New Europe spoke with film director Jon Nguyen about his documentary “David Lynch, The Art of Life” during the Film Festival in Venice. It is about an incredible journey in the life of one of the most mysterious movie directors, who is also able to astonish us through his paintings.
You stopped talking to him with “Eraserhead” (1977) and then there is nothing beyond that in your documentary in terms of his work and life. Why is that?
This was a decision taken at the early beginning. We wanted to focus on his early life and on the young artist. About his other movies, he didn’t really like talking about his films. We wanted to give people clues of how people understood David so that they can learn a little bit more on his movies while watching them.
The entire interview project took us two and half years. Jason S. the cinematographer was living in David’s house at that time then after various meetings during this long period the story started slowly to grow out of David. Jason is a good friend of David and he is a friend of the family. David officiated his wedding and this is why we had all this access. David really trusted Jason and feels comfortable with him otherwise it would have been completely impossible for him to live in his place.
How did you convince him to do this project?
We tried a first time, but David was not in the mood of doing a project like this. Then, four years ago, when David had his daughter, we approached him again and the deal is to turn these interviews for his daughter when she will get older in order for her to know better her father. He isn’t in the easiest person to interview. David doesn’t interpret things and he knows how to deal with an interview in order not to tell you everything like I would do. The doc then is made by David’s artworks, his family photos that he gave us access to, his music and other materials. Then, we wanted his voice as narrator to tell his story and his art works. Apart from the interview process, the whole film is made by things that David gave us.
Do you think you know David better now?
Now I look at his films in a very different way. Now I look at these through his personality. I understood why David is so dark and I learned that there is a separation between his art and his personality. Just like a comedian can be depressed, David is very light, kind and funny but his films are dark. If we look at the two art forms he manages, I think he is a painter first and a filmmaker as second.
“Inland Empire” was the last movie he presented 10 years ago. Do you know why he took such a long break?
David films when he gets inspiration. He is now working on “Twin Peaks” because the story just came to him. He is not taking the script of somebody with a lot of financing and making it. After “Inland Empire” he was in the painting studio, every single day. He would wake up and go to the painting studio until he went to bed. Painting was important for David since he was two years old. By the time he graduated from high school, he had already gone through six different painting studios. He is not known for being a painter because of his films fame, but he spent 90% of his time in his studio with his brush.
How did you finance this movie?
The film was financed through crowdfunding on the platform Kickstarter by his big fans. Financing is difficult nowadays. As an American living in Europe, I don’t have access to the grant system that other Europeans have so I relied on his fans. We raised $179,000. In the end, we had five hours of visual materials that isn’t in the film, from animations and other experimental different mediums.