Friday, June 30, 2006

The Earth Moved

I had a spiritual experience last night, and I hardly know how to talk about it. Every time I think of it I get frissons.

Saw the Blue Velvet anniversay screening and heard Mr. Lynch speak. At my favorite theatre no less, the quaint Crest in Westwood. The kind with a curtain that closes before the movie, and has a twinkly light show on the walls during previews.

Now, this is a really big deal. In the entire six years I've lived in LA, I've never seen that David Lynch was speaking anywhere. He's quite the eccentric recluse.

I went with my friend Carrie, and I was excited, but it wasn't until I sat down in the comfy red velvet seats that I realized how special this evening was to be to me.

I would have to say that Twin Peaks/Blue Velvet (for me they are the same, a la Elseworlds) is the single biggest artistic influence on me. Beyond giving me pure pleasure and enrapturing my imagination, they made me feel "gotten" in that rare way we only experience a few times in our lifetime, usually during an intense conversation at 3 am in a dorm room. It should have occurred to me as logical that I would thus get and be gotten by the author.

The Q & A started, and David Lynch was quizzed rather antagonistically about his artistic process. Now I've never been a "fan" of filmmakers. I don't stalk them or read about all their processes or emulate their styles. I guess I've always thought of them as compatriots rather than idols. So while you would think I would know all about Mr. Lynch, it was actually an amazing discovery to hear him speak (in that fabulous, whiny "Gordon" voice). And beyond being incredibly, charmingly cumdeonly and eccentric and funny, he said he always starts a movie/screenplay with exploring an IDEA. And that that idea attracts other ideas like bait, and he follows where they swim.

As much as I've enjoyed the last two years of bonding with and learning from fellow screenwriters, whenever they ask me to pitch them my stories and I start with a philosophical discussion of "Well, I wanted to explore this IDEA..." their eyes glaze over. I completely lose them. The professors were even less sympatico to what I was trying to describe about my creative process. I realized quickly that I was some oddball in the writing community, and just shut up about my how and why. Which is unfortunately, the part I'm passionate about. And that this process doesn't allow me to outline...I'm lucky I haven't been stoned to death or driven to the outskirts of town and rolled out into the tumbleweeds.

So during the Q & A, when I already thought I'd died and gone to heaven, Mr. Lynch started describing all movies only in terms of MOODS. Holy crap. Someone else feels movies and writing the way I do? Imagine me hearing DAVID LYNCH describe exactly my process and passion. Unreal. Finally, I feel like a real filmmaker and not a fraud.

AND THEN he said he's shooting his newest creation, Inland Empire, on MY CAMERA: the Sony PD150. He called the bad quality of it "terrible and beautiful".

Wow. So I have no excuses left. I even own the camera he's using. I could pick it up at any moment of the day and just start shooting bits.

(By the way, all he'll say about IE is that you'll see Laura Dern's talent and that it's about "a woman in trouble." Freaking hysterical. Is there a film of his that can't be described with that line? He got really moody and pissy when the moderator pushed him for more. Love him. Also loved him for his reverant tone and words about the "great Isabella Rossellini" and her father, an idol of his as a student filmmaker. If only everyone spoke so thoughtfully of their ex-lovers.)

Seeing Blue Velvet in a theatre with an appreciative audience was phenomonal. Has to be one of the funniest, coolest, most original films ever made. So quotable. Kyle's character Jeffrey is so insouciant, just like Mr. Lynch. I've always thought of Blue Velvet as Nancy Drew losing her virginity through gang rape, and then finding redemption as a nun. Mr. Lynch described its mood as Russian, with a little American. When pressed on what he would tell a first-time audience, he said to enjoy flying into the screen, into a beautiful dream.

It's funny, DL said some of his favorite directors were Fellini, Hitchcock, Wilder (he wants to live always inside the mood of Sunset Boulevard), but I always see a dollop of Roeg in DL's work. If you ever get a chance, go see BV with a great audience.

What an amazing night. But alas, no picture taken with David Lynch...his Q & A (really just a Q) was before the movie, and quite short. He exited quickly, and then it was dark.

Go to the jump for a little velvet...


Kid Sis said...

A tall, slender man with a smoking jacket and a mustache opens the door.

It's BEN. His voice is very horse from years of smoking.
(very gracious)
Frank. Come in.
Hey, I brought some friends. and some beer.
Fine. Welcome. Come sit down.


