Indie Film Hustle: Erik Messerschmidt, ASC

Lighting for David Fincher & Michael Mann

Alex Ferrari
November 29, 2022
Indie Film Hustle

Award-winning director of photography Erik Messerschmidt, ASC has a natural eye for arresting and spellbinding images, thriving in a role that allows him to combine his love of art, craft and science. Recently, he lensed Devotion for director J.D. Dillard, based on the real-life story of a Black naval officer who befriends a white naval officer during the Korean War, with both becoming heroes for their selfless acts of bravery.

He also finished shooting Michael Mann’s biographical film Ferrari, starring Adam Driver, Shailene Woodley, and Penélope Cruz, and David Fincher’s The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton.

Previously, Messerschmidt shot Fincher’s passion project Mank, chronicling the screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz’s turbulent journey to write Citizen Kane alongside Orson Welles. Messerschmidt’s meticulous and striking black and white recreation of the period’s aesthetic earned him the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, an ASC Award for Outstanding Cinematography in a Feature Film, a BSC Award for Best Cinematography in a Theatrical Feature Release, a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Cinematography, as well as Best Cinematography award nominations from the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle, the Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics Choice, and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.

In addition, Messerschmidt co-lensed several episodes of the HBO Max original series Raised by Wolves from producer Ridley Scott. He also shot the first and second seasons of Fincher’s hit thriller series Mindhunter for Netflix, earning a 2020 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (one-hour) for episode 206.

With a background in the fine arts world, Messerschmidt honed his skills while working with such renowned cinematographers such as Dariusz Wolski, ASC, Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, Phedon Papamichael, ASC, Claudio Miranda, ASC, and Greig Fraser, ASC. Messerschmidt now lives in Los Angeles and is a member of IATSE Local 600. He is represented by DDA.

Listen to the podcast and read the transcript

How Technology Made David Fincher a Better Director

Has there ever been a movie director who has taken more advantage of new technology than David Fincher? We look back on how digital production benefitted his movies so much.

Julian Mitchell
November 28, 2022
The Beat (Premium Beat)

When digital cinematography was in its infancy, around 2005, it was like the Wild West; new cameras were appearing seemingly every week, whether from University’ concept’ programs or start-ups with a movie making a revolution on their minds.

In this white heat of technology, director David Fincher started to craft his movie-making skills. He was a risk taker with new technology but driven by the promise it gave him. As much as Fincher and his crew were proud of the films they made, they were also proud of how they made them.

Zodiac’s Digital Gamble

Fincher had already used digital cinematography for his commercials and decided to commit early to this technology for his movies. But his long-time producer Ceán Chaffin brought some hard business sense to brace against his pioneering creative decisions.

Ceán had been involved more in costing this digital workflow out and had looked at introducing digital for a feature before Zodiac but found that it wasn’t cost-efficient at that time; Zodiac was different. “At the moment of Zodiac, storage was so cheap that we could push it; it was also about the savings at that point. The sticking point was really about storage for us up to Zodiac.”

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Kirk Thatcher on Working on David Fincher’s Music Videos & His Early Career with ILM

Thatcher tells all about the beginnings of his prolific career.

Ryan O’Rourke
November 24, 2022
Collider

Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently got the chance to sit down with legendary multi-hyphenate Kirk Thatcher to discuss his prolific career working in numerous roles throughout the industry. The Emmy-winning writer/director/actor/producer/effects whiz is now known for everything from Muppets Tonight to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and, more recently, Werewolf By Night, but during the interview, he also elaborated on his roots rising up through Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). It was there that Thatcher would blossom and meet a friend who would help him kick off his career – David Fincher.

