Masters of Color: Ian Vertovec

Cullen Kelly
December 12, 2021
Lowepost & Ravengrade

In this episode, we talk with Ian Vertovec about the art and craft of color grading.

This episode is sponsored by Pixelview, an industry standard and affordable streaming solution for editors and colorists.

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Indie Film Hustle: Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, ASC

The Art of Cinematography & David Fincher

Alex Ferrari
December 14, 2021
Indie Film Hustle

Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, is the son of Jordan Cronenweth, ASC, one of the most influential cinematographers in history, most notable for Blade Runner.

He worked with his father as a camera loader and second assistant camera during high school, graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and worked his way up to first assistant camera and then camera operator until the mid-1990s. He also worked for legendary Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist.

The first major motion picture where he acted as a DP was for David Fincher‘s Fight Club. Other notable feature films on which he worked as a DP are One Hour Photo, directed by Mark RomanekK-19: The WidowmakerDown With LoveThe Social NetworkHitchcockThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and recently, Being the Ricardos, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin.

He was nominated twice for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Fincher’s The Social Network (2010) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).

Listen to the podcast and read the transcript

Why Does It Always Rain In David Fincher’s Films?

Gray Kotzé (Director of Photography)
November 7, 2021
In Depth Cine

After watching a few David Fincher films I realised that one way he presents a cinematic world which is an exaggerated version of real life is through the weather.

0:00: Introduction
0:50: Seven
4:08: Sponsored Message
5:06: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
7:48: The Social Network
9:00: Conclusion

Music:
Rhythm Scott‘Tribal Splash’
Dear Gravity‘Finish Remember Begin Again’
Doug Kauffman‘The River Brethren’
We Dream Of Eden‘After the Storm’
Ottom‘Quiet Street’

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Gear I use: YouTube GearEditing SoftwareMusic, Stock Footage, Cinematography Gear

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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)

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3 Things That Working With Jeff Cronenweth Taught Me About Cinematography

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

Film Roundtable: Jeff Cronenweth, Erik Messerschmidt, and Phedon Papamichael

Matthew Woolf
December 18, 2020
Film Roundtable (Instagram)

In our latest Film Roundtable discussion we talked with Jeff Cronenweth, Erik Messerschmidt, and Phedon Papamichael about how the love of the image fosters the collaborative relationship amongst Cinematographers.

Listen to the podcast

David Fincher: Hollywood’s Most Disturbing Director

With films including Se7en, Zodiac and Fight Club, David Fincher has explored the darkest edges of humanity. Yet there’s more to his unique vision, writes Gregory Wakeman, as the director’s film Mank is released.

Gregory Wakeman
December 3, 2020
BBC Culture

David Fincher fans have had plenty to celebrate over the past few months. September marked the 25th anniversary of Se7en, Fincher’s deeply disturbing psychological thriller that established the then 33-year-old as one of the most iconoclastic young directors in Hollywood. Then, just a couple of weeks later, The Social Network, Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s searing exploration of Mark Zuckerberg and the origins of Facebook, turned 10. Most exciting of all for Fincher aficionados, though, is the fact that, more than six years after the release of his last feature film Gone Girl, Mank will finally arrive on Netflix on 4 December.

Fincher has waited around 20 years to find the perfect home for the film, which was originally written by his father Jack in the late 1990s. But while most major Hollywood studios were put off by the idea of a black and white biopic of Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J Mankiewicz, Netflix gave Fincher carte blanche to fulfil his vision.

The early reviews for Mank have been extremely positive, and Fincher has immediately become one of the main contenders for the best director Oscar. Covid-19’s disruption of the 2020 cinematic calendar means that Fincher’s competition isn’t quite as strong as it could have been. But it’s to the Academy Awards’ great shame that this titan of modern filmmaking has somehow only received best director nominations for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. Despite this oversight, Fincher’s place in the cinematic pantheon has long been secure. No other modern filmmaker has examined alienation, depression, obsession, and the dark side of intelligence like he has, while keeping a stylish, visceral, and, most importantly of all, entertaining approach. 

