April 1, 2016

Capturing David Fincher's Nightmarish Reality: A Video Tribute to DP Jeff Cronenweth

Meet the man responsible for capturing David Fincher's nightmarish vision.

There is a strange dichotomy at work in the films of David Fincher: a peculiar atmosphere that is both nightmarish and realistic, familiar yet completely foreign. And the one who manages to capture this on film is cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth.

A beautiful video tribute by Josh Maczinski is making its rounds online, revealing his unique cinematic style in Fincher's films, but also explores his haunting work in HitchcockMan and Beast, and One Hour Photo. Check it out below:

Cronenweth's frequent collaboration with Fincher began when he worked as a camera operator on Seven. Since then, he has lensed the director's most celebrated films, including Gone Girl, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Fight Club. Their collaborative effort has resulted in films with atmospheres that marry the seedy underbelly of human psychology with the dark, fantastical side of the doldrums of everyday life.

A post by Maaz Kahn of DIY Photography compiles a ton of Cronenweth's insight into how he and Fincher captured the look and feel of these films, noting how he often shoots with wide angle lenses to create a hyper-real look while still lighting scenes in a realistic way. The result is an eerie, unsettling shot. 

'Fight Club' (1999)

Cronenweth details his approach to lighting Fight Club:

"Many practical locations are lit by fluorescents in the ceiling, so we purposefully tried to maintain that element of reality. Toplight seemed to help with the prosthetics as well, by showing off the integrity of the wounds without revealing too much.

In all of the ‘normal’ reality situations, the look was supposed to be fairly bland and realistic. For the scenes when he is with Tyler, though, David wanted the look to be more hyper-real in a torn-down, deconstructed sense — a visual metaphor of what he’s heading into."

"The Social Network"
"Fight Club"
What's your favorite Cronenweth film? What do you appreciate about his approach to cinematography? Let us know in the comments!      

Your Comment

15 Comments

Love Jeff Cronenweth, really don't hear about him as much as deakins and lubezki unfortunately. He should jump on the Alexa 65 train though, would love to see the digital 70mm format being used on his artistic look

April 1, 2016 at 11:03AM, Edited April 1, 11:03AM

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Too bad hes stuck with Fincher who is a Red fan boy

April 1, 2016 at 11:22AM

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Matt Nunn
Amateur
408

Good thing RED products are amazing.

April 1, 2016 at 12:11PM

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Josh Maczinski
Creative Storyteller | Filmmaker
109

Dude, did you just join no film school to post that? Have you used a RED? You know Sony, Arri, film exist right?

April 1, 2016 at 11:22PM

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Yes, and yes. Have you ever touched one? They have revolutionized what it means to be an independent filmmaker. If Fischer and Cronenweth chose to use it, then amen to that. Brilliant products for a margin of the cost. Honestly I have nothing against other manufacturers, and I know there are subjectively "better" products out there. I'm always open to hardware and mediums. Honestly though, I'd love to see your work on an ARRI and on RED, so we can breakdown the differences. Do you actually shoot?

April 3, 2016 at 9:38PM

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Josh Maczinski
Creative Storyteller | Filmmaker
109

hehe if only you knew my history with RED.... keep doing u booboo

April 3, 2016 at 10:53PM

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I'd love to! Tis why I asked booboo. Didn't see anything of yours posted online (vimeo, youtube, imdb, etc). Do you have any examples? Honestly, I'm new to no film school, and I would love to know why they suck!

April 4, 2016 at 9:22PM

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Josh Maczinski
Creative Storyteller | Filmmaker
109

Hi Nick, I'd also love to hear what happened between you and RED. It seems like you were praising them in older threads, and now you can't stand them.

April 5, 2016 at 2:48PM

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Rich Brown
Director, Producer
196

Leaning towards the fact that he has no experience with RED.

April 6, 2016 at 3:48PM

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Josh Maczinski
Creative Storyteller | Filmmaker
109

I feel the same way. So much of David Fincher's films are only ever attributed to Fincher himself. No doubt Fincher has a large influence in hows it's shot but exactly how you put it, Cronenweth doesn't have as much of a cult interest in his films compared to Chivo or Deakins.

April 1, 2016 at 8:21PM

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Ben Develin
Filmmaker
143

John Toll, Robert Richardson, and Kaminski are also not talked about much.

April 1, 2016 at 11:27PM

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I'm sure he'll be a Vista Vision 8k guy.

April 8, 2016 at 1:46PM, Edited April 8, 1:46PM

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David Fincher is a genius, I am huge fan of Fight Club. What's weird is the fact, that the film is better than the book! Great article :)

April 1, 2016 at 12:40PM

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He's nowhere as good as his father.

April 1, 2016 at 5:16PM, Edited April 1, 5:16PM

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Mooey
222

I mean his style is different

April 1, 2016 at 11:23PM

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I wont lie. I love to copy Fincher/Cronenweth style.

April 4, 2016 at 6:41AM, Edited April 4, 6:41AM

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