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.

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

Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt on Shooting David Fincher’s The Killer and Michael Mann’s Ferrari

Nick Newman
November 17, 2022
The Film Stage

Has any cinematographer had so fast an ascendancy as Erik Messerschmidt? While no newcomer—his IMDb dates back to 2001, his first cinematography credit from 2003—work on Gone Girl earned the attention of David Fincher, by whom Messerschmidt was then enlisted to shoot his Netflix series Mindhunter. (Impressive then, all the more sterling since as an example of streaming television that doesn’t look or move like streaming television.) Which led into Mank which led into The Killer, Fincher’s much-anticipated thriller arriving next year.

Somewhere along the way Michael Mann called. I talked to Messerschmidt at ENERGACamerimage, where he was promoting the new feature Devotion and mere weeks from wrapping Ferrari, Mann’s first feature in longer than you’d believe and a passion project of equal gestation—nothing you leave in the hands of an amateur. Certainly not if you’re as obsessive, fastidious, demanding as Michael Mann. Meeting in Toruń’s CKK Jordanki, we were quick to start.

Read the full interview

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

Red Carpet Rookies: Lisa Beroud. VFX Producer

Eric Barba, VFX Supervisor, Lisa Beroud, VFX Producer, and Alex Wang, ILM VFX Supervisor, on the set of Terminator: Dark Fate.

Mike Battle
November 1, 2022
Red Carpet Rookies

Starting her career producing commercials Lisa Beroud transitioned to James Cameron‘s famous VFX house Digital Domain, where she worked on titles including TRON: Legacy, Oblivion, Her, 47 Ronin, and a multitude of David Fincher projects including Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl. Since leaving DD, she has been a VFX producer of hits such as Black Panther, Terminator: Dark Fate, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Listen to the podcast:

Red Carpet Rookies (with a transcript)
Apple Podcast
Spotify
Google Podcasts

Follow Red Carpet Rookies: InstagramFacebookTwitter

Follow Mike: Instagram, Twitter

David Prior Interview: Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Director David Prior discusses Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, his love for “The Autopsy” short story, and The Empty Man‘s release.

Grant Hermanns
November 2, 2022
ScreenRant

Some bodies are more than meet the eye, as seen in the “The Autopsy” installment of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Based on Michael Shea‘s short story of the same name, the episode sees a coroner brought in to do the autopsies of several miners who died when one of them set off an explosion with a mysterious object, only to learn of the surprising truth behind him.

F. Murray Abraham and Luke Roberts lead the cast of “The Autopsy“, which hails from The Empty Man writer-director David Prior. Primarily set in an isolated location, the episode is a chilling game of mental chess as Abraham’s Dr. Carl Winters grapples with the revelation of why the miners died, and how he may be next.

In anticipation of its premiere, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with director David Prior to discuss Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, his installment “The Autopsy,” his and del Toro’s shared love of reading, The Empty Man‘s mishandled release, and more.

Read the full interview

Watch Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix

Director David Prior’s ‘The Autopsy’ Is an Instant Horror Classic

The Empty Man” director discusses his masterful entry in Netflix’s “Cabinet of Curiosities” anthology series and its creative debts to Guillermo Del Toro, “The Exorcist,” and H.R. Giger.

Steve Greene
October 27, 2022
IndieWire

[Editor’s Note: The following interview contains spoilers for “Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities” Episode 3, “The Autopsy.”]

A little while ago, director David Prior got an unexpected gift. A package showed up in the mail. Inside was a tiny figurine of a bearded man.

“I got it in the mail before I even knew what it was. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s nice. A little souvenir. Did Guillermo whittle this himself?’” Prior said. “I assumed it was Dr. Winters when I got it.”

Dr. Winters is the main character in “The Autopsy,” the episode of the Netflix series “Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities” that Prior directed. In this version of Michael Shea’s short story, adapted with the help of screenwriter David S. Goyer, Winters is called on to help an investigation into what local police believe is a tragic mining explosion. By the time he gets a chance to examine the bodies pulled from the wreckage, Winters discovers that something about those deaths wasn’t exactly natural.

