We touched on surrealist auteur David Lynch’s creative process and briefly mentioned his struggles with getting a grip on his debut feature Eraserhead’s overarching theme or purpose. Lynch eventually had his eureka moment whilst reading the Bible; a single line quantified the entire film perfectly. We don’t know which line that is since David Lynch has always dodged giving overly simplistic answers to questions, mostly because the reality of creativity is mercurial and expansive. However, if you did find yourself hungry for a little more insight into David’s process while he was still a fresh-faced young artist and not a hallowed grandmaster, we’ve got you covered.
In 1979, two years after the release of Eraserhead and seven years after production had first begun on the film, UCLA shot this video for a class on Television Production. Lynch himself was a resident at the American Film Institute, and happily gives as many insights as he cares to over the course of it’s 18 minutes.
Interviews take place across locations used in the film, and aside from answering questions about the production, Lynch occasionally regales his interviewers with an anecdote on what was surely one of the strangest sets to work on in the ‘70s. One such story explains the presence of a semi-preserved tar-covered cat carcass, first brought on set five years before. The scene that required this cat was cut.
Much of the interview focuses on David’s choice of locations, how he envisioned the urban sprawl that defines Eraserhead, Philadelphia’s part in prodding his imagination, and the spaces he chose to capture it. Another section questions whether he had any audience reactions in mind, followed by clips of audience reactions, all very clearly students. Also touched on: the rules of tone that govern seemingly unrestrictive storytelling, the inspiration behind the lady in the radiator, and how Jack Nance entered production.