David Fincher was born in 1962 in Denver, Colorado, and was raised in Marin County, California. When he was 18 years old he went to work for John Korty at Korty Films in Mill Valley. He subsequently worked at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) from 1981-1983. Fincher left ILM to direct TV commercials and music videos after signing with N. Lee Lacy in Hollywood. He went on to found Propaganda in 1987 with fellow directors Dominic Sena, Greg Gold and Nigel Dick. Fincher has directed TV commercials for clients that include Nike, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Heineken, Pepsi, Levi's, Converse, AT&T and Chanel. He has directed music videos for Madonna, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, George Michael, Iggy Pop, The Wallflowers, Billy Idol, Steve Winwood, The Motels and, most recently, A Perfect Circle.
As a film director, he has achieved huge success with Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999) and, Panic Room (2002).
|Donya Fiorentino||(1990 - 1995) (divorced) 1 child|
[single frame insert] His movies often features several single frames that flash on the screen in the middle of a scene (Fight Club (1999)).
Fluid tracking camera which can access anywhere; a digital age innovation in camera movement pioneered by David Fincher and Kevin Tod Haug along with BUF Paris (perhaps inspired by earlier developments of Max Ophüls and Stanley Kubrick).
His films often end in a suicide, either attempted or successful
His films often have low-key lighting with green or blue tinted color temperature.
Often displays end credits as slide shows (Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) or scrolling downward (Se7en) rather than the traditional upward scroll.
Backstories filled with flashbacks
References to the band 311 (poster in Fight Club, cop car radio call in Zodiac)
Stationary shot, unfocused background with character walking into focus
Posters almost always feature close-ups of characters' faces
Known for demanding many takes from his actors
Frequently collaborates with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for musical scores
His films often show computer hackers with poor social skills (Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (2010), Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011))
Some of his films are based on real-life events (Zodiac (2007), The Social Network (2010))
Films about finding a serial killer (Seven (1995), Zodiac (2007), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011))
Frequently starts his movies with creative title sequences which expresse the theme of the movie
Lived for several years in Ashland, Oregon and graduated from Ashland High School.
Was originally set to direct The Black Dahlia (2006), but dropped out.
Was originally set to direct Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991), but dropped out.
Was originally set to direct Mission: Impossible III (2006), but dropped out.
Was originally considered to direct Spider-Man (2002).
Was originally considered to direct Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002).
Turned down the offer to direct Batman Begins (2005).
A founder member of Propaganda Films in 1986.
Daughter, Phelix Imogen Fincher (b. 25 April 1994), with Donya Fiorentino.
While growing up in Marin County, one of his neighbors was George Lucas. He later worked on the special effects crew of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), produced and written by Lucas.
He works frequently with screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker.
It was the 1969 feature film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) that inspired him to pursue a career in cinema.
In 2005, he directed the video for Nine Inch Nails' "Only". Ten years earlier, he used Coil's version of the Nine Inch Nails' song "Closer" during the opening credits montage of his film Se7en (1995).
Met his partner, Ceán Chaffin, in the early '90s when she produced a Japanese Coca-Cola ad he was directing.
Was originally considered to direct Hannibal (2001).
Good friends with Madonna.
At the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, three out of four nominees for Best Direction in a Video - "The End of the Innocence" by Don Henley, "Janie's Got a Gun" by Aerosmith, and "Vogue" by Madonna - were directed by him ("Vogue" won.).
His favourite films include: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Rear Window (1954), Being There (1979), Jaws (1975), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), 8½ (1963), Alien (1979), American Graffiti (1973), Citizen Kane (1941), Cabaret (1972) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).
I don't know how much movies should entertain. To me, I'm always interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about Jaws (1975) is the fact that I've never gone swimming in the ocean again.
I don't want to tell you how to do your job, but somebody has to.
Directing ain't about drawing a neat little picture and showing it to the cameraman. I didn't want to go to film school. I didn't know what the point was. The fact is, you don't know what directing is until the sun is setting and you've got to get five shots and you're only going to get two.
