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Arts & Entertainment

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.

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.

I loved this! I started writing screenplays in March 2020. Just finished my 7th, and now working on a TV Pilot. David Lynch is such an icon.

Got me to get back on track with a project and start TM again.

This is deeply inspiring. He is truly brilliant. I won't forget the fundamental truths that he shared, things I thought I knew, but now feel confirmed.

I learned so many things, about lighting, sound, how to talk to actors and attitude. I love him.


Ali Rıza B.

David Lynch, who has developed himself for years, gives very valuable advice to improve ourselves. And it is worth sitting in this section and thinking a little. I share all that is said for those who want to translate into a language other than English. EDUCATING YOURSELF I think we should all have as much technical knowledge as possible to make films that technical knowledge of a camera lenses film, stock lighting, sound editing machines. But I think the main think 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 opens up possibilities for the flow of ideas. You're learning by doing not an intellectual understanding, but a experiential thing that is so important as far as I'm concerned. All the different parts. Get your get into it. And then in film school, if you're lucky, you'll be with other students. And if they're the right ones, you'll inspire one another and light a bigger fire. And you can meet people that you'll stay with, you know, and work with. And it can be really, really great. This 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 get maybe get some friends and write a scene based on ideas that you might accost and shoot that. And then because you did that and you see what the camera did, you see, like all I should have been closer on that shot at that I would have I and then you you know, I get it and you start learning. And and then maybe you reshoot the thing or maybe new things have come along and you'd learn by doing and and then more ideas will come. 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. You start getting a the 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 and that's an idea or all I could. Oh. And then. And 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 it 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. Learning by Doing: David's First Film This is a sculpture screen for six men getting sick. Minus this 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. But you just saw started everything for me in cinema. That particular thing started with an idea or as a kind of a experience that happened to me when I was sitting. At night, I picture it being around nine thirty or ten 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 these this green sort of a garden green 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, moving, painting. And then I started thinking about a moving painting. And at the end of every school year there, they had a painting of experimental painting and sculpture contests. And I thought, oh, I'm going to build a moving painting. For that experimental painting and sculpture contest. I didn't know anything about Film Zero. And I went down to this, I thought 16 millimeter cameras were all the same. So I called around and I got these varying prices, some super expensive, some. I ended up at this place called Photo Rama downtown Philadelphia, because they had the cheapest 16 millimeter 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 love this little camera. I'm mounted it on top of a dresser in a old hotel room that the academy had purchased this hotel and the rooms were all empty. But in the hallways, there were beautiful brass beds and and Karpe Oriental carpets rolled up and 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. So it kind of started. Those ideas came. And. This siren was on a loop of quarter inch tape and the. Film was not from a negative, it was. What do you call it, reversal? It was what you develop is what you you show. And so it was really trashed by going through the projector so much. That whole thing cost two hundred dollars. And I, I said, this is absolutely ridiculous and I can't do this anymore. That was gonna be the end. But a wealthy former student saw it and commissioned me to build a moving painting for his home. And that led to. Further into the world of cinema. And. For me. I just started getting greenlights. In that world, the beautiful thing about making that was I started to fall in love with cinema. Learning From Film Analysis And Film Scenes I think you should go into film history a little bit. At the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies, Frank Daniel had what he called a film analysis class. And I think this is a great, great thing. There were maybe maybe 10 students and you would come to the class and. We'd meet for a few minutes. And Franks office. And he would say, OK, you're in charge of editing, you're in charge of music, you're in charge of sound, you're in charge of, you know, costumes, you're in charge of this. Give everybody something. And then we go see a film and then we go back into Franck's office and each person would talk about our particular, you know, element like the editing or the sound or the music. And it helps to realize that there are these different sections and each one has so many possibilities to, you know, realize those ideas in fantastic ways. I love Billy Wylder for his timing, characters and sense of place. I can't go onto the scene. I'm too happy. You see, this is my life. It always will be. Nothing else. Just those wonderful people there. All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close to. Done yet much better than that. I love Sunset Boulevard with all my being. And I love his film, The Apartment. And one thing I've noticed about, though, both those films is that places they feel so good, so correct. And it's it's just beautiful sense of place, time, mood, characters, timing, humor, sadness. You know, all this human condition just flows in. A Billy Wilder film is a great, great, great artist, you know. Sunset Boulevard is one of my all time favorites. It captures the golden age of Hollywood. You know, all the different things, the stages, the backstreets, the mansions. This thing that Hollywood does, it's just a magical, beautiful, incredible film. This Chinatown, I say, is a great, great film and will live on. And one of the great things. About it is I say, you know, like the thing room to dream of film even though it ends. The thing I like about. Some are, you know, endings. And Chinatown is a perfect example. The film ends. But there's still room to dream. And in Chinatown, the thing that makes it. 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 eight and a half. But I love La Strada. I loved Evett Aloni. I've loved all of his work that I've seen. Every single thing is 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. And fantastic. Did you see my wife, Mary? Can't pay all, can't. Jamie. Jeremy, tell me. Oh, I could eat you. Where's your mother? We're looking for you, Billy. Oh, she's my little ginger snap. How do you feel? Not as much of tip. Not a switch to throw George to marriage or having bearing down on the job. Well, you're real. Oh, George, you have no idea what's happened to me. You've no idea what happened. Incredible. Frank Capra was another one,all time greats and. This this film, It's A Wonderful Life was made, I think, in 46 after the war. And. Jimmy Stewart had been in the war and 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 Mariotti. It's unbelievable what comes out of his voice and soul. He just so great in that film, Frank Capra's is one of the all time greats for sure. Frank Capra had a thing for this side of human beings that was so beautiful. Mary. Mary. I'm here. Would you tell that guy I'm giving him the chance of a lifetime here, the chance of a lifetime? He says it's the chance of a lifetime. Now, you listen to me. I don't want any plastics and I wanted a ground floors. And I don't want to get married ever to anyone. You understand that? I want to do what I want to do. And you and your kids could.

Tracey W.

The best analogy regarding ideas that I've ever heard. Ideas are like fishing. You catch them. I could take that even farther. Sometime we throw them back by talking ourselves out of an idea. Then when we see someone else successfully enjoying that same fish we tossed back, there is an alarm feeling that that was our idea.

A fellow student

"You know it when you see it" is the goal. To have style that is recognizable immediately.

David B.

Some great insights. That clip of Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite scenes in cinema. I could see that he too was moved by the film. One of the glories of the art.

R.G. R.

His focus (and the emotion & sincerity he adds to it) on what seems like minor parts of a film or a directorial style is amazing. And of course the idea of hands-on learning being the best way is spot on.

Uliana I.

In the end of the day it's all about getting out there and actually FILMING

A fellow student

I love it, before watching it David had been for years one of my 3 most loved directors ever, now he is my Idol. The only thing If I can suggest, I don't like the parts of the class in which what David is saying is illustrated didactically images, that kills David's explanation and does not allow to imagine what he is saying. That's my only critic but all the rest is inspiring and wonderful

Hedydd I.

This was so beautiful. I feel like we don't see this enough, just directors showing there love for cinema purely, not just analysing but also enjoying. It shows the power of cinema and why it's such a great medium.

Michael B.

Easily the best Lynch video so far. I'll be honest: he sounded pretty "wishy-washy" to me in the first three. In this one, he sounds like a man who has done some extraordinary work in his life, and has something to share about it :)

Marjorie T.

The best part of this lesson for me was hearing David speak about the films and filmmakers he admires. You can feel so strongly his passion for their work. It makes the class worth watching alone to hear his opinion and watch as he watches clips from his favorite movies.