The David Fincher You Meet in His Movies

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Se7en and the 10th anniversary of The Social NetworkThe Ringer hereby dubs September 21-25 David Fincher Week. Join us all throughout the week as we celebrate and examine the man, the myth, and his impeccable body of work.

The protagonists of everything from ‘Fight Club’ to ‘Zodiac’ to ‘Gone Girl’ have something in common: they’re all cut from the same cloth as their director

Adam Nayman
September 23, 2020
The Ringer

No filmmaker has ever put himself into his work like Alfred Hitchcock. In movie after movie, the director made blink-or-miss-them appearances located at the edge of the frame—crossing a street walking a dog; appearing in a photo for a weight loss clinic—that prompted audiences to play a game of spot-the-auteur. These slyly miniaturized acts of showmanship were simultaneously sight gags and wry reminders of who was really in charge: The so-called “master of suspense” mixed in among the actors he infamously referred to as “cattle.”

David Fincher has not appeared in any of his own films: the closest thing to a cameo comes in 2014’s Gone Girl, a positively Hitchcockian thriller right down to its shower scene featuring a bloody blond. Midway through the film, suspected wife killer Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is being coached on an upcoming television appearance by his high-priced lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), who’s determined that his client makes just the right impression. During their dressing room prep session, the attorney pelts Nick with gummy bears to sharpen his posture and line readings. Perry supposedly didn’t know who Fincher was before being cast in the part, but that doesn’t preclude the fact that in this scene, he’s doing an indirect impression of his director—a control freak who once said there are only two ways to shoot any given scene, and that one of them is always wrong.

Read the full article

First Look at David Fincher’s “Mank”

1930s Hollywood is re-evaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.

Click to enjoy the images in glorious 5K, full quality, and full screen view:

𝙼𝙰𝚈𝙴𝚁
𝚆𝚑𝚘 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚊𝚐𝚊𝚒𝚗?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
𝚃𝙷𝙰𝙻𝙱𝙴𝚁𝙶
𝙹𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚊 𝚠𝚛𝚒𝚝𝚎𝚛.

𝙼𝙰𝚁𝙸𝙾𝙽
𝙸 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚜𝚊𝚠 𝟺𝟸𝚗𝚍 𝚂𝚝𝚛𝚎𝚎𝚝.
(𝙱𝚛𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚕𝚢𝚗-𝚎𝚜𝚎) 𝙸𝚝 𝚋𝚕𝚎𝚠 𝚖𝚢 𝚠𝚒𝚐.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
𝙼𝙰𝙽𝙺
𝚈𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚝𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚐𝚒𝚛𝚕 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚘𝚏
𝙱𝚎𝚍𝚜𝚝𝚞𝚢…

𝙹𝙾𝙴 (𝚅.𝙾.)
𝚆𝚘𝚛𝚍 𝚘𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚜𝚝𝚛𝚎𝚎𝚝 𝚒𝚜 𝚛𝚊𝚍𝚒𝚘’𝚜
𝙶𝚘𝚕𝚍𝚎𝚗 𝙱𝚘𝚢 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚐𝚘 𝚝𝚘𝚎-𝚝𝚘-𝚝𝚘𝚎
𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚆𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚒𝚎 𝙷𝚎𝚊𝚛𝚜𝚝, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚢𝚘𝚞’𝚛𝚎
𝚑𝚎𝚕𝚙𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚔𝚒𝚝𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚗.

𝙼𝙰𝚈𝙴𝚁
𝚃𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝚊 𝚋𝚞𝚜𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚋𝚞𝚢𝚎𝚛
𝚐𝚎𝚝𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚖𝚘𝚗𝚎𝚢 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚊
𝚖𝚎𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚢. 𝚆𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚎 𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚜𝚝𝚒𝚕𝚕
𝚋𝚎𝚕𝚘𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚊𝚗 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝚜𝚘𝚕𝚍 𝚒𝚝.

