Wits' Blog Camera Lens

David Fincher Directs the Eye

If you have seen landmark films like “Fight Club,” “Seven,” or “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” then you have experienced one of David Fincher’s captivating and unique rides. He’s done film, TV and several musical documentaries on everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Madonna. Having started in advertising, Fincher has the range and ambition that takes film to a new level.[1]

The award-winning director’s films frequently employ low-key lighting with cool colors, wide shots and low angles. He tells character back-stories with flashback sequences, and frequently collaborates with Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) for music.[2]

Fincher is probably best known for being a perfectionist, who will keep cast and crew working on a scene for hundreds of takes, until he feels it is right. He makes very specific choices with the camera that he wants to make sure translate well to the screen. [3] It is not enough for you to watch the movie. He wants to immerse you in the film experience. He uses the camera to take his audience on a ride. He sometimes has been known to use stationary shots with unfocused backgrounds and have characters walk into focus.[4]

Another technique that he uses, is following his subjects with the camera to create an “in-the-moment” experience for the moviegoer. When he focuses the camera squarely on his actors (including Brad Pitt, Jodie Foster, and Ed Norton, among others), the camera suddenly seems like an active participant in the film. The easiest way to think about it is that it creates a video game avatar effect.[5]

If a subject is walking, talking, gesturing, climbing a hill or wandering through the woods, the camera seems to be bumping right along with them. Each movement from the actor creates a whole new shot. This type of filming sucks the watcher into the movie, in a way that few other techniques can achieve.[6]

Having become one of Hollywood’s most well-respected directors, Fincher has an innate skill for communicating with the audience without saying a word: “As a director, film is about how you dole out the information, so that the audience stays with you when they’re supposed to stay with you, behind you when they’re supposed to stay behind you, and ahead of you when they’re supposed to stay ahead of you.”[7]

[1] https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000399/

[2] https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000399/

[3] https://www.polygon.com/2017/11/10/16634700/david-fincher-camera-movement

[4] https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000399/

[5] https://www.polygon.com/2017/11/10/16634700/david-fincher-camera-movement

[6] https://www.polygon.com/2017/11/10/16634700/david-fincher-camera-movement

[7] https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000399/bio?ref_=nm_dyk_qt_sm#quotes

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