June 15, 2022
David Fincher, director of Bad Travelling featured in Love, Death + Robots Vol. 3 discusses how he approached directing his first animated short.
It’s Showtime! When Steven Soderbergh joins Rob, the two friends get to ask the questions they’ve never asked one another. In this episode find out about Steven’s new film Kimi, and how he thinks Sex, Lies, and Videotape now feels like a Jane Austen novel.
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David Fincher’s legendary attention to detail on the serial killer film inspired plenty of on-set drama.
This week marks 15 years since “Zodiac” was released in theaters, and save for the actors looking 15 years younger than they do now, the film still feels like it could be released today. If anything, “Zodiac” feels more like a product of 2022 than 2007. The country is more obsessed with serial killers than ever before, with true crime podcasts and documentaries continuing to draw massive ratings, Zodiac killer memes being used in presidential primaries, and the latest Batman movie taking the form of a serial killer drama.
That makes it a great time to revisit “Zodiac,” as well as a good opportunity to take a deep dive into the making of the film. “Zodiac” attracted as much attention for its painstaking production process as it did for the finished product, as the always detail-oriented David Fincher went above and beyond to make sure everything in his film was historically accurate. Sometimes his methodical process hurt his relationships with the cast, but one thing is for certain: They made a great movie.
Drew McWeeny explained that he almost missed out on David Fincher’s emails and calls after he thought someone was pranking him and was using a very weird, full of movie references email address (and yes, I really need to know what were these references now…):
“He emailed me in the middle of the night. I didn’t know him, we hadn’t spoken before (…) and the email just said “Hi, this is David Fincher. Call me.”
He ignored the email. David Fincher emailed him again the next day, but Drew didn’t want to believe it.:
“And it’s the third day when he actually called me and said ‘Hi, this is David Fincher, what’s your problem?!’ And I went ‘Oh my god! Hi, how are you?”
VOIR: 03. But I Don’t Like Him. Written and narrated by Drew McWeeny
Drew McWeeney declared that creating Voir started with David Fincher having “the vaguest notion that he wanted to celebrate movies”.
But when Drew McWeeney decided to make his episode of Voir centered on unlikeable characters, it was because he felt that a conversation needed to be had:
“I think ‘likeability’ has become this weird, weird buzzword, we hang a lot of other issues about movies on it. When people don’t like a movie, they immediately go to ‘I didn’t like the character’. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And all I wanted to do is reframe that conversation”. (…) Art is not about endorsement.”
David Prior on the set of the Voir episode, Summer of the Shark.
Sasha Stone’s episode of Voir, Summer of the Shark, directed by David Prior, is now streaming on Netflix, along with five other film essays: The Ethics of Revenge, The Duality of Appeal, Film vs. Television, by Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos, But I Don’t Like Him by Drew McWeeney, and Profane and Profound by Walter Chaw.
“Voir” writers and “Every Frame a Painting” creators Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos discuss their learning process to teach audiences about cinema.
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.
DAVID FINCHER WAS AFTER THE TRUTH.
WITHOUT IT, HE WOULD NOT SHOOT ZODIAC.
For nearly two decades, Hollywood had been trying to make a movie of Zodiac, and for nearly two decades, it had failed. In 2003, producer Brad Fischer, and screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt attempted the undoable, and set their sights on the one filmmaker they felt unequalled for the helm: director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club). Fincher’s eye for detail, probing mind, and unrelenting quest for answers made him ideal. His personal connection to the case made him perfect.
Author Robert Graysmith, director David Fincher, producer Brad Fischer, and screenwriter James Vanderbilt: “The Untouchables” (Photo: Margot Graysmith)
From Hollywood boardrooms to remote fog-shrouded crime scenes, they battle a huge script that refuses to be beaten, a case that refuses to be solved, and a running time and budget that threaten their film. Follow as they track down missing witnesses, gather the original investigators, visit the original crime scenes, discover boxes of Zodiac case files from an attic, unearth new clues, a videotape of the prime suspect’s police interrogation, and a surviving victim who doesn’t want to be found. To keep Fincher on board, and get their film greenlit, it will take cold leads, private eyes, new evidence, and most of all, perseverance.
About The Author
Robert Graysmith in 2012. Photo: Russell Yip / The Chronicle
Robert Graysmith (Facebook) is an author and illustrator. He was the political cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle when the letters and cryptograms from the infamous Zodiac killer began arriving to the paper. He was present when they were opened in the morning editorial meetings, and has been investigating & writing ever since. He lives in San Francisco where he continues to write and illustrate. He is best known for his books “Zodiac” and “Zodiac Unmasked”.
Imprint: Monkey’s Paw Publishing, Inc.
