How David Fincher Not Giving a Fuck Can Help You
How David Fincher Not Giving a Fuck
Can Help You
David Fincher is one of the filmmakers I’ve shared the most about since the beginning of mentorless.com because of his personality and attitude toward the business. There are no two ways to put it: he doesn’t give a fuck.
So much so that a tumblr decided to collect all the moments where Fincher confirms this statement, and there are plenty. From making-of commentaries to press interviews to work sessions with his team.
Aside from the entertaining aspect of watching someone thrive going against the grain, I believe there’s a lot to learn from Fincher’s strategy. Being a filmmaker means dealing with people. From a dozen on an indie film to hundreds on a Studio film.
You need broad shoulders to defend your vision and clarity to know what battles to really fight for. If you feel junior, or that you have more to prove because you are a woman and/or come from a minority group, it’s even harder to stand up and stand strong for yourself.
So, here is for a little bit of inspiration, extract from maaarine’s tumblr:
KNOW THE THEMES THAT GET UNDER YOUR SKIN
AND EMBRACE THEM
ONCE YOU GET THE JOB, TRUST YOUR SKILLS
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BACKGROUND ACTORS
If you think dealing with background actors is obvious, check this hilarious series of gifs showing extras stealing the scenes, and read this piece from Kill Your Darlings‘ filmmaker Austin Bunn about the five things they don’t tell you about being a first-time director.
AND USE THEM
That’s one of my favorite bit from the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘s Making-Of
FIND THE CREATIVE WAY YOUR SCENE
NEEDS TO MAKE AN IMPACT
Here is Aaron Sorkin explaining his work process with David Fincher that gives a bit more context to the opening scene of the Social Network, that was shot over 90 times. (Now we know what Fincher was looking for: timing.)
“An average screenplay is about 120 pages long. My screenplays have higher page counts because there’s more dialogue and less action and just, by the rules of screenplay format, dialogue takes up more room on the page and less time on the screen than action, which takes up more room on the page-I’m sorry, which takes up less room on the page and more time on the screen. So the average screenplay is about 120 pages. A Few Good Men was about 140 pages.
The Social Network was 178 pages, and the studio said, OK, the first thing you’ve got to do is figure out a way to cut 30 pages from this. And David said, I don’t think so. I think this is a two hour movie, and he came over to my house with his iPhone set on stopwatch mode, and he said, “I want you to read the entire script out loud for me, at the pace you heard it in your head when you were writing it, and I’m going to write down the timing of each scene.”
So that opening scene that you’ve been very complimentary about, with Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara. If I read it and it was seven minutes and 22 seconds, then in rehearsal, and David demanded part of what was baked into the budget was rehearsal time, and part of what wasn’t baked into the budget, I remember David saying to them, “Well, I can cut $125,000 out of your budget right away, because we’re not doing any test screenings.”
That’s the kind of thing. And I just thought David, Scott, these are the bullies I want to be with. You know, they’re great when they’re on your team. And anyway, in rehearsal, Jesse and Rooney would rehearse the scene, David would say great, and he would give them a couple of notes, and always end with, “But this scene is seven minutes and 22 seconds long, and you’re doing it at seven minutes and 40 seconds. So I don’t care how, but you’re going to have to talk faster somewhere, because I promise you, this scene plays best at seven minutes and 22 seconds.””
DON’T MAKE IT EASY IF IT MAKES NO SENSE TO
Everybody wants something and has an agenda, either consciously or subconsciously. When you’re a filmmaker that gets to promote her/his film around, you have to deal with interviews. And what an interviewer wants is to entertain or reveal something. Many people are too polite to correct the wrong statement, ignore questions or refuse absurd statement. Fincher sticks to his guns.
And of course, if this wasn’t clear from the get go, the biggest take out of Fincher’s behavior is to
HAVE HUMOR AND DON’T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY
More about David Fincher:
- David Fincher on the Only Film School He Ever Went to
- Composer Jeff Beal on Working With David Fincher to Create House of Cards Title Theme
- Would You Pass the David Fincher Are-You-Ready-to-Become-a-Filmmaker Test?
- What Does David Fincher Not Do? The 4 Things that Set Him Apart
- Shooting Fight Club: Behind the Scenes with David Fincher
- David Fincher About The Art of Being a Conductor
- Jeff Cronenweth Talks About Shooting TGWTDT and Working with David Fincher
- Cate Blanchett on Learning How to Work on Digital with Fincher
- How to Use Invisible Split-Screens like a Fincher