I spent a month watching David Lynch's Teaches Creativity and Film course. In this David Lynch Masterclass review, I explain what I learnt and who it's for.
David Lynch is a famous and surrealist author, filmmaker, actor, and director. He's best known as writer and director for works like the cult-hit TV show Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and the Oscar-winning film Mulholland Drive.
He's also the author of the popular transcendental meditation book Catching the Big Fish.
Lynch has a quirky, surrealist, cinematic style that's distinctive from many of his contemporaries and often relies on dreamy imagery and meticulous sound design.
How Much Does David Lynch’s MasterClass Cost?
I took the David Lynch MasterClass as part of the MasterClass All-Access Pass, which costs me 180 for the year.
If you buy an All-Access Pass, you can take any online course on MasterClass for the year without paying for another one. Previously, Masterclass enabled students to buy individual classes, but it's towards a subscription model with unlimited access to all courses.
What's It like?
The David Lynch MasterClass is filmed like a David Lynch movie. It's highly stylized and some lessons are in black and white.
Lynch speaks directly to the camera, drinking coffee and smoking. The 13 video lessons range from four to 20 minutes long. His course is similar in content to the other popular Masterclass offerings by Spike Lee and Werner Herzog.
Here's a lesson summary:
David Lynch's Masterclass clocks in at 172 minutes, over 13 lessons:
- Introduction: The Art Life: 3 minutes
- Catching Ideas: 18 minutes
- Creativity and the Writing Process: 24 minutes
- Educating Yourself: 17 minutes
- Casting for Character: 8 minutes
- Working with Actors: 14 minutes
- On Set: Creating a Happy Family: 15 minutes
- Production Design: Building Unique Worlds: 18 minutes
- Cinematography: Manifesting David's Vision: 10 minutes
- Sound Design and Scoring: 10 minutes
- Breaking the Rules: 6 minutes
- Make It True to the Ideas: 12 minutes
- Bonus Chapter: Transcendental Meditation: minutes
Throughout the course, Lynch explains his approach to writing screenplays, directing films, working with actors, and even meditation.
It's one of the shorter MasterClasses on offer and only takes a few hours to complete. It also comes with a downloadable 27-page PDF. It's a summary of key lessons from the MasterClass.
You can watch David Lynch's MasterClass on the go with your mobile phone, which is what I did. I watched each one of these MasterClasses at lunch.
MasterClass also offers dedicated apps for Android and iOS, so you can learn on whatever device suits.
If you'd like to learn more, read our full Masterclass review.
What Will You Learn in the David Lynch MasterClass?
The David Lynch MasterClass is arguably for a few different types of creative people.
If you're a writer, you'll learn how to find interesting and creative ideas for your books or first screenplays for films. And you'll learn about Lynch's writing process for TV and film.
If you're a filmmaker, you'll learn about topics like how to cast for character and how to work with other actors. You'll also learn about how to manage challenging creatives on set.
If you're a fan, you'll learn about Lynch's approach to storytelling, filmmaking and his creative process.
As someone who's taken a lot of online writing courses, I was particularly drawn to David Lynch's 24-minute lesson on creativity and the writing process. Lynch also comes up with interesting soundbites like:
“I always say ideas are everything, so I go where do the ideas are.”
What Are the Best Things about The Course?
For creatives, Lynch talks about the lifecycle of ideas and he gets into the importance of having time to daydream and sit by yourself and come up with ideas for your stories on book.
In the excellent Fishing for Ideas lesson and chapter in the Companion Workbook, he elaborates on his idea of catching ideas.
Lynch argues millions of ideas exist. Most people don't know where to find them unless they learn how to enter an unconscious staying true to your ideas.
Lynch also talks about the importance of writing your ideas down. He says,
“It's super important to write down your ideas, so you don't forget them. I think I've forgotten three incredible ideas in my life.”
This is one of my biggest takeaways from this MasterClass.
David Lynch on Filmmaking
Lynch fans are in for a treat. He talks about how his favorite film is 8 1/2 by Italian surrealist director Federico Fellini. H
He also describes going to the American Film Institute as a young man with a script called Gardenback. His script was about adultery and it was only 40 pages long.
For Twin Peaks fans, Lynch explains how he came up with Bob the killer and takes us back to Laura Palmer's house.
Lynch describes the role of luck in his creative works on films like The Elephant Man.
He explains how he maintains creative freedom and talks about how painting informs his cinematography and production design approach.
For music fans, Lynch explains how he selects music for some of his films, including Elephant Man. He also recounts what it was like when he was nominated for best director, describes his approach to running a set, and says that it should be like a happy family.
The final bonus lesson about Transcendental Meditation is a standout. In this 17-minute video, David Lynch explains what transcendental meditation is, using drawings and illustrations.
He also talks about how it's informed his creative process and how he practices this transcendental meditation every day. Transcendental meditation is a different practice to what services like Headspace or Waking Up offer.
After watching this MasterClass, I booked on a Transcendental Meditation Course, and I've practiced it ever since. I also agree a lot with what Lynch says.
David Lynch is a compelling instructor. If you're familiar with any of his unique worlds in TV or film, or you're just looking for a different take on the writing or creative process, I'd recommend taking this MasterClass.
It's 13 lessons long and one of the shorter courses on MasterClass. On the other hand, some of the longer MasterClass classes, like the one by Judd Apatow, contains over 20 lessons.
This MasterClass is also good if you find yourself wondering where creative people get their ideas from or if you just feel like you can't come up with anything original for your work.
David teaches students how to lower the bar and stay true to their original ideas, even while working in Hollywood. It's also one of the more stylized and colorful courses on Masterclas.
I found the transcendental meditation class particularly beneficial. However, this may not appeal to creatives not interested in meditation.
Firstly, I'd recommend a basic familiarity with Lynch's books, films, or TV shows before you taking this class.
Otherwise, many of the references and examples from Twin peaks and Mulholland Drive, will be lost on you.
Secondly, because David Lynch is such a dynamic and creative personality, he speaks to lots of different disciplines, writing, meditation, screenplays, directing, etc.
Not all of these classes are relevant to writers, filmmakers and creatives… unless you happen to work across all of these disciplines.
I was less engaged by the classes where he explained how to direct troublesome actors on set.
Is David Lynch MasterClass Worth It?
If you've a MasterClass All-Access Pass, then yes, I definitely recommend spending a couple of hours taking and completing this online course.
Bear in mind, Lynch is an abstract creative and his approach to the creative process is unlike anything you'll read or watch elsewhere online.
This is a man who spent the lockdown pulling random numbers out of a ball and reading weather reports to his fans on YouTube.
Still, it's ideal for writers, filmmakers, creatives and Lynch fans.
How else can you learn from the likes of Lynch and hear about his writing process and approach to filmmaking?
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The Bottom Line
It's a great course for writers, creatives, filmmakers and fans of Lynch's work.
- Great insights into his creative process
- Covers writing, filmmaking and his hit works
- Engaging video lessons and materials
- Some lessons are abstract
- Shorter than some other Masterclass offerings
- Of less value for those who don't know his works