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.
Director David Fincher — who first dragged Reznor and Ross into the film-scoring game by enlisting them for 2010’s The Social Network — is currently shooting the film Mank, a biopic about Herman J. Mankiewicz, the screenwriter of Orson Welles‘ Citizen Kane, played by Gary Oldman. As such, the movie is set in 1940. “We’re not gonna be using the modular synthesizer on that one,” Reznor revealed. “We think we’re gonna be period authentic, so it just creates a new set of challenges.”
In 2014, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross scored Gone Girl, the duo’s third collaboration with director David Fincher (following 2010’s The Social Network and 2011’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).
Gone Girl’s music consists of dark ambient pieces with layered synths, guitars, and electronic noises, and was inspired by the background music Fincher heard at a chiropractor’s office that was “inauthentically trying to make him feel alright,” according to Reznor.
To this end, the soundtrack juxtaposes lush new-age synths and percussion with distortion, noise, and stuttery beats. I’ll explore the synth behind many of the film’s sounds, as well as how to create these tones using software instruments in your own DAW.
The year is 1972. On May 7, Tony Orlando & Dawn is in the middle of a four-week ride atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree,” and Edmund Kemper is indicted on eight counts of murder in Santa Cruz, Calif. Welcome to the world of David Fincher’s Mindhunter, a circa 1970s crime drama that debuts on Netflix this weekend.
Set within the FBI’s elite Behavioral Sciences Unit, the show delves into the psyche of high-profile serial killers because, “How do we get ahead of crazy, if we don’t know how crazy thinks?” In other words, as sophisticated a study in depravity as audiences are likely to see outside of a theater showing a Fincher film, and he wanted the music to match.
Fincher’s facility with score has been validated with an Oscar, a Grammy and two noms for his past four films, which include Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. House of Cards, another show Fincher executive produces for Netflix, has accumulated five Emmy nominations for composer Jeff Beal (who won this year). And he famously convinced Trent Reznor to score 2010’s The Social Network, resulting in Oscars for the Nine Inch Nails principal and collaborator Atticus Ross. But Fincher is surprisingly modest about accruing any of that acclaim.
“I just hire people that are great and get out of their way,” says the man who was the enfant terrible of ’80s music video.
The muted, subterranean Mindhunter soundtrack is composed by erstwhile alt pop comet Jason Hill — he soared, he shined, he fell short of being a star with bands Louis XIV and Vicky Cryer. But the 42-year-old rose to the occasion for Fincher, who asked him to craft a score that wouldn’t sound, literally, like music.