Daniel Knox is a musician, composer, and former projectionist for Chicago’s legendary Music Box Theatre who is bringing his love of David Lynch to the Texas Theatre for a special two-week engagement this spring.
From May 24 to June 4, creative agency Talented Friends will be hosting David Lynch: A Complete Retrospective, a celebration of the Oscar-winning surrealist’s work, at the Texas Theatre.
“If he picked up a camera, if he wrote it, if he directed it, it’s in,” Knox says. “I think that people are going to remember seeing things on the big screen that they … never thought they would have a chance to. But also, there’s going to be things on the big screen that you wouldn’t necessarily think to put on the big screen.”
That means Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet, yes, but also his music videos and short films like Darkened Room and The Amputee. Knox cites DumbLand, which was a “clunky, low-res” series of shorts made with Flash animation in 2002 that is rarely shown theatrically.
“When you see it blown up on the big screen with an audience of people, it’s a totally different experience,” Knox says. “It’s something that you wouldn’t ordinarily have.”
Knox became enamored with Lynch’s work in the 1990s after hearing late composter and frequent Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack for 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. “That brought me into everything,” says Knox. “That’s the genesis of it … I walked into it and never left.”
While working at the Music Box, Knox would cut together pre-shows for the venue’s midnight programs. “I would always … cut things together that were relevant to the screening,” says Knox. “We did a Ninja Turtles movie [and] I showed a bunch of action figure commercials, music videos, and things that were…relevant to that time period.”
Knox especially enjoyed building out pre-shows for Lynch’s films. The Music Box took note and asked him to put together a proposal to showcase the director’s work in a new way. Knox first proposed what would have taken a then-unwieldy two weeks to host. He consolidated it into a jam-packed, five-day retrospective in 2017, breaking the record for the amount of Lynch’s work screened in one place at one time.
Last year, Knox and the Music Box followed up with another retrospective, this one lasting eight days. It included everything time allowed from Lynch’s filmography. This piqued the interest of Jason Reimer, the co-owner and creative director of the Texas Theatre, as well as the co-founder of Talented Friends. After meeting Knox, Reimer encouraged him to take it even further.
“What is your dream version of this?” Reimer asked Knox, unofficially kicking off the planning process for their upcoming event. Their goal is to go beyond the films of David Lynch and interweave his other projects—music videos, commercials, and side projects—into the programming concurrently.
The engagement will also serve as a showcase for everything that makes the Texas Theatre stand out. Reimer says that the Music Box’s curated installations have been an inspiration for him since he first got involved with the Texas.
“You could have this old moviehouse and…with lighting and installations…you can just take it over. So the movie is part of the experience, but not the only experience,” says Reimer. “We’re going to completely take over all the different aspects of the theater.”
This will involve integrating Lynchian installations into the various “nooks and crannies” of the venue—such as the Safe Room art gallery upstairs and the Behind the Screen showroom—while also using projectors in common areas of the theater to set the overall tone.
“The key thing is immersion and having it feel like you are as in Lynch’s world as possible,” says Knox. “That’s a key point of having it in one space and transforming that space.”
Each film will feature a pre-show that will begin 20 minutes prior to posted showtimes. It’s as much a part of the festival as the full-length features.
“It’s not just about entertainment,” says Knox. “It’s things that were on television at the time. So if Kyle McLachlan went on Jay Leno, we have that in there. If David Lynch made a short film at that time or appeared somewhere, that’s in there; [plus]…some of the Laserdisc stuff from Twin Peaks that is truly out there … but contextually important. And if you are a completist, you will love it. If you are new to it, it will be something that you’ll always remember.”
Reimer and Knox both make it clear that this is intended to be a celebration and exploration of Lynch’s work, not a fan convention. “The focus is in the theater. We’re there to be gathered around the screen and not waiting in line,” says Knox.
There will be cast members from across Lynch’s filmography in attendance, and author Scott Ryan will moderate Q&As. Reimer says that their goal is to have attendees “relax about the autographs and … fall into the world and let it drown you for a couple of weeks.”
Passes for the full retrospective are available for purchase here. Once the schedule for the event has been finalized (sometime in April), tickets for individual screenings will also be available for purchase through the Texas Theatre.
”If you do get the pass,” says Knox. “This is your (potentially) once in a lifetime opportunity to see everything that David Lynch has ever done in one place. If you really want to see everything by David Lynch on the big screen, take the time off of work, get the pass, and commit and live in that world.”