David Fincher Biography
David Andrew Leo Fincher is an American film director and music video director. Known for his dark and stylish thrillers, such as Seven (1995), The Game (1997), Fight Club (1999), Panic Room (2002), and Zodiac (2007), Fincher received Academy Award nominations for Best Director for his 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and his 2010 film The Social Network, which also won him the Golden Globe award for Best Director.
Early Life And Career
Fincher was born on August 28, 1962, in Denver, Colorado, the son of Claire Mae (née Boettcher), a mental health nurse who worked in drug addiction programs, and Howard Kelly Fincher, who worked as a bureau chief for Life under the name Jack Fincher.
When Fincher was two years old, the family moved to San Anselmo in Marin County, California. Fincher moved to Ashland, Oregon, in his teens, where he graduated from Ashland High School. Inspired by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Fincher began making movies at the age of eight with an 8 mm camera.
Fincher got a job of loading cameras and doing other hands-on work for John Korty’s Korty Films. He was later hired by Industrial Light & Magic in 1980, where he worked on productions for Twice Upon a Time, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In 1984, he left ILM to direct a commercial for the American Cancer Society, that would show a fetus smoking a cigarette.
This quickly brought Fincher to the attention of the producers in Los Angeles and he was given the chance to direct the documentary The Beat of the Live Drum featuring Rick Springfield in 1985. Though he would continue to direct spots for companies like Revlon, Converse, Nike, Pepsi, Sony, and Levi's, Fincher soon discovered music videos and went on to direct many promos.
Set on a directing career, Fincher joined video-production company Propaganda Films and started off directing music videos and commercials. Like Fincher, other directors such as Meiert Avis, David Kellogg, Michael Bay, Antoine Fuqua, Neil LaBute, Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek, Michel Gondry, Paul Rachman, Zack Snyder, Gore Verbinski, and Alex Proyas honed their talents at Propaganda Films before moving on to feature films.
Fincher directed big-budget music videos for artists such as Madonna (including "Express Yourself", "Vogue", "Oh Father" and "Bad Girl"), Billy Idol ("Cradle of Love"), Paula Abdul (including "[It's Just] The Way That You Love Me", "Straight Up", "Forever Your Girl" and "Cold Hearted"), Aerosmith ("Janie's Got a Gun"), The Rolling Stones (including "Love Is Strong"), Nine Inch Nails ("Only"), A Perfect Circle ("Judith"), Jody Watley (including "Real Love" and "Most of All"), Rick Springfield, Steve Winwood, Neneh Cherry ("Heart"), George Michael ("Freedom '90"), The Motels "Shame", Michael Jackson ("Who Is It"), The Wallflowers, Wire Train and The Outfield, including "All the Love (in the World)", "Every Time You Cry" and "No Surrender".
After directing several music videos, Fincher's feature debut was Alien 3 (1992). While it received an Oscar nomination for special effects, the film was not well received by the critics or moviegoers. Fincher became involved with several disputes with 20th Century Fox over script and budget issues. In "The Director’s Cut", he blames the producers for not putting the necessary trust in him. After this, Fincher retreated back into the world of commercial and music video directing, including the video for the Grammy Award winning track "Love Is Strong" (1994) by The Rolling Stones.
In 1995, Fincher directed Seven. The film, based on a screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker, told the story of two detectives (played in the movie by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) tracking down a serial killer who bases his killings on the seven deadly sins. The film grossed more than $100 million domestically (over $300 million internationally).
The chairman of New Line Cinema, Arnold Kopelson, originally refused to allow filming of the shocking climactic scene. With the aid of Brad Pitt, who stated that he would not be involved with the picture if its ending were changed, Fincher was allowed to film the original scene and use it in the final cut.
After the success of Seven, Fincher went on to film The Game (1997). The story focused on a closed off San Francisco businessman (played by Michael Douglas) who receives an unusual gift from his younger brother (Sean Penn), in which he becomes the main player of a role-playing game that takes over his life. It was well received by critics despite middling box-office returns.
