Director David Prior Talks ‘The Empty Man,’ ‘Voir’ & Netflix Becoming “Custodians To The Cinematic Experience”

Andrew Bundy
November 5, 2021
The Playlist

There’s a specificity of intention to David Prior’s “The Empty Man” that eludes most studio horror projects. Inspired by the Boom Studios! comic (created by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Vanessa del Rey), Prior’s debut could have been a success story were the movie released under different circumstances. Inherited by Disney following the Fox merger, and dumped into theaters mid-pandemic, “The Empty Man” certainly wasn’t given the A24 Ari Aster treatment, which is a shame, as Prior’s film would make an outstanding, grief-tinged double feature with “Midsommar” or “Hereditary,” though its shape is far more chimerically hypnotic. 

Laying somewhere in the cosmic ether between David Fincher’s serial killer films, “Se7en” and “Zodiac,” Prior’s sepulchral vision slithers like a paranormal odyssey in the guise of a J-horror procedural a la Kiyoshi Kurasawa’s “Cure,” veteran character actor James Badge Dale aiding in making detective work look effortless through a mesmerizing lead performance. “We go looking for things we have lost… More than that, there is no such thing as loss,” a mysterious cult leader, played by Stephen Root, preaches

Audiences missed out on “The Empty Man,” but it’s deservedly found a devoted following. “If the price of making the movie I wanted to make meant getting abandoned by the studio and left to be picked up by passionate people who saw it on their own, that’s not a bad outcome.” Prior told us, “At least it’s the movie I wanted to make. It wasn’t some highly compromised, shortened, messed up version of that probably would have gotten more support from the studio but it would have vanished from everybody’s mind as soon as they saw it.”

Prior was later approached by David Fincher (for whom he used to direct documentaries) about a new film appreciation series, titled “Voir.” Scheduled to debut at AFI Fest this month, Netflix’s video essay project spotlights “passionate voices that love movies… highlighting the elements that get people excited about cinema.”

In a time when streaming services threaten to swallow up the theatrical experience, “Voir” is an essential look back at what makes film uniquely hypnotic. “Movies cornered the cultural conversation throughout the 20th century.” Prior told us. “It was the art form of the 20th century… [movies] don’t hold the same place in cultural thinking they used to and there’s a lot that’s important being lost.”

No great film deserves to be forgotten, and Prior is keenly aware platforms like Netflix now hold the keys to Hollywood’s kingdom, as “custodians to the cinematic experience.” “The Empty Man,” may not have mopped up box office dollars but revealed its director to be as impassioned and skilled a filmmaking scholar as David Fincher. We were fortunate to sit down for an extensive chat with him ahead of “Voir’s” upcoming premiere. Eerily, both his debut film and new Netflix series stemming from an obsession with Jaws,” the legendary Steven Spielberg, a fervent supporter of his film appreciation project.

Read the full interview

The Drysdale Exchange: Nev Pierce

Jeremy Drysdale (Scriptastic)
November 5, 2021
The Drysdale Exchange (365 Radio)

Jeremy is a screenwriter and producer who has written films, computer games, novels, events, and primetime television globally for over two decades.

Each Drysdale Exchange will showcase a penetrating one-on-one interview with an entertainment industry specialist, designed to illuminate an area of film, television, writing, or music which is not generally addressed in the mainstream.

David Fincher called Nev Pierce‘s directorial debut, Bricks, a “classy take on a morbid classic”. Mark Romanek labeled his fourth short Promise “superbly done”. His other films (Ghosted, Lock In) are well praised, too, and not just by A-list directing talents. He’s seen his work played at festivals worldwide, including Fantasia, FrightFest, and the London Short Film Festival. He has various features in development as a director and is also a contributing editor for Empire Magazine.

Listen to the podcast:

365 Radio
Amazon Music

Because We Love Making Movies: Screenwriter Eric Roth

Eren Celeboglu
Because We Love Making Movies (InstagramFacebook)

Part 1

May 22, 2021

Today, I sit down with legendary screenwriter Eric Roth.

We talk about his life and his craft and why we should all be more generous of spirit. Truth be told, Eric has been involved in creating so many iconic films that it would have been impossible to try… so I asked him about the films of his that meant the most to me, and he held court and digressed in the loveliest of ways. I hope you have as much fun listening as I did recording this interview. Enjoy! 

