You Better Be F—ing Serious:
David Fincher on Directing

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"It was great. It's an adult movie, it's f—ing hard-R, and they were getting out of my way and let me do what I wanted to do," is what director David Fincher has to say of the experience of working on his new thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. FincherFanatic finally had the chance to meet Fincher face to face, and caught up with him during the final days of editing.

First things first, David Fincher isn't one for vanity press. He didn't enter the movie business to become a celebrity. And that may be a reason why it is still rare and hard to get an interview with the man – particularly on camera – perhaps moreso if you are writing a blog about him. "You know, I don't even like looking at my driver's license," Fincher says. "If I had wanted to be a celebrity, I wouldn't have picked this lonely job, that requires you to stay in a room in the dark, watching TV all the time." The very reason he started out directing music videos and commercials was because there was no screen credit, just a convenient opportunity to learn the craft and get paid for it. In internet times, to see these works from the past rear their heads is not much to Fincher's liking. Which is why our conversation begins with his blunt question: Why would anyone in their right mind write a blog about him?

Fincher doesn't like to read about himself, nor does he like to be recognized. A two-fold discomfort: For one, Fincher doesn't want to be made aware of expectations towards his work. And understandably so: "There are so many things I wouldn't have done, if I had listened to that," he says. And as for being recognized, he adds: "You know, I used to live next door to George Lucas. When I was ten years old, he was the guy who had done THX 1138. By the time I was twelve, he was the guy who did American Graffiti. By the time I was fifteen, he had done Star Wars. By the time Star Wars came out, this guy couldn't go anywhere in town. He couldn't walk into some place and not be the focus of it. One of the things I like about being a director is, when your plane is late, you are doing homework. Because you are sitting there in the lounge, listening to people talk. That's your job. When you become the focus, when people feel like 'I can't act like myself, because that's the guy who did whatever', all of a sudden you lose an advantage."

It's an intriguing motive for Fincher's publicity aversion. Yet each Oscar nomination and the anticipated roll-out of Sony's marketing campaign for Dragon Tattoo are not going to make that any easier – let alone Fincher's likely next, Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; a 100+ million dollar CG family adventure.

Fincher feels awkward at the thought, that he himself could have become an icon for a young generation of filmmakers. "Now, I understand Spielberg, Hitchcock, even to a certain extent George Lucas," he says – and thinks. But whether he likes it or not, 'Fincher' has long become a brand name. Still the director upholds his protest: "I don't want to be a Winchell's Donut. Even if my last name is 'Winchell'. I want to be able to make something like Zodiac. I mean, shouldn't your movies, if they are truly personal, change the way you change? Every seven years all of the cells in our bodies change, everything is in this process of evolution; so the notion that the director is a brand–?"

Well. Coincidentally, the theatrical trailer for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo reads, 'a David Fincher film', and 'directed by David Fincher'. Fincher's disapproval isn't very well hidden: "None of the trailers that I ever cut had my f—ing name on them. As I never tire of telling the marketing department, 'Remember, Se7en was from the director of Se7en, too, but it didn't say it on the poster.' So I work hard to fight against whatever my brand is. I would like my brand to stand for 'works really hard', 'tries to make it as good as he possibly can'. If the brand is, 'it's gonna be dark and grainy,' I have no interest in that. It's just too reductive. It's just too stupid."

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35 comments:

  1. Finally getting Fincher's attention must feel like quite an achievement for all the hard work you've put into this blog. Well diserved for a soon to be 5th anniversary of Fincher Fanatic.com!

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  2. And put a pdf version so we can print it!

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  3. Sweet Jesus... that was absolutely fantastic read. Congrats FincherFanatic!!!

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  4. Wow... congratulations! I'm interested: how did you get to meet him?

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  5. Amazing piece FincherFantic:)

    My God:)

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  6. Great job, FF! A terrific interview! When you put up a PDF, could you give us a lead-in into how you landed the interview, where it took place, etc.? Set the mood for us for this terrific yarn of an interview? You guys are doing excellent work.

