‘Mindhunter’ DP Erik Messerschmidt on Working with Fincher, the Show’s Aesthetic, and Season 2

Erik Messerschmidt with Camera Operator Brian Osmond, SOC (Patrick Harbron / Netflix)

2018-05-28. Collider - ‘Mindhunter_ DP Erik Messerschmidt on Working with Fincher, the Show_s Aesthetic, and Season 2 06
Merrick Morton / Netflix

Adam Chitwood
May 28, 2018
Collider

The Netflix original series Mindhunter is, by far, one of the best new shows currently running. The true story-based, 1977-set drama chronicles the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling primarily through the eyes of three people at the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit: eager newcomer Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), somewhat jaded veteran Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), and brilliant psychology professor Wendy Carr (Anna Torv). That this show is immaculately crafted from top to bottom will come as no surprise to those aware that it’s the brainchild of David Fincher, who serves as executive producer and directed nearly half of the series’ first season.

This is without doubt one of the best looking pieces of entertainment released in 2017, regardless of medium, with classical framing, motivated camera movement, and a tremendous palette that gives a mere peek into the darkness inside the minds of the criminals and serial killers who are the subject of the Behavioral Science Unit’s interviews.

So when I got the chance to speak with cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt about his work on the series, I was thrilled. Messerschmidt shot eight of the first season’s 10 episodes, including the Fincher-directed closing installments, and as he revealed during our interview, this was essentially his first major gig as a cinematographer. Messerschmidt had worked previously as a gaffer on shows like Mad Men and Bones, and then later the feature film Gone Girl where he first came into contact with Fincher. Based on their work together on that film, Fincher called Messerschmidt up when they were looking for a new DP for Mindhunter after the show’s original cinematographer exited over creative differences.

This promotion from gaffer to DP is a familiar refrain with Fincher’s cinematographers, as he did the same with his The Game and Fight Club gaffer Claudio Miranda, who was brought on as DP for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and went on to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography for his work on Life of Pi.

Messerschmidt’s rise to the primary cinematographer of Fincher’s brand new TV show elicits similarly spectacular results, as the DP’s work on Mindhunter is elegantly classical and incredibly motivated by character and theme. During the course of our conversation, Messerschmidt talked about the road that led to him becoming the cinematographer on Mindhunter, the specifics of his working relationship with Fincher, what it’s like to serve as a DP in the world of episodic television, how the work of production designers and costumes designers goes under-appreciated, and trying to maintain a consistent aesthetic with multiple directors. He also teased a bit about Mindhunter Season 2, including revealing their extensive shooting schedule.

Check out the full interview

2018-05-28. Collider - ‘Mindhunter’ DP Erik Messerschmidt on Working with Fincher, the Show’s Aesthetic, and Season 2 07.jpg
Erik Messerschmidt with Episodes 3 & 4 Director Asif Kapadia (Merrick Morton / Netflix)

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The Dust Brothers’ E.Z. Mike on Fight Club and Performing His Score Live

2005-05. The Dust Brothers
The Dust Brothers: John King (left) and Mike Simpson. By Mr. Bonzai / SOS (2005)

Michael Cooper
May 17, 2018
L.A. Weekly

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB! – Tyler Durden

We are going to talk about Fight Club _ the score, that is. Since the film was first released in theaters almost 20 years ago, it has managed to stay afloat in the pop culture atmosphere thanks to a strong cult following. The subject matter and performances were and still are a big part of the movie’s appeal, but the film’s standout score, created by legendary writer-producer duo The Dust Brothers, has a lot to do with it, too. This Saturday night, for the first time ever, both Brothers (who aren’t actually related) will present the score live at the Wiltern.

Read the full profile

The Dust Brothers

Sampling, Remixing & The Boat Studio

Paul Tingen
May 2005
SOS (Sound on Sound)

Alien 3. Expanded Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Limited Edition 2-CD Set)

La-La Land Records

La-La Land Records, Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Music and Universal Music Special Markets present the expanded and remastered re-issue of the original motion picture score to the 1992 feature film ALIEN 3, starring Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, and Charles Dance, and directed by David Fincher.