But as Prior discovered when he watched the completed episode, the small statue was of him, not his protagonist. In each of the “Cabinet of Curiosities” installments, Del Toro continues in the tradition of past anthology hosts with a short introduction. Each ends with him tipping his hat to the director of the episode audiences are about to see, with their figurine likeness front and center.

That kind of onscreen salute is far from the support that Prior’s debut feature, “The Empty Man,” got when it was released almost exactly two years before. A victim of studio merger jockeying, a theatrical distribution model in chaos, and a whole host of marketing bungles, “The Empty Man” took a groundswell of devoted fan support to gradually reach the audience it deserved.

The Autopsy” doesn’t have quite the immense and global scope of that debut feature, but the same meticulous, precise spirit of Prior’s visual storytelling comes through. It’s a detective story of a different kind, with Winters (played by F. Murray Abraham) bringing a key emotional match to the jargon-heavy work of his profession. What this doctor finds is beyond the anatomical puzzle he expected.

And it’s another story that marries the technical craft of unsettling audiences (split fingernails! corpses in bags covered in insects!) with heady thematic ideas about what life is worth and how to spend it. From the mine explosion set piece to the insert shot of whiskey splashing into a coffee mug, everything in “The Autopsy” serves a purpose. Prior spoke with IndieWire about the process of joining a horror playground in progress and adding another impressive tale to his own collection.

Read the full interview

A Complete Autopsy of ‘The Autopsy’

Breaking down David Prior’s episode of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

John DiLillo
Tudum (Netflix)

Watch Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix

Por qué nos fascinan los asesinos en serie

Joe Penhall, creador de la serie ‘Mindhunter’, en Madrid (Samuel Sánchez)

El creador de ‘Mindhunter’ repasa las entrañas de un género en auge en la ficción: “Hollywood los convierte en personajes icónicos, pero solo son seres tristes y muy jodidos”

Natalia Marcos
31 octubre 2022
El País

Aunque la segunda temporada de Mindhunter (Netflix) se emitió en 2019, todavía muchos de sus seguidores siguen preguntando si volverá la producción que, en sus dos entregas, seguía el trabajo de dos agentes del FBI y una psicóloga que ponen en marcha la Unidad de Análisis de la Conducta del cuerpo en los años setenta. La serie, que tiene entre sus directores y productores al cineasta David Fincher, se basa en las memorias del exagente John E. Douglas y el escritor Mark Olshaker. A partir de ese material y muchas entrevistas con policías reales, expertos en análisis del comportamiento, e incluso con los agentes que capturaron a asesinos en serie como Green RiverTed Bundy, el autor teatral y guionista Joe Penhall (Londres, 55 años) ficcionó las vidas de quienes trataron de meterse en la mente de los criminales más peligrosos.

Lee la entrevista completa / Read the full interview in Spanish

Translated from Spanish:

Are we totally saying goodbye to the option of a 3rd season of Mindhunter?

“I think so. Never say never, but Fincher loves making movies, and making movies is easier than 10 episodes of Mindhunter. The thing is that to make series for Netflix you have to make them like in a sausage factory. You have to get the episodes out with little money. I did 25 or 30 script rewrites per episode. It became impossible. Fincher realized that he couldn’t do that for a long time and also make movies. The budget was too high, we had the best directors… To move forward we would have to lower the quality, and that is why I think it will not happen. But I have told David [Fincher] that I have more seasons in mind. He always tells me, ‘well, we’ll see, who knows…’. In fact, Penhall wrote in 75 pages the main lines of what he devised as 5 seasons of the series. “In the 5th, Tench [played by Holt McCallany] and Holden [Jonathan Groff] become authors, they write books. They go to Hollywood premieres and no longer work as agents, become famous and sign autographs, and have a battle with other rivals over who invented behavioral science and even become consultants on a Hollywood movie. It was a very playful idea”, he smiles.

