One day last summer, I had the good fortune to stumble across a unique Internet documentary series, presented by acclaimed artist and director, David Lynch: Interview Project.
The series, which began in June 2009, is now winding its way towards the home stretch and I wanted to bring your attention to this first-rate piece of work before it comes to an end.
IP, a 20,000 mile road trip without a plan. A sort of Zen and the art of free spirit wanderlust.
Co-directed by Austin Lynch, along with his friend Jason S., IP continues to mine some of the rich terrain and wonderful characters which David Lynch brought to the screen in the satisfyingly moving 1999 film, “The Straight Story.” (God bless Richard Farnsworth.)
IP posts a new episode every 3 days. We have opportunities to meet some plain ol’ folks and a few others who are a bit more colorful that ‘the team’ discovered as they traveled around our great country over the course of 70 days. The interviews, which are well photographed, edited and scored into 3-5 minute segments; allow each of the subjects to share bits of their lives in a way that is spontaneous, organic and refreshingly real. ‘The team’ as Lynch refers to them, at the top of each episode, also includes Sabrina Sutherland/producer along with Angie Schmidt and Julie Pepin/interviewers.
As someone who enjoys a good documentary, I can tell you this work is right up there. The ease, at which the subjects seem to appear on camera, is a testament to the filmmakers skills and ability to use the existing space, allowing their characters ‘to be present and in the moment’. As always, it’s in the little things. Small details. Images. Sounds. The music by Dean Hurley and Stoll Vaughan is oh-so-fine. The people, the situations each magically different as night and day.
Take Jess, from the first episode, who ‘the team’ found sitting by the side of the road, in Needles, CA. An Army veteran, who served in Vietnam, talking about his wife leaving him and a bushel full of regrets, among them, not being able to see his Dad before he died.
Or Rey, an art school teacher from Springer, NM, who served ‘the team’ fresh biscuits and jalapeno jelly. A man who enjoys life, however he ordered his coffin early so he could sleep in it, to get ‘the feel’.
There’s, Anthony, who ‘the team’ found riding his bike down on Cherry St., in Dumas, AR. A soft-spoken, good natured man who talked about growing up in Detroit, his family and son Robert, who was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Another time, we meet, Mrs. Dennis, a sweet lady from Vicksburg, MS, who is married to a preacher. A good woman who shares her secret to living a long life.
Further on up the road lives, Nick ‘Batso’ Maccharoli, from Stratford, CT. A man of many talents who while struggling through life has worked hard to make something of himself.
As I mention earlier, the story of Alvin Straight was an indication of just how ‘tuned in’ David Lynch is to everyday people. He ‘gets it’. He understands, appreciates the simple beauty of our human condition. Like all great artists, he is drawn to it. As he states, “it’s something you can’t stay away from.” The man is a major presence here and I, for one, am grateful for his contribution. The filmmakers have much to be proud of. This is good work. Others in Hollywood should take a lesson and learn.
When all is said and done, it’s about the people and their stories. American heart and soul. Everyday folks treated with respect while having their say. Are you listening Janeane Garofalo?
Say what you will about David Lynch, the man is a gifted, rare bird in Hollywood. Much like the late John Cassavetes, he’s a true independent spirit, forever marching to the beat of his own drum.
Interview Project, is a film experience which will entertain, educate and perhaps enlighten you.
Please, stop by. Check it out. And if you like what you see…tell a friend.