New Twin Peaks Will Be Shot Digitally After All

David Lynch in Film Q&A

Yes, we got our hopes up when David Lynch mentioned last year that he had started to fall in love with film again, and even more so when a Belgian magazine quoted him saying film was the way to go for Twin Peaks. But it doesn’t look like the director has changed his stance towards celluloid, and it’s very likely that he won’t shoot Twin Peaks the same way he did 25 years ago.

UPDATE (SEPTEMBER 2015): Now that production on the new series has started, Welcome to Twin Peaks can confirm that David Lynch is shooting in digital and using the Arri Amira camera in particular.

In a 3-hour Q&A with the students of the David Lynch MA in Film inside his recording studio, David Lynch was asked whether he’d ever work with celluloid again:

Maybe in still pictures. I don’t think I would be able to do it in cinema. And I don’t really want to.

The two-part Q&A session happened just hours before it was announced that the deal with Showtime was back on, but the student cleverly followed up asking if he’d consider celluloid for television. David Lynch’s upfront answer:

No, no, no. It would be ridiculous. It’s all gonna end up on TV anyway. So many things get lost from celluloid to the final… whatever you’re showing on.

Several of David Lynch’s favorite recent shows, like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and True Detective, were shot on film, but that obviously hasn’t convinced him to go analog again.

Do you think a slightly different look will affect the show at all? Or is this a non-issue? And should Twin Peaks look exactly like it did in the first place, even when it’s 25 years later?

Big thanks to Adam Zanzie for asking the question and uploading this video which, by the way, is absolutely worth watching.

UPDATE: The video has been taken down per request of the Maharishi University of Management.

David Lynch
David Lynch shooting Twin Peaks. Photo by Richard Beymer.

Pieter Dom

Written by Pieter Dom

Founder and curator of Welcome to Twin Peaks since 2011. Bobsessed since March 1991.

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  1. I think as long as he is shooting it with cinema-grade digital cameras (as opposed to the more lo-fi work he has done since Mulholland), it will be sumptious and wonderful as we have come to expect from Lynch. He’s no fool.

  2. I recently took a closer look at one of my favorite shows from recent years, even visually: Top of the Lake and IMO the digital was noticable especially when you looked at skin colors. They looked annoyingly digital.

    But digital cameras are increasingly getting better and I think they’re approaching the point when they’re truly good enough. Game of Thrones is shot on digital and the new seasons look quite good enough. If Lynch hires a great D.P. and uses the most modern and expensive cameras and Twin Peaks ends up looking something like that it’ll be good enough for me.
    (But if someone asked me my personal preference I’d still answer celluoid.)

    Patrick: That is sort of an understatement. If he would use the Inland Empire camera it would blow. But in the above interview he said he would even have changed to a better camera for IE when it became available if he hadn’t already started shooting with the old one so fortunately there seems to be no risk.

    • The real issue is color grading work done on digital, it’s generally done uniformly on a frame and it makes all sorts of tones look unnatural.

  3. Would have been nice, but not a deal breaker. I’m glad there are people out there committed to keeping film alive. Tarantino, Aranofsky, Nolan, Abrams, the Coens, both of the Andersons (P.T. and Wes) and Martin Scorsese (though he does both)– all are working hard to keep a viable choice for filmmakers and cinematographers. It will be a long time before digital can match the subtlety and artistry of film, and there’s also the whole aspect of preservation. But David Lynch seems to have abandoned film for personal or artistic reasons, and not just because it’s a dying format (which it hopefully never will). With enough care and effort, Lynch and Frost and their cinematographer(s) should be able to get this new, digitally shot Twin Peaks to look just as good as the original.

    But man, the original Twin Peaks sure was beautifully shot.

  4. Shooting on film or digital doesn’t matter. As long as they use the best lenses they can, no one will be able to tell the difference provided it’s viewed at a suitably high resolution and bit rate.

  5. For me it’s definitely a bad omen and wishful thinking of David Lynch. There are things in art which go beyond such categories as “visible quality” which are called “magic” that was present in DL’s “films” before.

