Watch a Sharp Video Essay Break Down What David Fincher Doesn’t Do

By  · Published on October 8th, 2014

The great Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting has returned with a new video which breaks down David Fincher’s techniques, specifically the things the director doesn’t do. How do self-imposed limitations strengthen shots? How can people talking become cinematic? How many insides of refrigerators can Fincher show us?

It’s an excellent, brief examination (7 minutes) that’s probably fascinating to watch just before seeing or re-seeing Gone Girl, particularly the segments on using empty space to share information. You can imagine how zooming in on a broken coffee table offers a nice emotional kick with only a few seconds of screen time, or how staging a young detective far away from the distraught husband might tell you how he feels about him.

There are two notes I’d add to this video essay. One, Fincher achieves a great deal of his impressive visuals thanks to a longstanding partnership with DP Jeff Cronenweth (son of Blade Runner DP Jordan Cronenweth), who has also done excellent, often complicated work alongside Mark Romanek and Kathryn Bigelow.

Two, Fincher has spoken before about filmmaking as a ballet whose challenge and objective is to balance a host of moving parts to create something that works on multiple levels. (Granted, he also referred to The Game as guilty pleasure popcorn fiction and Panic Room as a what-you-see-is-what-you-get home invasion thriller, so he’s got perspective.) In doing so, he recognizes that the actors on screen are the focus, but shouldn’t monopolize interest. That’s bolstered by the examination here where empty space, inanimate objects and camera style are all shown to enhance sequences where actors (talented as they are) deliver exposition.

At any rate, you should consider supporting Zhou’s work. Each video he makes is better than the last.

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