To celebrate the release of Jennifer Lynch’s dark delight Surveillance this Friday, we sat down with David’s daughter to discuss her dad, and the influence he’s had on her career.
You were in Eraserhead – what are your memories of making that movie?
Eraserhead was my childhood. I lived with the actors, lived on the sets. My father as a director is the same man he is as my father, so it is hard to separate the two.
It was an incredible creative time, during which my love for a collaborative life, telling stories with others, was born.[page-break]
What did you think of The Elephant Man the first time you saw it, and what are your memories of your dad while he was making it?
The Elephant Man is one of my all time favourite films... regardless of who directed it.
It is the most potent and eloquent telling of what it is to feel the monster inside as much as the human.
It speaks to me of the kindness of which we are capable as humans, as much as the devastating and blind cruelty.
I remember my father working in the garage in the apartment we had in Middlesex, London. He was trying to create the make-up for Merrick himself, and would cast my face in plaster, speak to me about textures and stories.
As the plaster warmed on my face, the stories would progress. Some of my favourite moments with my father have to do with the making of that film.
I know he struggled a great deal too, with being considered just a novice by some of the actors... of course...this ended once they saw the film. The guy knows what he’s doing![page-break]
You were a production assistant on Blue Velvet. What was that experience like and what are your memories of David around that period?
Blue Velvet was magical. Each day something incredible and new emerged on set, and in the wake of Dune, my father had a freedom in North Carolina that he really deserved, and that I think the story needed.
My father is luminous on set. I remember that. And the passion, laughter, and excitement of cast and crew.[page-break]
What did you think of Wild At Heart the first time you saw it?
Wild at heart is an incredible film. Brave in ways many are not. I recall my father living in his bravery at that time.[page-break]
And Twin Peaks?
I’m a Twin Peaks fan for sure. I was thrilled to pen Laura's secret diary. What isn’t to love about a show that captures the horror, beauty, absurdity and common sense requirements of real life? It is Norman Rockwell... naked.[page-break]
Have you noticed any changes in your father's attitude over the years as a result of transcendental meditation?
We both started when I was six years old. I think the changes in him were immediate. He had a place to put his anger, and let it dissipate. His fears, his hopes, his love... all could be examined with a clarity and a kindness.
I know it has changed us both, and the many others who have found it.
I recommend it.[page-break]
Finally, your new film, Surveilance - your dad was executive producer, what was he like to work with in that capacity?
My father was exec producer in name only. It actually came about when after two years the script wasn’t getting any attention, and he asked if I’d be interested in his putting his name on it to see if that got the material read.
I was reluctant; as I make it a point not to 'use' my father as a connection... the press and public tend to assume that for me. I agreed in an experimental mood, and three days later, there was interest and offers.
I wondered aloud with my father... "What about all of the writers out there with screenplays that should be made, but who have no one who offers to place their name on the cover page to add respectability?" it is a real shame.
After I shot the film and completed it, and went over to dad's to show him the film. I explained before we turned the lights down, that if for any reason he wanted his name removed after seeing the film, I would understand.
When the film ended and the lights came up, he said, "Jen-o... I just want to say one thing... I WANT MY NAME BIGGER."
It was a nice moment.[page-break]
You've got a daughter yourself, would you want her to get into the film business?
If Sydney feels that film is where she finds her heart, I’ll support her. If she finds her heart in digging ditches, I'll support her.
I guess if given the choice, I wouldn’t want her to enter a business as ruthless as film, but I love it so much myself... I'd be kidding her if I told her the pain wasn’t worth the pleasure.
Creating things is such a wonderful way to live.
Surveillance is out Friday, 6 March
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