Before he even started at ILM, Thatcher describes his fascination with Star Wars that would one day lead him to the studio. At 15, he’d heard the hype surrounding the revolutionary sci-fi film and made sure he was there on opening day to see it unfold. “So I kind of knew it was coming out, and I went and saw opening day at Man’s Chinese, the first screening, the 12-noon screening at Man’s Chinese, completely blown away and just became a huge Star Wars fan instantly.,” he told Weintraub. Bought the books, including the Star Wars sketchbook by Joe Johnston.” His love for the films would almost immediately lead him to an important industry connection. “So maybe within three months of that opening, my mom came home from church on a Sunday afternoon and said, “Hey, I just met a gal at church, a really nice lady, whose son worked on Star Wars.” Her son was Johnston, then a concept artist and special effects technician for Star Wars: A New Hope.

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Kirk Thatcher in the Return of the Jedi Creature Shop at ILM.

Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt on Shooting David Fincher’s The Killer and Michael Mann’s Ferrari

Nick Newman
November 17, 2022
The Film Stage

Has any cinematographer had so fast an ascendancy as Erik Messerschmidt? While no newcomer—his IMDb dates back to 2001, his first cinematography credit from 2003—work on Gone Girl earned the attention of David Fincher, by whom Messerschmidt was then enlisted to shoot his Netflix series Mindhunter. (Impressive then, all the more sterling since as an example of streaming television that doesn’t look or move like streaming television.) Which led into Mank which led into The Killer, Fincher’s much-anticipated thriller arriving next year.

Somewhere along the way Michael Mann called. I talked to Messerschmidt at ENERGACamerimage, where he was promoting the new feature Devotion and mere weeks from wrapping Ferrari, Mann’s first feature in longer than you’d believe and a passion project of equal gestation—nothing you leave in the hands of an amateur. Certainly not if you’re as obsessive, fastidious, demanding as Michael Mann. Meeting in Toruń’s CKK Jordanki, we were quick to start.

Read the full interview

Elvis Mitchell and David Fincher talk “Is That Black Enough for You?!?”

November 6, 2022
AFI Fest (American Film Institute)

Is That Black Enough for You?!?

From celebrated writer and film historian Elvis Mitchell, Is That Black Enough for You?!? is both a documentary and a deeply personal essay. The film examines the craft and power of cinema from a perspective often overlooked: the African American contribution to films released from the landmark era of the 70s. It is a deep dive into the impact that point of view had on movies, as well as popular culture, and serves as a love letter to film, posing questions that have never been asked, let alone answered.

Crucial artistic voices, including director Charles Burnett, Samuel L. Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne, Zendaya and others, offer their distinctive prism on the creators and films that dazzled and inspired. The film provides insight into the history of Black representation going back to the earliest days of cinema, and the cultural impact of witnessing unapologetic Blackness.

Produced by Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, Angus Wall and Ciara Lacy, Is That Black Enough for You?!? marks Mitchell’s directorial debut.

Watch Is That Black Enough for You?!? on Netflix

Watch the 1988 Colt 45 commercial directed by David Fincher, starring Billy Dee Williams

Elvis Mitchell and Steven Soderbergh on Is That Black Enough For You?!?. NYFF60

L’Œuvre de David Fincher: Scruter la noirceur, par Stéphane Bouley

THIRD éditions

De Seven à Gone Girl, en passant par Fight Club, Zodiac ou encore The Social Network, l’œuvre de David Fincher constitue l’une des plus importantes du cinéma moderne. Ce cinéaste obsessionnel et méticuleux s’est attelé, film après film, à ausculter la nature humaine, ses conflits intérieurs ; ce qui en compose la noirceur.

Déjà auteur de l’essai L’Œuvre de John Carpenter. Les masques du maître de l’horreur, Stéphane Bouley propose, avec L’Œuvre de David Fincher. Scruter la noirceur, d’explorer les recoins de cette filmographie passionnante. L’ouvrage, à la fois dense et accessible, analyse avec force détails et transversalité les choix de mise en scène du réalisateur, ses motifs et thèmes récurrents, ainsi que le travail essentiel de ses collaborateurs.

