The Death of Film

by David Lynch

I'm through with film as a medium. For me, film is dead. If you look at what people all over the world are taking still pictures with now, you begin to see what's going to happen.

I'm shooting in digital video and I love it. I have a Web site and I started doing small experiments for the site with these small cameras, at first thinking they were just like little toys, and they were not very good. But then I started realizing that they're very, very good — for me, at least.

You have forty-minute takes, automatic focus. They're lightweight. And you can see what you've shot right away. With film you have to go into the lab and you don't know what you've shot until the next day, but with DV, as soon as you're done, you can put it into the computer and go right to work. And there are so many tools. A thousand tools were born this morning, and there'll be ten thousand new tools tomorrow. It happened first in sound. Now everybody's got ProTools, and you can manipulate these sounds, just fine-tune them unbelievably fast. The same thing's happening with the image. It gives you so much control.

I started thinking and experimenting. I did some tests from DV to film, because you still have to transfer to film to show in the theater. And although it does not look exactly like it shot on film, it looks way better than I would have thought.

Once you start working in that world of DV with small, lightweight equipment and automatic focus, working with film seems so cumbersome. These 35mm film cameras are starting to look like dinosaurs to me. They're huge; they weigh tons. And you've got to move them around. There are so many things that have to be done, and it's all so slow. It kills a lot of possibilities. With DV everything is lighter; you're more mobile. It's far more fluid. You can think on your feet and catch things.

And for actors, to get down into a character in the middle of a scene and then suddenly have to stop while we reload the film cameras after ten minutes — often, this breaks the thing. But now you're rolling along; you've got 40 minutes down in there. And you can start talking to the actors, and instead of stopping it you can move in and push it. You can even rehearse while you're shooting, although I start goofing up the soundtrack, because they've got to chop out all my words. But many times I am talking to the actors while we are shooting and we are able to get in deeper and deeper.

Reprinted from Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch by arrangement with Jeremy P. Tarcher, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright © 2006 by Bobkind, Inc.

This article originally appeared in Issue 13, March 2007.




David Lynch: Three-time Oscar-nominated director David Lynch is among the leading filmmakers of our era. From the early seventies to the present day, Lynch's popular and critically acclaimed film projects, which include Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire, are internationally considered to have broken down the wall between art-house cinema and Hollywood moviemaking.

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