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How David Lynch Made His First-Feature Film (Film Log #23)

The Film Log is a weekly video I record to share my journey making my first feature film, In Five Years. In these videos, I share what I learn and discover as I go about all aspects of being a first time  indie filmmaker in today’s changing landscape. Find the full Film Log series here, and subscribe to the film’s newsletter 

How David Lynch Made His First-Feature Film

While working on the Twin Peaks article, I was reminded that David Lynch’s first feature film took a long time to happen. I decided to dig a little bit more into it, and the more I dug, the more I saw how long the road might have felt, and how many obstacles he had to overcome and creative solutions he had to find.

Today it seems like an evidence that Lynch would be a filmmaker. But Eraserhead’s making shows that it takes a lot of perseverance and a massive leap of faith.

It think what impacts me the most here, is that everybody keeps saying that it has never been easier to make film, and yet, not only it doesn’t seem that it’s taking less time, but it strongly feels like a film like Eraserhead would receive zero support in terms of distribution.

Because what really made Eraserhead the cult film it became? The possibility for it to be screened for weeks at midnight, and thus to find its audience. If this reminds you of the Truffaut’s interview and the 400 blows trajectory, it’s normal, they pretty much had the same story, distribution wise.

It’s become more and more obvious to me that making a film is essential, but a distribution deal offering space for a film to be seen overtime is key, especially if the film isn’t your three acts structure/hero’s journey typical story.

Overall, I’m not sure it’s a very good news to be honest. (As I type this, it doesn’t feel like one). But before all that, take a look at Lynch’s journey to make Eraserhead below. And if you want to read more, check Cagey Film’s exhaustive blog post about it.

Technical note: first attempt at making this type of narrated/animated video. Saying that I underestimated the time it took is an understatement. Hence its many defects in pace and visual. the content remains interesting though, and as far as learning curve is concerned: worth every hour of my time.

(In other words: give yourself a deadline to create, and do your best)

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