Contrary to popular belief, many directors are genuinely modest and can honestly maintain that they make movies for the love of cinema (rather than the money, stardom, hedonistic lifestyle, etc.), but it is still surprising to find one who is unwilling to reveal their identity. This is the case with the director of LYNCH, the new documentary about David Lynch, who is choosing to remain anonymous behind the pseudonym blackANDwhite. He (for blackANDwhite is a he) initially drew attention to himself with this refusal to stand in the limelight, and prompted the press to speculate that the film was in fact directed by Lynch, and the anonymous director was nothing but a fabrication. However this is not the case: I myself uncovered a picture of blackANDwhite, clearly showing his face, and also his real name. Or maybe just another nom de plume of a self-professed lover of pseudonyms…
At his request, I have kept blackANDwhite’s identity secret, and so the mystery surrounding him remains, and we can shift focus to his excellent film. Documentaries about filmmakers and Hollywood easily become banal ‘making of’ movies, however this is far from the case with LYNCH. Shot in black and white and color across a variety of formats, and edited in an organic, impressionistic style, the film beautifully echoes the creative idiosyncrasies of David Lynch’s own work in the way it captures his life and creative processes. Though there is no adherence to a traditional linear approach in the way footage is presented, watching the seemingly random moments of Lynch filming Inland Empire, making art at his home or taking photos in old Polish factories, a curious, crazed logic emerges as we glimpse the very essence of Lynch, the artist and the man.
Filmmaker conducted a (typographically distinctive) interview with blackANDwhite over email, and corresponded with him about spending two years filming David Lynch, his shadowy identity, and fond memories of childhood cinemagoing with his grandmother.
Filmmaker: Tell us a bit about yourself, like your age, nationality and background, how long you’ve been in film.
blackANDwhite: LET’S SEE WHAT CAN I TELL YOU ABOUT MYSELF—— I AM 36 YEARS OLD, I HAVE GERMAN AND IRISH ROOTS—— I WENT TO COLLEGE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AND RECEIVED A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY—– MOVED TO SAN FRANCISCO—– DIDN’T FEEL COMPLETELY AT EASE THERE—- DONT GET ME WRONG IT IS A GREAT CITY TO VISIT BUT IT NEVER FELT LIKE HOME TO ME……….. I THEN MOVED DOWN TO LA AND FOUND MYSELF WORKING AT A MANAGEMENT COMPANY DELIVERING SCRIPTS AND RUNNING ERRANDS——– THEN I GOT THE JOB AT ASYMMETRICAL AND MY LIFE CHANGED——— I BEGAN WORKING FOR DAVID AND I THINK THAT IS WHEN I CAN SAY I REALLY BEGAN TO THINK ABOUT A CAREER IN FILM………… THAT WAS ABOUT 9 YEARS AGO.
Filmmaker: How did you first meet David Lynch?
blackANDwhite: I FIRST MET DAVID IN THE HALLWAY OF HIS OFFICE——- I WAS THERE WAITING TO BE INTERVIEWED FOR THE ASSISTANT POSITION.
Filmmaker: Can you describe your relationship with David Lynch?
blackANDwhite: MY RELATIONSHIP WITH DAVID HAS CHANGED DURING THE COURSE OF THIS PROJECT…….. I CONSIDER DAVID NOT ONLY A MENTOR BUT A FRIEND AS WELL. HE IS AN AMAZING PERSON AND I THANK HIM FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR ALLOWING ME THIS OPPORTUNITY.
Filmmaker: Did you instigate this doc or did he?
blackANDwhite: WE INSTIGATED THE DOCUMENTARY—– THE PRODUCER OF THE FILM JON NGUYEN CALLED ME ON THE PHONE AND ASKED IF I THOUGHT DAVID WOULD LET US SHOOT SOMETHING ON HIM—— I DIDNT THINK HE WOULD BUT IT WAS WORTH THE SHOT TO TRY AND FIND OUT—- SO I FLEW OUT FROM NYC TO LOS ANGELES TO ASK HIM.
Filmmaker: How did documenting David’s life so closely change the way you perceived him?
blackANDwhite: THE FILM DID NOT CHANGE THE WAY THAT I PERCEIVE DAVID. HE HAS ALWAYS JUST BEEN DAVID TO ME—- SOMEONE WHO IS INCREDIBLY PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT HE DOES FOR A LIVING AND INCREDIBLY PASSIONATE ABOUT THE WAY HE LIVES HIS LIFE.
Filmmaker: What new or interesting things did you learn – both about David, and about yourself – during the two years making this film?
blackANDwhite: I DEFINITELY LEARNED A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION DURING THIS PROCESS——– AS FAR AS WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF——— I AM NOT QUITE SURE ABOUT THAT ACTUALLY—- I THINK MAYBE THOSE ANSWERS WILL COME ONCE THIS WHOLE PROCESS IS OVER AND I CAN LOOK BACK ON IT WITH FRESH EYES.