Renowned composer Elliot Goldenthal (Batman Forever, Pet Semetary, Heat) composes an astounding musical tapestry of suspenseful atmospherics and pulse-pounding action – featuring some of the most effective cues ever composed for the legendary ALIEN franchise. Goldenthal’s artistic triumphs here would propel him into a series of acclaimed scores to important genre films that continues today.

Expanded by more than 40 minutes beyond the original 1992 album assembly (which appears here remastered on Disc 2), the presentation showcases the film score in all its glory, along with bonus alternates. Produced by Nick Redman and Michael Matessino, associate produced by Neil S. Bulk, and remastered and mixed by Matessino from original digital masters, this special 2-CD set is limited to 3500 units and features exclusive in-depth liner notes by writer Jeff Bond and sharp art direction by Mark BanningStarts Shipping May 3.

Order it now on the La-La Land Records official website

Goldenthal himself once called the score to be his “Symphony No. 1”. Whilst creating the score in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles riots of 1992 were going on and he has noted that the wild and tempestuous atmosphere in the city was an influence on the music’s dark and visceral sound.

Andrew Dominik and Carl Franklin, new Directors for MINDHUNTER, Season 2

2007. The Assassination of Jesse James

2002. High Crimes

Rodrigo Perez has revealed on The Playlist the new two directors that will accompany David Fincher in the directorial labors for the eight episodes of the second season of MINDHUNTER (and confirmed its release in early 2019).

Fincher will direct the two-hour long season premiere and finale:

Andrew Dominik (“The Assassination of Jesse James,” “Killing Me Softly”) will helm another two, and filmmaker Carl Franklin (“Devil In A Blue Dress,” “One False Move”), who’s become something of a journeyman director on TV in recent years (“House Of Cards,” “The Leftovers,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Vinyl” and more), will direct the rest and bulk of the show.

Fincher is currently in Pittsburgh doing prep on season two which starts at the end of the month. It should keep him busy for most of the year and regardless, I’m told Netflix intends to hold it for an early 2019 release. The “Mindhunter” filmmaker directed all the reshoots for every episode of season one and he’ll be doing the same for season two; they’ll be baking in time for that as well.

Dominik was apparently a big fan of Fincher, and their connection is through Brad Pitt who starred in the aforementioned ‘Jesse James’ and has obviously led many a Fincher movie including “Seven,” and “Fight Club,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and possibly the “World War Z” sequel if they can ever figure out the script.

Read the full article

This means the “Worl War Z” sequel shooting has been, once again, postponed:

‘World War Z 2’ Not Shooting This Fall; David Fincher’s ‘Mindhunter’ Season 2 Is Next

Rodrigo Perez
April 19, 2018
The Playlist

Murder by Imitation: The Influence of Se7en’s Title Sequence

Tim Groves
April 2018 (Issue 43)
Screening the Past

The serial killer film is nothing if not prolific: Robert Cettl discusses over six hundred examples in his annotated filmography, Richard Dyer argues that there are over two thousand serial killer films, and the IMDB lists more than 3500 film and television titles. [1] As with any genre, the serial killer film is marked by its typicality. Indeed, Philip Simpson criticises the serial killer film as a subgenre that is “endlessly derivative of its predecessors”. [2] The tropes of the clever, fiendish killer, his grotesque, ritualistic ‘signature’ and the gifted but damaged investigator are certainly familiar, but how does the serial killer film replicate itself on a textural level? This article will analyse the influence of Kyle Cooper’s much admired opening title sequence in Se7en (David Fincher, 1995). [3] However, rather than exploring the general influence of the sequence, I will focus on its stylistic similarities to the credit sequences of other serial killer texts such as The Bone Collector (Phillip Noyce, 1999), Red Dragon (Brett Rattner, 2002), Sanctimony (Uwe Boll, 2001), Taking Lives (D.J. Caruso, 2004) and the first season of Whitechapel (Ben Court and Caroline Ip, 2009). I will argue that their imitative or plagiaristic qualities can be interpreted in terms of Mark Seltzer’s work on the repetitive and circular discourse of serial killing.