People will say, "There are a million ways to shoot a scene", but I don't think so. I think there're two, maybe. And the other one is wrong.
As a director, film is about how you dole out the information so that the audience stays with you when they're supposed to stay with you, behind you when they're supposed to stay behind you, and ahead of you when they're supposed to stay ahead of you.
[about the personality traits that helps in being a director] Belligerence certainly helps. And there's a requisite paranoia. There's fear--fear of failure--and an overwhelming urge to be liked.
I went to a place called the Berkeley Film Institute for a summer program with a grade-school friend of mine, and we just thought it was a joke. It was very impressionist, very Berkeley. There were all these people who were there to communicate and change the world, to do all these lofty things--and then they made these really shitty, stupid little movies. And we were kind of like, "I'm not here for this, I'm just here to pull cable." We were the youngest people there and we ended up being the grips and electrics on everybody else's movies, and it was pretty good those six or seven weeks, we got to shoot Panaflex cameras and make a married print--it was in black and white and you made these little cheeseball movies, but at least you were making "something." It was kind of like film school in that way, but those who can't do, teach, and those who couldn't teach, taught there. They tried, they just didn't want to get dirty with it, they didn't want to get in up to their necks. It was all very patrician.
I'm totally anti-commercialism. I would never do commercials where people hold the product by their head and tell you how great it is, I just wouldn't do that stuff. It's all inference . . . The Levis commercials I did weren't really about jeans, the Nike commercials weren't about shoes. The "Instant Karma" spot was some of the better stuff I got offered, and it was never about people going, "Buy this shoe, this shoe will change everything," because I think that's nonsense. Anybody looking outside themselves to make themselves whole is delusional and probably sick.
I do agree you can't just make movies three hours long for no apparent reason. For a romantic comedy to be three hours long, that's longer than most marriages.
I don't know anything about Academy consideration. I don't know what an awards movie is.
I have a philosophy about the two extremes of filmmaking. The first is the "Kubrick way," where you're at the end of an alley in which four guys are kicking the shit out of a wino. Hopefully, the audience members will know that such a scenario is morally wrong, even though it's not presented as if the viewer is the one being beaten up; it's more as if you're witnessing an event. Inversely, there's the "Spielberg way," where you're dropped into the middle of the action and you're going to live the experience vicariously - not only through what's happening, but through the emotional flow of what people are saying. It's a much more involved style. I find myself attracted to both styles at different times, but mostly I'm interested in just presenting something and letting people decide for themselves what they want to look at.
[on Alien³ (1992)] There were a lot of enormously talented people working on that movie. It's just a movie starts from a unified concept, and once you've unified the concept it becomes very easy to see the things you're not going to spend money on. And if a movie is constantly in flux because you're having to please this vice-president or that vice-president of production .. . I think a movie set's a fascist dictatorship--you have to go in and know what it is you want to do because you have to tell 90 people what it is you want to do and it has to be convincing. Otherwise, when they start to question it, the horse can easily run away with you and it's bigger than you are. So that was a movie where the time was not taken upfront to say, "This is what we're doing, and all of this is what we're not doing." So as we were shooting, a lot of people--I suppose in an effort to make it "better" or "more commercial" or more like the other ones they liked as opposed to the one that you liked--took to being extremely helpful, so that this could be more James Cameron than James Cameron. And of course you're sitting there going, "Guys, remember I don't have any guns. I don't have any tripod guns or flamethrowers or any of that shit!" If a movie gets off on a wrong foot, when you've never done it before you assume everyone is going to be there to help you right the ship, but really you're beholden to a lot of banana republics. I worked on it for two years, got fired off it three times and I had to fight for every single thing. No one hated "Alien 3" more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me. It was a baptism by fire. I was very naive. For a number of years, I'd been around the kind of people who financed movies and the kind of people who are there to make the deals for movies. But I'd always had this naive idea that everybody wants to make movies as good as they can be, which is stupid. I thought, "Well, surely you don't want to have the Twentieth Century-Fox logo over a shitty movie." And they were like, "Well, as long as it opens." They didn't care.