𝚁𝙸𝚃𝙰
(𝚛𝚊𝚒𝚜𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚐𝚕𝚊𝚜𝚜)
𝙴𝚒𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚍𝚎𝚖𝚘𝚗𝚜𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚝𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚌𝚊𝚗
𝚑𝚊𝚗𝚍𝚕𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜, 𝙼𝚊𝚗𝚔𝚒𝚎𝚠𝚒𝚌𝚣, 𝚘𝚛 𝚠𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕
𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚎𝚗𝚍 𝚞𝚙 𝚐𝚎𝚝𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚜𝚊𝚌𝚔𝚎𝚍.

𝚆𝙴𝙻𝙻𝙴𝚂 (𝚅.𝙾.)
𝚁𝚎𝚊𝚍𝚢 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚘
𝚑𝚞𝚗𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝙶𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝 𝚆𝚑𝚒𝚝𝚎 𝚆𝚑𝚊𝚕𝚎?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
𝙼𝙰𝙽𝙺
𝙲𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚖𝚎 𝙰𝚑𝚊𝚋.

𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚜𝚘𝚘𝚗

Alone Together Pittsburgh: Holt McCallany and the Cast and Crew of Mindhunter

Part talk show part variety show A/T/P is a daily talk show featuring local artists, performers, service industry folks and more. Let’s keep the community of Pittsburgh hanging out. Virtually.

Patrick Jordan
September 4, 2020
Alone Together Pittsburgh (Twitter, Facebook)

Week 25 Episode 82: Holt McCallany of Mindhunter spends his Birthday in quarantine with Patrick Jordan, Cotter Smith, Michael Cerveris, and Bill Doyle (Co-producer). And find out WHT K8 8 with Chef Kate Romane and the Jag/Off Bracket Poll with FORT DUQUESNE BRIDGE VS PIEROGI RACE.

‘Mindhunter’ cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt on ‘expanding the scope’ in Emmy-nominated episode

Daniel Montgomery
August 13, 2020
Gold Derby

Erik Messerschmidt earned his first Emmy nomination this summer: Best Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) for his work on the true-crime drama “Mindhunter.” It’s bittersweet, though, since Netflix put the show on indefinite hold after its second season, which aired last summer. “I loved working on the show,” he remembers. “It’s a unicorn in a way. It was a unique situation where everybody was working towards the same goal and everyone was very in sync in terms of what we were trying to accomplish.” Watch our exclusive video interview with the director of photography above.

He is nominated specifically for his work in episode six, during which FBI agents Ford and Tench (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) search for missing children in Atlanta while Dr. Carr and Agent Smith (Anna Torv and Joe Tuttle) interview convicted killer Paul Bateson. “I just felt like we had a lot of variety in the episode,” says Messerschmidt. “You have all of the classic ‘Mindhunter’ stuff with the Paul Bateson interview, but you also have the characters out in the field. So we’re expanding the scope a little bit, and we had some new set pieces which the audience hadn’t seen before.”

For instance, there is a memorable scene in which law enforcement teams search for murder victims in the eerie pre-dawn light, and another where a grisly discovery in the dead of night is lit primarily with flashlights. “It was a good opportunity to show a little bit of the depth of the show. And it was an episode we were generally pretty proud of.” The season’s focus on the Atlanta child murders influenced the show’s aesthetic in general. Messerschmidt wanted to convey the “hot, humid environment … so we warmed the camera up quite a bit. We made use of atmosphere in some of the interiors. I tried to light it with as much hot, searing sunlight coming through the doors as possible.”

“I would love to go back and do more ‘Mindhunter,’ but who knows? Time will tell, I guess,” he says. In the meantime his creative partnership with “Mindhunter” director/producer David Fincher continues. Messerschmidt is the cinematographer for the filmmaker’s upcoming movie “Mank,” which takes them from murder in the 1970s and 1980s to show business in the 1940s. “That’s what’s great about our job is we get to sort of pick a story apart and figure out what we’re going to do and how we’re going to tell the story.”

