From Facebook to ‘Fuck-You Flip-Flops’: How Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher Made ‘The Social Network’ a Fiery Word-Off

Adam Buffery
May 28, 2019

I’ve been Mark Zuckerberg—there are times in my life where I’ve acted that way. There are times in my life where I’ve been Eduardo Saverin—where I’ve gone and made a scene and regretted it and where I’ve been emotional and felt silly and stupid. And there are times when I’ve felt self-righteous and I’ve acted out in this other way… Look, what Mark does is no different than directing a movie—it’s what I do for a living every day. You grow something, and your job is to grow it well and to make sure it gets enhanced and to take care of it. That’s the subject of the movie. And if you have to hurt people’s feelings in order to protect that thing, that’s what you have to do. It’s a responsibility. You want to love every character in the movie. You want to be able to understand them. You want to be able to relate to them. But, as a director, the characters’ behaviors are inevitably related to facets of moments in your own life. You look at the work and say, Maybe I do know what that is. I’ve been the angry young man. I’ve been Elvis Costello. I know what that’s like. The anger is certainly something I felt that I could relate to—the notion of being twenty-one and having a fairly clear notion of what it is you want to do or what it is you want to say and having all these people go, well, we’d love to, we’d love you to try. Show us what it is that you want to do. It’s that whole condescending thing of having to ask adults for permission because the perception is that you’re too young to do it for yourself. And that’s why I understood Mark’s frustration. You have a vision of what this thing should be. And everyone wants to tell you, Oh, well, you’re young. You’ll see soon enough. —David Fincher

The 21st century computer-scribes who work behind the scenes behind the screens, creating culture and beauty with code, got an anti-hero to remember on the silver-screen in 2010 with David Fincher’s 8th feature film. From a once-in-a-generation, “holy shit” screenplay by Aaron SorkinThe Social Network is a movie about a 19-year-old Harvard student creating Facebook while losing the relationships in his life. It is an examination of a social outsider who built one of the biggest “clubs” the world’s ever seen, and it’s about the new age zooming past the old. It’s about ignorance in high places, that awkward moment when powerful hired officials prove they have no concept of what simple features on Facebook are in a hearing on Facebook security. It’s about a new language of coding that’s sweeping and running the globe, and about treating coding with the respect it deserves. It’s about coders being taken as seriously as writers, musicians, filmmakers, film producers, painters, costume-designers, photographers, and all other artists and creators. It’s about attaining power even though you’re socially anxious or awkward, and about finding that inner drive that helps you accomplish your goals. It’s about what happens when you lose your humility in your thirst for greatness, and about the fragility of the line between “passionate” and “ass-hole.” The Social Network is simultaneously about a seismic shift in the zeitgeist and your best friend getting your company in trouble for feeding his fraternity chicken a piece of chicken. It’s about creating and solidifying one’s identity, and everything and anything else that goes with what Fincher once jokingly referred to as “the Citizen Kane of John Hughes movies.”

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Film stills by Merrick Morton (Sony Pictures)

Other in-depth articles on films by David Fincher on Cinephilia & Beyond:

Alien3: “Take all of the responsibility, because you’re going to get all of the blame”

Se7en: A Rain-Drenched, Somber, Gut-Wrenching Thriller that Restored David Fincher’s Faith in Filmmaking

Downwards Is the Only Way Forwards: Welcome to David Fincher’s The Game

Fight Club’: David Fincher’s Stylish Exploration of Modern-Day Man’s Estrangement and Disillusionment

Fincher’s Zodiac As Easily One Of The Best Thrillers Of The Millennium So Far

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Pressure and Obsession in the Films of David Fincher

Piers McCarthy
February 2012 / November 15, 2018

This dissertation aims to show the recurring themes of pressure and obsession in the work of film director David Fincher. Looking specifically at Seven (David Fincher, New Line Cinema, 1995), Zodiac (David Fincher, Paramount Pictures, 2007) and The Social Network (David Fincher, Columbia Pictures, 2010), I will show the gradual change in style and subject matter while still highlighting the resonance of the two themes under analysis. Furthermore, it will be shown how obsession and pressure link to Fincher’s working method. I will be examining critical, journalistic and academic writings to assess the themes and Fincher’s directorial position. Whereas Seven has had a great deal written about it, Zodiac and The Social Network are more recent films and thus there is less literature on them. For this reason, study on both films should garner more original analysis.