Eric’s credits include: The Nickel Ride, The Drowning Pool, The Onion Field, Forrest Gump (for which he won an Oscar), The Postman (for which he won a Razzie), The Horse Whisperer, and then one of my favorite films ever, The Insider, followed by Ali, Munich, The Good Shepherd, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He’s also worked in Television, and seen not one but two sea changes, first with HBO, and then with Netflix and House of Cards. And much more recently he wrote A Star Is Born, Dune, and the new Western being Directed by Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon. He was also a producer on the Oscar nominated Mank, directed by David Fincher, from a script by Fincher’s father.

Listen to the podcast:

Because We Love Making Movies
Apple Podcasts

Spotify

Part 2

October 18, 2021

Today we welcome back the legendary Eric Roth. An Oscar-Winning Screenwriter & Producer.

We talk about how he writes, and blends craft with pure inspiration. He talks about working with Robert Redford. We re-visit Munich & The Good Shepherd. He talks about being re-written, and his unique creative partnership with Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga on A Star Is Born. And last but not least, we talk about writing the new Dune film which he thinks just might be something very special.

It’s a wonderful conversation with one of the very best working in Hollywood today, whose generous not only with his talent, but his spirit. Dig it!

Recommended Viewing: The Horse Whisperer, Munich, The Good Shepherd, A Star Is Born (2018), and Dune (See it in IMAX on October 22, 2021)

Listen to the podcast:

Apple Podcasts
Spotify

Cinematography Style: Jeff Cronenweth

Gray Kotzé (Director of Photography)
October 17, 2021
In Depth Cine

In this edition I’ll look at Jeff Cronenweth, who, to a large extent, is responsible for popularising a style of ‘dark cinematography’, through his work on movies such as Fight Club or The Social Network.

0:00: Introduction
1:03: Background
2:36: Philosophy
5:23: Sponsored Message
6:18: Gear
11:57: Conclusion

Music:
Liquid Memoirs‘Through The Portal’
Bosnow ‘Bangkok Rain’
Liquid Memoirs‘Altered States’
Salt Of The Sound‘Awake My Soul’
Liquid Memoirs‘Hazy Evenings’
Ottom ‘Raining In Kyoto’
Trevor Kowalski‘Katydid’

Source: Fight Club (American Cinematographer, November 1999)

Head to squarespace.com/indepthcine to save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain using code INDEPTHCINE.

In Depth Cine: Official IDC Merch, Patreon, YouTube, Instagram, Discord, Facebook

Gear I use: YouTube Gear, Editing Software, Music, Stock Footage, Cinematography Gear

DISCLAIMER: Some links in this description are affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with these links I may receive a small commission without an additional charge to you. Thank you for supporting my channel so I can continue to provide you with free videos!

3 Things That Working With Jeff Cronenweth Taught Me About Cinematography

Gray Kotzé (Director of Photography)
June 19, 2020
In Depth Cine

David Fincher and David Prior Present: VOIR

A collection of visual essays… for the love of cinema.

David Fincher and David Prior

From executive producer David Fincher

VOIR, a new documentary series of visual essays celebrating cinema, from the mind of one of film’s modern masters.

Premiering at AFI Fest on November 13 and coming soon to Netflix.

VOIR

A Campfire Studios Production

Executive Producers: David Fincher, David Prior, Ceán Chaffin, Joshua Donen, Neil Kellerhouse, Ross M. Dinerstein, Ross Girard

Music by: Jason Hill

101. Summer of the Shark

Director: David Prior
Screenwriter: Sasha Stone
Producers: David Prior and Sasha Stone
Director of Photography: Martim Vian
Editor: Keith Clark
Production Designer: P.L. Jackson
Cast: Eva Wild, Olive Bernadette Hoffman, Shannon Hayes, Molly Ann Grotha, Tea Jo Raza

102. Ethics of Revenge

Directors: Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou
Screenwriters: Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou
Producers: Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou, and Nach Dudsdeemaytha
Director of Photography: Alfonso Chin and Martim Vian

103. But I Don’t Like Him

Director: David Prior
Screenwriter: Drew McWeeny
Producers: David Prior and Drew McWeeny
Director of Photography: Martim Vian

6 episodes.

What in the tapdancing heck is VOIR?

