October 2010

David Fincher


in conversation with

Mark Romanek


“The screenwriter has given you the greatest gift, which is he’s given you something that inspires somebody to make the right mistake.”
Things David Fincher enjoys about filmmaking:
Reading a good script
Pre-production meetings

Things he hates about filmmaking:
Every single additional thing about it

David Fincher’s film career began at the age of nineteen as an assistant cameraman at Industrial Light & Magic. In 1983, he relocated to Los Angeles to direct TV commercials and music videos. His commercial clients include Adidas, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Pepsi, and Nike. David has directed music videos for various artists including Madonna, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, and A Perfect Circle. In 1987 he cofounded Propaganda Films with Dominic Sena, Greg Gold, and Nigel Dick, and has since become a motion-picture director with Panic Room, Fight Club, The Game, Se7en, Zodiac, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button among his credits. His next film, The Social Network, is slated to be released this month.

Mark Romanek was born in Chicago. Romanek has directed numerous award-winning music videos for many artists including Fiona Apple, Beck, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Coldplay, R.E.M., and Sonic Youth. Romanek wrote and directed the feature film One Hour Photo starring Robin Williams. The film had its world premiere at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, and received the Prix du Public, Prix Premiere, and the Prix du Jury at the 2002 Deauville American Film Festival. His new film, Never Let Me Go, will be released this month.

Fincher and Romanek first met in 1990, when Romanek was signed to Satellite Films. Satellite was a “boutique” division of Propaganda Films, where Fincher was a director, and a music-video legend. The two directors spoke by phone for the Believer in early August 2010.


DAVID FINCHER: Well, I’m always amazed at how you can have these very almost secret conversations with the writer about what you hope people will take away from the film. But you don’t want to overplay that, because you don’t want it to be preachy. So then you go and shoot, and you’re completely frazzled, and the generator breaks down, and everybody stands around for an hour, and you literally digest your colon, and are looking for some weapon to take your own life. By the time you cut the movie, you’ve given up on that thing you talked about, which would’ve been such a nice, interesting little filigree or frisson. And then one day you listen to somebody talking about the movie, and they talk about the thing that you were positive never made it into the movie. It’s such a weird thing when you go, I was sure that I cut it or that the actor rushed it or it didn’t get underlined enough….

MARK ROMANEK: You’re dealing with the most tangible, kind of prosaic things in the world, like generators breaking down, and locations crapping out, and the weather not cooperating, and union rules, and the crane that didn’t show up. And yet, at the same time, you’re expected to weave some sort of magic with the most esoteric, indefinable intangibles.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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