How ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Notting Hill’ Tell the Same Story

The similarities between the two films reveal the potential terror lurking beneath an idyllic romance.

Anna Swanson
May 11, 2018
Film School Rejects

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It’s safe to say that David Fincher‘s 2014 film Gone Girl surprised a lot of audiences (this means that if you haven’t seen the movie, beware of spoilers ahead). But even putting the twists and turns of the plot aside, there was an unexpected move in the promotional campaign that still stands out to me. The first trailer opened with some musical notes that any rom-com fan will recognize as the beginning to “She.”

The song was originally composed and recorded by Charles Aznavour and then famously covered by Elvis Costello to serve as the theme for Roger Michell‘s 1999 film Notting Hill:

For the Gone Girl Teaser Trailer, the song was performed by Richard Butler, and produced, arranged, and mixed by Jason Hill (Mindhunter):

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The Director’s Chair: David Fincher

Fincher on Fincher — How David Fincher Directs a Movie

August 9, 2021
StudioBinder (YouTube)

Director David Fincher explains his personal approach to film directing.

Special thanks to:

Variety’s David Fincher Interview
Escuela Universitaria de Artes TAI
BAFTA Guru
FilmIsNow Movie Bloopers & Extras
Moog Music Inc
Akai Pro Video

Chapters:
00:00 Intro — How David Fincher became a Filmmaker
02:01 Early Career & Return of the Jedi
03:18 Shot Composition and Blocking
06:19 “Relentless” Number of Takes
11:02 Directing with Precision
13:43 Color Theory & Creating the Look
15:48 Create a Feeling (Production Design & Music)
19:35 Final Takeaways

David Fincher is a director’s director. His reputation for having complete control over his work is well-known but many directors have had similar power. So, what makes his approach to film directing so captivating? In this David Fincher video essay, we’ll let the man speak for himself. Through a collection of interviews from throughout his career, Fincher guides us through some of the strongest characteristics of his directing style.

To date, over the past four decades, David Fincher has directed a plethora of music videos, commercials, and 11 feature films. Along the way, he has refined his directing style which can be summed up in two words: precise and purposeful. When watching any David Fincher movies, you would be hard-pressed to find an out-of-place camera movement, or a lazy frame composition. One lesson we learned from Fincher is how he balanced and imbalanced the frame during Nick and Amy’s first meeting in Gone Girl to show the “push and pull” of their flirting.

Another well-known staple of the David Fincher directing style is his predilection for shooting multiple takes. He famously shot 99 takes of the opening scene in The Social Network, for example. But there’s a method to his madness — he wants the actors to move “beyond muscle memory” especially in their domestic environments. In Fincher’s logic, when the actor sits on their couch, they need to have sat in it a hundred times to make it look like they’ve sat in it a hundred times.

Fincher also explains how he creates mood and tone with lighting, color, and music. With a darker frame, desaturated color, and the brooding tones of Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, there certainly is a distinct experience watching David Fincher films. While all of this sounds extreme, the proof that he’s doing something right is visible on-screen.

♬ Songs used:

“Father / Son” — Makeup and Vanity Set
“Subdivide” — Stanley Gurvich
“Switchback” — Nu Alkemi$t
“Battle in the Forest” — Charles Gerhardt – National Philharmonic Orchestra
“Chasing Time” – David A. Molina
“Sugar Storm” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
“Soul Sacrifice” – Santana
“Graysmith Obsessed” – David Shire
“Intriguing Possibilities” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
“Wendy Suite” – Jason Hill
“Under the Midnight Sun” — Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
“14 – Ghosts II” – Nine Inch Nails
“Corporate World” – The Dust Brothers
“Appearances” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
“With Suspicion” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
“What Have We Done to Each Other” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
“Cowboys and Indians” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
“San Simeon Waltz” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
“Fool” – Ryan Taubert
“Where Is My Mind” – The Pixies

David Fincher Interviews & Quotes on His Filmmaking Process

Chris Heckmann
August 8, 2021
StudioBinder

Because We Love Making Movies: Makeup Artist Gigi Williams

Eren Celeboglu
May 16, 2021
Because We Love Making Movies (InstagramFacebook)

Because We Love Making Movies is an ongoing conversation with filmmakers who work behind the scenes to make the movies we love. These are the invisible warriors we don’t think of: Production & Costume Designers, Cinematographers, Editors, Producers, and the whole family of artists who make movies with their hands and hearts.

Today I talk with Gigi Williams, an Oscar Nominated Makeup Artist, and longtime collaborator with the brilliant David Fincher. Her credits are very long, but to name a few: Rock N’ Roll High School, The Howling, The Professional, as well as Single Man, Argo, The Master & Inherent Vice, not to mention her work with Fincher: Gone Girl, Mindhunter, and now Mank.

We talk about going through doors in life when they open, how her craft is misunderstood, how she cherishes working with Actors, and how she doesn’t do personal makeup, she does the movie. We also talk about Gigi’s incredible beginnings in the New York fashion world before she became a Makeup-Artist, which included working with Andy Warhol & Diane Von Furstenberg… She’s had quite a journey, and she’s still on it. It’s an amazing talk so check it out and share!

