Coca-Cola – “Blade Roller” (1993)

In 2021 AD, the futuristic megalopolis of ZERO-CITY is under martial law. When the authorities try to enforce a curfew, a gang of renegade “Blade Rollers” defy it rollerblading daredevil-style through the deserted rain-slicked streets.

For this stylistic homage to Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982), director David Fincher recruited the cinematographer of the classic film, Jordan CronenwethASC, one of his all-time heroes.

It was also the first collaboration between Fincher and Producer Ceán Chaffin.

Watch all the versions of the commercial and read The Fincher Analyst dossier:

1993. Coca-Cola – Blade Roller

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.

Read the full profile

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

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

Pixel Perfection

Jarred Land / RED Digital Cinema

Adrian Pennington
April 2022
British Cinematographer

Jarred Land has spent his career in close collaboration and connection with filmmakers, supporting the execution of their vision with powerful and ground-breaking tools.

Jarred Land runs RED Digital Cinema, the company whose 4K camera went from scepticism to admiration on a run of prestige movies like David Fincher’s Oscar-winning Mank and series like The Queen’s Gambit. Since 2013, Land has led a team focused on precedent-setting technology for filmmakers.

Land didn’t found RED but joined Jim Jannard before the launch of the first camera and during the hardcore, technology banging sleepless nights part of the story, where a small group failed, learned, succeeded. From the first conversation Land had with Jannard and still today, the focus is on providing a more complete tool for filmmakers.

Born in Edmonton, Canada, Land’s father ran gas stations and shopping malls, imbuing in him an entrepreneurial spirit. The teenage Land’s passion was mountain biking which he segued into his own bike courier company in Vancouver.

A chance encounter with a client inspired him to take up videography using the Panasonic tape camcorder DVX100. “I couldn’t go to film school because I was running my company and biking 100km a day, so I set up a bulletin board for help,” he says.

Read the full profile

History of the 90s: David Fincher

Kathy Kenzora
January 26, 2022
History of the 90s (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

On History of the 90’s we’ll travel back in time through the stories that defined a decade. The last 10 years of the 20th century was a time like no other, from Columbine to Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Seinfeld, Air Jordan, and the Spice Girls… if it happened in the 90’s you’ll hear about it on this podcast. Join Kathy Kenzora as we journey through the History of the 90’s every other Wednesday.

In the 1990’s director David Fincher brought us classic movies like Seven and Fight Club, making his mark on the industry as one the best film makers of his generation.  But Fincher’s impact on the decade stretches beyond movies.  Through dozens of TV commercials and music videos Fincher helped style the 90s.

Guest: Adam Nayman, author of David Fincher: Mind Games

Listen to the podcast:

CuriousCast
Apple Podcasts
Spotify

David Fincher and the Cinema of Doomscrolling

A conversation with Adam Nayman about the filmmaker’s style and obsessions.

Alex Shephard
January 18, 2022
Critical Mass (The New Republic)

David Fincher’s films are full of doubles, puzzles, and tantalizing glimpses of the director himself. As Adam Nayman writes in his new book about Fincher’s films, Mind Games, “Fincher imposes his presence through the actions and psychologies of thinly veiled proxies: Clockmakers and safecrackers; hackers and terrorists; detectives and serial killers.” These are films that are, like their director, obsessed with procedure and appearance—and intent on puncturing both.

These films are, perhaps because of their complexity or their (at least outward) coldness—or perhaps because of Fincher’s own past as a director of music videos and advertisements—misunderstood or even dismissed. In the past decade alone, Fincher’s The Social Network and, especially, Gone Girl have received radical reappraisals, while Zodiac has been seen by many as one of the best films of the twenty-first century. Mind Games is particularly valuable in its willingness to critically engage with much of Fincher’s less-appreciated output—from his work in advertising to films like Benjamin Button and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But Nayman, the author of similar studies of the Coen brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson, also deepens the understanding of films by situating them in an oeuvre that has been obsessively looking at many of the same themes for decades.

Read the full interview

Indie Film Hustle: Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, ASC

The Art of Cinematography & David Fincher

Alex Ferrari
December 14, 2021
Indie Film Hustle

Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, is the son of Jordan Cronenweth, ASC, one of the most influential cinematographers in history, most notable for Blade Runner.