DP/30: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. “Watchmen”, “Mank”

“All in ‘Mank’ is orchestra or big band. There’s no one synth or one note played by us on the whole score.”

David Poland
August 10, 2020
DP/30: The Oral History Of Hollywood (YouTube)

They both took different roads to film scoring, which they have mostly (and most famously) done together. From 9 Inch Nails to Fincher to Watchmen, they have a unique one-off approach to every project. They took some time to chat with David Poland to chat about their work on The Social Network, Watchmen, Mank, and Pixar‘s Soul.

Shot via Zoom, August 2020.

Earlier DP/30 with Trent Reznor: Gone Girl

‘Mindhunter’ Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt on Expanding the Scope in Season 2 and Fincher’s ‘Mank’

Michele K. Short / Netflix

Adam Chitwood
June 30, 2020
Collider

The Netflix original drama series Mindhunter is one of the best shows on television. It’s compelling and challenging in the best way, as it traces the early days of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit through the eyes of a pair of ambitious yet troubled detectives who spend their time interviewing serial killers, looking for insight that could help them catch future killers. It’s also a wildly cinematic show, which should come as no surprise given that it hails from executive producer and director David Fincher.

Season 1 of the series was focused on the origins of the Behavioral Science Unit and found Jonathan Groff’s Holden Ford, Holt McCallany’s Bill Tench, and Anna Torv’s Wendy Carr working mostly out of Quantico and conversing in interrogation rooms. The tremendous second season of the series, however, saw Ford and Tench forced to move into the field as the FBI is called in to consult on the “Atlanta Child Murders” and help track down a serial killer in Georgia.

This posed unique challenges and wonderful opportunities for the Mindhunter production team, as cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt told me in an extended interview I conducted by phone back in April. Messerschmidt worked on Season 1 of the series and returned for Season 2, for which he served as director of photography on all nine episodes—a rarity in the television world. During our interview, Messerschmidt talked about why they decided he should be the cinematographer on every episode and offered tremendous insight into how this impeccably crafted show is made. He discussed the intense planning that he and Fincher went through to map out the visual language of Season 2, specifically speaking to how they crafted that incredible interrogation scene set entirely in a car. He also talked about the challenge of shooting a show like Mindhunter on location as the show expanded into the outside world of Atlanta, and what his role as the “visual constant” was like when working with directors Andrew Dominik and Carl Franklin on the season’s later episodes.

With reports having surfaced that a potential Mindhunter Season 3 is “on hold” for the moment while Fincher focuses on making a film, I also asked Messerschmidt about the likelihood of a third season happening. And since Messerschmidt served as Fincher’s cinematographer on his upcoming Netflix film Mank—which is presented in black-and-white and chronicles the making of Citizen Kane—I asked about his experience working on that highly anticipated feature film.

If you’re at all interested in how the Mindhunter team was able to achieve such a handsome, controlled aesthetic this interview offers invaluable insight into that process, and what a collaboration between Fincher and his DP looks like on a longform series. With any luck this excellent show will be rightly recognized by the Emmys folks come voting time…

Read the full interview

Portbox: The Desire to Go Noir With Erik Messerschmidt

Madhav Goyal
June 29, 2020
Portbox

Erik Messerschmidt (Mindhunter) is an American cinematographer. Erik chats with Portbox about his transition into cinematography with Netflix Original Series: Mindhunter. Madhav inquires about how Erik studies human behavior, both professionally and personally. Erik highlights how working with great cinematographers and highly disciplined directors has informed his workflow and why director-cinematographer relationships work across different films. He also breaks down one of Madhav’s favorite scene from the second season of Mindhunter, while giving us details on his next project with David Fincher, Mank.

Listen to the podcast on:

Portbox
Apple Podcasts
Spotify

Google Podcasts
Stitcher

The Case for 8K Production and How to Manage That Monster Data

There’s no escaping the fact that 8K is four times as many pixels as 4K… but recording 8K is easier and less expensive than you think.