But what is it that sets Fincher’s work apart from that of his peers?

David Fincher’s Impossible Eye

David Fincher by Jack Davison

With ‘Mank,’ America’s most famously exacting director tackles the movie he’s been waiting his entire career to make.

Jonah Weiner
November 19, 2020
The New York Times

Six years ago, after I contacted David Fincher and told him I wanted to write an article about how he makes movies, he invited me to his office to present my case in person and, while I was there, watch him get some work done. On an April afternoon, I arrived at the Hollywood Art Deco building that has long served as Fincher’s base of operations, where he was about to look at footage from his 10th feature film, Gone Girl,” then in postproduction. We headed upstairs and found the editor Kirk Baxter assembling a scene. Fincher watched it once through, then asked Baxter to replay a five-second stretch. It was a seemingly simple tracking shot, the camera traveling alongside Ben Affleck as he entered a living room in violent disarray: overturned ottoman, shattered glass. The camera moved at the same speed as Affleck, gliding with unvarying smoothness, which is exactly how Fincher likes his shots to behave. Except that three seconds in, something was off. “There’s a bump,” he said.

Jack Fincher photographed by David Fincher in 1976, when he was 14.
“That’s why it’s out of focus”.

No living director surpasses Fincher’s reputation for exactitude. Any account of his methods invariably mentions how many takes he likes to shoot, which can annoy him, not because this is inaccurate but because it abets a vision of him as a dictatorially fussy artiste. Fincher, who is 58, argues that this caricature misses the point: If you want to build worlds as engrossing as those he seeks to construct, then you need actors to push their performances into zones of fecund uncertainty, to shed all traces of what he calls “presentation.” And then you need them to give you options, all while hitting the exact same marks (which goes for the camera operators too) to ensure there will be no continuity errors when you cut the scene together. Getting all these stars to align before, say, Take No. 9 is possible but unlikely. “I get, He’s a perfectionist,” Fincher volunteered. “No. There’s just a difference between mediocre and acceptable.”

Read the full profile

10 Years Later, ‘The Social Network’ Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth on Finding Art in Compromise

Andrew Garfield, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeff Cronenweth, and David Fincher.
(Will Kirk, homewoodphoto.jhu.edu)

“I learned a long time ago that fear is a wonderful thing, if you embrace it.”

Anhar Karim, Contributor
October 24, 2020
Forbes

This month marks the ten year anniversary of The Social Network, the David Fincher film which made a captivating thriller out of the founding years of Facebook. The movie met an incredible amount of acclaim over the years, much thanks to the stellar team of talent on board, including Oscar-nominated cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, who is no stranger to Fincher’s style.

“David comes really from the Hitchcock school in that he really does all the prep ahead of time. So you try to eliminate any of those kinds of surprises and the curve balls before they actually arrive,” said Cronenweth. “But there’s so much room to create, improv, and find your voice within that kind of structure.”

Cronenweth and Fincher have now collaborated across a wide collection of award-winning films including Fight ClubGone Girl, and The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. The duo has found a magical dynamic between their methods to deliver some of the most engaging and thrilling stories of modern cinema. And, according to Cronenweth, a key part of that collaboration is the understanding that not everything can be perfect on the first try.

“If you’re responsible for creating a movie that’s gonna last a long time and change the visuals and approaches in a lot of people’s minds, then you’re gonna not win every single time,” said Cronenweth. “Sometimes you’re gonna step a little too far and then you have to go back and reanalyze and do it again. That’s how you make art.”

I recently got to speak further with Jeff Cronenweth about working with David Fincher, dealing with unexpected challenges, and shooting for a film where dialogue, not visuals, drives the story. Below is a summary of our conversation.

Read the full interview

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David Fincher’s Longtime DP Jeff Cronenweth Has Advice, Insight, and Stories

25th Annual American Society Of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards (2011)

A podcast about how to build a career in filmmaking. No Film School shares the latest opportunities and trends for anyone working in film and TV. We break news on cameras, lighting, and apps. We interview leaders in screenwriting, directing, cinematography, editing, and producing. And we answer your questions! We are dedicated to sharing knowledge with filmmakers around the globe, “no film school” required.

