Film & TV

Educating Yourself

David Lynch

Lesson time 17:26 min

David believes that the best learning is experiential and hands-on. He shares lessons from his first experiments in cinema and discusses the master filmmakers who have inspired him.

David Lynch
Teaches Creativity and Film
David Lynch teaches his unconventional process for translating visionary ideas into film and other art forms.
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Connect with your creativity

An avant-garde figure in filmmaking, David Lynch introduced mainstream audiences to art-house films. Now the Oscar-nominated director of Mulholland Drive teaches his cross-disciplinary creative process. Learn how he catches ideas, translates them into a narrative, and moves beyond formulaic storytelling. Embrace the art life in David’s MasterClass and learn to test the boundaries of your own artistic expression in any medium.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

It's great to get inside the thought process of such a creative being. It was very inspirational.

Amazing. Truly inspiring. Great advice on unlocking creativity and unleashing your ideas.

I just loved David's masterclass - he is a true artist! Thank you! I feel inspired!

hello david, tell us more about art and cinema,


Brendan T.

The lesson was insightful and enlightening. I'm currently writing a screenplay with a pal of mine and I have shown him this lesson and it has helped with writer's block. Being a Lynch fan, this is a treat that you can digest and it makes you feel full.

Debby V.

Wonderful lesson on what you can learn from great films and the aesthetic the director wants to show. I think the Chinatown reference is something so true of great films, reflecting on my favorite films, films that I would like to never end or live in those films is because they have "room to dream."

Chris D.

What can you say? Room to dream? His reaction to "It's a Wonderful Life"? His obvious deep passion for story and film? It's all right there, his heart on his sleeve. Thank you, David. This class is life-changing.

Tori O.

Unbelievable that I am learning from a true genius and master of film making and teaching!!

Mia S.

"I think you should go into film history a little bit. At the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies, Frank Danielle had what he called a film analysis class and I think this is a great thing. There were maybe 10 students that would come to the class and we'd meet for a few minutes in Frank's office and he would say, 'OK, you're in charge of editing, music, sound, costumes,' give everybody something, and then we go see a film, and then we go back into Frank's office and each person would talk about a particular element. And it helps to realize that there are these different sections and each one has so many possibilities to realize those ideas in fantastic ways. I love Billy Wilder for his timing, characters, and sense of place. Doesn't get much better than that. I love 'Sunset Boulevard' with all my being, and I love his film 'The Apartment.' One thing I've noticed about both those films is that places, they feel so good, so correct, and it's just beautiful sense of place, time, mood, characters, timing, humor, sadness - all this human condition just flows in a Billy Wilder film. He's a great artist. 'Sunset Boulevard' is one of my all-time favorites; it captures the golden age of Hollywood, all the different things - the stages, backstreets, mansions, this thing that Hollywood does - it's just a magical, beautiful, incredible film. 'Chinatown,' I say is a great film, and will live on, and one of the great things about it is, I say, 'Room to dream.' The thing I like about some endings ('Chinatown' is a perfect example) - the film ends, but there's still room to dream. And in 'Chinatown,' the thing that makes so much room to dream is that last line: 'Forget it, Jake - it's Chinatown.' Boom, it just opens up this mystery of this place and the film continues and continues, even though it's over. I love everything about Fellini - one of the greatest filmmakers ever. My favorite film of Fellini's is probably '8 1/2,' but I love 'La Strada,' I loved 'I Vitelloni,' I've loved all of his work that I've seen. Every single thing has just got Fellini's mark on every frame. That's the thing - you know it when you see it, and his work is unique and fantastic. Frank Capra was another one, all-time greats - this film, 'It's a Wonderful Life,' was made in '46, after the war, and Jimmy Stewart had been in the war for years, and when he came out he didn't know if he had the stuff, and this thing came along - he does some things in this film that are like... There's one place in the film where he says the word 'Mary' - it's unbelievable, what comes out of his voice, his soul. He is so great in that film. Frank Capra is one of the all-time greats, for sure; Capra had a thing for this side of human beings that was so beautiful."