The themes of pressure and obsession differ slightly in all three films, however, there is an overriding sense in each film that the workplace and environment has a pressurizing effect on the characters. What is more, pressure can at times define the notion of obsession. Obsession is mostly shown as a mutation of characters’ personal drive, or an extension of their duties for work. The two themes can at times separate themselves in terms of aesthetic and narrative presentation yet they are mainly one and the same; at times they can even be analyzed in the context of Fincher’s filmmaking practice.

Chapter one gives an overview of contemporary Hollywood, the role of the director, Fincher in relation to both of these, the two themes under analysis and deliberations on auteurist theory – this constitutes the literature review. The second chapter examines the impetus of investigative obsession, along with the presentation of morbidity and tension in Seven. Chapter three looks at the similarity in obsessive personalities along with suspense and drama in Zodiac. Chapter four focuses on The Social Network and obsession effecting status quo. The conclusion will draw on the comparisons and contrasts from chapters two to four. It will also give an overall account of how we may regard Fincher in contemporary Hollywood and in respect to auteur theory.

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Neville Pierce on Seven

SOMEONE ELSE’S MOVIE is just what it says on the label: Each week, an actor, director, screenwriter, critic or industry observer will discuss a film that he or she admires, but had no hand in making.

Hosted as genially as possible by Norm Wilner.

July 31, 2018
Someone Else’s Movie

Neville Pierce

The show returns to London so journalist and filmmaker Neville Pierce — whose latest short, Promise, just arrived on Vimeo — can discuss the life-changing impact and technical virtuosity of David Fincher‘s Seven. Your genial host Norm Wilner believes in the second part.

Listen to the conversation

Previous episodes discussing Fincher films:

Jeffrey P. Nesker on Alien 3
Mark O’Brien on The Game
Jean Grae on Fight Club

The Pitch (vimeo)
July 20, 2018

Promise (2017)

A Syrian refugee can only stay in Britain if she becomes a surrogate mother for a desperate couple, but their illicit pact has dark consequences.

Stars: Rebecca Callard, Nabil Elouahabi, Lara Sawalha
Directed by Neville Pierce
Written by Hannah Lee
Produced by Luke Walton & Neville Pierce

“Superbly done” – Mark Romanek

Promise is a haunting film of loss and hope which takes an old story and sets it in contemporary Britain. “Pregnant with resonances, both biblical and political” – Projected Figures

Promise was made as part of The Pitch, a competition which offers its winner a £30,000 production budget and a trip to Hollywood.

Read an interview with Promise screenwriter and Pitch finalist Hannah Lee.

Nev Pierce’s Bricks, Ghosted and LOCK IN are online now

2015. Nev Pierce.jpg

“Ten-minute short films to chill, move and amuse…”

Neville Pierce (vimeo)

nevpierce.com

Click on the posters to open each short:

2015. Neville Pierce - Bricks[Ed.]

2016. Neville Pierce - Ghosted[Ed.]

2016. Neville Pierce - Lock In 00a[Ed.]

“Being a Filmmaker Wasn’t Something It Occurred to Me… You Could Be”: Film Journalist Neville Pierce on His Path Towards Directing

Scott Macaulay
February 5, 2018
Filmmaker

Over nearly 20 years, film journalist Neville Pierce has collected bylines at most of the U.K.’s top film publications, including Empire (where he’s a contributing editor), Total Film (where he was the editor) and The Guardian. And while he worked as a reviewer early in his career, he’s best known for his long-form profiles of actors and directors, pieces that are deep dives into the art and craft of subjects like Michael Fassbender, Mark Romanek and, most consistently, David Fincher, whose sets he has visited and written about no less than seven times.

