Hooked on Sonics: David Fincher, Composer Jason Hill Bend Sound and Time on ‘Mindhunter’

10/14/2017 by Paula Parisi
Billboard

The year is 1972. On May 7, Tony Orlando & Dawn is in the middle of a four-week ride atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree,” and Edmund Kemper is indicted on eight counts of murder in Santa Cruz, Calif. Welcome to the world of David Fincher’s Mindhunter, a circa 1970s crime drama that debuts on Netflix this weekend.

Set within the FBI’s elite Behavioral Sciences Unit, the show delves into the psyche of high-profile serial killers because, “How do we get ahead of crazy, if we don’t know how crazy thinks?” In other words, as sophisticated a study in depravity as audiences are likely to see outside of a theater showing a Fincher film, and he wanted the music to match.

Fincher’s facility with score has been validated with an Oscar, a Grammy and two noms for his past four films, which include Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. House of Cards, another show Fincher executive produces for Netflix, has accumulated five Emmy nominations for composer Jeff Beal (who won this year). And he famously convinced Trent Reznor to score 2010’s The Social Network, resulting in Oscars for the Nine Inch Nails principal and collaborator Atticus Ross. But Fincher is surprisingly modest about accruing any of that acclaim.

“I just hire people that are great and get out of their way,” says the man who was the enfant terrible of ’80s music video.

The muted, subterranean Mindhunter soundtrack is composed by erstwhile alt pop comet Jason Hill — he soared, he shined, he fell short of being a star with bands Louis XIV and Vicky Cryer. But the 42-year-old rose to the occasion for Fincher, who asked him to craft a score that wouldn’t sound, literally, like music.

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Why David Fincher’s ‘Mindhunter’ DP Believes ‘There Are No Rules’ in Lighting

Hawkins DuBois
October 13, 2017
No Film School

‘Mindhunter’ DP Erik Messerschmidt shot the darkly intimate show with custom-made RED Xenomorphs.

When it comes to cinematography, every filmmaker, every movie or show, and every shot is different. While there may be a “textbook” way to approach a scene, there is no “correct” way. Even so, patterns and styles always emerge, and few filmmakers have developed a look as distinctive as David Fincher‘s. While Fincher is best known for his mysterious and gritty films, ranging from Fight Club to The Social Network, he’s recently ventured into the realm of streaming television, where he has produced and directed the critically-acclaimed House of Cards, and now seeks to expand on that success with the recently-released Mindhunter for Netflix.

Mindhunter tells the story of a pair of FBI agents, played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany, as their work in the Elite Serial Crime Unit leads them down a dark path where they interrogate and explore the mindsets of serial killers and rapists. It’s another psychologically tense world from the mind of Fincher, and a significant part of what brings this world to life is the work of cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, who keeps audiences grounded and in the moment.

Messerschmidt, a longtime gaffer in the industry, built up years of knowledge while working alongside some of the best DPs in Hollywood, and his unique background allowed him to creatively solve problems and accentuate story with his camerawork. No Film School recently sat down with Messerschmidt to talk about his career and Mindhunter, including his decision to come up through the lighting department, mastering crew-management skills, and how to incorporate natural lighting into your shots.

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David Fincher Is Still Fascinated by Serial Killers

(Merrick Morton, Netflix)

The director of Seven returns to familiar material with his new Netflix series, Mindhunter.

Adam Grant
Oct 13, 2017
Esquire

The first rule of interviewing David Fincher: Don’t talk about Fight Club. He directed that movie, along with Seven, Gone Girl, Zodiac, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and The Social Network. He’s also an executive producer of House of Cards. One of the most meticulous creators in film and television returns to familiar territory on October 13 with Mindhunter, a Netflix drama about how the FBI first developed techniques to catch serial killers and rapists.