Adrian Pennington
April 13, 2020
Creative Planet

For many, the idea of recording 8K video understandably conjures up images of unmanageable files sizes, long transfer times, huge piles of hard drives, and slow proxy workflows… not to mention a black hole in the budget.

Leaving aside for one moment the fact that HDR and HFR are far more valuable than resolution to the consumer’s eye, there are benefits to an 8K production which an increasing number of projects are taking advantage of.

Mank, directed by David Fincher and lensed by Erik Messerschmidt, ASC, was acquired 8K using the RED Monstro in monochrome (above); and Money Heist, the Netflix drama which in season 4 is shot at 7K to accommodate HDR in a 4K deliverable, are just two of the most recent.

You can’t sell productions made in less than 4K to Netflix and other streaming services now. One day soon, some will mandate 8K to begin with and Netflix will have its fair share in the bank.

Even if the final output is only going to be 4K/UHD, shooting in 8K gives you many options in post that you do not have when starting in 4K. These include downscaling, cut/crop (pan/scan) or headroom for VFX.

“Before making the decision to capture a project in 8K, producers and cinematographers need to consider the project’s long-term goals,” says Bryce Button, director of product marketing, AJA Video Systems. For instance, capturing in 8K makes a lot of sense if there will be future use for the material.

Read the full article

Atticus Ross: “I’ve seen the first cut of ‘Mank’ and it was incredible”

And Trent Reznor explains why David Fincher is great to work with.

Reznor and Ross share some glimpses on their work with Fincher on Mank at the end of their interview about their score for HBO and Damon Lindelof‘s Watchmen.

Read the article:

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: Composing ‘Watchmen’ was ‘super rewarding, extremely difficult and fulfilling’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW

Rob Licuria
March 31, 2020
Gold Derby

The prolific duo has also released two new Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts albums for free.

ASC Welcomes Erik Messerschmidt as a New Active Member

Samantha Dillard
February 5, 2020
ASC (American Society of Cinematographers)

Erik Messerschmidt, ASC had a childhood dream of becoming a cinematographer, which he began pursuing at Emerson College, where he studied film production. While in school, he hit the ground running, working on film sets as an electrician, which then led to work as a gaffer in features, television and commercials. Before he graduated, he was able to join the IATSE Local 481 in Boston. During this time, he also served as a lighting technician and lighting director for many well-known photographers, including Gregory Crewdson, Mike and Doug Starn and Larry Sulton.

Following graduation, Messerschmidt relocated to Los Angeles to further his career in the industry. Shortly thereafter, he met Mark Doering-Powell, ASC and Mark Weingartner, ASC, who served as early mentors. Doering-Powell hired Messerschmidt on several smaller feature projects as a grip and later gaffer, which allowed him to join Local 728 as a gaffer. He developed relationships with numerous ASC members, including Claudio MirandaJeff Cronenweth and Tami Reiker, who Messerschmidt calls his “closest mentors.”

Gordon Lonsdale, ASC hired Messerschmidt as his gaffer on the television series Bones, and the two worked together for six seasons. During this time, Messerschmidt also gained experience as a director of photography, shooting several commercials, short films and documentaries.

Erik Messerschmidt, ASC on the set of the Netflix series Mindhunter.

Cronenweth hired Messerschmidt as his gaffer on David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and subsequently encouraged the director to hire Messerschmidt to photograph his next project, the Netflix series Mindhunter. Since then, the cinematographer has shot the bulk of episodes on both seasons. (See story here.)

Messerschmidt has also photographed several episodes of the television series Legion as well as second-unit work on the feature Sicario: Day of the Soldado, shot by Dariusz Wolski, ASC. On the recommendation of Wolski, Messerschmidt was hired to photograph the HBO Max series Raised by Wolves.

His upcoming credits include Fincher’s latest feature, Mank, depicting the life of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and the writing of the script to Citizen Kane.

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