Mia S.

"This is a sculptured screen for 'Six Men Getting Sick,' minus the film and the sound. Two of the faces are me and one is of Jack, and they're cast in resin, all put together to be this screen upon which the film fell. What you just saw started everything for me in cinema; that particular thing started with an idea or a kind of experience that happened to me when I was sitting at night. I picture it being around 9:30 or 10 at night in a cubicle in a large studio room at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, I'm in there painting a picture, about three or four foot square, mostly black, with this green - sort of a garden - coming out of the black. I'm sitting back looking at this thing and as I'm looking at the painting, the green began to move and from the green and black came a wind, and I thought, 'Oh, a moving painting.' And then I started thinking about a moving painting, and at the end of every school year there, they had an experimental painting and sculpture contest, and I thought, 'I'm going to build a moving painting for that contest.' I didn't know anything about film - zero. I thought 16 mm cameras were all the same, so I called around and I got these varying prices, some super expensive... I ended up at this place called Photorama in downtown Philadelphia, because they have the cheapest 16 mm camera, and I rented a little wind-up Kodak camera that took single frames and had these little bitty cooked lenses on it - a turret of three. And I loved this little camera; I mounted it on top of a dresser in an old hotel room that the Academy had purchased; the rooms were all empty, but in the hallways, there were beautiful brass beds and oriental carpets rolled up, all kinds of different pieces of furniture. But the rooms were open for work, and I built a sculpture screen in there and then I think came in faces and the sound of a siren and them getting sick. Those ideas came. And this siren was on a loop of quarter-inch tape, and the film was not from a negative, it was reversal - what you develop is what you show. So it was really trashed by going through the projector so much. That whole thing cost $200, and I said, 'This is absolutely ridiculous, and I can't do this anymore.' It was going to be the end. But a wealthy former student saw it and commissioned me to build a moving painting for his home, and that led further into the world of cinema. And for me, I just started getting green lights in that world. The beautiful thing about making that was, I started to fall in love with cinema."

Mia S.

"I think we should all have as much technical knowledge as possible to make films. The technical knowledge of a camera, lenses, film stock, lighting, sound, editing machines. But I think the main thing is to learn by doing - when you have hands-on and are doing things, it brings you into the thing and you realize what this does, what that does and it opens up possibilities for the flow of ideas. You're learning by doing, not an intellectual understanding, but an experiential thing - that is so important, as far as I'm concerned. All the different parts get into it - and then in film school, if your'e lucky, you'll be with other students and if they're the right ones you'll inspire one another and light a bigger fire. You can meet people that you'll stay with and work with and it could be really great, this school learning environment. Maybe get a camera - save up, figure out a way to get a camera and learn how to use it. Then maybe get some friends and write a scene based on ideas that you might've caught and shoot that. And then because you did that and you see what the camera did, you see, 'Oh, I should've been closer on that shot, I should've...' and you start learning. Then maybe you reshoot the thing, or maybe new things have come along and you learn by doing and more ideas start coming. Because now, once you start seeing what this particular camera gives you if you have this particular light and you see this girl saying this thing in a certain way, the medium starts talking to you. And it's like it introduces itself to you - you get to know it and then the more you get to know it, the more it helps you get ideas. 'Oh if I did this' - that's an idea. And then in they come, and so you just stay alert, do your work, don't worry about the world going by - it doesn't mean that you can sit around and not do anything, you've got to get your butt in gear and do it and don't take no for an answer. Translate those ideas to cinema, or to a painting, or to whatever, and figure out a way to get it done."

Fiona M.

What a special moment it was seeing David react to It's a Wonderful Life. I found myself tearing up along with him. All of the lessons have been fantastic.

Tim A.

Wasn't expecting to choked-up during this lesson, but couldn't help. The way David reflects about Sunset Blvd., Chinatown and It's a Wonderful Life was beautiful and touching.

A fellow student

I haven´t found the note books of the classes. Does any one know where are them?