(For a quick reference, see the trailers for SURVEILLANCE and HISSS below the text.)
So I just watched SURVEILLANCE, and I must say it quite disturbed me.
Lynch: Oh bless your heart. (Laughs) I hope it's a good thing, I mean, I don't want to negatively disturb anybody, but I do love to pleasurably disturb.
Right. What I like about it is, it's kind of a "dark and stormy night" thriller, but it takes place in the bright, baking sunlight. Can you talk about why you went that route?
Lynch: Absolutely. The actual location was chosen for financial reasons. Canada offers incredible tax breaks, and when I went up there I was astounded by - not just the tax breaks - but the landscapes. And the crews are so f*cking solid. They were like the tightest crews in the world. What I wanted to do was create a frightening environment in the daylight, because I personally have had some very frightening experiences in the brightest of sunshine. To me, darkness is easy to be scared in. But if you can be scared in broad daylight, then something's really gone wrong. And I love that whole sort of opposite feeling. You know, one minute you're laughing, the next minute you're shitting your pants.
How was your father involved? Did he help out with the story at all, or was he just there for support...
Lynch: It's one of those crazy things - well, for me, I don't know if anyone else will think it's crazy - but the short version is, I wrote the script, and a year after I finished it, he called me one day and said "What the hell is going on with your movie?" I said, "Absolutely f*cking nothing". And he said, "What are you talking about?" And I said, "Look I don't know if it's been so long since BOXING HELENA and the competition is so big, or if I'm just dead, or I don't know what I've written, but nobody is picking up the phone and calling me about this". And he said, "Look, I'm going to suggest something that you'll probably hate, but what if I put my name on it as Executive Producer?" And I said, "Oh god don't even talk to me about that. I get so much shit for being your kid anyway, so that's the last thing I need". He said, "Just consider it an experiment". And I agreed to it, and three days later, we had offers.
Lynch: And we spoke again, and I said "I can't tell you how much I appreciate you loading my empty weapon, but I also think it's really creepy that it's really that simple. What about everybody else that's written some great stuff out there that doesn't have you to put your name on the script?" You know, that was a strange re-enlightening moment. So I went off and shot the film, and then it was the moment of truth. I've seen him executive produce many things, and maybe 60% of them he takes his name off of at the end, because he didn't like the final product. So I showed it to him, and afterward he said, "Just one thing", and I said "What?", and he said, "I want my name big". So I thought that was cool.
When you show him your film, are you looking at it like "I hope my dad likes the movie", or are you thinking, "I hope this great filmmaker David Lynch likes the movie"? Or are you not able to separate the two?
Lynch: That is a really f*cking good question. I was showing him footage the other day that I shot in India, and I think that the truest answer is, only with time have I been able to separate it. But the first hope is that my father likes it, the second hope is the filmmaker likes it. Because they're two very different people to me. Even though they're the same man, the interest in respect and approval are two different things. I think now that I'm 41, I can separate it enough.
I was wondering if it's a coincidence that Bill Pullman, who was in LOST HIGHWAY, is in SURVEILLANCE. Is there any connection there?
Lynch: You know what, I'll tell you the connection, and i love talking about this, because no one ever asks me about this. Bill Pullman was supposed to play a part in BOXING HELENA, and when my father was casting LOST HIGHWAY, he was talking about needing an actor who sort of looks like an everyday man, but who had the ability to be both haunting and vulnerable. And I said, "Bill Pullman!" And he said, "Who is Bill Pullman?" And I said, "Are you f*cking kidding me?!" I gave him a list of movies to rent, and sure enough, he cast Bill Pullman. Bill and I have known each other for a long time, and I had the good fortune of seeing him everyday in the parking lot because our kids went to the same school. But Bill Pullman is in there - I wrote the part with him specifically in mind. I trust that Bill has in him a real comedy and darkness that has not been explored yet.
I really like the rest of the cast too, I especially like people like French Stewart, who is pretty much known for just the one thing, "3rd Rock from the Sun", and Cheri Oteri, who is obviously known for "Saturday Night Live". Were you trying to cast against type there, or were they just the right actors for the roles?
