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

(Merrick Morton, Netflix)

By 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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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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Five Questions for: David Fincher

Interview by Ellie Walker-Arnott
October 10-16, 2017
Time Out (London)

DIRECTOR DAVID FINCHER is renowned for exploring the darker recesses of the human psyche, with brilliantly unsettling crime thrillers ‘Se7en’, ‘Zodiac’ and ‘Gone Girl’ to his name. Now he’s bringing his forensic eye to the FBI’s elite serial killer unit with a new Netflix series ‘Mindhunter’. Prepare for a trip to the dark side.

1- This isn’t the first time you’ve looked at serial killer psychology. What was it about this story that intrigued you?

‘“Mindhunter” is about a lot of things. It was a time and a place where the FBI had to begin to understand they didn’t know everything about criminality. I was taken with this idea that, in order to truly comprehend your enemy, you have to empathise with them.’

2- ‘Mindhunter’ is set post-Watergate in 1979. Do you think it also speaks to today’s political turmoil?

‘My parents lived through the Great Depression, assassinations and the Cuban missile crisis. They thought the world couldn’t get more crazy. My dad, who was a journalist, would probably be shocked at how things are now. In every generation, humanity finds a way to shock and disturb.’

3- You’ve done TV before with ‘House of Cards’. How does it compare to making feature films?

‘A motion picture is like a band’s first album. There’s a lot of time figuring out what you want to be. Television is more like a second album. “Quick! We need another album”. It’s more frenetic, but allows you time for characterisation. The audience have to invite you into their home and be willing to go places that you want to take them.’

4- You’ve spoken before about wanting to shock audiences. Is that always your intention?

‘If you’re just shocking people for the sake of it I don’t know that it becomes indelible. The most indelible moments an audience has with a film come from a subconscious place, from curiosity. People won’t go into the basement with you unless they want something.’

5- The movies that you’ve made stick with people. What films have left that kind of impression on you?

“‘The Exorcist” still troubles me. “Jaws” is incredibly evocative. I can remember the summer of ’75 because of “Jaws”.’ ■

‘Mindhunter’ is available on Netflix from Fri Oct 13.