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Creator / David Fincher

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"I don't know how much movies should entertain. To me, I'm always interested in movies that scar. The thing I love about Jaws is the fact that I've never gone swimming in the ocean again."

David Andrew Leo Fincher (born August 28, 1962) is an American filmmaker who's highly acclaimed for his gritty, stylish films.

After a brief stint working at Industrial Light & Magic on a few films (specifically Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), he started out directing commercials and music videos, most notably "Vogue" by Madonna. His movies tend to be very dark, both visually and thematically, and to evoke sensations of paranoia and claustrophobia. He is best known for Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network and Gone Girl. He was also a producer on the Netflix anthology Love, Death & Robots.

Fincher's directorial efforts:



Notable music videos directed by Fincher:

Notable tropes in David Fincher's career and films include:

  • Anti-Hero: These are the closest thing to a character worth rooting for in Fincher's work and it's usually a miracle of good writing and movie star charisma that they even reach that level.
  • Artistic Title: Several of his movies (such as Se7en and Fight Club, to name a few) make use of these.
  • Associated Composer: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (of Nine Inch Nails fame) have composed all of Fincher's films since The Social Network.
  • Award Bait: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is generally regarded as such.
  • Bittersweet Ending: If you're the lead in a Fincher film, this is pretty much the best you can hope for by the end of the story and with a heavy emphasis on the bitter part.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: His characters tend to be seriously flawed and damaged people and usually the only thing that makes them worth rooting for is that they're going up against someone who is either much less sympathetic, goes too far in their actions or is just flat out monstrous.
  • Color Wash: His films tend to alternate between having yellow/green and blue tints.
  • Deadpan Snarker: If there's any humor in his films, it's usually in this form. Listen to his commentaries and you'll find out he's a great one himself.
  • Downer Ending: His films don't tend to have happy endings. The best many of his characters can hope for is leave the film alive and without their life having gotten that much worse than it was at the start.
  • Fan Disservice: Oh yeah. Fincher just loves casting beautiful actors with their bodies on full display but in a manner which kills practically any possibility of arousal.
  • The Film of the Book: Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which doubles as a Foreign Remake) and Gone Girl.
  • Film Noir: Much of his work is at least influenced by noir, but especially Se7en, Zodiac, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: Characters are neither unambiguously good nor bad.
  • Odd Friendship: With Cameron Crowe. As detailed above, Fincher believes in movies that don't end well for its characters, while Crowe's outlook tends to be more optimistic, mostly making movies that are either Earn Your Happy Ending or, at worst, Bittersweet Ending. Yet when Fincher was having issues with getting the script to Fight Club right, he turned to Crowe for help, and it was Crowe who suggested fleshing out Tyler Durden.
  • Oscar Bait: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was widely accused of this, a sentimental, PG-13 fantasy/drama film with heavy similarities to (and the same screenwriter as) Forrest Gump, standing in stark contrast to the dark, edgy and subversive hard-R films that Fincher was known for. For better or worse, it worked: Benjamin Button received more Oscar nominations than all of Fincher's previous films combined.
  • Production Posse:
    • Brad Pitt has acted in three of Fincher's films, and was set to work with Fincher a fourth time on the World War Z sequel before it was cancelled; Rooney Mara, Jared Leto and Charles Dance have also made two films each with Fincher.
    • Producer Cean Chaffin (who is also Fincher's wife) has worked on all of his films since The Game (1997).
    • Costume designer Michael Kaplan worked with Fincher from 7 until Panic Room, while Trish Summerville has worked as costume designer on three of his films.
    • Editor James Haygood initially edited a number of Fincher's music videos before collaborating again with the director on The Game (1997), Fight Club and Panic Room. Fincher's most prominent editing collaborators have been Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter (together, they won the Best Film Editing Oscars for The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). Though past that, Fincher decided to solely work with Kirk Baxter alone.
    • Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth has shot four films for Fincher and before that was a mere camera operator on one film and second unit cinematographer on another; similarly, Conrad Hall Jr. has worked with him three times—the first two as camera operator and the third as cinematographer—while Claudio Miranda has also worked with him three times(twice as a gaffer and the third time as cinematographer); gaffer Chris Strong has worked with him twice. Darius Khondji worked with Fincher on 7 and was set to reteam with him on Panic Room before quitting several weeks into filming. And as of now, Erik Messerschmidt (his Mindhunter Cinematographer) has now replaced Cronenweth starting with Mank and is looking to reteam with Fincher on his upcoming movie, The Killer.
    • Donald Graham Burt has served as production designer for all Fincher's films since Zodiac, while Laray Mayfield has been casting director for all his films since Fight Club.
    • Ren Klyce and Skywalker Sound have done the sound design for all of Fincher’s work starting with 7.
    • Howard Shore composed music for 7, The Game (1997) and Panic Room; since The Social Network, all of Fincher's films have been scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
  • Signature Style: Dark neo-noirs with low Mood Lighting, a cold, claustrophobic feeling throughout and one or more gut-punch moments, often soundtracked by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, protagonists who could most charitably be described as troubled and antisocial, pitch black humor and usually a less than happy ending.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: The man certain isn't shy about swearing, as any interview of him can prove.
  • Stern Teacher: Widely known as a taskmaster, who will have actors do take after take after take until it's perfect. However, many actors end up respecting if not outright appreciating his methods, since he makes them do nothing he wouldn't do himself if it were possible and is known for being respectful and amicable towards those he works with, making the process far easier. Fincher also mentored Mark Ruffalo when the latter directed his first film, the two having worked together on Zodiac.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • He was considered to direct Spider-Man before Sam Raimi; his version would have covered the origin story in the opening credits and been based on "The Night Gwen Stacy Died".
    • Was considered to direct Catch Me If You Can, but turned it down in order to direct Panic Room.
    • Was originally set to direct Mission: Impossible III, before dropping out and being replaced by Joe Carnahan (who also walked from the project before J. J. Abrams was hired); Fincher's version would have dealt with the black market trade of body parts in Africa.
    • He was set to direct The Black Dahlia, but left during pre-production as he felt he would be unable to make the film exactly as he envisioned, being replaced by Brian De Palma.
    • He was hired to direct a remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for Disney in 2010, but the project fell apart after Fincher and Disney disagreed over casting (Fincher wanted to cast Channing Tatum as the lead, while Disney wanted to cast Chris Hemsworth).
    • He was selected to direct Steve Jobs in January 2014, but departed in April over contractual disputes.
    • He was set to reunite with Brad Pitt on a sequel to World War Z, which was ultimately cancelled in February 2019 due to Paramount's concerns over the film's budget, leading to Fincher moving on to direct Mank for Netflix instead.