Editor: Aaron Smith
Publication Date: August 31, 2021
Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 1 inches
Weight: 1.59 pounds
Page Count: 375
BUY: Amazon (Worldwide: check your local Amazon), Barnes & Noble, Target
“Zodiac in Costume at Lake Berryessa,” by former Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith. Surviving victim Bryan Hartnell personally described the costume in detail to Graysmith, after his, and Cecilia Shepherd’s, encounter with the Zodiac on Sept. 27, 1969. Photo: Robert Graysmith
Robert Graysmith, political cartoonist for The San Francisco Chronicle, in 1977. Photo: Gary Fong / The Chronicle
Robert Graysmith wrote the definitive Zodiac Killer book. He breaks decade-long silence to tell us about his upcoming projects
For a fairly famous guy, author Robert Graysmith doesn’t get out much. He hasn’t been heard from in public for about a decade, and he rarely leaves his San Francisco home.
The 78-year-old Graysmith has been crafting manuscripts at such an astonishing pace, printing them out as he goes along, that they now stand in a 5-foot-high stack that breaks down into what he says will be 34 books, ranging from children’s tales and historical explorations to true crime and fictional legends. Most just need a few final touches and editing, he said.
These days, Graysmith is working with a new publisher he knows well: his 50-year-old son, Aaron Smith.
An artist and CGI supervisor for dozens of movies, from “Monsters vs. Aliens” to “Cast Away,” Smith founded a publishing house in November that is producing his father’s books. The company is called Monkey’s Paw.
The first in this voluminous new string landed on online sites like Amazon at the end of August, the 383-page “Shooting Zodiac,” which documents the planning that went into making the movie “Zodiac.”
“It’s much more fun working with Aaron on these things, because he can put them out quickly,” Graysmith said. “I figured out you’re going to wait about three years to get a book done, and then you hand them the book, and they’re going to spend a lot of time and then they won’t do anything for another year or so. With Aaron, we can get the book edited and out there in a few months.”
Graysmith’s son — who uses the last name his dad used before he merged Gray and Smith — said he wasn’t really surprised when he realized how many pages his dad had in the hopper.
“Writing is pretty much all he does,” Smith said by phone from his home in Southern California, “and the illustrations.”
Graysmith said he started working on his engagingly told “Shooting Zodiac” before the movie came out, as he was being bowled over by the dedication director David Fincher, producer Brad Fischer and screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt put into the project. They combed over the same material Graysmith had in his books “Zodiac” and “Zodiac Unmasked” to rebuild and advance his narrative around the only suspect ever named by police, Arthur Leigh Allen of Vallejo.
Watching them work was “a marvelous adventure,” Graysmith said.
The new book is as much about greenlighting the movie and hiring actors like Jake Gyllenhaal, who played Graysmith, as it is about how the three filmmakers did their research. It’s also probably the last thing Graysmith will write about the Zodiac, he and his son said.
A young Aaron Graysmith (Smith), played by Zachary Sauers, already helping Dad with his “special project”. (Zodiac, 2007)
My interview with the director of The Empty Man, AM1200, and many of your favorite DVD bonus features, David Prior.
Malcolm and JT were kicked out of the studio for this one — The Empty Man made me do it!
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SLM/Co-Producer Bill Doyle partners with director David Fincher to bring Hollywood’s Golden Age to life
Mank, director David Fincher’s much anticipated take on the behind-the-scenes drama that shaped the making of Citizen Kane, was released last November after a journey to get it made that began almost two decades ago.
Is there any reason to believe that a story about the making of a movie about the making of a movie is any less intriguing than that of its fabled subject?
In terms of finding classic locations in Los Angeles that have survived the moving hands of time, Fincher couldn’t have found a better guy for the job than LM William “Bill” Doyle/LMGI. L.A. is a classic example of a city in a near-constant state of reinvention, but despite the years, some amazing original sites still remain, and Doyle knows most of them.
“I’ve always loved reading about how cities develop,” Doyle says. “Understanding a city… How it was developed or why it was founded, how it was built and when it expanded… Knowing how these things happened can help you make sense of any city anywhere in the world when you’re looking for something specific.”
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00:06:41: Conversation with Victoria Alonso, EVP, Production at Marvel Studios
00:22:51: Conversation with Peter Mavromates, Co-Producer of Mank
00:36:18: Conversation with Aaron Lovell, SVP of Post Production at Boardwalk Pictures
00:45:49: Conversation with Florian Schneider, Producer of Freaks: You’re One of Us, Stephan Kuch, Colorist at PANOPTIMO, Andreas Rudroff, Sound Mixer at Orange Sound Studio
00:58:31: Conversation with Jessie Schroeder, VP, Post Production at Pixar Animation Studios and Kori Rae, Producer at Pixar Animation Studios
Thanks to all of those that joined Dolby and our special industry guests as we discussed the evolution of entertainment and explored how world-renowned content creators are using Dolby technologies to expand their creative palette and empower immersive storytelling.
This PGA members-only event was the first in a series of events designed to both inspire and educate producers in film, television, and new media to create future-forward, immersive experiences in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. We hope those who attended the live event found it valuable. For those who were unable to attend or would like to see it again we have provided a recording of the event.