He worked with his father as a camera loader and second assistant camera during high school, graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and worked his way up to first assistant camera and then camera operator until the mid-1990s. He also worked for legendary Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist.

The first major motion picture where he acted as a DP was for David Fincher‘s Fight Club. Other notable feature films on which he worked as a DP are One Hour Photo, directed by Mark RomanekK-19: The WidowmakerDown With LoveThe Social NetworkHitchcockThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and recently, Being the Ricardos, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin.

He was nominated twice for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Fincher’s The Social Network (2010) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).

Listen to the podcast and read the transcript

Adam Nayman Talks David Fincher’s Adman Past (And Present)

A conversation with the author about his new book, “David Fincher: Mind Games”

Sydney Urbanek
November 17, 2021
Mononym Mythology

Adam Nyman is a fellow film critic and the author of several books about films and filmmakers, including but not limited to The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together (2018) and Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks (2020). (Though we’ve never crossed paths in person, he also teaches in the department where I did my Master’s program.) He opens Mind Games with a dedicated discussion of the decade or so before Fincher ever made his narrative feature debut with ALIEN³ (1992), but then continues to come back to his commercial and music video work for the remainder of it, wisely treating his adman past as, well, more of an adman present. A few weeks back, Adam and I chatted for an hour about Fincher’s short-form oeuvre, but also his features because—again—the two aren’t as discrete as a lot of people believe. Our conversation has been edited for clarity, but not really so much for length.

Read the full interview

Buy the book David Fincher: Mind Games. By Adam Nayman

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.

Read the full interview

American Cancer Society’s “Smoking Fetus”

Directed by David Fincher and shot by Michael Owens, this PSA gained national attention due to its striking images and potent warning.

Bruce Mink
August 1985
American Cinematographer

Tony McVey sets up his sculpture in front of the motion-control camera.

The sound of a heartbeat is heard. A human fetus fades up on the television screen in close-up and a voiceover begins: “Would you give a cigarette to your unborn child?” The camera pans and dollies back to reveal an entire fetus existing serenely in the womb of its mother. “You do every time you smoke when you’re pregnant.” At this point, the fetus slowly brings a lit cigarette to its lips and takes a puff, exhaling the smoke into the glowing placenta it lives in. And the voiceover finishes: “Pregnant mothers, please don’t smoke.”

The 30-second spot was produced for the American Cancer Society by a talented and relatively untapped group of San Francisco Bay area filmmakers, modelmakers, and computer specialists brought together by producer Joseph Vogt (Rick Springfield’s “Bop ’Till You Drop”). With a film and conceptual design education behind him, Vogt organized the majority of his film crew from the ranks of Industrial Light and Magic. It was with the abundant talents of these production people — director David FincherMidland Productions, and Monaco Labs — that Vogt brought life to a most creative and technically challenging public service announcement.

Director of photography Michael Owens at the Mitchell GC ready to shoot the prepped sculpture.

Jerry Angert, director of broadcasting with the American Cancer Society, described the ad as “one of the most powerful we have done… We considered the fact that it would be controversial and the networks might not show it, but counted on the local stations to take it.” And that’s exactly what transpired. NBC and CBS chose not to air the graphic spot while CNN (Turner Broadcasting), ABC and its affiliates and affiliates of NBC and CBS elected to show it.

CBS and NBC claim the spot is too graphic. An NBC spokeswoman cited “general taste considerations” as a deterrent to airing the spot. “It was the sight of the fetus that was especially shocking and we felt it was potentially offensive to our viewers,” she was quoted as saying. A CBS spokesman said the network agreed with the “importance of the intent of the message,” but said that the spot was “far too graphic for broadcast on CBS.” An ABC spokesman, however, said the message put forth by the spot was “important for pregnant mothers to understand.” The network felt that. while it was “different visually” from the usual fare viewed on TV, it contained no material that warranted its ban from the airwaves.

Read the full article

American Cinematographer, August 1985 cover

Watch the commercial and read The Fincher Analyst dossier:

1985. American Cancer Society – Smoking Fetus (PSA)