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Very few film makers can be said to have a vision as unique as that of David Lynch. The auteur, who is known for the surreal, dramatic, emotional, violent and above all baffling nature of his work is a colossus of American cinema. Although many people will have heard of Twin Peaks, the iconic TV series on which he worked with Mark Frost, there is much more depth to Lynch’s output.
Now fans of avant garde cinema will be delighted to discover that Lynch is teaching his very own Masterclass course. You can find out all about how this maverick icon approaches the art of film making, and pick up some useful insights into creativity along the way. Read on to find out all about the David Lynch Masterclass course in creativity and film.
David Lynch was born in 1946, in Missoula, Montana, and enjoyed something of a peripatetic upbringing as his father was a research scientist with the US Department of Agriculture who had to move around frequently for his job. As a youngster, Lynch lived in Sandpoint, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, as well as Durham, North Carolina, and Boise, Idaho. He did not excel academically at school, although he did become a Boy Scout. At the age of 15, he became an Eagle Scout and was presented to John F Kennedy at the President’s inauguration.
After leaving school, Lynch decided he wanted to study painting at college. After some missteps and a failed trip to Europe, he would end up in Philadelphia, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While there, he would meet his future wife Peggy, and the city of Philadelphia would become a dystopian inspiration for his later film Eraserhead. The city was plagued by violence and crime at this time, and it left a lasting impression on the young Lynch.
While studying art, he became fixated on the idea that paintings would be more interesting if they could move, and this led him to experiments with film. His first short film would be called Six Men Getting (Six Times). Other short films led to him being accepted at the newly founded American Film Institute. In 1971, he would move to Los Angeles and study at the American Film Institute Conservatory.
Over the next eight years or so he would work on Eraserhead, the film that eventually turned into an underground cult hit. This led to him being asked to direct The Elephant Man by Mel Brooks, and the film would earn eight Oscar nominations, including two for Lynch personally. The success led to Lynch being considered as a director for Return of the Jedi, but he turned down the opportunity. Hw would direct Dune instead, a film that was not received well and did little for Lynch’s critical or commercial reputation.
In 1986, his fortunes changed again with the release of the stunningly dark Blue Velvet. Twin Peaks would follow at the end of the 1980s, along with Wild at Heart, another movie that has acquired a fiercely devoted cult following. Lynch’s work would progress from there to become ever darker, enigmatic and downright weird, with as many passionate detractors as there were fans. But with the release of Twin Peaks: The Return in 2017, Lynch, in the eyes of many, had returned to his best.
So what is in this unique director’s Masterclass course? We’ll take a closer look at that now.
The David Lynch Masterclass on creativity and film is one of the shorter courses from this provider. There are 13 lessons on this course, with each lesson lasting approximately 12 minutes. The course is aimed at all ability levels. It would help, though, if you had some basic knowledge about cinema and David Lynch before you started working through the material, though.
The time commitments for this course are not as demanding as they are for others in the Masterclass range. This is a course where you will spend time away from the lessons thinking about them, rather than practicing any practical skills. This is not the Stephen Curry course on basketball or Gordon Ramsey’s cookery course, for example. Lynch is sharing ideas, concepts and philosophies rather than teaching actual skills.
Nevertheless, you will need to spend some time considering what you have learned, so the time commitment is longer than just 13 lessons of 12 minutes each. You can access all materials on your mobile device too, which helps you make best use of your time.
The 13 lessons on the David Lynch Masterclass course on film and creativity cover a varied range of topics. As is usual with Masterclass, the course opens with a session where Lynch introduces himself and his work. This makes reference to the ‘Art Life’ – Lynch’s guide on how to live as a creative artist. If you are not fully aware of the tone and themes of Lynch’s movies, this is an excellent introduction. It is worth noting that Lynch is very much an artist when it comes to his movies, and many of his themes, topics and obsessions are a long way from the mainstream.
You can tell that Lynch’s worldview is a little unconventional by the content of some of the early lessons the course. Topics include catching ideas to find inspiration, as well as creativity and the writing process. Lynch is at pains to stress that he does not believe that there is a single successful formula for writing scripts. Further topics covered include casting for characters, working with actors and creating a happy and creative atmosphere on set. Anyone who has followed Lynch’s career will recognise familiar tropes here.
Lynch’s work is always noted for the quality of its sound design, so it is no surprise to see a lesson on this aspect of film making. The course concludes with lessons on breaking the rules and remaining true to your ideas. There is a 13th bonus lesson on Transcendental Meditation, something which remains an obsession of Lynch’s – though an interesting one.
The course materials include a downloadable workbook of additional resources. In the case of the Lynch Masterclass, this is a 27-page book that contains more insights and stories from the director’s career. You are also given occasional opportunities to submit work to Lynch himself.
We are very impressed with the David Lynch Masterclass course on film and creativity. While Lynch’s work is a bit of an acquired taste, he is acknowledged a master of cinema. The insights and ideas he shares in his Masterclass course are of interest to anyone with a passion for cinema, whether they have aspirations towards making their own films or not.
You can sign up for the course for £85, if you opt take it as a single course. Alternatively, you can sign up for the all-inclusive Masterclass option at £14.17 a month. To use, this represents really good value. The quality of insight, the high production values of the course materials and, of course, the unique personality of Lynch himself, make those prices look like very good value indeed.