Lynch: I like to say I'm smart enough to be thinking of casting against type, but if each of those roles couldn't be innately human and funny, they also couldn't be poignant, so I went in search of comedians. I think most people who are uniquely funny are also desperately sad and troubled. And that's what makes them so f*cking funny. French was perfect, and Cheri was perfect. There's no more depressing a mom than someone who makes you laugh in all the wrong ways. French is kind of magical. I've never seen someone go from cracking insanely dirty jokes with me one minute, to "Action!" and doing something else entirely different the next. He's a master at his craft. That man has not been used enough in film, and I feel really fortunate to have worked with him.
Would you say that this genre of film is your favorite? Suspense/horror-
Lynch: As opposed to romantic comedies? (Laughs)
Yeah, or charming children's films.
Lynch: Yeah, children's movies. That's what I want to make... They tickle me, they inspire me, and they make me ask the right questions, and I guess that I'm drawn to the things I don't live in. And I don't live in a dark place, I live in a very happy place. And I think, much to people's subsequent chagrin when they hear I'm David's daughter, they think I live in darkness, and I don't. We all have our problems, but I've had a happy life thus far, and I think I'm drawn to the darker stuff. But I'm also looking forward to making something silly, and there are some silly moments in SURVEILLANCE. (Note: Jennifer went on to discuss some of the "silly" moments in SURVEILLANCE, but it wouldn't be fair to those who have not seen the movie to spoil them.)
Is that's what's next for you, something silly? I know you have HISSS coming up, but what's after HISSS?
Lynch: I don't know yet, if you think of something, call me! This business is fierce and competitive, and I don't what I'm going to do next to pay the rent, but I'm going to figure it out.
Now onto, HISSS. I've seen the trailer a few times now, and it looks very bizarre, and weird, and I can't even necessarily put my finger on what the tone of the movie is. Is it a horror movie? Is it a fantasy?
Lynch: It's a love story, musical, myth. And it's definitely a creature-feature. It's India's oldest legend. And when I met Robert Kurtzman, I just got excited about turning a snake into a hot babe into a giant snake. So I couldn't stay away.
So where did the original idea come from, what was the spark?
Lynch: The spark was, I did something crazy and asked for a job. I said, I gotta pay the kid's tuition. And I got an obscure phone call saying someone was making a film in India, and they wanted to meet with me. So I met with them and they said "India's oldest legend is about a cobra goddess who is the goddess of fertility, and we'd like to talk to you about making a movie about her". And I said, "Okay, can I read the script?" And they said, "There isn't one, you need to write it". (Laughs) So I did some research, and I wrote the script, and I went to India and shot the film. And here we are today.
Now is there any chance of a HISSS 2?
Lynch: I think there is a distinct possibility, but that's going to be up to audiences. Would I love that? Yes. I'd love to go back to India and do it again knowing what I know now after eight months there, and what I've learned about the people, and certainly what I've learned about the landscape, and how crews work there which is very different, but incredibly passionate. 75% of the time, the crew is barefoot, and stepping in water while there are open sockets floating around. And they love their films, and they make 8,000 films a year and all of them get released in theaters. All of them.
Will you be pushing HISSS more in India than you will be in the States?
Lynch: I think it will be a dual push. I think it will be an equal push here as in India, but because it stars Mallika Sherawat, they're already chomping at the bit.
And she's a big star there, right? Was it a controversial thing that she took a part in this movie?
Lynch: Not so much controversial as it was difficult to shoot around. (Laughs) You don't really have crowd control in India, because you can't control 800 gazillion people. What's amazing is that she was able to do her job and be graceful even amidst the insanity. I'm very grateful for that.
There was obviously a long layoff between BOXING HELENA and SURVEILLANCE, and now you've done SURVEILLANCE and HISSS relatively close together. Are you happy to be working like that, or was the time off good for you?
Lynch: Oh god no. I mean, I needed the time off, but I didn't like it. I had a child, I had three spinal reconstructive surgeries, and I got sober. Now I'm five years out of back surgery, eight years sober, and I have a thirteen year-old daughter. So that's where I was.
So you were busy.
Lynch: Yeah, I was busy. I hope not to have another fifteen years in between films...
I'd like to thank Jennifer Lynch for her time. As for your time, take some to read the Arrow's review of SURVEILLANCE right HERE, and also give the trailer for that and for HISSS a peek below. SURVEILLANCE can be found as a pre-theatrical rental on AMAZON HERE and on Xbox Live Marketplace. It will be available on DVD this August!