Interview with Andrew Kevin Walker, writer of Se7en

Daniel Fee (Twitter)
September 15, 2022
Daniel Fee33 (YouTube)

In this video, I’m lucky enough to sit down with Andrew Kevin Walker! Screenwriter behind projects such as SE7EN, the David Fincher directed crime thriller, starring Brad Pitt & Morgan Freeman! Andrew is also the screenwriter behind Brainscan, Nerdland, he co-wrote Windfall, and he also wrote an episode of hit TV Show, Love Death and Robots! It was such an honour to chat with Andy!

I would really appreciate it if anyone could donate to the National Deaf Children’s Society! (Twitter) Every cent helps! Thanks!

Andrew Kevin Walker: website, Twitter, Instagram

Mentioned podcast:

David Koepp in conversation with Andrew Kevin Walker

September 11, 2019
Live Talks Los Angeles (Apple Podcasts)

CG Garage: Jerome Denjean, Supervising Creative Director for Love, Death & Robots

Christopher Nichols
September 6, 2022
CG Garage, ChaosTV (chaos)

Over the past five years, Love, Death & Robots has completely resculpted the landscape of animation, feeding Netflix viewers bite-size chunks of violence, sex, and gore. Supervising Creative Director Jerome Denjean is a key player behind-the-scenes, giving Love, Death & Robots’ talented directors the freedom to execute their visions (literally!) while ensuring that each episode fits in with the series’ overall vision and tone.

In his second podcast with Chris, Jerome breaks down some of the amazing episodes in series three: David Fincher’s “Bad Travelling,” Alberto Mielgo’s “Jibaro,” Patrick Osborne’s “Three Robots: Exit Strategies,” and Emily Dean and Polygon Pictures’ “The Very Pulse of the Machine.” Jerome also reveals how episodes are researched and produced, and how Japanese animation has influenced their direction.

0:00:00: Intro
0:06:03: Five years of Love, Death & Robots
0:09:12: Jerome’s role and how he works with different directors and international teams
0:14:28: Working with David Fincher on “Bad Travelling
0:18:23: Fincher, mocap, virtual production, and gore
0:23:48: Old friends return: “Three Robots: Exit Strategies
0:30:19: The style of “The Very Pulse of the Machine
0:35:36: The influence of anime and working with Polygon
0:40:16: Alberto Mielgo’s “The Witness” and “Jibaro
0:52:39: Nurturing new talent
0:55:17: Producing “Love Death & Robots

Listen to the podcast:

CG Garage (chaos)
Apple Podcasts

Spotify
Facebook

Behind-the-scenes of “Bad Travelling”

Love Death & Robots’ “Bad Travelling” gave Blur Studio a chance to work alongside legendary director David Fincher. Find out what they learned in the process.

Henry Winchester
August 2, 2022
chaos

Cinema is often referred to as painting with light — but it could be said that David Fincher’s movies paint with darkness. Beginning with Alien 3, and moving on through Se7enFight ClubZodiacMank, and the TV series Mindhunter, the acclaimed director has made use of low-key lighting and anemic palettes to explore the darker recesses of the human mind.

Now, Fincher has taken his characteristic chiaroscuro to “Bad Travelling,” a grisly maritime adventure involving a dishonest, paranoid crew — and a giant crustacean lurking below decks. The Love, Death & Robots episode marks Fincher’s first completely computer-animated short film, as well as his first directorial contribution to the Netflix anthology series he executive produces alongside fellow director Tim Miller.

To create the nautical world of “Bad Travelling,” Fincher teamed up with Blur Studio, the animation and VFX production company founded by Miller. We spoke to Compositing Supervisor Nitant Ashok Karnik and Co-CG Supervisor Jean Baptiste Cambier about working with a living legend of modern cinema, and how V-Ray’s lighting tools helped Fincher embrace the darkness.

Read the full interview in two parts:

Behind-the-scenes of “Bad Travelling,” part 1: Collaborating with David Fincher

Behind-the-scenes of “Bad Travelling,” part 2: How to light like David Fincher