David Lynch Tells Movieline What to Expect From His Duran Duran Concert Collaboration
As reported here last week, the new season of American Express's Unstaged concert series commences Wednesday with the unlikely pairing of David Lynch and Duran Duran. Or is it unlikely? Movieline got on the phone with the busy filmmaker today to discuss the pairing, what to expect both in the crowd and while viewing online, and why Mulholland Drive's 10-year anniversary isn't as big a deal as it sounds. Like, at all.
How is the show planning coming along?
It's coming along. We're working right as we're talking to you. My job is, you know, listen to all the tracks. And images came. So we're building those things right now that will go along with Duran Duran on the stage. It will be kind of an experiment tomorrow night, but I think it has possibilities of being a good experiment.
So what might you be trying? I know there were the painted hands and faces you solicited last week...
Well, audiences around the world can submit pictures of a painted hand or face against a black background, and there'll be a time in the show when they'll be spun out visually. And I've got to say, some of the hands... some of the things I've seen so far are so beautiful.
Beautiful how? Is there an example?
Just the creativity of people using their hands and their face. [Pauses] I've got to say another thing: Use non-toxic paints.
To what extent do you consider your role designing for the stage -- for the live audience -- and to what extent are you creating an experience for viewers at home?
My role, as I told you, is to do this overlay. In my mind, it's double exposure, going with what's happening on the stage. The possibilities are really beautiful for things to happen. Audience participation... they'll be able to see the show, number one, but they'll also be able to see a couple cameras that will be available just to them in case they want to sidestep the show a little bit. They still would be hearing it, I guess. But, you know -- it's a show! The audience's participation is to enjoy the show.
How did you and Duran Duran ever connect in the first place? Are you a fan?
I've been a fan of Duran Duran from the past, but recently, I'm with a music company called Sunday best recordings in England. They, I guess, know Duran Duran. So my buddy Big Dean Hurley and I did a remix of "Girl Panic" -- one of Duran Duran's new songs -- and then this American Express Unstaged came along on top of that. So I've got some kind of connection with Duran Duran.
How or where do you expect this collaboration to fall in the continuum of concert films? Does this even share DNA with something like Stop Making Sense or The Last Waltz?
Yes. There's a thing about concerts and concert films: Everybody tries to push the limits and make a great show, and that's an ongoing thing. There's a word: Evolution. And it's a beautiful thing, evolution.
Is there a specific concert film you're inspired by?
Recently I saw... I don't know what venue it was, but it was Pink Floyd in some giant arena with a light show and mechanical things that was kind of beyond the beyond. But this -- what we're doing tomorrow -- is different than that. It's a blending of things swimming, like in another room, that will swim together with what's on the stage. That's what we're working on.
In the past you've been fairly critical of the downsizing of movies -- on iPhones, for instance --
OK, harshly critical. Yet much of your output in the last few years has been geared for the Internet. Have you changed your mind, or are you pursuing a happy medium?
No. The bigger the screen, the better the sound, the more you're going to be in the world of cinema. It's kind of common sense. That will always be.
Yet it's been 10 years since Mulholland Drive -- your last conventionally shot and distributed feature film. Did you anticipate or seek that change for yourself -- working digitally and independently on things from Inland Empire to this project -- a decade ago?
I've always worked not through a studio system. I've never made a studio picture. I believe in freedom, and that's it.
Do you have a film in mind that you want to take on after this concert project?
I'm working on a bunch of stuff. I just had a show open a couple days ago at the Griffin Gallery here in L.A. -- a bunch of paintings and sculpture and my lamps. I'm working on painting and music right now, and I'm thinking about the next film.
[Photo: Getty Images]
I had my doubts about this, but the end result was really cool and a lot of fun, a lot of it silly. Lynch loves to remind his audience to keep a sense of humor at all times, as does Duran Duran. I'd call it a success.
Well, the main thing for me from all of this is the last seven words 😉