    Also, I was wondering whether you guys have linked to the FULL Stockholm press conference? Is that the one being referred to in the following Comment ("A quick one for those who have and those who haven't yet checked out the Dragon Tattoo press conference posted by Mikez. Here's another short one-on-one with David Fincher!")?

    Thanks!

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  7. Thanks for the great interview. I'm full of envy :)

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  8. http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/david-fincher-says-the-original-swedish-dragon-tattoo-movie-did-a-good-job-given-the-limited-budget

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  9. love how he says fuck like... like all the time!! lol. hats off, great job!

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  10. Fantastic. I loved reading this. Thanks so much.

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  11. what is hidden in the snow,November 25, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    People are pleased with the enveloppe .
    When others just want to read the letter,
    nevermind!

    I guess they prefer the form then the content..

    -what is the best way to discribe a fruit?
    Is it by talking about its colour, its size or where it is from?
    -Or is it by tasting it!?


    I guess this is the amercican way!!!

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  12. You got Fincher? Very happy to read that. Congrats!!

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  13. Very, very, very cool. AMAZING read.

    Thanks Fanatic.

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  14. We're adults, David Fincher's audience is mature, and "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is R-rated: why is the article censored? Why can't "fuck" be said?

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  15. And you forgot a "fuck", in your haste to worry about the sensitive eyes of others: "Because the film business is filled with shut-up and sit-the-fuck-down."

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  16. Yeah, I know I missed a couple, really glad you noticed.
    But guess what: I don't give a f%#*!

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  17. Thanks for the PDF.

    I hope this will become the new tradition on the blog... and you will have an exclusive interview for us, whenever a new Fincher movie is made :)

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  18. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ogz4Q19baRA

    More video from swedish tv

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  19. cool story, thanks. but dude, your site is fucking slow. do something! it loads like half a minute..

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  20. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1sLrcf_7PQ

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Press Conference in Stockholm

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  21. Site loads really quickly for me, check your internet connection or call your local service provider.

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  22. @what is hidden in snow: great poem!

    What I got from this exclusive interview (way to go fincherfanatic!)is that Fincher is basically saying to all his fanatics is: don't get too caught up in looking at him but follow our own stories and don't let anyone say shut-the-fuck-up!

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  23. http://mouth-taped-shut.com/post/13358492646/you-better-be-f-ing-serious-david-fincher-on

    !!!!!!!!!

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  24. Hell yeah! Let the people know that THIS site is the BEST when it comes to All-Things-Fincher ;)

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  25. Absolutely incredible writing and interview.

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  26. What is great about this interview is that it captures Fincher's creative spirit. Most Fincher interviews say the same thing but in this interview the reader gets a glimpse at his creative process.

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  27. This is the thing I was looking for. Its almost like getting into finchers head and looking at things the way he does. Of course not even close to being Fincher but atleast close enough. Do you have a an audio file for the interview? I'd like to listen to all these stuff as a podcast while i work. I hope Fincher reads this and makes an audio interview to help budding filmmakers, inspire us and set us on a path to filmmaking.

    Thank You for this awesome interview.

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  28. I really like what he has to say about his brand or non-brand, like the "dark and grainy" part. That was hilarious. I also like how all the big directors seem to hang out with one another, like Spielberg and Scorsese and so on.

    Great job, fincherfanatic!! Thanks so much.

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  29. I cannot believe you scored an interview. Lucky bastard! Massive thanks to Fincher for taking the time and sharing his views.

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  30. finally someone is asking him the right questions! not just: "so you do alot of takes, huh?"

    this will go down in history as one of his best interviews.

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  31. Brilliant interview indeed. Says as much about Fincher as about his craft. Very well worth printing and reading while commuting ;-)

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  32. Why is this not on your front page??? I just found this by accident. This is easily one of the best interviews I ever read with Fincher and I read every single one he does. Wow, how did I miss this!? Mind = blown.

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