David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American director, screenwriter, producer, painter, musician, actor, and photographer. He has been described by The Guardian as "the most important director of this era". AllMovie called him "the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking", while the success of his films has led to him being labelled "the first popular Surrealist".
Born to a middle-class family in Missoula, Montana, Lynch spent his childhood traveling around the United States, before going on to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he first made the transition to producing short films. He moved to Los Angeles, where he produced his first motion picture, the surrealist horror film Eraserhead (1977). After Eraserhead became a cult classic on the midnight movie circuit, Lynch was employed to direct a biographical film about a deformed man, Joseph Merrick, titled The Elephant Man (1980), from which he gained mainstream success. He was then employed by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and proceeded to make two films: the science-fiction epic Dune (1984), which proved to be a critical and commercial failure, and then a neo-noir crime film Blue Velvet (1986), which stirred controversy over its violence but grew in critical reputation later on.