‘Voir’: Why Crafting Video Essays for Netflix Meant Embracing All Types of Filmmaking

“Voir” writers and “Every Frame a Painting” creators Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos discuss their learning process to teach audiences about cinema.

Sarah Shachat
December 7, 2021
IndieWire

David Fincher and David Prior’s anthology essay series “Voir” is only six episodes, but fully half of those came from Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou. Their skill with the form comes as no surprise to fans of their YouTube channel “Every Frame a Painting,” which almost served as a proof of concept for a show like “Voir” — and that millions of people would be interested in videos exploring just how the grammar of filmmaking impacts its meaning. When done well, video essays combine the thrill of knowing a secret and the joy of learning more about a long-held passion. Zhou and Ramos spoke to IndieWire about how the process of creating that joyful learning shifted and expanded when working on “Voir.”

YouTube was very constricting because of things like copyright and DMC,” Ramos said. “The license that Netflix and [David Fincher] gave us, it was very, ‘Oh, we can do anything and everything!’ And [that] was, I don’t want to say daunting, but —”

“It was mildly terrifying,” Zhou added.

Read the full profile

Watch VOIR on Netflix

VOIR: Trailer and Poster

From executive producers David Fincher and David Prior.

A Netflix documentary series.

As told by
Walter Chaw, Drew McWeeny, Taylor Ramos, Sasha Stone, and Tony Zhou.

Take a closer look at the stories that captured our imaginations.

VOIR

Only on Netflix. December 6, 2021.

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

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

Voir. Cr. Netflix © 2021

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)

Love, Death + Robots. Virtual Panel

June 2, 2021
Netflix

Love, Death + Robots creator and Executive Producer Tim Miller, Executive Producer David Fincher, Supervising Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Director of “IceRobert Valley discuss Vol. 2 of the adult animated anthology.

Tim Miller, David Fincher, Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Jerome Denjean Talk ‘Love, Death & Robots’ Season 2 from Annecy

Jamie Lang
June 15, 2021
Variety

On Tuesday afternoon, the Annecy International Animation Film Festival streamed a candid, hour-long conversation between four of the key minds behind Netflix’s second season of “Love, Death & Robots.” Creator and executive producer Tim Miller (“Deadpool,” “Terminator: Dark Fate”), executive producer David Fincher (“The Social Network,” “Fight Club”), supervising director Jennifer Yuh Nelson (“Kung Fu Panda2 and 3) and visual effects supervisor Jerome Denjean from France’s Blur Studio engaged in an unmoderated conversation about the adult animation series, from its origins to its upcoming third season.

Read the full profile

Tim Miller: “Netflix Was the One That Was Willing to Take a Chance”

Tim Miller Talks ‘Love, Death & Robots,’ ‘Heavy Metal,’ and Deadpool in the MCU

Dais Johnston
May 27, 2021
Inverse

Tim Miller has always been a fan of short stories.

“My father read a lot, which is where I got my habit,” he tells Inverse in a recent interview.

Before the Deadpool director reimagined adult animation by co-creating the Netflix anthology series Love, Death & Robots with David Fincher (Season 2 is out now), he was in his father’s library.

It was there where he found a book called Chronopolis and Other Stories by J. G. Ballard. The short story book included “The Drowned Giant,” which tells the story of a dead human giant who washes up on the beach.

“I read it and I loved it. I even did an illustration for a fanzine in high school.”

“The Drowned Giant” is the standout episode from Love, Death & Robots Season 2, but the path to production wasn’t easy.

“Ballard is no longer with us, but his daughters are around. I asked them if I could do it Season 1, and they said no,” Miller says.

“I proceeded to send 50 emails begging them, and in one I said ‘Look, I’ve loved this story for years,’ and I sent them the illustration.”

Read the full interview

RedditLive AMA with Love, Death + Robots Creator Tim Miller and Supervising Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson

May 15, 2021
r/LoveDeathAndRobots (Netflix)

Watch the full livestream

Read the series guides:

2019. LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. Volume 1

2021. LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. Volume 2

LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. Volume 2: Official Red Band Trailer

May 10, 2021
Netflix

Do you realize what you’re doing is illegal? The adult animated anthology returns with a vengeance. Love, Death + Robots Volume 2 coming May 14. Consume Irresponsibly. Presented by Tim Miller, David Fincher, Jennifer Miller, and Joshua Donen.

Global release date of Volume 3: 2022

More details, including an interview and an Episode Guide

Watch LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS on Netflix

SBIFF 2021: Producers Panel

Glenn Whipp
April 3, 2021
Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF)

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival annual Producers Panel moderated by the Los Angeles TimesGlenn Whipp, assembles top producers to dig into the business and creative sides of producing the year’s top films. Panelists include multi-hyphenate Shaka King (“Judas and the Black Messiah“), Christina Oh (“Minari“), Ceán Chaffin (“Mank“), Dan Janvey (“Nomadland“), David Parfitt (“The Father“), Josey McNamara (“Promising Young Woman“), Marc Platt (“The Trial of the Chicago 7“), and Sacha Ben Harroche (“Sound of Metal“).

LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. Volume 2: Official Trailer, Poster & Release Date

Otherworlds, naked giants and robots-gone-wild clash in this anthology of adult animated stories executive produced by Tim Miller, David Fincher, Jennifer Miller, and Joshua Donen.

April 19, 2021
Netflix

LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS is a blast of the future with its roots deep in the past. Show creator Tim Miller teamed up with director David Fincher after years of wanting to make adult animated features and short films at his animation house Blur Studio.

When his directorial debut Deadpool hit big, they saw their opportunity and the anthology series found a natural home at Netflix. “We couldn’t have been happier at the response to the show,” recalls Miller, of the excitement around season one and the appetite for more. “It was exactly the kind of passionate reception from animation fans David and I hoped for, but for many long years had been told wouldn’t happen.”

For season two Miller was joined by Jennifer Yuh Nelson as Supervising Director. The Oscar-nominated director has vast animation experience – having worked in the industry for years and helmed Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3. Together they sought talented and diverse animation directors from around the world, for a blend of styles and stories ranging from violent comedy to existential philosophy. “It’s a tonal and stylistic Jenga game,” says Jennifer Yuh Nelson, “Trying to figure out which director might best handle what story.”

Global release date: May 14, 2021

Global release date of Volume 3: 2022

More details, including an interview and an Episode Guide

Watch LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS on Netflix

Neil Kellerhouse (Netflix)