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Exclusive: DP Claudio Miranda on ‘Only the Brave’, Shooting Fire, and David Fincher Stories

By Adam Chitwood
October 12, 2017
Collider

Claudio Miranda has had an interesting career thus far. After working as a gaffer on films like Se7en and Fight Club, filmmaker David Fincher (with whom he’d worked on a few commercials and music videos as a cinematographer) asked him to serve as the cinematographer for the wildly ambitious 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That VFX-intensive effort scored Miranda an Oscar nomination and led to him then shooting visually breathtaking movies like Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, and of course Life of Pi, for which he won the Best Cinematography Oscar.

Miranda’s latest film reteams him with director Joseph Kosinski for the third time and also marks something of a departure—the true story drama Only the Brave. The film revolves around one unit of local firefighters who battled the Yarnell Hill wildfire in 2013 to tragic results. Josh Brolin leads a cast that includes Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch, and Jennifer Connelly.

With Only the Brave hitting theaters on October 20th, I recently got the chance to have an extended conversation with Miranda about his work on the film. He talked about his working relationship with Kosinski, the challenges of capturing real fire onscreen, shooting on location, and his approach to shooting realistic visual effects.

But I’m also a big fan of Miranda’s work in general, so the conversation veered off into his early days working as a gaffer for Fincher, and we discussed his “trial by fire” experience shooting Benjamin Button as well as what it’s like to work with Fincher and how his gaffer work with other cinematographers like Harris Savides and Dariusz Wolski has shaped his approach. Finally, with Kosinski next set to direct the Top Gun sequel Top Gun: Maverick, I asked Miranda what the prep has been like on that movie so far.

It’s a wide-ranging and refreshingly candid conversation that hopefully admirers of Miranda’s work, or just those curious about cinematography in general, will find illuminating. I certainly had a great time chatting with the talented DP.

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David Fincher on his new Netflix series Mindhunter and what’s gone wrong with film-making

(Merrick Morton, Netflix)

by Danny Leigh
October 12, 2017
Financial Times

“Have we got a show?” David Fincher asks. He is joking, but not really. The show in question is Mindhunter, a new drama Fincher has created for the all-powerful Netflix. The setting is a non-specific late 1970s, the principals a pair of FBI agents at the dawn of modern criminal psychology. Fincher, an executive producer, also directed the first two and last two episodes. When we meet in a starched London hotel, these are all that have been shown to a small group of journalists. Through scarcity alone, my opinion is valued. I tell him the truth — I found it very moreish — and he nods. “OK. Good. Good. You just never know.”

For much of his career, Fincher has enjoyed a reputation for a certain spikiness. Now, at 55, his goatee beard has silvered to the point of a minimalist Santa Claus. At times he almost seems avuncular. Santa, however, never brought anyone the kind of visions on which Fincher made his name. While his movies have been many and various, the best of him has surfaced in tales about the most depraved human behaviours, the horrible brilliance of Se7en and Zodiac now joined by another story of serial killers and those who pursue them. I ask when Fincher first became aware of what in Mindhunter are still called “sequence killers”?

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‘Mindhunter’ DP Recounts Rise From ‘Gone Girl’ Gaffer to Cinematographer on Netflix Series

(Merrick Morton, Netflix)

Valentina I. Valentini
October 12, 2017
Variety

When Erik Messerschmidt stepped into the role of David Fincher’s cinematographer on “Mindhunter” — a series centered on an elite FBI serial crime unit that premieres on Netflix on Oct. 13 — he and the director were already in sync.

“David and I see the world in a similar way,” says Messerschmidt, who was Fincher’s gaffer on “Gone Girl.” “I felt like I had a lot of freedom to try things visually and take some calculated risks. He was a huge supporter of that.”

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David Fincher’s journey into the minds of serial killers

The ‘Fight Club’ director – who grew up under the shadow of the infamous Zodiac murders – tells Nev Pierce about his new Netflix series

Nev Pierce
12 October 2017
The Telegraph (The Daily Telegraph)

“I love Hannibal Lecter,” says director David Fincher, referring to fiction’s most infamous serial killer, from The Silence of the Lambs. “But he doesn’t exist when you really look into serial killing. He may actually be destructive to the understanding of who these people are.”