Se7en

The title sequence of Se7en appears a few minutes into the film, occurring after a brusque initial encounter between Detectives William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and David Mills (Brad Pitt) at the scene of the first murder. The sequence runs for just over two minutes and contains over a hundred shots, many in close up. It shows a person (whom we retroactively infer is the killer John Doe [Kevin Spacey]) shaving off the skin on his fingertips, and then working on a group of notebooks while wearing bandages. We see Doe writing in longhand, and highlighting and erasing portions of other texts. He also develops photographs and uses scissors to trim Polaroids and pieces of film. Doe incorporates some of these images and texts into the notebooks and then uses needle and thread to stitch the pages of his journal into a book, one of many.

The title sequence provides vital story material for the viewer about Doe’s activities. He removes his fingertips to ensure that he does not leave fingerprints behind, either in his apartment or at crime scenes. This also enables him to toy with the investigators by leaving a message composed of fingerprints on a wall at the second murder scene. Instead of this resulting in Doe’s apprehension, it points the police to his third victim, whose amputated arm was used to ‘write’ the words “help me”. After Doe surrenders, the police discover that he does not have a Social Security number, nor any banking or other official records. He is also, as Somerset states, “John Doe by choice”. His anonymity focuses police attention on to his mission or “work”. Indeed, during the final confrontation, Doe insists that he is not personally important, but that his crimes will be remembered and studied because of their shocking nature and diabolical logic (and Se7en is more memorable than many other serial killer films for precisely this reason).

Read the full essay

Thanks to Joe Frady

In conversation with… Lee Child on David Fincher’s Se7en

A video of Lee Child’s intro to last year’s BFI screening of “SE7EN“. I was there that night for the specially imported, ‘privately owned’ (QT?), original CCE 35mm print. I would have preferred a 4K DCP…

Joe Frady

November 30, 2017
BFI (YouTube)

Thriller author Lee Child talks to the BFI‘s Stuart Brown about David Fincher’s dark crime thriller, which follows a detective duo who find themselves pursuing a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins to theme his murders. With a great ensemble cast and Darius Khondji’s camerawork helping to bring out the bleak, urban landscape, Se7en was a worldwide success.

Colorist Podcast: Ian Vertovec, from Light Iron

2018-01-16 Colorist Podcast - Episode 20. Ian Vertovec

Episode 20

January 16, 2018
Colorist Podcast

This episode is sponsored by Colorist Society International and Mixing Light.

On this episode of the colorist podcast, I talk with Ian Vertovec, Co-Founder, and Senior Colorist at Light Iron.

Ian has colored major films “The Social Network,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and “Gone Girl.” And more recently, he has colored the TV shows “Baskets” for FX and “Glow” on Netflix.

Originally from Chicago, Ian focused on photography, then moved on to digital compositing. He later co-founded two post facilities in Los Angeles: Plaster City, then Light Iron. Out of necessity, he moved on to color at his company. He found his combination of photography and compositing matched perfectly for a career as a colorist.

In this podcast, we talk about:

  • Coloring David Fincher films and working with extremely dark images
  • The challenges of working on VFX heavy projects
  • Making HDR look both cinematic and realistic
  • Advantages of working with high-end systems like Quantel Pablo
  • The difference between working on TV and films
  • How experience with compositing served him as a colorist
  • Bringing life to images using texture
  • Using film emulation LUTs in his workflow
  • Comparing different cameras as a colorist
  • Using ACES in a color managed workflow
  • Keeping grades simple, clean, and efficient

Listen to the interview

Tech Media Planet: The Social Network

Episode 22

December 6, 2010
Tech Media Planet

Colorist Ian Vertovec from Light Iron Digital takes us through the ins and outs of color grading one of this year’s biggest hit films “The Social Network”.

Listen to the interview

Dolby: Ian Vertovec and Michael Cioni, from Light Iron

September 2, 2011
Dolby (YouTube)

Playlist:

Thanks to Joe Frady