(also known as "Six Figures")
"Six Men Getting Sick" was Lynch's first exploration into film, made during his second year of study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, in Philadelphia. Lynch describes it as "Fifty-seven seconds of growth and fire, and three seconds of vomit."1 The transition into film came from a desire to make his paintings move. "I was painting very dark paintings. And I saw some little part of this figure moving, and I heard a wind. And I really wanted these things to move and have a sound with them. And so I started making an animated film as a moving painting. And that was it. I wasn't in the film business."2 "I always sort of wanted to do films. Not so much a movie-movie as a film-painting. I wanted the mood of the painting to be expanded through film, sort of a moving painting. It was really the mood I was after. I wanted a sound with it that would be so strange, so beautiful, like if the Mona Lisa opened her mouth and turned, and there would be a wind, and then she'd turn back and smile. It would be strange."3
"Six Men Getting Sick" was the result of Lynch's desire to create a moving film. It featured a animated film of several heads and arms which slowly grew stomachs and caught fire. The film ended with the transformed images vomiting. The film was shot frame by frame with a secondhand 16mm wind-up camera. Lynch built a special rig on top of the projector to allow the film to run in a continuous loop. The film was projected on a sculpture screen created by Lynch and Jack Fisk. It consisted of three plaster casts of Lynch in various poses and another face painted on. The sound was a tape of a siren played continuously.
The entire project cost $200 to do, a lot to Lynch at the time. It was shown at a Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts exhibition in 1966. Ten minutes out of ever hour the lights would be turned off so the film could be seen. The sculpture/film won a shared first place in the second annual Dr. William S. Biddle Cadwalader Memorial Prize. One of the judges on the competition panel was H. Barton Wasserman, who would finance Lynch's next project which became "The Alphabet."
You can purchase Six Men Getting Six on DVD from the store at davidlynch.com. It's on the Short Films DVD.
1. Eilene Fisher, "Classics in His Closet," Applause, May 1989
2. The Late Late Show, Feb. 26, 1997
3. Blue Velvet Press Kit
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