a psychogenic fugue is the type of trouble'.
Barry Gifford (co-writer): 'It's really about a man who creates a situation, finds himself in a dire situation and has a kind of panic attack. And that he really has a difficult time in dealing with the consequences of his action. And this action fractures him, in a way.'
David Lynch: 'Some things, strangely, are not so understandable. But when things in film are not so understandable, people become worried. And yet they are in some way understandable.'
Mary Sweeney (con't): 'He's written a synopsis that describes that on one level it's the simple story about a man who has murdered his wife for her infidelity. And on another it's a very complex and interesting representation of his interior struggles, and the world he creates to deal with this heinous crime he's committed'.
David Lynch on set, talking to Balthazar Getty who plays Pete Dayton
David Lynch: 'You're still a little bit in never-neverland...'
Getty: '..Oh I know! I am all the way tripping 'round...'
David Lynch: 'Yeah, you're still doing it'
(David Lynch gives him a slap on the shoulder. Laughter)
Barry Gifford: 'It makes perfect sense to me. I didn't have any trouble with the script (laughs). You know it all made perfect sense to me. I don't really think that we talked ever about what the film means. It was very apparent to us from the beginning'.
Shot: we see the picture that is on the cover of the script for 'Lost Highway'. It's a black and white picture which shows the strained face of a man who looks a little like Franz Kafka.
David Lynch: 'The story is based on this photograph from my Oral Pathology book. Not my book, but a book that I own and somebody else did. There are unfortunate things that happen to people. And this story is sort of about that. And this picture depicts an unfortunate occurrence. And it kind of gives you the feeling of a man in trouble. A thinking man in trouble.'
Set: bowling alley.
David Lynch: 'I don't like pictures that are one genre only. So this is like a combination of things. It has a kind of a horror film, it has a kind of a thriller, it has a kind of a... Basically it's a mystery, that's what it is, a mystery'.
On the set (we see the rushes): Pete Dayton and his girlfriend Sheila (Natasha Gregson Wagner). (We hear the Pixies song Ana)
Sheila: 'What's happening to you? You've been acting strange, like the last
time I saw you'
Pete: ' What time?'
Sheila: ' The other night!'
Pete: 'What night was that?'
Patricia Arquette: 'This movie...I've gone from the esoteric to the absurd in my trying to understand it. But I feel like I'm in good hands with David'.
Rushes Patricia Arquette (accompanied by music from Brian Eno's album 'On Land')
Patricia Arquette (con't): 'In a way it's like in your own mind: if you're uncapable of understanding something then you are incapable of exploring outside terrain. Something's somebody else would understand. So if anybody pushes you toward that other territory you don't understand and you trust them, then all different things are coming out of you that you don't even know that exist'.
David Lynch: 'Actors are strange because they seem to understand abstract things pretty easily. An they can buy into an abstraction without too much trouble.
Patricia Arquette: 'I play in this movie two different interpretations of one and the same
woman. I know it's strange...A lot of wig work for this movie!
My first concept was they were two different people. So I was thinking,
looking from an acting point of view, that I was gonna make them very
different. In vocal pattern, the way they moved, their laughs, and all
that. So that was sort of exciting to me. But then David said: "No no no,
they're the same person!". So then you have to cross a reality border cause
you can't be really the same person and one of them die...'
Mary Sweeney: 'There's a couple of complete different feelings to the film. The beginning of the story with Fred and Renee Madison has a very particular, austere and pressure-cooker-like feeling to it. And very simple sets, simple acting style. And then we get into Pete's story and Alice's story and then Fred's unraveling story...it goes pretty wild and it looks completely different'.
Mary Sweeney (con't, voice over rushes-shot of Pete in his backyard):
'And this one in particular: a very classic kind of David shot. I don't know that I think this is a departure. maybe what it is is a very interesting synthesis of different films that he's made. So he's sort of developing his art, his own language. I think with each film that I've worked with him his demands on the camera become more and more sophisticated and more dynamic. And every scene, the simplest scene, he really thinks hard about how you can make this scene interesting both
visually and emotionally. Entering into a psychotic state with Fred is a new territory and one he's doing a pretty good job on'.
Scene continues, sound cut to Barry Gifford voice over.