Drew McWeeny
October 13, 2021
Formerly Dangerous

Fincher Brings Video Essays to Netflix

David Hudson
October 14, 2021
The Criterion Collection

David Fincher – And the Other Way is Wrong

Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou
October 2, 2014
Every Frame a Painting (YouTube)

David Fincher: Mind Games. By Adam Nayman

DAVID FINCHER: MIND GAMES
By Adam Nayman
Foreword by Bong Joon-ho
Produced by Little White Lies

David Fincher: Mind Games is the definitive critical and visual survey of the Academy Award– and Golden Globe–nominated works of director David Fincher. From feature films Alien 3, Se7en, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and Mank through his MTV clips for Madonna and the Rolling Stones and the Netflix series House of Cards and Mindhunter, each chapter weaves production history with original critical analysis, as well as with behind the scenes photography, still-frames, and original illustrations from Little White Lies’ international team of artists and graphic designers. Mind Games also features interviews with Fincher’s frequent collaborators, including Jeff Cronenweth, Angus Wall, Laray Mayfield, Holt McCallany, Howard Shore and Erik Messerschmidt.

Grouping Fincher’s work around themes of procedure, imprisonment, paranoia, prestige and relationship dynamics, Mind Games is styled as an investigation into a filmmaker obsessed with investigation, and the design will shift to echo case files within a larger psychological profile.

About The Author

Adam Nayman is the author of Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks (Abrams, 2020) and The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together (Abrams, 2018) and is a contributing editor to Cinema Scope.
             
Little White Lies is one of the world’s pre-eminent film magazines, pairing a unique editorial angle with beautiful illustrations and world-class design.

Formats

Imprint: Abrams Books
Publication Date: November 23, 2021
Rights: World/All

HARDCOVER
ISBN-10: 141975341X
ISBN-13: 9781419753411
Page Count: 304
Illustrations: Full-color photographs and illustrations throughout
Dimensions: 9 x 10.88 inches
Weight: 1.74 pounds
Price: $45.00
PRE-ORDER, PRE-ORDER SIGNED
Also available from: Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Powells, !ndigo, Bookshop

EBOOK
ISBN-10: 1647002442
ISBN-13: 9781647002442
Page Count: 304
Price: $31.10
PRE-ORDER

Shooting Zodiac. By Robert Graysmith

Monkey’s Paw Publishing, Inc. (FacebookTwitterInstagram)

DAVID FINCHER WAS AFTER THE TRUTH.

WITHOUT IT, HE WOULD NOT SHOOT ZODIAC.

For nearly two decades, Hollywood had been trying to make a movie of Zodiac, and for nearly two decades, it had failed. In 2003, producer Brad Fischer, and screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt attempted the undoable, and set their sights on the one filmmaker they felt unequalled for the helm: director David Fincher (Se7enFight Club). Fincher’s eye for detail, probing mind, and unrelenting quest for answers made him ideal. His personal connection to the case made him perfect.

Author Robert Graysmith, director David Fincher, producer Brad Fischer, and screenwriter James Vanderbilt: “The Untouchables”. Photo: Margot Graysmith

From Hollywood boardrooms to remote fog-shrouded crime scenes, they battle a huge script that refuses to be beaten, a case that refuses to be solved, and a running time and budget that threaten their film. Follow as they track down missing witnesses, gather the original investigators, visit the original crime scenes, discover boxes of Zodiac case files from an attic, unearth new clues, a videotape of the prime suspect’s police interrogation, and a surviving victim who doesn’t want to be found. To keep Fincher on board, and get their film greenlit, it will take cold leads, private eyes, new evidence, and most of all, perseverance.

About The Author

Robert Graysmith in 2012. Photo: Russell Yip / The Chronicle

Robert Graysmith (Facebook) is an author and illustrator. He was the political cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle when the letters and cryptograms from the infamous Zodiac killer began arriving to the paper. He was present when they were opened in the morning editorial meetings, and has been investigating & writing ever since. He lives in San Francisco where he continues to write and illustrate. He is best known for his books “Zodiac” and “Zodiac Unmasked”.

Edition

Imprint: Monkey’s Paw Publishing, Inc.
Editor: Aaron Smith
Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Formats

HARDCOVER
Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 1 inches
Weight: ‎ 1.59 pounds
ISBN-10: 1736580051
ISBN-13: 978-1736580059
Page Count: 375
Price: $29.99
BUY: Amazon (Worldwide: check your local Amazon), Barnes & Noble, Target

EBOOK
ISBN-10: 1736580035
ISBN-13: 9781736580035
Page Count: 354
Price: $12.99
BUY: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & NobleKoboGoogle Play BooksSmashwords

“Zodiac in Costume at Lake Berryessa,” by former Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith. Surviving victim Bryan Hartnell personally described the costume in detail to Graysmith, after his, and Cecilia Shepherd’s, encounter with the Zodiac on Sept. 27, 1969. Photo: Robert Graysmith

Robert Graysmith, political cartoonist for The San Francisco Chronicle, in 1977. Photo: Gary Fong / The Chronicle

BOOKS

Robert Graysmith wrote the definitive Zodiac Killer book. He breaks decade-long silence to tell us about his upcoming projects

Kevin Fagan
September 20, 2021
Datebook (San Francisco Chronicle)

For a fairly famous guy, author Robert Graysmith doesn’t get out much. He hasn’t been heard from in public for about a decade, and he rarely leaves his San Francisco home.