  6. I really think Lynch is still playing with people here. We won’t know which route he’s planning to go down until the cast and crew details appear.

    With everything that’s happened since Oct last year, I’ll take any “news” with a pinch of salt and make my mind up when we get solid information. After all, he didn’t actually say the words, “New Twin Peaks will not be shot on film”…

  7. I would rather have film.

    Ultimately, whether or not I even watch at this point depends on if I like what I read in Mark’s book when it’s released.

    I’m still burned out on all the drama with are we getting the show back or not.

    Having read before that it would be shot on film and now this: it’s a bit of a bummer, but I’m not shocked. At this point I’m still in a “I’ll believe it all when I see it” mode.

    I know “Hannibal” is shot on digital and it’s incredibly gorgeous and has that dream-like quality I think of when I think of David Lynch. But we shall we see. Right now I think “Bates Motel” has hit higher points than Peaks ever did, minus “Fire Walk with Me”.

    I hated Season 2 of Peaks and I’m really praying to see some of the more egregious errors from it rectified – especially in regards to Audrey and Cooper.

    Hopefully I will see some of that in Mark’s book. Otherwise I won’t be watching anyway and shall hang on to my fond memories of the best parts of the show from when I was a teenager.

    Digital or not.

  8. ok, so the first news we heard was that it was going to be shot on film. then we hear that costs weren’t working out and my first guess was that it was about the cost of using film and thought that lynch was against digital–which would be a LOT cheaper to process–but that would be against what he said in the “inland empire” days and then there was ANOTHER confirmation that it would be shot on film and now he says he wants digital, it will be digital and that film for television is “ridiculous”. look, i watch 2-3 new movies a day and i’ve known for a decade that when amateurs use digital you can smell the cheap quality and the cheapness is more obvious. i’ve thought about techniques to make digital look more like film for many years because of that. who knows how good his vision is these days; maybe he doesn’t know how much he’s lost. “inland empire” was painful to look at; like a weird, irritating look of something cheap, made by amateurs playing with a digi-cam. i bet he just got pressured to drop the film idea and is going back to his “i love digital” stance to save face. in any case, they have the pros to make it LOOK like thick, solid film with the types of post-production and processing we have these days and i don’t mean cheap fake grainy like “planet terror”.

    besides, film vs digital isn’t going to be what really matters to see if they can pull it off. pace, tone and overall atmosphere are what matters and it would be truly remarkable if it works for people who’ve seen the series 20 times. people say that “wayward pines” is similar but not at all with the pace and it does not relish the atmosphere and basically has none. “setting” isn’t enough for “atmosphere”. let’s see if it even comes close, film or not.

  9. As long as it doesn’t look like Inland Empire, I’ll be happy. Love David Lynch’s work and have been a fan since seeing The Elephant Man in the theatre, but it doesn’t mean that all his work should be accepted just because his name is attached to it. I truly have problems with Inland Empire, which I think is his weakest work. As for Twin Peaks S3, I’m just happy he’s directing it and it’s happening.

  10. I wouldn’t mind it looking like Inland Empire. Twenty-five years and people can’t expect this to just replicate the same appeal of the pilot all over again. As someone who was introduced to the series not through the show but through Fire Walk with Me, I would welcome taking the series to unexplored territory. Otherwise, what’s the point? Like any fan I have my own preferences as to where the story could go at this point but with the enthusiasm that Mark and David have expressed since the announcement, I have complete faith in them to make a great piece regardless of which direction they end up taking, and that goes for every element. Film or digital, I don’t really have a preference there, I’m just excited to see it.

  11. I downloaded it while it was available and will upload it for you guys soon. there’s no reason why this should have been taken down. we’re all entitled to see it.

  12. Yes, celluloid has it’s own character.
    It’s a medium that we have been used
    to since film began. And I agree; film
    aesthetics cannot be beat. But, with Lynch’s choice of the Arri Amira…I don’t know. The Amira will be so close to film that any perceivable difference will by effectively unnoticeable. Glass counts as well!!!
    But, if you don’t have a great story and compelling performances – even film will not do!!