Few film-makers have “looked into” serial killing with the intense interest of this wry 55-year-old. His breakthrough picture Seven, which announced this one-time music video maestro as a major cinematic force with a flair for an indelible visual image, featured a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who slaughtered people according to the seven deadly sins and a notoriously shocking ending that left police procedural clichés decapitated.

His best film is arguably Zodiac, a meticulous account of the frustrated attempts to catch the real life titular killer who terrorised California in the late Sixties. You could even argue – though this would likely bring a raised eyebrow from the director who also counts Gone Girl, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Fight Club on his CV – that the predatory Xenomorph from his ill-fated debut, Alien 3, is more dangerous even than Lecter, or that the reverse-ageing romance The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really about the ultimate serial killer, Death himself.

His new Netflix series Mindhunter, however, is more grounded in reality than any of these projects. Yes, it deals with killers, but these aren’t gourmets or masterminds. Instead, inspired by the memoir of FBI agent John Douglas, it follows two agents (Holt McCallany and Jonathan Groff) as they interview convicted killers for insights to help them capture active murderers.

“I thought it was more interesting to see what makes a serial killer in real life, rather than turning him into a comic book supervillain,” says Fincher of the 10-part show, which is really about the birth of psychological profiling. “I thought a show based on conversations with the monster could be compelling, maybe in a new way. I was interested in the idea of not imbuing these creatures with a mythological power over us.”

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Charlize Theron and David Fincher, ‘Mindhunter’ delves into the darker corners of the criminal mind

Meredith Blake
October 12, 2017
Los Angeles Times

To meet Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany, stars of the Netflix series “Mindhunter,” you’d never suspect they recently spent 10 long months consumed with the darkest reaches of the human psyche.

Groff, a charmer known for playing the lead in HBO’s “Looking” and King George in the original Broadway version of “Hamilton,” laughs generously as McCallany, a seasoned character actor and gabby raconteur with a booming voice, shares a story about training to throw out the first pitch at a Mets game.

Yet given their obvious rapport, it’s easy to see why they were cast as the leads in “Mindhunter,” which debuts Friday. The psychological drama, executive produced by David Fincher and Charlize Theron, follows a pair of trailblazing FBI agents as they interrogate notorious real-life murderers in an effort to understand — and maybe prevent — the senseless urge to kill.

Groff stars as Holden Ford, a clean-cut but open-minded young agent intent on shaking up the hidebound agency, while McCallany plays Bill Tench, a cynical veteran who asks what might be the series’ central question: “How do we get ahead of crazy if we don’t know how crazy thinks?”

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BFI LFF: MINDHUNTER Q&A with David Fincher hosted by Nev Pierce. Complete Audio

Nev Pierce and David Fincher (BFI, Twitter)

By Joe Frady

Plus: MINDHUNTER Q&A with David Fincher, Jonathan Groff & Holt McCallany hosted by Kate Taylor.

2017-10-11 Matthew Doyle (Twitter) - Preview of first two episodes of MINDHUNTER at LFF plus Q&A

David Fincher, Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany (Matthew Doyle, Twitter)

Why You See a Face in the Bloody ‘Mindhunter’ Inkblot

By Lucy Huang
on June 17, 2017
Inverse (Science & Chill)

Droplets of blood fall and bloom in the trailer for the upcoming Netflix psychological thriller series Mindhunter. Between shots from the show, which will explore the FBI’s partnership with serial killers when it premieres on October 13, the drops expand and gather into symmetrical blotches, forming the well-known shapes of a Rorschach test. For some viewers, they may seem to pool, eventually, into a very familiar pattern. If you start seeing an agonized face in the crimson splotch, you’re not the only one.

The Rorschach test was developed in 1918 by Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach, who made the ink blots himself by dribbling ink onto paper and folding them in half. Rorschach, who believed the test could help psychologists understand their patient’s perception and mental grasp, asked people what they saw in the blots and then analyzed their responses. What he was really doing was exploiting a natural phenomenon called pareidolia, which occurs every time we see things that aren’t actually there.

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