David Lynch self-distributing Inland Empire

David Lynch has decided to self-distribute his new film, Inland Empire. The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Says THR:

After a flurry of rumors pointing to just about every indie studio in the business, director David Lynch has worked out a deal with French producers Studio Canal to self-distribute his three-hour epic digital video feature “Inland Empire,” in the U.S. and Canada. Producer Mary Sweeney said the plan will “explore a new model of distribution.”

Lynch will work with well-known theatrical and home video partners to launch his epic fever dream of a film, retaining all rights to the low-budget project in each service deal. The partnerships will be announced within the next week.

If you’ve read any of the press about this movie so far, you already know it’s a labor of love for Lynch. He shot it on DV over two and a half years; he says he’s never going back to film. To me, DIY distribution is a logical next step. What makes this noteworthy is DIY is so often associated with younger filmmakers trying to “break in.” Here we have an older, established filmmaker going back to basics.

Of course, some will say that Lynch’s decision to self-distribute is simply a response to the fact he didn’t receive any offers, or good offers, from major distributors. I have no idea if Lynch did or didn’t get offers but, even if that’s true, one shouldn’t take that as an indication of quality: Should we be surprised, especially in today’s climate, that this film scares off distributors? Lynch has never made blockbusters, this film is 3 hours long, and it’s reportedly one of his most impenetrable movies (and that’s saying something).

Self-distribution (or brokered self-distribution, like IFC’s First Take or Truly Indie) is, more and more, the way that the real labors of love reach audiences these days. Is it surprising, then, that Inland Empire is any different? Yes, a little. But that makes me that much more interested.

Until we hear more about how the release will unfold, you can watch Lynch, and IE stars Laura Dern and Justin Theroux, on YouTube doing Q&A at the New York Film Festival. More indieWire coverage here. The reviews from NYFF and Venice have already begun.

And, speaking of getting back to basics, here’s an amusing review from the past.

One Response to “David Lynch self-distributing Inland Empire”

  1. Ashley Says:

    I recently heard the renowned experimental filmmaker Su Friederich (http://www.sufriedrich.com/) speak in Philadelphia. She was visiting Temple University’s film program and gave a guest lecture about her work. After showing some clips from her most recent film, The Head Of A Pin, shot exclusively on video, she explained that she has officially made the so-called “switch” and is not going back to shooting on film.

    Su summed up her reasons for the conversion by saying that, having made a number of films and achieved considerable success, she still had a hard time finding funding her films. At the age of 50, she’s sick of spending her life savings every time she wanted to make a new film. For her, video changed all that. For just $12, she says she could shoot for a few hours instead of cleaning out her bank account for the same amount of footage. And she’s willing to accept the differences in aesthetic between film and video for video’s convenience and accessibility.

    Su cited other, more specific reasons for converting as well: the disappearance of the NEA and other film funding sources; diminished amounts of grant money being awarded (e.g. a grant in the 1980s that would award $300, 000 might now be closer to $30,000); increased competition for the remaining number and amounts of film funding; and, of course, persistent rumors about film’s impending death once digital technology is improved.

    I found her conversion (and her justification of it) all the more significant given the amount of her work that relies on the qualities of celluloid (i.e. scratching the film’s emulsion, optical printing, etc.) for its visual style and overall impact. If someone like Su Friederich is willing to make the switch, I imagine many more “accomplished” and veteran filmmakers will soon cross over to the “dark” side of video.