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The Filmmakers Podcast: The Making of David Fincher’s “Mank”

Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, Make Up Designer Gigi Williams, Production Designer Don Burt & Costume Designer Trish Summerville

Giles Alderson, Andrew Rodger, Phil Hawkins
April 2, 2021
The Filmmakers Podcast

We are delighted to bring to you our SPECIAL bumper episode on the Making of David Fincher’s BAFTA & OSCAR nominated ‘Mank’.

We start with Giles Alderson and Andrew Rodger having a chat with ‘Mank’ Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt about going from Gaffer on Fincher’s Gone Girl to DoP on Mank and how he made the transition to make his debut feature film.

He talks pre-production, how he works with Fincher especially during the repeated takes, what the process was to shooting in black and white and the camera they used.

Co host Phil Hawkins then joins Giles to chat to Make Up designer Gigi Williams about her process, the difference between shooting on digital vs. film. What she works on first how she collaborates with the HOD team and gives some brilliant Make Up tips.

We then chat to Production Designer and Art Director Donald Graham Burt AKA Don Burt about designing the film from preparation through the shooting. He explains why listening is so important in film-making, how he researches a project and how he created the 1930/s & 1940 style and look. And how you don’t have to appease to get ahead.

Finally we chat to Costume Designer Trish Summerville about how she created the look and feel of Mank through her costumes. She talks about working in teams, how to collaborate with actors to help create the characters and how to use colours and patterns to portray certain emotions!

Listen to the podcast:

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How Trish Summerville Went from Designing Christina Aguilera’s ‘Dirrty’ Chaps to Receiving an Oscar Nod for the ‘Mank’ Costumes

David Fincher and Summerville at the 2012 Costume Designers Guild Awards (Alberto E. Rodriguez)

The costume designer shares her biggest challenge on set of the award-season juggernaut and the backstory behind Xtina’s iconic “leg coverings.”

Fawnia Soo Hoo
March 29, 2021
Fashionista

In our long-running series “How I’m Making It,” we talk to people making a living in the fashion and beauty industries about how they broke in and found success.

As the Academy Award nominations were being announced on March 15, “Mank” costume designer Trish Summerville was all PPE-ed up, shooting the Jason Momoa-starring fantasy film “Slumberland.” She was simultaneously FaceTiming her wife, up early in Los Angeles, and watching a semi-delayed livestream (relatable), when she heard her name. 

“I went to the director on the film, Francis Lawrence, and we stepped outside,” Summerville, on a call from Toronto, remembers. “He did give me a hug. He and I are really good friends and have known each other for many, many years. We had masks and face shields on, and all that, and were really, really safe. I have to say, it was great to get a hug.”

Known for her stylized, high-concept and often high-fashion-influenced (or designer label-stacked) costumes, Summerville received multiple nods for her innovative work on the Old Hollywood-set “Mank,” including her first BAFTA and her sixth Costume Designers Guild Award nominations. (This is also her first time being up for an Oscar.) She already won two CDGAs for 2013’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” also directed by Lawrence, and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” helmed by “Mank” director David Fincher; and was nominated for an Emmy for the “Westworld” pilot, among other accolades.

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David Fincher and Trent Reznor on Mank: ‘People were like: Huh. This is very niche’

The director and the rock star composer have now collaborated on four films and discuss their work on the overwhelming Oscar favourite, plus why Bird Box made no sense and whether Fight Club could come to Broadway

Ryan Gilbey
March 25, 2021
The Guardian

One of the US’s greatest living directors is keeping his camera switched off for our Zoom call, but he sounds so cheerful – “Hey! It’s Fincher!” – that he might as well be communicating in smiley-face emojis. Perhaps it is the effect of the 10 Oscar nominations announced a few days earlier for Mank, his acclaimed, affectionate film about the writing of Citizen Kane. Meanwhile, Trent Reznor – who, with his musical partner in Nine Inch Nails, Atticus Ross, has composed the scores for all the director’s movies since 2010 – joins the call a moment later, and proves less camera-shy. He pops up in a brown tracksuit, seated beside a keyboard in a bright, cluttered room. Fincher gives him a chipper greeting: “Trent-O!”

They are here to discuss a partnership that has spanned four pictures: the Facebook origin story The Social Network, the thrillers The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl, and now Mank. It has also brought awards nominations for each of them, as well as an Oscar in 2011 for the baleful, festering music composed by Reznor and Ross for The Social Network, their first film score. I congratulate both men on their most recent nominations. Reznor has received two this year for his scores with Ross: one for Mank, the other for the Pixar fantasy Soul. “It’s brought the ratio down a bit,” he says softly. “It was always nice being able to say: ‘One film, one win.’”