L’édition First Print (nombre d’exemplaires limité) comprend :

  • Le livre L’Œuvre de David Fincher. Scruter la noirceur
  • Une couverture exclusive de Ben Turner
  • Une jaquette réversible reprenant la couverture de l’édition classique
  • Un ex-libris de Ben Turner
  • Le livre au format numérique (ePub)

Caractéristiques

Pages: 520
Couverture: Cartonnée – Illustration de Ben Turner
Format: 160 x 240 mm
Edition First Print: Jaquette réversible, ex-libris, fichier ePub
Prix: 44,90€

Télécharger un extrait / Commander

Red Carpet Rookies: Lisa Beroud. VFX Producer

Eric Barba, VFX Supervisor, Lisa Beroud, VFX Producer, and Alex Wang, ILM VFX Supervisor, on the set of Terminator: Dark Fate.

Mike Battle
November 1, 2022
Red Carpet Rookies

Starting her career producing commercials Lisa Beroud transitioned to James Cameron‘s famous VFX house Digital Domain, where she worked on titles including TRON: Legacy, Oblivion, Her, 47 Ronin, and a multitude of David Fincher projects including Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl. Since leaving DD, she has been a VFX producer of hits such as Black Panther, Terminator: Dark Fate, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Listen to the podcast:

Red Carpet Rookies (with a transcript)
Apple Podcast
Spotify
Google Podcasts

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David Prior Interview: Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Director David Prior discusses Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, his love for “The Autopsy” short story, and The Empty Man‘s release.

Grant Hermanns
November 2, 2022
ScreenRant

Some bodies are more than meet the eye, as seen in the “The Autopsy” installment of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Based on Michael Shea‘s short story of the same name, the episode sees a coroner brought in to do the autopsies of several miners who died when one of them set off an explosion with a mysterious object, only to learn of the surprising truth behind him.

F. Murray Abraham and Luke Roberts lead the cast of “The Autopsy“, which hails from The Empty Man writer-director David Prior. Primarily set in an isolated location, the episode is a chilling game of mental chess as Abraham’s Dr. Carl Winters grapples with the revelation of why the miners died, and how he may be next.

In anticipation of its premiere, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with director David Prior to discuss Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, his installment “The Autopsy,” his and del Toro’s shared love of reading, The Empty Man‘s mishandled release, and more.

Read the full interview

Watch Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix

Step by Step, David Fincher’s ‘The Game’ Drags You Into a Living Nightmare

The most overlooked entry in David Fincher’s filmography is also one of his best.

Matthew Mosley
November 1, 2022
Collider

The Game had a lot to live up to. It was the film David Fincher chose as his follow-up to the wildly acclaimed Seven, a film that had thrust the young director into the limelight and prevented his career from reaching a premature end after the mixed reaction to his debut, Alien 3. Suddenly, he was no longer the man who’d killed the little girl we’d spent all of Aliens trying to save. Instead, he was a fully realized auteur ready to carve out his place in the annals of cinema, and all eyes were on him to see what he would do next. What he came back with was The Game, a Hitchcockian thriller for the modern age that toned down the controversial subject matter of its predecessor to focus on being a more straightforward genre pic – a decision that raised a few eyebrows.

The film centers on Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a wealthy investment banker who has everything but the one thing money can’t buy – happiness. For his 48th birthday, his estranged brother Conrad (Sean Penn) gives him a voucher for a mysterious game operated by the equally mysterious Consumer Recreation Services. Nicholas initially rejects the gift, but curiosity gets the better of him and he agrees to participate. However, it doesn’t take long before reality and the game become one and the same, and Nicholas finds himself caught in a web of conspiracy that grows tighter the more he tries to escape. It’s classic thriller stuff and would make for perfect late-night viewing for someone looking to escape into the fantastical world of movies. It’s the sort of thing Alfred Hitchcock excelled at, and while it’s an oversimplification to say that that’s all the film has going for it – touches of psychological thriller era Brian De Palma are scattered throughout, alongside the occasional moment of surrealism that feels closer to what Charlie Kaufman would later popularize – it’s undeniably a more crowd-pleasing experience than Fincher’s previous work.

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