Why is David Fincher a Genius? — Directing Styles Explained


Do you recognize a filmmakers
work from a single frame? [Gunshot sounds] What makes this shot, so iconic? Today, we’re going to look at the
formal techniques and directing style of David Fincher movies. My philosophy is
shot seven takes. Okay. Now let’s start. It takes, titanium and
aluminum and steel and glass that you do one thing, impart feeling to everyone in the
audience at the exact same time, and that’s the magic of cinema. And how those techniques
used in combination, creates such memorable
and striking films. [Intro Music: “David Fincher Movies”] Before we get started, make sure you subscribe
to our channel and click the bell for
more filmmaking techniques. Let’s get into it. David Fincher movies deal
with dark subject matter and this video contains
examples of graphic content. You’ve been warned. Fincher goes out of his way to
provide an immersive experience, and he builds his worlds
one detail at a time. We’re going to show you
seven key areas of focus, so that you can see, how every little decision
makes up the entire picture. Let’s break down Fincher’s
cinematic language. “The first rule of Fight Club is:
You do not talk about Fight Club.” First,
let’s talk about — Story. Fincher`s power is deception. But how deep does
this deception go? And what effect does this
have on the audience? Our narrator in Fight Club is
so successful at deception, he’s deceived
himself completely. -Say it. -Because we’re the same person. -That’s right. In House of Cards, are we objective spectators to
Frank Underwood rise to power, or are we also susceptible
to his manipulation? I chose money over power. In this town a mistake
nearly everyone makes. Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that
starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building
that stands for centuries. I can not respect someone who
doesn’t see the difference. Gone Girl is the ultimate
example of “he said she said.” The ocean of lies and deception
is impossible to navigate. For Fincher, there is absolutely
a dark side to humanity and sometimes that
darkness wins. “If you kill him. He will win.” Next, let’s talk about
Production Design. Production design is all
about the look of a film and there are few better-looking
films than Fincher`s. [Music] The locations, wardrobe, props, his attention to detail is
rumored to border on obsessive. For example, Fight Club tells the story of a man
unsatisfied with the life he’s living. And the seduction of
a very different life where rules and
expectations disappear. Fincher presents these contrasting
world views within the sets. Witness the lifeless monotony
of the narrator’s home and his workspace. Then our hero meets… -Tyler Durden -the antidote to his misery. Tyler has transcended
the prison of conformity and embraced pure
personal freedom. -Fuck off with you. Sophie units and string
green stripe patterns. I say, stop being perfect. And this lawlessness is
embodied in Tyler’s decrepit and discarded house
on Paper Street. It’s a rotting place, with walls shedding their skins and leaking ceilings
gripping rusty water. This is the furthest thing from the Ikea model home that
narrator thought he wanted. And it is the perfect birthplace
for the new man he will become. Remember, that a character is
defined by their environment. Fincher and his art department
are meticulous about it. Next — Color. David Fincher is not
a colorful director. Locations are typically color
graded to a uniform shade, either Green, Blue or Red. But without question, Fincher`s favorite
color is yellow. There are dozens of instances when he tints an
interior nighttime scene with yellow light. This is so consistent, in fact, that when Fincher does
include a contrasting color, it stands out that much more. It means something. Let`s look at this
scene from “Gone Girl.” -Because you know,
my wife disappeared from our home on the
morning of July 5th. -Notice, how color can draw
our eyes and our attention. All eyes are on Nick. Amy’s parents are both
in brown a neutral tones as is the background. Amy’s parents represent
a united front, dedicated fighting
their daughter. Nick’s blue shirt stands
out like a sore thumb, and the suspicion
around him is instant. -If anyone out there
has any information, please come forward. Thank you. -Nick is not visually connected
to them or their cause. He is alone, and remains the primary suspect. If you’re interested in
applying color theory, like Fincher does to
your own projects, check the description
for a free ebook that provides film color palettes
from some of your favorite films. Let’s move on. Cinematography. [Music] Fincher accomplishes a lot of
storytelling with his camera. A rack focus to capture a
character’s realisation. -Mark! -He turns to live-action
play out in wide frames, cutting to inserts and
close-ups, only when necessary. Fincher doesn’t move
the camera very often, but when he does there
is always a purpose. A tiny pan here, and ever so slight tilt there. It is all about identifying
with the character. If they move, we move. What is mastery of the
camera goes a step further. How does Fincher move the camera to
suggest a character’s mental state? In “Panic Room”,
we have two shots that illustrate a very specific
mental state – claustrophobia. In these early scenes, Meg is taking a
tour of a new house. -We like to call it a
“town stone” built-in 1879. -When the realtor shows
Meg the Panic Room. -It’s called a Panic Room. -And closes the door. It is here that we learn about
Meg`s fear of compact spaces. The camera pans around her while
zooming in, compressing space. You could feel the air being
sucked out of the room. -Oh my god. Old Sydney
didn`t miss a trick, did he? -Open it,please. -And with kids like he’s apparently got,
no wonder he wanted a place to hide. -Please open the door. -That is highly inappropriate. -Open the door, please. -We get a reversal of this shot
at the very end of the film. Now that Megan had
daughter have survived their harrowing home invasion. They are free of the Panic
Room, and the house altogether. The camera executes a dolly zoom by pushing forward
while zooming out. The character stay
the same size, but the world around
them opens up. All of the tension and
