David Fincher’s Impossible Eye

David Fincher by Jack Davison

With ‘Mank,’ America’s most famously exacting director tackles the movie he’s been waiting his entire career to make.

Jonah Weiner
November 19, 2020
The New York Times

Six years ago, after I contacted David Fincher and told him I wanted to write an article about how he makes movies, he invited me to his office to present my case in person and, while I was there, watch him get some work done. On an April afternoon, I arrived at the Hollywood Art Deco building that has long served as Fincher’s base of operations, where he was about to look at footage from his 10th feature film, Gone Girl,” then in postproduction. We headed upstairs and found the editor Kirk Baxter assembling a scene. Fincher watched it once through, then asked Baxter to replay a five-second stretch. It was a seemingly simple tracking shot, the camera traveling alongside Ben Affleck as he entered a living room in violent disarray: overturned ottoman, shattered glass. The camera moved at the same speed as Affleck, gliding with unvarying smoothness, which is exactly how Fincher likes his shots to behave. Except that three seconds in, something was off. “There’s a bump,” he said.

Jack Fincher photographed by David Fincher in 1976, when he was 14.
“That’s why it’s out of focus”.

No living director surpasses Fincher’s reputation for exactitude. Any account of his methods invariably mentions how many takes he likes to shoot, which can annoy him, not because this is inaccurate but because it abets a vision of him as a dictatorially fussy artiste. Fincher, who is 58, argues that this caricature misses the point: If you want to build worlds as engrossing as those he seeks to construct, then you need actors to push their performances into zones of fecund uncertainty, to shed all traces of what he calls “presentation.” And then you need them to give you options, all while hitting the exact same marks (which goes for the camera operators too) to ensure there will be no continuity errors when you cut the scene together. Getting all these stars to align before, say, Take No. 9 is possible but unlikely. “I get, He’s a perfectionist,” Fincher volunteered. “No. There’s just a difference between mediocre and acceptable.”

Read the full profile

Mix Magazine 2020: The Music in Sound with Ren Klyce

Ren Klyce in Peter Elsea’s Studio (1984)

Larry Blake
November 5, 2020
Mix Magazine / SoundWorks Collection

Animated short for Sesame Street (January 17, 1984) produced by John Korty. Sound and music by Ren Klyce:

The Social Network Score Released in Dolby Atmos 3D Audio

October 3, 2020
NIN.com

This week marks 10 years since the release of the Academy Award-winning score for The Social Network. In celebration of the anniversary, Trent and Atticus have created a newly remixed version of the soundtrack in Dolby Atmos 3D Audio, providing an immersive listening experience. The new Atmos mix is currently able to stream right now on Amazon Music HD.

Look for this to become more widely available on other supporting services.

From Trent:

When we finished the score, we were in a phase where we intrigued by the possibilities of mixing in surround. At the time, 5.1 was the format of choice. Our intention was to spend three days after finishing the stereo mix and adapt it to 5.1… Thirty days later we finished! We found the material was very suited to the space and we went a little crazy

Jump to the present where atmos has become a viable format and we thought it would be cool to “adapt” the approach of the original 5.1 mix into the expansive canvas atmos provides. Our results are live on Amazon Music right now – check it out.

We were going to offer the option to purchase a download, but we couldn’t get it together to provide the most viable format (stay tuned). We are considering making some ultra HD Blu-Ray discs for your highest-quality Atmos listening pleasure.

Up next, The Fragile?

DP/30: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. “Watchmen”, “Mank”

“All in ‘Mank’ is orchestra or big band. There’s no one synth or one note played by us on the whole score.”

David Poland
August 10, 2020
DP/30: The Oral History Of Hollywood (YouTube)

They both took different roads to film scoring, which they have mostly (and most famously) done together. From 9 Inch Nails to Fincher to Watchmen, they have a unique one-off approach to every project. They took some time to chat with David Poland to chat about their work on The Social Network, Watchmen, Mank, and Pixar‘s Soul.

Shot via Zoom, August 2020.

Earlier DP/30 with Trent Reznor: Gone Girl

Atticus Ross: “I’ve seen the first cut of ‘Mank’ and it was incredible”

And Trent Reznor explains why David Fincher is great to work with.

Reznor and Ross share some glimpses on their work with Fincher on Mank at the end of their interview about their score for HBO and Damon Lindelof‘s Watchmen.

Read the article:

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: Composing ‘Watchmen’ was ‘super rewarding, extremely difficult and fulfilling’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW

Rob Licuria
March 31, 2020
Gold Derby

The prolific duo has also released two new Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts albums for free.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will use period-authentic instrumentation for their “Mank” score

They’ll avoid many of their favorite toys for David Fincher’s next movie, which is set in the Forties.

Revolver Staff
December 23, 2019
Revolver

Director David Fincher — who first dragged Reznor and Ross into the film-scoring game by enlisting them for 2010’s The Social Network — is currently shooting the film Mank, a biopic about Herman J. Mankiewicz, the screenwriter of Orson Welles‘ Citizen Kane, played by Gary Oldman. As such, the movie is set in 1940. “We’re not gonna be using the modular synthesizer on that one,” Reznor revealed. “We think we’re gonna be period authentic, so it just creates a new set of challenges.”

