Netflix Delivers a Killer Serial Killer Series: Production on David Fincher’s ‘Mindhunter’

In addition to serving as co-executive producer for Mindhunter, Fincher directed four hours of the 10-episode season.

By: Kevin H. Martin
10/26/2017
Creative Planet Network / Digital Video Magazine

The first masterpiece from filmmaker David Fincher was his feature film Se7en, a procedural featuring one of the most memorable serial killers ever committed to celluloid. Ten years ago he returned this dark territory with Zodiac, an adaptation of the true-life case involving a still-unknown killer who struck repeatedly throughout the San Francisco Bay area. In the years since, Fincher helped launch House of Cards (an adaptation of the successful UK series) for Netflix. He comes back to the crime investigation genre with Mindhunter, a 10-part streaming series that launched on Netflix on Oct. 13.

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In addition to serving as co-executive producer for Mindhunter, Fincher directed four hours of the 10-episode season, with Christopher Probst shooting the pilot installment. The other directors were Asif Kapadia, Tobias Lindholm and Andrew Douglas.

Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt shot part of episode two, along with the remaining eight episodes. Messerschmidt had served as gaffer on Fincher’s most recent feature, Gone Girl. He pulled double duty on this fall’s Granite Mountain, gaffing and shooting 2nd unit—the latter a duty he performed for next year’s Sicario follow-up, Soldado, as well. “Fincher was very involved in the process, which is to be expected. He was there every day,” Messerschmidt says.

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2017-10-26 Creative Planet Network - The Plate Van

Crime Scenes: Evolving the Postproduction Process on ‘Mindhunter’

I recently spoke with Tyler Nelson, one of the four series editors, who was given the opportunity to move from the assistant chair to that of a primary editor on ‘Mindhunter.’

By: Oliver Peters
10/26/2017
Creative Planet Network / Digital Video Magazine

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How Mindhunter filmed using a customised camera

by Hannah Gal
30/10/2017
KFTV

Erik Messerschmidt was director of photography on Netflix‘s Mindhunter – he talks about using a customised camera with David Fincher.

As a hard working gaffer, Erik Messerschmidt has reached the top of his profession, but his ambition has always been to work as a cinematographer.

His break came when David Fincher asked him to join Netflix’s new project. The director had previously worked with the cinematographer on the 2014 domestic thriller Gone Girl and signed on to Mindhunter, a story that traces the development of the FBI’s understanding of criminal science in the 1970s. Fincher directed four of the show’s ten episodes and was an executive producer on the full series.

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Here's another behind the scenes pic from the set of Mindhunter @netflix. This was one our fabulous sets constructed by production designer Steve Arnold on our "tin shed" stages in Pittsburgh. Shepherd's office had the wall located behind his desk built with an invisible track that could raise the wall up, allowing us to get this angle behind the often flabbergasted FBI chief. Outside the windows we had large greenscreens, but in instances where we didn't see the green, I opted to wheel in day-blue frames to provide a more natural color temp coming in through the windows… and do note that daylight often has two components, direct sunlight and sky… you can see this effect play on the vertical blinds… effectively creating the feel of exterior light MUST take all of these ides into account. . #mindhunter #davidfincher #netflix #cinematography #reddigitalcinema

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DP Erik Messerschmidt on Shooting Netflix’s Mindhunter with a Custom Red Xenomorph

by Matt Mulcahey
Oct 26, 2017
Filmmaker

When mere mortals gear up for a job, they are restricted to selecting cameras currently in existence. Not David Fincher.

Fincher has long hated all the gak required to make a digital cinema camera functional: a wireless transmitter to get signal to video village, the add-ons to provide wireless iris and focus control, the assistant camera’s onboard monitor hanging off the side — all the things that turn a small, lightweight camera body into a labyrinth of cables and breakout boxes.

Red Digital Cinema responded by making Fincher his own set of custom Weapon Red Dragons for use on the new Netflix series Mindhunter—each with the features listed above built into an ergonomically friendly camera christened the Xenomorph. Put a lens on the front and a battery on the back and the Xenomorph is ready to rock and roll.

On Mindhunter, cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt reaped the benefits of that smaller camera footprint. Messerschmidt spoke to Filmmaker about his work on the new series, which follows the fictionalized story of the agents (Jonathan Groff’s Holden Ford and Holt McCallany’s Bill Tench) who started the FBI’s psychological profiling program in the 1970s by interviewing incarcerated serial killers.