  13. I’ve seen a trailer on Showtime’s website. If that cut showcases the same resolution, contrast, tonal range, color and other quality factors of the entire series then this is really unsettling news. The same was true for the new X-Files series and I was too disgusted to even do a search for what they shot on, I knew immediately it wasn’t film.

    Some of Pieter Dom’s question’s I feel are not the right ones to ask:

    ‘Do you think a slightly different look will affect the show at all?’ -“Look” is something completely different or much more widely encompassing a term than film stock, the sensor in the the digital camera used or grade of lenses. Good lenses can make a massive difference but so much relies on the sensor and resolution and the fact that even today’s 8K cameras are video and video is still an electronic signal and film is mechanical and chemical. The Arri Amira, which is what was used on the Twin Peaks set is not even an 8K resolution camera, even the Amira Premium package stops at 4K. From what I know, the Amira is designed to be a documentary camera even though it does have the same sensor as Arri’s Alexa. Low amounts of noise in a video image is thousands of times more hideous than higher grain in a film stock being pushed to capture a very low light image. Since so much of the Twin Peaks world, past and present, are so dark it is absolute artistic and aesthetic suicide to use a 4K documentary camera to shoot a new Twin Peaks series. Did they use the in-camera grading function too? It would save money but so does polyvinyl chloride siding.

    A film or show’s “look” has more to do with a director’s and cinematographers style and the creative choices they made with the writer and production designer for the story, subject matter and content. I truly feel the amazing, contrasty, gritty, luminous, colorful images seen in the original X-Files and Twin Peaks are one of the most integral and at the same time, overlooked factors that made those shows so popular and loved. They didn’t look like other tv shows or sitcoms. Fans looked forward every week to having their eyes and ears be graced by the sophistication of a 30 to 45 minute piece of cinema, instead of the being mildly entertained or depressed by a sitcom shot with video or cheap film stock on dingy, monotonous collection of hideously lit studio sets, supplemented by a mind-numbing, nauseating, nails-on-chalk laugh track. Twin Peak and X-Files raised the bar big time. I don’t think millennials really know this.

    ‘Or is this a non-issue?’ -Absolutely not. The choice to shoot on video, or at least with this particular camera was a major creative and artistic gaffe; understandably a much, much cheaper option and much less time consuming one, (“time is money”, especially when it comes to filmmaking), but I know Lynch hasn’t forgotten: Art Is Forever. Who cares if Twin Peaks’ new home is currently on Showtime? Did Frost and Lynch sign a contact that requires it say there forever? The original was much more than a TV show. Among many other things it was an iconic game changer and a vivid brush stroke of talented writing, directing, acting, cinematography, production design and editing. Many moments of the series were works of art and we were very blessed to witness this on network television.

    ‘And should Twin Peaks look exactly like it did in the first place, even when it’s 25 years later?’- Again “look” is way to vague. I haven’t read all of the comments so if I am echoing or repeating I do apologize. In the universe of Twin Peaks, time seemed to have stopped or slowed in their version of 1990 and ’91. This was evident by the vintage, 50’s greaser, varsity athlete, mid-century dress looks that were prevalent throughout the show’s wardrobe and the production design of most of the interiors. At the time of the show’s airing they looked either more timeless or mid-century, not quite 1990. My point is that when you’ve got this faraway, vivid, dreamy, surreal location were lots of hot people dress like it’s kind of still the 1950’s and live and work in buildings that have such vintage, woody interiors and the content and stories of the show contain so much mystery, supernatural activity, murder, drama and darkness then I’d think one would really want to go with the much, much more capable and performing contrast, color range, tonal range, black level and sheer glorious grit of film to honor your creation and the viewers that loved it from the beginning. Twin Peaks and X-Files are two reasons I became a filmmaker. Watching both new series would not inspire me and possibly many others to become a cinematographer or director.

    If “So many things get lost from celluloid to final… whatever you’re showing on” than why do the original X-Files and Twin Peaks look so impressive and gorgeous on Netflix, Amazon Prime, DVD, Blue-Ray etc., in comparison to the video garbage being churned out today?

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