David Lynch often tells the origin story about the moment when, as a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, he started to think of himself as filmmaker. While working on a painting of a woman in a garden at night, he took a smoke (he swears it was a cigarette, no drugs involved) and looked at his work. He started to hear wind, and then the green in the painting (surrounded by heavy, thick black paint) started to move.
“And the next thought is, ‘Oh, a moving painting,’” said Lynch in 2014, ahead of retrospective of his work at his alma mater. “And that’s what started it: It’s sound and picture.” Soon after Lynch made his first short film, the stop-motion animated short “Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times),” which went on to win the Academy’s student competition for best experimental work.
“In the telling of that story, people skip over the wind part and jump to the painting started to move,” said Dean Hurley, who has worked full-time for Lynch managing his sound studio for the last 13 years. “That’s the romantic essence of David. The fact that the image is making him hear something. Then later in life, with his filmmaking, he ends up working with Angelo [Badalamenti] composing before they’ve even shot things. Those sounds, that music, ends up conjuring the images.”
For “Twin Peaks: The Return” Hurley has multiple credits — re-recording mixer, supervising sound editor, sound supervisor — in assisting Lynch, who for the first time took the well-earned credit of sound designer on the 18-part Showtime series. What follows are edited excerpts from a fascinating hour-long interview with Hurley, who brought IndieWire inside the private sound studio — which Hurley compares to a hidden bunker that keeps the world out and protects Lynch’s process — and how Lynch creates cinema through sound.
Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan in Part 7, “Twin Peaks: The Return:
I started working with David in January 2005. He owns his own dubbing stage and recording studio hybrid space. It looks like a theater — essentially that’s what a dubbing stage is. It’s got a mixing console in front of an embankment of seats, and a giant 18-foot screen to mix things, but also he’s got isolation booths to record music. I was hired to manage and run the room, but early on …read more