I saw Twin Peaks when it first aired on TV.
I was six years old.
From that point forward, I devoured any and all David Lynch-related information.
From his movies and TV shows to his talk-show appearances, books about him, books written by him, interviews with him on the internet.
Anything and everything else you could imagine.
David Lynch influenced me to become a filmmaker.
Not just any filmmaker, but a filmmaker like David Lynch.
I don't mean copying his work on a surface level. I mean taking influence and inspiration from his attitude about filmmaking.
I implemented what I learned about Lynch when I was eight years old.
It was 1992.
I wrote a narrative script. I cast actors. I choreographed a fight scene. I directed and shot the material on a camcorder my dad bought.
I edited the footage using two VCR machines long before I ever heard or read about Robert Rodriguez doing the same thing.
I turned the film in to my teacher.
It was for a written assignment I ignored. I made a film instead.
Later, I ran production for a local cable access TV station while I was in high school.
I directed, shot and cut everything from infomercials, football games, narrative shorts, and local-interest documentaries.
I also selected and scheduled programming.
I even got in trouble for airing a film I made in my Junior-year video production class, because of a scene featuring a high-school student cutting his own wrists and throat in a bathroom stall in school and bleeding all over the walls, toilet, floor and ceiling. He died (in the film).
They didn't vet the programming before they aired it. I would assume they started to vet the programming after the complaints started rolling in from the audience watching at home on TV around prime time.
I read and heard all about a lot of those complaints myself. My video production teacher was fake-outraged about it for days and put together a big song-and-dance of punishing me for his superiors. He was also the Drama teacher.
He told everyone I was banned from the editing room from then on. Our secret was that I was in there more than ever.
My perverse sense of humor is still proud I pulled this off and won a fan in my teacher. He respected me for the very thing that other people since have ghosted me for, yelled at me for, fired me for, and blacklisted me for.
It's one of my proudest moments, which might say a lot about me. Or what kind of filmmaker I am.
I still make films for people like my video production teacher.
After high school, I went to film school.
After film school, I quit a miserable career as an actor (SAG member since 1994).
I was sick of LA so I moved to San Francisco.
In San Francisco, I started working full-time as a jack-of-all-trades filmmaker and photographer for companies like Levi's, Absolut, MIT, Lucasfilm, Dolby, Trulia, Mercedes-Benz, Canon and Square, among others.
I made commercials for TV and the web. I took photos for internal sales tools and e-commerce. I shot weddings and music videos. I put together entire training packages and event recaps. I programmed several annual conferences and created the content for them.
I learned all kinds of lessons about high-stakes, high-pressure, fast, efficient corporate filmmaking and photography.
I worked as a producer, writer, director, cinematographer, editor and photographer while dealing with significant budgets and teams (often under my leadership.)
And out of all the things I learned from searching for meaning in David Lynch's attitude, my main takeaway would be "you have to do what feels right to you, no matter what."
Whether, for him, it's insisting on final cut, saying "no" to George Lucas' offer to direct a Star Wars movie, or walking away from Twin Peaks Season 3, the lesson remains the same.
David Lynch has been pretty uncompromisingly firm and consistent in hammering home the importance of this lesson over the 28 years I spent learning it.
For me, it's clear that it's simply the way to go, even if "doing what feels right" proves unpopular, or financially unwise, or is seemingly a poor career choice, or appears to make you seem "difficult."
Here's the bottom line.
Whenever I ignored this lesson, I regretted it.
Whenever I acted according to this lesson, I never regretted it.
When the artists and interesting people started leaving San Francisco, I decided it was time to go too.
Now I'm back in Los Angeles.
I'm still a filmmaker.
Still because of Twin Peaks.
"I've said many, many, many unkind things about Philadelphia, and I meant every one." -David Lynch