American Cancer Society’s “Smoking Fetus”

Directed by David Fincher and shot by Michael Owens, this PSA gained national attention due to its striking images and potent warning.

Bruce Mink
August 1985
American Cinematographer

Tony McVey sets up his sculpture in front of the motion-control camera.

The sound of a heartbeat is heard. A human fetus fades up on the television screen in close-up and a voiceover begins: “Would you give a cigarette to your unborn child?” The camera pans and dollies back to reveal an entire fetus existing serenely in the womb of its mother. “You do every time you smoke when you’re pregnant.” At this point, the fetus slowly brings a lit cigarette to its lips and takes a puff, exhaling the smoke into the glowing placenta it lives in. And the voiceover finishes: “Pregnant mothers, please don’t smoke.”

The 30-second spot was produced for the American Cancer Society by a talented and relatively untapped group of San Francisco Bay area filmmakers, modelmakers, and computer specialists brought together by producer Joseph Vogt (Rick Springfield’s “Bop ’Till You Drop”). With a film and conceptual design education behind him, Vogt organized the majority of his film crew from the ranks of Industrial Light and Magic. It was with the abundant talents of these production people — director David FincherMidland Productions, and Monaco Labs — that Vogt brought life to a most creative and technically challenging public service announcement.

Director of photography Michael Owens at the Mitchell GC ready to shoot the prepped sculpture.

Jerry Angert, director of broadcasting with the American Cancer Society, described the ad as “one of the most powerful we have done… We considered the fact that it would be controversial and the networks might not show it, but counted on the local stations to take it.” And that’s exactly what transpired. NBC and CBS chose not to air the graphic spot while CNN (Turner Broadcasting), ABC and its affiliates and affiliates of NBC and CBS elected to show it.

CBS and NBC claim the spot is too graphic. An NBC spokeswoman cited “general taste considerations” as a deterrent to airing the spot. “It was the sight of the fetus that was especially shocking and we felt it was potentially offensive to our viewers,” she was quoted as saying. A CBS spokesman said the network agreed with the “importance of the intent of the message,” but said that the spot was “far too graphic for broadcast on CBS.” An ABC spokesman, however, said the message put forth by the spot was “important for pregnant mothers to understand.” The network felt that. while it was “different visually” from the usual fare viewed on TV, it contained no material that warranted its ban from the airwaves.

Read the full article

American Cinematographer, August 1985 cover

Watch the commercial and read The Fincher Analyst dossier:

1985. American Cancer Society – Smoking Fetus (PSA)

Original Benjamin Button Model by Kazu Hiro

Click for a full screen view:

2006. Rick Baker's Cinovation Studios deliver the Brad Pitt heads by Kazu Hiro to Digital Domain

Rick Baker’s Cinovation Studios deliver the aged Brad Pitt silicone heads by Kazu Hiro to Digital Domain to be digitally scanned. Top center: Kazu Hiro and Rick Baker. Top right: Eric Barba, Visual Effects Supervisor for Digital Domain (Kazu Hiro, 2006)

2018-01. Make-Up Artist Magazine - Kazuhiro TsujiSculptor and Special Make-Up Effects Artist
Kazu Hiro (Make-Up Artist Magazine, 2018)

kazustudios.com

studioADI: ALIEN 3. Dressing the Whippet

studioADI
Published on 6 Dec 2017
YouTube

One unused attempt at a running chestburster in Alien 3 included this adorable whippit. It didn’t quite work on camera the way that we hoped, though and the effect was scraped.

Be sure to check out some of new Fox approved Alien art pieces, available December 1st.

Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t)

RocketJump Film School
Published on Aug 4, 2015
YouTube

Are computer generated visual effects really ruining movies?

We believe that the reason we think all CG looks bad is because we only see “bad” CG. Fantastic, beautiful, and wonderfully executed CG is everywhere – you just don’t know it. Truly great visual effects serve story and character – and in doing so are, by their very definition, invisible.

Written and Narrated by Freddie Wong
Edited by Joey Scoma
Assistant Editor – Joshan Smith

studioADI celebrated the 25th Anniversary of ALIEN 3 with 2 videos featuring a still happy young Fincher

ALIEN 3 Filming Decimated Bishop BTS ADI

studioADI
Published on May 13, 2017
YouTube

ALIEN 3 celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, and to celebrate we present this gem from deep within the VHS vault–footage from the prep and rehearsals of the Bishop puppet shoot complete with direction from David Fincher. Despite the aged quality of the video, it’s still an interesting watch demonstrating the collaboration between director and effects crew on set.

ALIEN 3 Alien BTS 25th Anniversary

studioADI
Published on May 18, 2017
YouTube

As the 25th Anniversary of ALIEN 3 approaches, we could not ignore our contribution to the film’s title character: the Alien itself. Through the miracle of VHS and exclusive photographs, ADI takes you back to that year of hard work at Pinewood Studios. Enjoy the retrospective!

Neil Patrick Harris Will Gladly Talk You Through His Gory Gone Girl Sex Scene

Trupti Rami and Granger Willson
May 21, 2017
Vulture

For Gone Girl’s memorable sex scene — its climax ending in a pool of blood — Neil Patrick Harris and Rosamund Pike spent a whole afternoon working through the scene with the “exacting” director David Fincher and, at one point, with Ben Affleck looking on. “[Fincher] was asking us to have unbridled sex — and my character is really into her so is very overwhelmed with — with great precision,” Harris said. He broke down the scene in a conversation at Vulture Festival, moment to moment: “We were just rehearsing porn for hours.”

Neil Patrick Harris Bares All About His Sex Scenes

Team Coco (YouTube)
October 23, 2014

CONAN Highlight: “Gone Girl” isn’t the first time that Neil’s had to act in the buff, but this time he didn’t have to do “the helicopter” to get ready.

Gone Girl: The Hardest Scene Neil Patrick Harris Ever Had To Film

CinemaBlend (YouTube)
October 6, 2014

Rosamund Pike on Rehearsing Sex Scenes with Neil Patrick Harris for Gone Girl

Late Night with Seth Meyers (YouTube)
September 29, 2014

It’s all well and good until David Fincher and Ben Affleck show up to watch.

Rosamund Pike Did Terrible Things to Dora the Explorer for Gone Girl

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (YouTube)
February 6, 2015

Rosamund Pike explains to Jimmy how she practiced for a particularly disturbing scene in her film Gone Girl.

Gone Girl: Rosamund Pike on those ‘naughty’ sex scenes and working with Ben Affleck

ODE (YouTube)
September 27, 2014

We caught up with British actress Rosamund Pike ahead of the release of one of the most the eagerly awaited films of the year, Gone Girl. Interview by Andrea Lily. Edited by Sophie Foster.

Rosamund Pike Plays a Pretty Good Sociopath

The Off Camera Show (YouTube)
November 2, 2018