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2017-09-22 Alison Leigh Evans (Instagram) - Mindhunter Camera Department Xmas Decorations [EDIT]Mindhunter Camera Department Xmas Decorations (Alison Leigh Evans, Instagram)

Art of the Shot: Mindhunter cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt

Reported by Joe Frady

Working with David Fincher, the RED XENOMORPH, CW Sonderoptic Leica Summilux-C lenses and shooting for Netflix

By David Alexander Willis
October 23, 2017
ProVideo Coalition

Shot with a tailor-made RED camera, the RED XENOMORPH, auteur David Fincher chose cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt to helm camera for his latest, and possibly most ambitious project, the 10-episode Mindhunter series. Based on the novel Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, Messerschmidt lensed actors Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany during the extended production as they play FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench. Focusing on the precocious criminal psychology work of the 1970s, the show centers on the duo as they attempt to understand the mind of a serial killer. Mindhunter is available to watch via Netflix now.

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A monitor grab from a scene appearing in Ep. 3 of Mindhunter @netflix… Scheduling necessities required several sequences for Episodes 3 and 7 to be fitted into the schedule for our Eps. 1 and 2 "pilot block" shooting schedule. This scene takes place in the Sacramento storyline continued from Ep. 2, where our intrepid heroes (@holtmccallany and Jonathan Groff) help catch a killer of elderly women. This scene and others in the detective's bullpen downstairs, and outside (where their car has its wheels removed) were all shot in the former Daily News newspaper headquarters in McKeesport, PA. This shot was lit almost entirely with the selective use of practicals. I had the overhead bulbs switched to legacy Warm White tubes, added some desk lamps and used a fair amount of haze on set… In fact, a little more about the look: During prep, I created master visual bible for the evolution of the series, which will ultimately span three decades, and laid out an evolution in the visual design of the show. The 1970s would use Warm White tubes and Sodium Vapor streetlights outside, as well as heavy use of atmosphere from cigarette smoke. We also had custom 92mm screw-on 1/2 Low Con filters from @tiffencompany made for the @cwsonderoptic Leica Summilux-C lenses to be used throughout the first season… The 1980s in future seasons would see a progression toward Cool White fluorescents, Mercury Vapor streetlights and losing the low cons. The 1990s, would switch to color corrected fluorescents (no green) and neutral street lighting. Resolution and gamma may also evolve as the show progresses… w/ @camgrip @mtnbikethis @alex_w_scott @murnorama @reddigitalcinema. . #mindhunter #davidfincher #reddigitalcinema #redxenomorph cameras

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Why David Fincher’s ‘Mindhunter’ DP Believes ‘There Are No Rules’ in Lighting

Hawkins DuBois
October 13, 2017
No Film School

‘Mindhunter’ DP Erik Messerschmidt shot the darkly intimate show with custom-made RED Xenomorphs.

When it comes to cinematography, every filmmaker, every movie or show, and every shot is different. While there may be a “textbook” way to approach a scene, there is no “correct” way. Even so, patterns and styles always emerge, and few filmmakers have developed a look as distinctive as David Fincher‘s. While Fincher is best known for his mysterious and gritty films, ranging from Fight Club to The Social Network, he’s recently ventured into the realm of streaming television, where he has produced and directed the critically-acclaimed House of Cards, and now seeks to expand on that success with the recently-released Mindhunter for Netflix.

Mindhunter tells the story of a pair of FBI agents, played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany, as their work in the Elite Serial Crime Unit leads them down a dark path where they interrogate and explore the mindsets of serial killers and rapists. It’s another psychologically tense world from the mind of Fincher, and a significant part of what brings this world to life is the work of cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, who keeps audiences grounded and in the moment.

Messerschmidt, a longtime gaffer in the industry, built up years of knowledge while working alongside some of the best DPs in Hollywood, and his unique background allowed him to creatively solve problems and accentuate story with his camerawork. No Film School recently sat down with Messerschmidt to talk about his career and Mindhunter, including his decision to come up through the lighting department, mastering crew-management skills, and how to incorporate natural lighting into your shots.

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‘Mindhunter’ DP Recounts Rise From ‘Gone Girl’ Gaffer to Cinematographer on Netflix Series

(Merrick Morton, Netflix)

By Valentina I. Valentini
October 12, 2017
Variety

When Erik Messerschmidt stepped into the role of David Fincher’s cinematographer on “Mindhunter” — a series centered on an elite FBI serial crime unit that premieres on Netflix on Oct. 13 — he and the director were already in sync.

“David and I see the world in a similar way,” says Messerschmidt, who was Fincher’s gaffer on “Gone Girl.” “I felt like I had a lot of freedom to try things visually and take some calculated risks. He was a huge supporter of that.”

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A little behind the scenes teaser for Mindhunter

Christopher Probst (Instagram)