The apartment is very large. All the furniture is over-stuffed. In
the room there is a very much over-weight WOMAN dressed in black and a
greasy-looking COUPLE. On the couch, a YOUNG WOMAN plays with a large

(getting higher all the time)
Suave. goddam are you suave, you fucker.
You want some beer?

Certainly Frank.
(to the fat woman)
Darling, get some glasses. We'll have
some beer with Frank. Won't you sit down?

Everyone kinds of mills around. Paul sits down in a chair and starts
laughing at some private joke in his head.

Shit Ben! How the shit are ya?

Fine Frank. Fine. How are you?

Fuckin' good, real fuckin' good. You know
this little tid bit, Dorothy, and this thing,
here, (referring to Jeffrey) is a neighbor.
What the shit we're doin' with a neighbor, I
don't know. goddam!!!(referring to Ben) This
is the suavest guy I know. look at you. You're
one beautiful fucker, Ben. I love this jacket
and that cigarette holder of yours. shit, that
is too fuckin' much. Where's those glasses.
this beer's gonna get too warm. I can't stand
fuckin' warm beer. it makes me puke.

Darling, where are the glasses?. Oh.
here they are.

The Big Lady brings the glasses in and sets them on the card table.
She looks worried. She gives a helpless pleading look to Ben.

Raymond! Where's the fuckin' beer?

Right here Frank. You want me to pour it?

No, I want ya to fuck it. Shit, yes.
pour the fuckin' beer.

There ya go.

Good, let's drink up.

To your health, Frank.

Shit. let's drink to something else.
let's drink to fuckin'. Say here's
to your fuck Frank.

If you like Frank. Here's to your fuck.

Frank's friends, Paul and Raymod, laugh.

(laughs loud)
Cheers. Suave man. you're so fuckin'
suave. WE LOVE BEN! Here's to Ben!.

Frank slaps Jeffrey in the face.

Hey neighbor. Here's to Ben.

(stunned, grabbing his face)
Here's to Ben.

Do you see, Ben?. I can make him do
anything I fuckin' please.

Ben goes to Jeffrey.

Thank you neighbor. let me see your
face. did he hurt you?

Jeffrey shows him.

Oh. my.

Suddenly Ben slugs Jeffrey in the stomach. Jeffrey doubles over.

(continuing again)
Is that any better?

Frank almost dies laughing. Everyone else joins in. Ben turns to Frank.

Frank, I have something for you. Excuse
us everyone.

EXCUSE US por favor! Hey. let Tits see
her kid.

As Jeffrey tries to catch his breath, he sees tremendous emotion fill
Dorothy's face. She rushes forward. Raymond grabs her by the arm and
takes her into another room. Jeffrey hears her crying out. He hears a
small boy.

Donny, oh my Donny.



Dorothy is sobbing and clinging to Donny. He is crying and gripping her
like a small monkey would grip its mother. Suddenly Donny breaks away,

Mommy. You left me. you stopped loving me.

(coming back into Ben's living room)
Okay. let's hit the fuckin' road. we're
givin' our neighbor a joy ride. let's get
on with it. Bye, Ben. Ya wanna go on a
joy ride with us, anyone? You?
(looking around)

Dorothy rejoins the group. She's in a state of shock. Frank pinches her

No smile for Frank? No? Okay, fuck it.
Let's go. Oh you wanna come with Raymond?

Raymond has picked up the greasy girl.

See you Tuesday, Frank.

Right Ben. LET'S GO FUCK. I'll fuck
anything that moves.

Lynne said...

wow, very interesting.

I find it surprising that a film/screenplay WOULDN"T begin with an idea. Isn't that what all art begins with? I know it does for me as a painter/artist. An idea, a feeling, a mood.

I think his ending his Q&A with a curtain closing and fade to black is quite cool.

Lynda said...

Don't be ordinary. Be extrodinary. :)

I already think you are, for the record.

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Christina said...

Beautiful writing Lis. I loved this one. Every word!

mernitman said...

This was the next best thing to being there, so thank you for the details. Verrrrry cool.

And yes, I wish more young screenwriters would "start with exploring an idea" and give themselves a chance to do just that, instead of obsessing about turning points, page counts and agents.

It would lead to better scripts...

LeMorse said...

I am so glad to hear others speaking highly of Twin Peaks. I was the greatest television show ever (hard to say being I am a hardcore Muppet fan). Try the pie and gotta love the cup o joe.