The 78-year-old Graysmith has been crafting manuscripts at such an astonishing pace, printing them out as he goes along, that they now stand in a 5-foot-high stack that breaks down into what he says will be 34 books, ranging from children’s tales and historical explorations to true crime and fictional legends. Most just need a few final touches and editing, he said.

These days, Graysmith is working with a new publisher he knows well: his 50-year-old son, Aaron Smith.

An artist and CGI supervisor for dozens of movies, from “Monsters vs. Aliens” to “Cast Away,” Smith founded a publishing house in November that is producing his father’s books. The company is called Monkey’s Paw.

The first in this voluminous new string landed on online sites like Amazon at the end of August, the 383-page “Shooting Zodiac,” which documents the planning that went into making the movie “Zodiac.”

“It’s much more fun working with Aaron on these things, because he can put them out quickly,” Graysmith said. “I figured out you’re going to wait about three years to get a book done, and then you hand them the book, and they’re going to spend a lot of time and then they won’t do anything for another year or so. With Aaron, we can get the book edited and out there in a few months.”

Graysmith’s son — who uses the last name his dad used before he merged Gray and Smith — said he wasn’t really surprised when he realized how many pages his dad had in the hopper.

“Writing is pretty much all he does,” Smith said by phone from his home in Southern California, “and the illustrations.”

Graysmith said he started working on his engagingly told “Shooting Zodiac” before the movie came out, as he was being bowled over by the dedication director David Fincher, producer Brad Fischer and screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt put into the project. They combed over the same material Graysmith had in his books “Zodiac” and “Zodiac Unmasked” to rebuild and advance his narrative around the only suspect ever named by police, Arthur Leigh Allen of Vallejo.

Watching them work was “a marvelous adventure,” Graysmith said.

The new book is as much about greenlighting the movie and hiring actors like Jake Gyllenhaal, who played Graysmith, as it is about how the three filmmakers did their research. It’s also probably the last thing Graysmith will write about the Zodiac, he and his son said.

Read the full profile

A young Aaron Graysmith (Smith), played by Zachary Sauers, already helping Dad with his “special project”. (Zodiac, 2007)

VFX Notes: David Fincher and the rise of invisible VFX

Hugo Guerra (Twitter) & Ian Failes (Twitter)
October 2, 2021
Hugo’s Desk (YouTube, Patreon, Twitter, Facebook) / befores & afters

On this episode of VFX Notes, Hugo Guerra from Hugo’s Desk and Ian Failes from befores & afters dive deep into the visual effects in David Fincher films. We take an especially close look at Digital Domain‘s work for Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Chapters:
00:00:00 – Intro
00:04:20Zodiac and the rise of invisible VFX
00:09:09 – The rise of D2 and Foundry‘s Nuke
00:18:31 – David Fincher’s methods and Zodiac‘s murder scenes
00:30:03 – Environments by DD and Matte World
00:43:41 – The VFX of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
00:57:27 – The VFX of The Social Network
01:03:15 – The VFX of Mindhunter
01:09:51 – Wrap up
01:12:45Patreon, YouTube members and Twitch Subs Credits

Listen to the podcast:

befores & afters
Apple Podcasts

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Google Podcasts

Zodiac: The Hidden Meaning of Yellow

Adam Tinius
September 20, 2021
Entertain The Elk (PatreonYouTubeTwitterInstagram)

In this video, I explore David Fincher‘s 2007 film Zodiac, and how yellow is secretly used to help tell the story.

MUSIC IN THIS VIDEO: Astral ProjectionAstronomyUnsolved Mystery – by White Bat Audio

KFC Radio: Interview with Holt McCallany

Kevin Clancy (Twitter, Instagram) & John Feitelberg (Twitter, Instagram)
May 18, 2021
KFC Radio (YouTube, Twitter, Instagram) / Barstool Sports

Holt McCallany stops by the show to talk about his role in Wrath of Man with Jason Statham. We discuss talk about his time playing Bill Tench in Mindhunter, how he got linked up with David Fincher, and whether or not he’d like to see Mindhunter return. (min. 1:18:54)

Listen to the podcast:

Apple Podcasts
Spotify

Stitcher