Film Directing – Theory & Style – David Fincher

– Posted in: Directing Films and Videos

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When I heard David Fincher, one of today’s most prolific directors, say, “I’m not that experienced in making movies, so I don’t profess to know how they’re done,” I thought he was trying to convey a sense of humbleness.

But, when he followed that up by saying, “I know how to direct scenes, and I know how to direct sequences, I know how to put that stuff together,” I was immediately hooked.

I thought, “That’s it. That’s film directing!”

None of us can envision the entire movie or predict what the entire experience will be for the viewer. All we can do is put together smaller pieces and work our craft.

“I think our responsibility is to bring people into the dark and make them feel something.” – David Fincher

DAVID FINCHER – ON FILM THEORY

Here are some of my favorite moments from this interview:

00:10 – The story became the context for the lighting – I learned this from Gordon Willis and others. Emotion in lighting.

01:50 – My process is the process of limiting. It’s the blinders you put on…. Instead of thinking of everything that I’m going to do, it’s trying to figure out the rules to determine what I’m not going to do.

You have to embrace your limitations. Not only as an individual but also with your budget.

03:28 – The thing you learn from doing commercials is, you learn to be specific.

04:02 – Music video is more like a song than it is like a movie – music affords an abstraction.  You have a baseline and you have a drumbeat and you have the math. You have the bed of math. You have the graph paper to draw anything.

And then your melody line becomes this, it can go anywhere, it can do anything, you can talk about anything, it’s poetry. That’s what the pictures need to be in a music video. And they don’t have to create a context for understanding, because the context is MTV.

That is the context for understanding so anything can happen.

04:41 – I’m not that experienced in making movies, so I don’t profess to know how they’re done. I know how to direct scenes and I know how to direct sequences. I know how to put that stuff together.

To say that I can pre-visualize an entire movie is a lie. I don’t have the attention span for it. I don’t have the experience.

05:20 – If you feel something, if you’re engaged intellectually, if you see something in the people on the screen that you recognize in yourself and what they are trying to do makes sense to you, than that’s a good moviegoing experience.

05:45 – I think our responsibility is to bring people into the dark and make them feel something.

I don’t think our responsibility is to pander to the audience and tie it all up into a neat little package. Sometimes you just can’t make it make sense.

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