[on losing his father, Jack Fincher] I remember the experience of being there when he breathed his last breath. It was incredibly profound. When you lose someone who helped form you in lots of ways, who is your 'true north', you lose the barometer of your life. You're no longer trying to please someone, or you're no longer reacting against something. In many ways, you're truly alone.
I don't think of myself as difficult. We're expected to do stuff that's awesome. That means we're going to have to push each other.
Panic Room (2002) is a movie as opposed to a film. A movie is made for an audience and a film is made for both the audience and the film-makers. I think that The Game (1997) is a movie and I think Fight Club (1999)'s a film. I think that "Fight Club" is more than the sum of its parts, whereas "Panic Room" IS the sum of its parts. I didn't look at "Panic Room" and think, "Wow, this is gonna set the world on fire". These are footnote movies, guilty pleasure movies. Thrillers. Woman-trapped-in-a-house movies. They're not particularly important.
[on Fight Club (1999)] We opened at the Venice film festival, and I think to say they hated it would be an understatement. Let's put it this way: the youngest person in the screening was Giorgio Armani. They called for our hides and we split town. We thought it was funny. Actually, Helena Bonham Carter's mother was three seats down from me and she was just laughing and laughing - she was the only one. She's cool. I'm always surprised at how seriously people take movies. It always surprises me what people get their bowels in an uproar about. It's a movie. It was interesting to me, the critics who felt they had a moral obligation to 'the broader audience' to warn them. But it didn't surprise me that some people didn't think it was funny. It didn't surprise me that some people thought it was morbid. It surprised me, the people who went out of their way to save other people from this experience. I thought that was kind of silly. It's a cult movie - it's just that it's a big cult. Here's a tricky thing: if you spend $15m, it's not even a pimple on the ass of that kind of multinational media conglomerate. But if you spend $67m, they gotta release your movie. That's a big number, they can't write it down. I happen to know that the movie's in the black, but there's receipts and there's worth. They are two different things. Because there are movies that make money and there are movies that are worth money, and sometimes the movies that are worth money make money later on. I honestly believe Fight Club is a title 20th Century Fox knows is going to make money for them in perpetuity.
I am a contrarian by nature, so all it does is make me want to take real risks. I am like, 'If we are not out on the ledge juggling chain saws, then we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.'
My idea of professionalism is probably a lot of people's idea of obsessive.
Part of my testiness is that I feel I make fifty compromises a day. When people come to me to say 'Why can't you compromise?' I'm like: 'What are you talking about? The fact that we're having this conversation means that we've compromised'.
People always ask why I don't make independent movies. I do make independent movies - I just make them at Sony and Paramount.
[on getting at least 60% of what you want on a film set] . . . I think that's probably on a good day. I would say probably, on a given film, Fight Club (1999) is probably closest to what we wanted to do. It's about 75% of what we wanted. I think Panic Room (2002), even though it was storyboarded within an inch of its life, was probably 60%. The Social Network (2010), I wasn't transposing what I had in my head on it, because I was really following the text, and following these kids, so that movie was, y'know, about 70-75% of what I thought it was going to be. This movie is probably about that. I think you're doing pretty good if you can get 70% of what you want.
Everything seems really simple on paper until you take a camera out of the box. Then ninety people are offering up solutions to the problems those pages create. You're trying to make something very clear in this maelstrom of activity, with all this anxiety about how much money is being spent. I don't think you can ever make it the way you have it in your head.
[on the prevalence of violence in modern society] I think civilization is an agreement, and once in a while you're going to run into people who didn't get the memo.
[on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)] I think this movie is more about sexual politics. Mikael Blomkvist moves freely among women and doesn't have any problems with them, but his relationships aren't always mature. I think you can say that about a lot of male-female relationships. The men are not really present.
You're supposed to have an idea of what it is you're trying to do, right? Aren't you being overpaid to have that? My job is to know what the fuck I want.
(September 2005) Currently filming Zodiac (2007) in San Francisco.
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