Television shows aren't given "cult" status lightly. A show has to demonstrate a strong effect on its audience -- enough to turn fans into fanatics. Twin Peaks was such a show, and though David Lynch's creepy series had a very limited run on CBS in the early '90s, its fans remained dedicated to it, some of them more than earning the show its cult following.
Brooklyn-raised queer filmmaker Adam Baran is crowdsourcing a documentary about how one fan sought a place of understanding in the sinister, drug-filled, murderous world of Twin Peaks.
Give us a little background about the project. Where did this idea originate?
I'd been friends with Travis Blue, the subject since 2005. We met at Newfest, became friends, bonded over the same kind of stuff we like, especially David Lynch and Twin Peaks. At the time I was working at a magazine and looking for something really good and sexy they could run in an issue. Travis said he could write about his sexual experiences at the Twin Peaks fan festival and I was like, yes, do that. His article took people through 1992, when he attended the festival, to 2002 when he returned after being banned for many years. The film starts a little earlier and is about what happens over those years.
Did you watch Twin Peaks when it was still on TV? Were you part of the cult following?
Oh yeah I was a big, big fan in high school: My friend and I started watching it and became obsessed. We saw the first episode on VHS and after that, we had to go to the Museum of TV and Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) to watch the rest of the episodes. We made multiple pilgrimages to watch the episodes in two-hour blocks because that's the maximum amount of time you could reserve.
What are your thoughts on the reboot and its cancellation?
It's complicated. I'm happy because the more press Twin Peaks gets, the more attention this project will get. I think it's interesting because when I was pitching this project in 2011, you'd hear a lot of relevancy concerns about a 22-year-old show and how it relates to modern audiences. I'm all for it happening though. I think it needs David Lynch: Twin Peaks was just better with him. But I wouldn't count out Mark Frost either; he was an integral part and really brought that humor and lightness that worked as a great concert with that darkness Lynch brought.
The power of now with fan communities and the Internet -- Twin Peaks was one of the first shows to have an intense cult fan following. Even online, there were beta sites that were devoted to it. Right from the beginning that community found each other online and has been spurring all sorts of discussions. Every major show of the last 15 years or so has openly owed its success to Twin Peaks, things like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Lost, The Killing -- all these shows took so many cues from Twin Peaks.
And what about this Kickstarter? What are you raising funds for? What kinds of perks can donors expect?
We're raising funds for a portion of the budget. We're using reenactments to bring the story to life. It's going to be more than a documentary and have a bit of that Lynch edge. We have a crew on tap, we have producers and other people ready to go, and this will really enable us to make it start happening in a more focused way.
As far as rewards go, it's going to be good. I've been working a long time to amass different rewards: We have original Twin Peaks mixes where people have interpreted an original score, prints, T-shirts, mugs, poster downloads. We also have copies of this great book of Lynch-inspired short fiction, In Heaven Everything is Fine.
And why is the project significant to LGBT people?
It's not just a cool or amazing story or that I think fans will find this all interesting. I think it's really unusual and interesting way to tell a queer coming of age story that doesn't looking like a lot of others. To me this is about the way that media and fiction influence our lives, and for gay people I think that's even more important to consider.
For years, gay people did not see themselves in film except for small, stereotypical roles. Because of that they would look at straight romances and straight movies and impose themselves into them. I think this film explores the dark side of that equation. When Travis looks to a character like Laura Palmer, who is dark and deeply disturbed, who does drugs, prostitutes herself, and wants to expel the demons inside herself -- when he looks at her and wants to be like that, we have to ask what the larger issue at play is that led him to do that. I think that, ultimately, Northwest Passage is a film about realizing that you can't play a fictional character to be a successful person and live in the real world. And I think that a lot of times when people come out fo the closet and look for who they are, they look at limited representation of gay people in media, and this is a story about someone who took that to the extreme.
Visit Northwest Passage's Kickstarter and donate here.