Filmmaker: Did you approach the film as an outsider or insider?
blackANDwhite: THE FILM IS AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE WORLD SURROUNDING DAVID AND HIS CREATIVITY——– IT WAS THE ONLY THING I FELT I HAD TO OFFER THAT WAS UNIQUE——–
Filmmaker: What were your influences for this film (both cinematic and otherwise)?
blackANDwhite: I THINK THAT ONE OF THE GREATEST DOCUMENTARIES I HAVE EVER SEEN IS D.A. PENNEBAKER’S DON’T LOOK BACK———– THAT FILM CARRIED ME THROUGH A LOT OF SOLITARY TIME WHEN I WAS AT THE CABIN [editing the film].
Filmmaker: Why is the film called LYNCH (one) on posters? Are there more films to come?
blackANDwhite: THE LYNCH SERIES WILL BE COMPRISED OF 3 FILMS. LYNCH (one), LYNCH2 AND LYNCH three.
Filmmaker: I know you’re shooting at the moment. Are you working on the second part of the LYNCH trilogy?
blackANDwhite: AT THE MOMENT I AM WORKING ON AN ENTIRELY NEW PROJECT BUT I WOULD LIKE TO KEEP IT UNDER WRAPS FOR A BIT LONGER——– I WILL SAY THAT IT INVOLVES A 5 WEEK ROADTRIP ACROSS THE UNITED STATES…………. WORK ON THE LYNCH SERIES WILL BEGIN AGAIN IN 2008 IF ALL GOES WELL.
Filmmaker: What are your reasons for calling yourself blackANDwhite?
blackANDwhite: I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN FASCINATED WITH PSEUDONYMS……. AS FAR AS THE IDENTITY GOES IF IT NEVER GOT OUT I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER——— I ENJOY MY PSEUDO-ANONYMITY.
Filmmaker: What was your response to the suggestion that blackANDwhite was in fact David Lynch?
blackANDwhite: I WAS SURPRISED……… I HOPE THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT DISAPPOINTED THAT IT IS NOT DAVID.
Filmmaker: Is this the first pseudonym you’ve used? Are you going to use more in the future?
blackANDwhite: I HAVE USED MANY PSEUDONYMS IN THE PAST AND WILL CONTINUE TO USE THEM IN THE FUTURE——— A CERTAIN NAME FITS A CERTAIN TYPE OF PROJECT I BELIEVE.
Filmmaker: Recently, you’ve been doing Q&As on the film festival circuit – how have you managed to remain incognito?
blackANDwhite: I THINK I WILL TAKE THE 5TH ON THIS QUESTION IF THAT’S ALRIGHT.
Filmmaker: What was the reason for you shooting in black and white and color in the film?
blackANDwhite: I SHOT IN BOTH BLACK AND WHITE AND COLOR BECAUSE I FELT THAT CERTAIN THINGS LIVED MORE IN A BLACK AND WHITE WORLD AND CERTAIN THINGS LIVED BETTER IN A COLOR WORLD.
Filmmaker: The film is edited in an unconventional, impressionistic way – what was your approach?
blackANDwhite: I APPROACHED THE FILM FROM THE STANDPOINT OF FEELING—- IF I DID NOT FEEL A CLIP IT DID NOT MAKE IT INTO THE FILM——- I WANTED TO GIVE THE PEOPLE THE FEELING OF WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE AROUND DAVID—-THE THOUGHTS THAT HE MAKES YOU THINK——-THE AVENUES YOUR CREATIVITY GOES DOWN.
Filmmaker: What level access did you have to Lynch’s world?
blackANDwhite: THE LEVEL OF ACCESS WAS INCREDIBLE—-DAVID LET ME SHOOT EVERYTHING THAT I WANTED TO SHOOT.
Filmmaker: Where was the line drawn?
blackANDwhite: THE LINE WAS DRAWN AT PERSONAL INFORMATION WHICH WAS NOT IMPORTANT TO THE STORYLINE………… ALL THINGS CREATIVE WERE FAIR GAME.
Filmmaker: Do you think the current popularity of documentaries is a fad, or are they here to stay?
blackANDwhite: I HOPE THAT THEY ARE HERE TO STAY. I ENJOY WATCHING THEM AND FEEL THEY ARE A GREAT SOURCE OF INFORMATION…..THEY INSPIRE ME.
Filmmaker: What was the first film you ever saw?
blackANDwhite: I REALLY CANNOT REMEMBER THAT———- I DO REMEMBER MY GRANDMOTHER TAKING ME TO THE MOVIES ON SATURDAY AFTERNOONS WHEN I WAS ABOUT 5 THOUGH…….. WE WOULD SIT THROUGH THE FILMS TWICE—- IT WAS THE GREATEST.
Filmmaker: What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced during your time working in film?
blackANDwhite: I THINK IT WOULD HAVE TO BE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT PEOPLE MAKE IN THIS BUSINESS——– I USED TO WORK ON COMMERCIALS AND THE WASTED EXPENSES WOULD ALWAYS BLOW ME AWAY———- VERY STRANGE HOW THIS BUSINESS CAN BE SO FRUGAL AND THEN AT THE DROP OF A HAT BE SO EXTRAVAGANT.