Ms. Silver Screen: How to Make a David Lynch Film

Have you ever tasted something and loved it even though you couldn’t quite put your finger on what the taste was? Have you ever smelled something wafting through the air and found yourself repeating “It smells like… it smells like…” There is a similar reaction upon finishing a David Lynch film. Having seen quite a few in my day, I have gone through the seven stages of David Lynch Syndrome or DLS. The first stage is utter confusion. The second stage consists of the repeating thought “What the hell just happened?” The third stage of DLS occurs when you move to the nearest device that will reach the internet and search for the meaning of the film you’ve just seen. Upon discovering that it cannot be explained in simple terms, the fourth stage is simply befuddlement. The fifth stage will make you question whether or not you actually just watched a movie. The sixth stage will get you if you’re not careful. In this sixth stage you will question your sanity. You’ll ask yourself things like “Am I just not smart enough to get that movie?” or “Wait… do I get that movie?” The answer is always no. No, you don’t. This leads seamlessly into the seventh and final stage which is – naturally – acceptance. You will ultimately accept that David Lynch is brilliant and you can only bask in his radiant glow of genius.

Writer and director Joe McClean is a David Lynch fan and has undoubtedly experienced DLS a number of times. So he made a film called How to Make a David Lynch Film. It is a short film, but does a marvelous job of capturing many Lynchisms within the nine minutes that it runs. The film touches on the repetitive mise-en-scene of all Lynch films. McClean points out the recurring character traits and scenery from great Lynch hits like Mulholland Dr., Lost Highway, Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and a comical little bit from The Elephant Man starring none other than McClean himself. The cast pulls off the Lynch-esque characters from the various films without a hitch. They are as confused as we are and very funny indeed.

Being in the David Lynch film mindset I found myself wondering if it was okay to laugh. The answer is yes, yes, a thousand times yes. While I’ve noticed the oddities of Lynch films in the past, I’ve never taken the time to truly examine them. It’s that seventh stage of acceptance. Thankfully, Joe McClean did the dirty work for me and put together a delightful look into the wild world of David Lynch.

Common sights and sounds in Lynch films include loud telephone rings, unnecessary nudity, random and frequent extreme close-ups, bizarre characters with strange makeup, and long… superfluous… pauses… in dialogue. McClean covers all of these and more. Some Lynch lovers would say that this film is rubbish because it mocks Lynch. I say that the film does not mock him. This film pays loving homage to the strange and wonderful Mr. Lynch.

How to Make a David Lynch Film is set to screen at Dances With Films. This will be McClean’s fourth go ’round at the Dances With Films film festival. Catch the screening at the Laemmle Sunset 5 on June 5th at 12:30 p.m. Be one of the lucky ones to see How to Make a David Lynch Film by getting your tickets here. Oh, and remember, whatever you do, don’t go behind Winkie’s on Sunset Blvd.


  • My parents introduced me to David Lynch — by letting me watch Twin Peaks with them. I was in elementary school at the time. From there, I developed an addiction to coffee and a fascination with girls named Laura. Not surprisingly, Alan Wake is my favorite Xbox 360 game.

  • Wow I studied film in college but I am not sure I know who David Lynch is… is this bad?

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