Read the full article:

Nine Inch Nails: 9 Things We Learned from Our Visit to Trent Reznor’s Studio

Order the Dec/Jan Issue of Revolver, Featuring Nine Inch Nails

Recreating Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ “Gone Girl” Score With Software Instruments

Gone Girl - Soundtrack

Dan Carr
May 4, 2018
Reverb

In 2014, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross scored Gone Girl, the duo’s third collaboration with director David Fincher (following 2010’s The Social Network and 2011’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).

Gone Girl’s music consists of dark ambient pieces with layered synths, guitars, and electronic noises, and was inspired by the background music Fincher heard at a chiropractor’s office that was “inauthentically trying to make him feel alright,” according to Reznor.

To this end, the soundtrack juxtaposes lush new-age synths and percussion with distortion, noise, and stuttery beats. I’ll explore the synth behind many of the film’s sounds, as well as how to create these tones using software instruments in your own DAW.

Read the full article with audio samples

David Fincher on the Music of ‘Mindhunter’

By Paula Parisi on October 23, 2017
Max the Trax

Director and producer David Fincher wanted a backing track that “didn’t sound like music” for his new Netflix series Mindhunter, which is exactly what he got in the 10-episode show’s original score by composer Jason Hill. Hill, a veteran of the early aughts indie rock scene with throwback style, invented a library of original sounds he processed into music. “I didn’t use any sound libraries,” said Hill, proprietor of the Department of Recording & Power. “I do use a computer, in terms of capture, but everything pretty much starts with a bunch of analog, weird stuff. I kind of get mad scientist brain when I press play.” Pitch perfect for a show about the genesis of the FBI’s elite Behavioral Sciences Unit, formed in 1978.  An inspired touch — the sound of Hill running his fingers around water-filled wine glasses — has become something of an audio signature for the series, which also features a rigorously curated complement of 1970s tunes.

Fincher is known as a meticulous craftsman who not only chooses great material, but applies his exacting style to bring it to the screen in a way that is both visually and narratively compelling. While his talent as a musical tastemaker has certainly been acknowledged, it’s emphasized to a lesser extent against the dazzle of his other gifts. But Fincher’s record stands: best score Oscars for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for 2010’s The Social Network, and a best soundtrack Grammy for the duo’s 2012 The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo as well as a nom for their work on Gone Girl.

Fincher received his own Academy Award nominations for directing The Social Network and 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which also earned Oscar and Grammy nominations for composer Alexandre Desplat).  And that’s before even getting to the part about how in the ’80s he helped invent the music video genre as a founder of Propaganda Films (including Don Henley’s cinematic “The End of the Innocence” and helming entries for Madonna and Nine Inch Nails (as well as Loverboy and Rick Springfield, among many others. He’s collected his own Grammys for directing the 1994 clip for The Rolling Stones‘ Love is Strong” featuring the band and their friends as giants cavorting through Manhattan), and more recently, in 2014 for Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie (feat. Jay Z).  Fincher spoke to MaxTheTrax editor in chief Paula Parisi about the music for Mindhunter, his music video roots and (small!) contribution to Trent Reznor’s career as a film composer.

Read the full interview

Hooked on Sonics: David Fincher, Composer Jason Hill Bend Sound and Time on ‘Mindhunter’

10/14/2017 by Paula Parisi
Billboard

The year is 1972. On May 7, Tony Orlando & Dawn is in the middle of a four-week ride atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree,” and Edmund Kemper is indicted on eight counts of murder in Santa Cruz, Calif. Welcome to the world of David Fincher’s Mindhunter, a circa 1970s crime drama that debuts on Netflix this weekend.

Set within the FBI’s elite Behavioral Sciences Unit, the show delves into the psyche of high-profile serial killers because, “How do we get ahead of crazy, if we don’t know how crazy thinks?” In other words, as sophisticated a study in depravity as audiences are likely to see outside of a theater showing a Fincher film, and he wanted the music to match.

Fincher’s facility with score has been validated with an Oscar, a Grammy and two noms for his past four films, which include Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. House of Cards, another show Fincher executive produces for Netflix, has accumulated five Emmy nominations for composer Jeff Beal (who won this year). And he famously convinced Trent Reznor to score 2010’s The Social Network, resulting in Oscars for the Nine Inch Nails principal and collaborator Atticus Ross. But Fincher is surprisingly modest about accruing any of that acclaim.

“I just hire people that are great and get out of their way,” says the man who was the enfant terrible of ’80s music video.

The muted, subterranean Mindhunter soundtrack is composed by erstwhile alt pop comet Jason Hill — he soared, he shined, he fell short of being a star with bands Louis XIV and Vicky Cryer. But the 42-year-old rose to the occasion for Fincher, who asked him to craft a score that wouldn’t sound, literally, like music.

Read the full profile

Big Score: Fincher Plucks Obscure Jason Hill as ‘Mindhunter’ Composer

Newcomer Jason Hill (front) landed a plum assignment, composing music for David Fincher’s new Netflix series Mindhunter.

By Paula Parisi on August 3, 2017
Max the Trax

Unknown yesterday, Jason Hill has landed in the Hollywood music mix with a bang, landing composer duties on David Fincher’s new Netflix series Mindhunter, premiering Oct. 13. Multi-instrumentalist Hill has spent the past 15 years kicking around the rock scene, performing with members of The Killers and The New York Dolls in various configurations, led his own band, Louis XIV, and was also in Vicky Cryer.

Read the full article

 

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Mindhunter

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Thanks to Dante