David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American director, screenwriter, producer, painter, musician, and photographer. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed a unique cinematic style. The surreal and, in many cases, violent elements contained within his films have been known to "disturb, offend or mystify" audiences.
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 received positive reviews from critics.