Barry Gifford: 'It's a very serious movie, which is why, personally, I relate it in David's work more to ERASERHEAD. I think it's that kind of a moving portrait. An old friend of mine said: "David takes the ordinary and makes it seem strange, or sees the strange in the ordinary" and he says I'm
really kind of the opposite. He said: "You take the extraordinary, the strange, and you make that seem ordinary. So I suppose that may be where the balance is'.
David Lynch: 'He understands the sort of world that I like. And he likes as well. And the characters that he writes about..I really like. I like what they say. And I like a certain sensibility that he has about things.
Scene from WILD AT HEART with sailor and Lula in motel room and subsequently dancing to Powermad.
David Lynch: 'He's got a kind of coolness to him, a kind of...hipness...'
Mary Sweeney: 'When he's preparing for a movie he always listens to music. It helps
him enter the world and it helps him create that world that he's creating. So he had picked out quite a bit of music before he even started shooting. And he has continued to listen to music while he's been shooting. Where we had music to the scenes he has known about it for a while in advance. And
he really likes it to create the atmosphere for his sake and for the sake of his actors'.
Set-shots where David Lynch plays NIN's Gave Up to crew and cast.
David Lynch: 'Well, music gives you an indication of the mood, again, and if you lock out and find things out upfront they can help you tremendously'.
Set-shots of David Lynch with megaphone: 'When we hit the quiet part of the music
we'll crank it up on acting, okay?'
David Lynch: 'You're listening to music sometimes through your headphone and listening to the dialogue mixed with that music even though the actors may not be hearing it and you can tell right away if the pace is right, the mood is right, the light is right...everything. If the music reinforces it
or if you have to start again.'
Set-shot: David Lynch with megaphone: 'Cut!'
David Lynch: 'Now...talking about this psychogenic fugue, which has the word "fugue"
and fugues at least make me feel insane. Though I like to experiment with the
form of a fugue'.
Mary Sweeney (now also credited as 'editor Twin Peaks'): 'Sound is a great pleasure
for him, and in fact when we mix he actually runs the music parts. He sits at the mixing board and runs the music'.
Mary Sweeney (con't voice over mixed with scene from FIRE WALK WITH ME where Julee
Cruise sings "Questions in a world of blue" on stage. Laura Palmer enters, listens and starts to cry.
Question by Chris Rodley BBC: 'It's been a long time since you made the Twin Peaks movie...'
David Lynch: 'Four years, Chris!'
Mary Sweeney: 'Its hard to shake off Twin Peaks, TV and movie...and how they were both
accepted. There is some re-assessment of it but I think it will always somehow be tag-ended to the kind of broad-based popularity of the TV-series and a kind of strange footnote to it'.
Shot from FIRE WALK WITH ME where the LMFAP makes Indian whooping sounds
Mary Sweeney (con't): 'The reaction was very bad over here. It did very poorly at the box office and more than that it was pretty viciously attacked in the reviews. Many people were hoping for an extension of the television series which was David's and Mark Frost's sensibility combined in part and the restraints of network television in part also making that more marginized David, as you would. But I think that many of the very enthusiastic fans of the television series came to the movie thinking they were going to get something like the extension of the TV-series instead of a genuine David Lynch movie. And they felt betrayed'.
Scene FIRE WALK WITH ME: 'I've been to one of their meetings'.
David Lynch: 'I was puzzled and dismayed a little bit but it doesn't bother a person so much if they really like the work that they've done. It's when you don't like what you've done and other people don't like it, that's when it's a double whammy, you know, then it's real bad. But when you're happy yourself with what you've done it's hard to get hurt so much'.
Shot from Twin Peaks TV-series: the face of Laura Palmer being wrapped in plastic.
Mary Sweeney: 'It has definitely affected us that it's been 4 years. David is just happy as can be that he's shooting. Everyday he loves what he's doing and he's just really happy to be back at work and glad to see that 4 year period ended'.
David Lynch: 'Every day...sometimes on some other films...I wished the driver to take me somewhere else because things just get under pressure. But this has been, every day, a beautiful experience'.
Final shot from the inside of a fast car on a highway at night. From the background the face from the photograph that we saw comes up, intermingling with this shot. (to this we hear again Bowies I'm Deranged)
running time: 16 minutes