claustrophobia is now released. It breathes. The effect is subtle,
but meaningful. Fincher often uses camera
movements to align us with his characters
internal states. His camera movements
tend to be a subtle, or as grand as his
characters behavior. Next, let’s talk about Editing. Fincher edits with
the audience in mind. If the character
notices something, we see what they see. When a character makes
connections in their head, we are able to follow
their train of thought through purposeful shot
composition and editing. Here is a great example of
how to construct a scene using a combination of
framing, blocking and editing. Arthur Leу Allen is suspected
to be the Zodiac Killer when he is brought to a
room to answer questions. This scene is all about the
detective’s suspicions of Allen. He is the focus. We begin with a POV shot of what Alan sees
walking into the room. -Mr.Allen, I’m inspector Bill Armstrong,
it`s inspector Dave Toski and Sergeant Jack Mulanax. We’re investigating the Zodiac
murders in San Francisco in Vallejo. -When the men sit, they are positioned purposefully creating two opposing sides here and here. -Have you ever read or heard
anything about the Zodiac? -When it was first in paper, but I didn’t follow that
to those first reports. -The scene is edited through
various perspectives. -I told all this to
the other officer. -Which other officer? -Depending on who is talking and who is listening. -I told him that I’d gone
to Salt Point that weekend. -When Allen crosses his legs, we cut to a low angle shot in the same frame we can see detective
Mulanax notice the boot. We know what kind of
boots the Zodiac wears and when he notices the boot, we notice the boot. A similar moment happens
when detective Taski notices Allen’s zodiac watch. We have a close-up of Task`s
attention being drawn to Alan’s wrist. Followed immediately by a
POV insert of the watch. Again, we see these moments through the eyes of a detective. It engages our imagination and we become the detectives. -I guess,
I was there around that time. I used to go down there a lot. -We are given a quickly
paced series of shots. This creates a controlled
logical momentum that keeps the audience engaged and propels the story forward. We’ve created a breakdown, shot-by-shot, spec by spec. The link is in the description. Moving on. Sound. This is an area where David Fincher
typically has a light touch. Beyond the necessary sounds,
like a door closing or someone walking. David Fincher chooses more expressive
sound design moments carefully. A great example, is this scene from “Panic Room.” -Go. -As Make makes a daring attempt to retrieve her cell phone while
the intruders are distracted, the entire moment
is tensely drawn out with abstract and
delayed droning sounds. [Abstract sounds] In “Fight Club,” when the narrator
first encounters Marla Singer, a presence in his
world is disruptive. As he tries to
listen to the group, the narrator hears a loud click. When her lighter catches flame, we hear an exaggerated
sound effect, almost like a flamethrower. Marla has become a threat
to the narrator’s world. She is an invader. And we hear this through
the sound design. Perhaps Fincher’s best and most
expressive use of sound design can be found in “Gone Girl.” When Amy and Desi
are making love, make sure the young
ones are out of the room because the scene gets messy. We begin to hear a
slow rhythmic pulse. The sound and image combination
mimics this experience. Each parts like
a bleeding heart. And when the bleeding slows, the sound slows with it. Fincher uses sound
to creatively align with a character’s experience. If you want to use sound
design like David Fincher, keep these strategies in mind. Our final stop. Let us take a listen to
David Fincher`s Music. Music is yet another element that
Fincher uses with great purpose. Their inclusion is either
thematic or ironic. For irony, we have the haunting
subversion of Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” in “Zodiac.” -Man, you really creeped us out. [Donovan – Hurdy Gurdy Man] Or Enya`s peaceful and
innocent “Orinoco Flow” during a torture scene. [Enya – Orinoco Flow] But he also likes to
select songs with lyrics that echo the
themes of his films. [Pixies – Where is My Mind?] But let’s look at a scene that uses music to suggest
character setting and theme. The Henley Royal Regatta
in “The Social Network.” This sequence stands
out in Fincher`s work because it is crafted
completely around the music. In this case, we have a rendition of “In
the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg. The music is a classical
piece written in 1875, and matches the rich tradition
of the regatta itself, which has been
running since 1839. But this scene takes
place in the mid-2000s, and our story involves
the tech world. The composer’s – Trent
Reznor and Atticus Ross took the classical, and recreated it with a mix of
acoustic and electronic instruments. [Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross –
In the Hall of the Mountain King] It is a clash of old and new, classical and modern. The purpose is to convey
the Winklevoss twins upper-class pedigree, and their competitive
personalities. But the Winklevoss
twins lose their race. Just like they are losing
their battle with Zuckerberg. [Music] David Fincher is in complete
command of his medium. “Cut it. Moving on…” -He understands how techniques,
like a moving camera and editing can engage an audience on an emotional and
intellectual level. There are many lessons
to learn from Fincher, and what we’ve touched
upon here in this video is just the beginning. Are you inspired
by David Fincher movies? Do you want to continue your
exploration of his techniques? The studio behind a blog,
offers numerous articles and videos about filmmaking, and voters like Fincher. Click the bell icon to
subscribe to our channel and stay up-to-date
with videos like these. Which filmmaker
should we cover next? Share your suggestions
in the comments. It’s important to take
your filmmaking seriously, just don’t take it
as far as John Doe. “What I’ve done is going
to be puzzled over, and studied and followed forever.” “Yeah. Delusions of grandeur.” “You should be thanking me.” “Why is that, John?” “Because you’re going to
be remembered after this.”

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