In This Retrospective, David Fincher Imparts Some Major Wisdom on Directing Films

David Fincher is one of those filmmakers working today whose work is still as exciting today as it was at the beginning of his career.

His films offer extreme commentaries on the dark sides of humanity. John Doe, Tyler Durden, Martin Vanger, and Amy Dunne are all vehicles for not only demonstrating just how ugly, powerful, and dynamic a villainous character can be, but also how corruptive their influence can be to those around them.

From Se7en to Gone Girl, Fincher discusses his work with BAFTA Guru in this episode of A Life in Pictures.

There are a ton of great pieces of wisdom that Fincher imparts in the video. Here are a few takeaways that I thought were particularly edifying:

Don't "fall victim to other people's laziness"

Being a jack-of-all-trades and knowing your way around all phases, roles, and tools of film production is going to not only make you an asset on-set, but it's going to keep you independent and free to create the films that you want to create, because you can rely on your own knowledge and skill to get things done. 

Sometimes taking risks pays off in big ways

When Fincher read the script for Se7en, he was shocked not only to see that John Doe turns himself in in the end, but that the scene happens so late in the movie. It broke convention and posed a great risk for the filmmakers, but it was clearly one of the most important and memorable scenes in the entire film and ended up paying off in a big way.

Give your actors more "bites of the apple"

Some directors try not to shoot too many takes for fear of wearing out their actors, but Fincher insists on not only getting his money's worth (if producing a film is going to cost so much, you'd better get it right), but giving his actors the chance to get so comfortable with the material and environment that they no longer rely on muscle memory -- they start to really own the space they're working in as if it's "their home."

That video just showcased the highlights, so if you want to see the full conversation, head on over to BAFTA Guru and check it out    

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Your Comment


Thank you for this article NFS!

January 7, 2015 at 8:06AM

Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor

Love Fincher! Dude is brilliant!

January 7, 2015 at 8:17AM

Terrell Lamont
Director, Director of Photography

Love the article but whoever edited that video needs an adderall.

Most manic cutting I've seen recently.

January 7, 2015 at 12:51PM, Edited January 7, 12:51PM

Brandon Kelley

Completely agree. That was a horribly distracting edit! Way more angles than necessary

March 18, 2015 at 11:19AM

Katherine Axiotis

Fincher is Brilliant!... I've been taking him way more serious since Gone Girl. Nice Article

January 8, 2015 at 7:45AM

Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op

I found this both entertaining and informative. Thanks NFS for posting!

January 12, 2015 at 11:23AM

Uriah Herr
Director/ Producer