Those 10 nods, which include Fincher’s third for best director, mean that Mank has more nominations than any other film in contention, though perhaps it doesn’t do to get carried away: The Irishman, another prestigious Netflix title, got the same number last year but left empty handed. It feels perverse, though, that a movie about an Oscar-winning writer (Herman J Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman) has been overlooked in the best original screenplay category.

“Listen, you can’t expect other people to see the exact same value in things that you do,” Fincher says. “That’s just childish. Ten’s nice. I got no complaints about 10. He won’t be upset.”

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Rock ‘n Roll Ghost Podcast: Interview with Musician Jason Hill (Louis XIV, Mindhunter)

Brett Hickman
March 12, 2021
Rock ‘n Roll Ghost Podcast (Facebook)

Welcome to the Rock ‘n Roll Ghost Podcast. On this episode, the Ghost speaks with musician and composer Jason Hill about his career dating back to his days in the bands Convoy, Louis XIV and Vicki Cryer. As well as his work with The Killers and producing/touring with the New York Dolls and the recent passing of Sylvain Sylvain. Hill also talks about his late career turn towards film and TV composing. He has worked closely with director David Fincher on projects such as Fincher’s Gone Girl and the Netflix series Mindhunter. It’s a pretty wide ranging, fun interview with someone I go back nearly twenty years with.

Also, starting April 1st, Hill will be hosting Film Composing and Music production masterclasses. Check out the Department of Recording and Power‘s website for more information.

Hill also has done scores for the Netflix documentaries The Confession Killer, as well as the forthcoming This is a Robbery.

Jason Hill: Instagram, Spotify, Louis XIV on Spotify, Vicki Cryer on Spotify, SoundCloud

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Because We Love Making Movies: Production Designer Donald Graham Burt

Eren Celeboglu
January 22, 2021
Because We Love Making Movies (Instagram, Facebook)

Because We Love Making Movies is an ongoing conversation with filmmakers who work behind the scenes to make the movies we love. These are the invisible warriors we don’t think of: Production & Costume Designers, Cinematographers, Editors, Producers, and the whole family of artists who make movies with their hands and hearts.

In the very first episode of my podcast, I sit down with Production Designer Donald Graham Burt. We explore the role of the Production Designer, a life in the arts, working with David Fincher, and learn to talk less and listen more.

Recommended Viewing: The Joy Luck Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Gone Girl, The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, and Mank.

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Because We Love Making Movies
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Soundtracking with Edith Bowman: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross On Mank, Soul, and Other Things!

Edith Bowman
January 22, 2021
Soundtracking with Edith Bowman

Our latest guests on Soundtracking are a duo Edith’s been chasing since we started this podcast, so it’s an absolute thrill to finally lure them on.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross burst onto the film-composing scene with their score for David Fincher’s The Social Network, for which they won an Oscar in 2010. The trio have since joined forces on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl.

Trent and Atticus’s most recent work can be heard on Fincher’s Mank and Pete Docter’s Soul, which you can watch right now on Netflix and Disney + respectively.

The two films couldn’t be more different and had wildly contrasting musical requirements – which is testimony to the range of their talents.

Listen to the podcast:

edithbowman.com
Audioboom
Apple Podcasts
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deezer

Soundtracking Extra with Edith Bowman (YouTube)

It’s All True: A Conversation with David Fincher

Illustration by Rumbidzai Savanhu

The master filmmaker behind Mank on Orson Welles, Pauline Kael and realising a passion project after a 30-year wait.

David Jenkins
December 2, 2020
Little White Lies

From the pen of Jack Fincher comes Mank, the story of how perma-soused Hollywood hack Herman J Mankiewicz happened to write one of the greatest screenplays of all time. Sadly, Jack didn’t live long enough to see the words he had written transformed into sound and light, but it’s something that his son David had wanted to realise for close to three decades.

It’s been six years since Fincher Jr’s last feature film, 2014’s Gone Girl, and in the interim we’ve had two series of Rolls Royce TV drama in the form of Mindhunter. For someone who has already made a tech bro riff on Citizen Kane (2010’s The Social Network), and a melancholic homage to his late father (2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Mank combines these two career poles, while also posing such existential hypotheticals as, what makes a man? And not only that, what makes a writer, and what makes a director?

LWLies: Let’s go on a quick flashback to the early days and the creation of this amazing script by your father, Jack. He was a journalist and author by trade. Did he pivot to screenwriting later in life?

Fincher: I think he wrote a screenplay that was optioned and Rock Hudson wanted to do it – this was in the late ’60s. That fizzled out. Then he wrote spec screenplays in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and then when he retired in the ’90s, he came to me and said, ‘I’m going to have all this time on my hands, what do you want to read a script about?’ I said I had always been interested in ‘Raising Kane’ which I was exposed to in middle school. I had read Pauline Kael’s essay on microfiche in the school library, and then I noticed a copy of it in my father’s library, and we talked about it. Then, 12 years later, I was about to go off to do Alien3, and he was retiring and wanted a new challenge.

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More in Little White Lies 87: The Mank Issue