Jeffrey Reeser
August 28, 2020
No Film School

Oscar-nominated camera wizard Jeff Cronenweth sat down with us to talk about his origins in the film industry.

As a young man, Cronenweth spent time on the set of Blade Runner as his father, Jordan Cronenweth shot it. He walks us through the next chapter of his career, starting out as an AC for legendary DP Sven Nykvist and how his longtime working relationship with David Fincher began when shooting pickups for a Madonna music video.

We discuss his experiences crafting the look of Fight Club, The Social Network, and Gone Girl, among other great films. Now in 2020, he is up for an Emmy for his work on the Amazon series Tales From The Loop.

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“I Had to Figure Out the True Latitude, Speed and Color Science”

DP Jeff Cronenweth On The Social Network Ten Years Later and the Mysterium X Sensor.

Aaron Hunt
May 4, 2020
Filmmaker

Film stills by Merrick Morton

On October 1, The Social Network turns ten. The RED Mysterium X sensor (also turning ten) that rendered the film is now outmoded, but The Social Network thrives due to, not in spite of, the marks of its time. The limited latitude of the once cutting-edge camera sensor pushed David Fincher and DP Jeff Cronenweth—who also shot Fincher’s Fight Club, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl—into the darker bends of The Social Network’s imitation Harvard dorms. The camera struggled with highlights, so they avoided hot windows and sunny exteriors. It also strained to digest warm tones, so they chose a cooler palette that was easier for the RED to chew on. The sensor’s limitations had implicit limitations with the story of Facebook’s origin, the first of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s two tech mogul reprimands (Fincher’s Zuckerberg was follow by Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs)—individuals he believes pioneered our doom out of spite, envy, inceldom.

When The Social Network initially released, an anecdote about Fincher hiring a mime to distract Harvard campus security was often iterated in the press. Fincher and Cronenweth stitched three shots captured by three REDs on a roof across the street and did a “pan and scan” in post to get a move they couldn’t have otherwise. But they needed light on some of the dark arches, so Fincher hired a mime to push a battery cart full of lights behind them, the impetus being that “by the time [security] got him out of there we would have already accomplished our shot.” Fincher adopted digital in its nascent stages to limit the compromises caused by the erratic nature of the film set. What remained to be compromised on he’d have more ways of fixing in post on digital than on film.


Filmmaker: What have you been watching?

Cronenweth: Eh, I don’t know. Mostly movies. I tried to do the Ozark series, which I like, but it starts to get redundant: same bad guys doing the same things. The only problem I find is that the first week we watched maybe 50 movies, so now we can’t separate the good scenes and shots from the others because we’ve watched so many in a row. That can be a handicap. I’m 58. This is the longest I’ve had off since I graduated from college. So, there are a lot of things I’ve been putting off for twenty years that have been good to get done with.

Filmmaker: Have you rewatched The Social Network recently?

Cronenweth: No, I tend not to. You see them so many times when you’re making them, in the edit, the color correct and the screenings. I would like to, though. It’s such a cleverly written script and Fincher did such a great job at bringing Aaron’s dialogue across. Everytime I watch it, regardless of how tied into it I was, it always amuses me how quickly it feels like it went by. You never have a chance to get off the rollercoaster, which is one of [Fincher’s] mottos. But by the end you go “Really? That’s the whole movie?” It feels like it just started.

Filmmaker: You guys were the first feature film to use RED’s Mysterium X sensor.

Cronenweth: It was my first experience shooting something long form with a digital camera. I had shot music videos and commercials on an array of different formats and cameras. Obviously Fincher had done Zodiac and Benjamin Button digitally. I can’t remember what they shot that on?

Filmmaker: I think they were both shot on the Viper. [Benjamin was a combination of the Viper, Sony F23 and some 35mm on the Arriflex 435]

Read the full interview

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