When one thinks of iconoclastic moviemaker David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr.), nightmarish, surreal images surely jump to mind. Lynch’s latest project, however, spotlights real, everyday folks who probably wouldn’t seem out of place in The Straight Story (the Lynch film that most resembles normalcy).
Co-directed by Austin Lynch (David’s son) and Jason S., “Interview Project,” a 121-part documentary series, is an ambitious undertaking. The moviemakers went on an extensive journey across the U.S., talking to people from all walks of life and filming their stories. The subjects were randomly selected and were found in bars, in front of their homes, alongside the highway and in other ordinary places.
Each episode features a three- to five-minute interview with a different subject from a different part of the country. In a short span of time, these short interviews manage to be hilarious, heartbreaking and thought-provoking. David Lynch presents the series and provides an introduction for each episode. “Interview Project” premiered June 1 on Lynch’s Website and a new episode will premiere every three days over the next year.
MM recently spoke with co-director Austin Lynch about this sure-to-be fascinating documentary series.
Kyle Rupprecht (MM): Going on an extensive road trip across the U.S., talking to people and capturing their stories sounds like a pretty hefty undertaking. How did the basic concept originate?
Austin Lynch (AL): Jason and I were sitting together one day at the kitchen table talking about Dany Prignon when the idea for “Interview Project” struck us. Initially, we were very excited by the idea of traveling throughout the United States and simply talking to people about their lives. Shortly thereafter, we approached my dad with the idea and he was very receptive to it. The three of us spent the next few months developing the project and gearing up for the road trip.
MM: Obviously your dad is a big part of “The Interview Project.” Episodes premiere on his Website and he provides an introduction for every episode, but did he serve any “behind-the-scenes” purpose as well?
AL: Definitely. When Jason and I approached him with the initial idea he was really excited about the project and the three of us went back and forth refining our concept and getting a concrete plan in place.
MM: How long did the editing process take? Did you film more subjects than you ultimately decided to use?
AL: The editing process is actually still going on. We are almost finished with all of the episodes and the whole process has taken over a year so far. We shot 124 interviews and we will be airing 121 of them on our Website.
MM: What surprised you most about the outcome of The Interview Project? Did it all go according to plan?
AL: There have been a lot of surprises along the way, but I think Jason and I were most surprised by how receptive people were to our project. When we first started approaching people and asking them for an interview, I think we both expected a lot of people to tell us to take a hike. So, having so many people participate in the project and share their stories with us was the biggest surprise and the best surprise.
MM: The series premiered on June 1, and a new episode will premiere every three days over the course of a year. When do you project the series will end, and how many episodes will there be in total? Would you like to make more seasons in the future with new subjects?
AL: We will be launching all 121 of the interviews over the next year and they will all be live on the site after that. We have been talking about continuing the project in the future, but not in the same exact way. We still have a lot to work out, but we will let you know if any of these new ideas come to fruition.
MM: Ultimately, what do you hope viewers gain from hearing these personal stories from everyday citizens across the country?
AL: We recently watched several Interview Project episodes with our good friend, Pierre Edelman, and an interesting conversation followed the screening. I think he helped us look at what we had done in a very different way. We basically hope that people will be able to connect with what we have done on some level and we hope that our series will provide our viewers the opportunity to see these people in relation to one another as well as to themselves.
To view the series, visit http://interviewproject.davidlynch.com.