But since 2011 Pierce has been building a parallel career that particularly resonates with us here at Filmmaker. Moving from covering films to making films, he began to write — and sell — screenplays and, in the last two years, direct short films. Parlaying connections within the U.K. acting community, Pierce has made four shorts, three of which are premiering online today. Strikingly, they are different in style and content, illustrating Pierce’s range while also indicating, perhaps, his own process of artistic discovery — an exploration of different genres and tones while working, one presumes, towards an inevitable first feature.

PIERCE: The biggest lessons probably came from my two favourite contemporary filmmakers. I interviewed Steven Soderbergh for The Informant and he talked about fantasy versus reality, “Are you going to deal with the world as it is or are you going to constantly trying to turn it into something that it’s never going to be?” That thought had a big impact both professionally and personally. Acting out of the facts, rather than out of wishes. The other thing, which I keep at the top of my digital “to do” list, as a constant reminder, is from Fincher: “The lesson of Alien 3 is ‘Take all of the responsibility, because you’re going to get all of the blame.’”

Read the full interview

Nev Pierce’s Next Steps

2004 Nev Pierce - Cannes
Cannes, 2004

Nev Pierce, one of the finest British film journalists, with a career of 20 years, and now a thriving Filmmaker, has revamped his website, NevPierce.com.

A nice occasion to revisit it, read his interviews to A-list actors and filmmakers, specially the essential David Fincher set visits and career interviews for Total Film and Empire magazines, from Zodiac to Mindhunter, plus a retrospective piece on Fight Club (all fully available in PDF), watch the trailers for his short films, praised by Fincher and Mark Romanek themselves, and rejoice at the announcement that he is co-writing a TV series and developing the thriller Packaged, as co-writer and director, with executive producer… David Fincher.

2015 Bricks (Nev Pierce)1.jpg
Bricks (Short Film, 2015)

David Fincher’s journey into the minds of serial killers

The ‘Fight Club’ director – who grew up under the shadow of the infamous Zodiac murders – tells Nev Pierce about his new Netflix series

Nev Pierce
12 October 2017
The Telegraph (The Daily Telegraph)

“I love Hannibal Lecter,” says director David Fincher, referring to fiction’s most infamous serial killer, from The Silence of the Lambs. “But he doesn’t exist when you really look into serial killing. He may actually be destructive to the understanding of who these people are.”

Few film-makers have “looked into” serial killing with the intense interest of this wry 55-year-old. His breakthrough picture Seven, which announced this one-time music video maestro as a major cinematic force with a flair for an indelible visual image, featured a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who slaughtered people according to the seven deadly sins and a notoriously shocking ending that left police procedural clichés decapitated.

His best film is arguably Zodiac, a meticulous account of the frustrated attempts to catch the real life titular killer who terrorised California in the late Sixties. You could even argue – though this would likely bring a raised eyebrow from the director who also counts Gone Girl, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Fight Club on his CV – that the predatory Xenomorph from his ill-fated debut, Alien 3, is more dangerous even than Lecter, or that the reverse-ageing romance The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really about the ultimate serial killer, Death himself.

His new Netflix series Mindhunter, however, is more grounded in reality than any of these projects. Yes, it deals with killers, but these aren’t gourmets or masterminds. Instead, inspired by the memoir of FBI agent John Douglas, it follows two agents (Holt McCallany and Jonathan Groff) as they interview convicted killers for insights to help them capture active murderers.

“I thought it was more interesting to see what makes a serial killer in real life, rather than turning him into a comic book supervillain,” says Fincher of the 10-part show, which is really about the birth of psychological profiling. “I thought a show based on conversations with the monster could be compelling, maybe in a new way. I was interested in the idea of not imbuing these creatures with a mythological power over us.”

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BFI LFF: MINDHUNTER Q&A with David Fincher hosted by Nev Pierce. Complete Audio

Nev Pierce and David Fincher (BFI, Twitter)

By Joe Frady

Plus: MINDHUNTER Q&A with David Fincher, Jonathan Groff & Holt McCallany hosted by Kate Taylor.

2017-10-11 Matthew Doyle (Twitter) - Preview of first two episodes of MINDHUNTER at LFF plus Q&A

David Fincher, Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany (Matthew Doyle, Twitter)