112: Mary Sweeney
Mary Sweeney needs some space. “There has to be a flow of fast and slow, and a pause to allow the listener or the spectator to digest and to project their own thoughts.” She thinks I should leave more space in my podcasts, to let it breathe. She tells me this as we sit in the screened in porch behind her summer house in Madison, Wisconsin. As she tells me this, cicadas chirp loudly, as if to underscore her point: “Today’s episode will not be edited! You will not remove us from this moment!”
Mary Sweeney should know. She spent much of her career as award-winning feature film producer, director, writer, and editor, collaborating with David Lynch. Beginning in 1985 with Blue Velvet, and continuing through the 2006 film Inland Empire, her editing credits include Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks (1991), Industrial Symphony (1991), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), On the Air (1992), Hotel Room(1993), Lost Highway (1996), The Straight Story (2000), Mulholland Drive (2001) and Baraboo (2009). The relationship with Lynch was productive, fruitful, and nuanced (the two were partners in work and in life for much of that time) and they have a son together.
She is currently working as a consulting producer and writer on Matthew Weiner’s series for Amazon, The Romanoffs, and is the Dino and Martha De Laurentiis Endowed Professor of film at USC, where she teaches Graduate Screenwriting Thesis and “Dreams, The Brain and Storytelling.”
Before we had this conversation, Mary cheekily emailed me a list of topics that she would be happy to discuss. They included editing, producing, screenwriting, parenting, Paris, Cairo, pie baking, and the Catholic Church. Guess what we talked about? All of it.
And we also talked at length about living and working in an intensely creative partnership with David Lynch for all those years (both personally and professionally), collaborating with one of the most innovative voices in film, and what’s so great about coming from a big family. Visit the Patreon Page for an extra 20 minutes of juicy conversation that didn’t make it into this edit.