Fight Club was a screen adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name about an insomniac office worker who opens up a club devoted exclusively to bare knuckle fighting for men. Featuring Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, and Seven collaborator Brad Pitt, the 1999 film was an early disappointment at the box-office and received mixed reviews. Fight Club was panned by several critics and alienated audiences leading to its box office failure in the United States.
However, many critics and audiences later changed their perceptions and the film appeared on many 'best of the year' lists and soon developed a following. Entertainment Weekly, which had originally given the film a negative grade of D, later ranked the DVD #1 on its list of 50 Essential DVDs. Exceptional sales have since established it as a cult film.
In 2006, the British magazine Total Film voted Fight Club number four in the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, beaten only by Jaws, Vertigo and Goodfellas at 3, 2 and 1, respectively.
In 2002, Fincher followed up with the thriller Panic Room. Though the film pulled in over $92 million at the U.S. box office, it was not as well received by critics as Seven, Fight Club or The Game. The story follows a single mother (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart) as they hide in a safe room of their new house, away from criminals (Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam and Fight Club collaborator Jared Leto) bent on finding a missing fortune.
Fincher acknowledged Panic Room as a more mainstream thriller, describing the film, on the DVD's audio commentary, as "a date movie" and a "really good B movie" about "two people trapped in a closet".
Five years after Panic Room, Fincher returned on March 2, 2007, with Zodiac, an adaptation of Robert Graysmith’s books about the hunt for the Zodiac Killer that starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr., Anthony Edwards, and Brian Cox. The first of Fincher’s films to be shot digitally, the majority of the film was recorded on a Thompson Viper Film Stream Camera.
However, high-speed film cameras were used for the Blue Rock Springs and Presidio Heights murder scenes for the slow-motion shots. It was originally to be released in the fall of 2006 but was pushed back after Fincher refused to cut 20 minutes of the film.
Zodiac was one of the best-reviewed films of that year, with only two other 2007 films appearing on more top-10 lists (No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood). However, the film struggled at the box office in the U.S., earning only $33 million, but did well overseas with a foreign gross of $51.7 million.
Worldwide, Zodiac was a decent success. Despite an aggressive campaign by the studio, expectations surrounding Robert Downey, Jr.’s supporting performance, Fincher’s direction and Vanderbilt’s adapted script, the film did not earn a single Academy Award nomination.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
A story about life and death, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story of the same name. The film was Fincher’s third with Brad Pitt. The film started shooting in November 2006 in New Orleans, before moving on to the Virgin Islands, Montreal, and LA.
Both Zodiac and this film are co-productions of Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. The budget for the film was estimated at $150 million, partly due to the CGI effects used to reverse the ageing in Brad Pitt’s character. The film is the first PG-13 film directed by Fincher. It received 13 nominations at the 81st Academy Awards, including Fincher's first nomination for Best Director.
The Social Network
Fincher directed the 2010 film The Social Network, about the legal battles of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. The film features a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, adapted from the book The Accidental Billionaires. Featuring a young cast ensemble, the film is produced by Scott Rudin, Kevin Spacey and Michael DeLuca.
Filming started in October 2009 and was released a year later, to critical acclaim. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross created the soundtrack for the film, Fincher had long been a fan of Reznor's work in Nine Inch Nails even putting a remix of "Closer" in the beginning of Seven and directing the music video for "Only". Fincher was awarded Best Director at the 2011 Golden Globes for this film. The film also won Best Original Score and Best Picture (Drama) at the same award show.
On November 1, 2007, Variety reported that Fincher was attached to do an adaptation of a French graphic novel called The Killer by Alexis Nolent, which was optioned by Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, with Pitt attached to star in the film. Scripted by Allesandro Camon, the film is about a top assassin, with his conscience getting the better of him, and a cop on his tail.
The Reincarnation Of Peter Proud
An announcement was made on November 9, 2009, that Andrew Kevin Walker and David Fincher will re-team for the remake of the 1975 film The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. This marks the fifth time that Andrew Kevin Walker and Fincher worked together. Walker wrote Fincher's 1995 thriller Seven, did uncredited rewrites for Fight Club and The Game and made a cameo appearance in Panic Room.
On September 5, 2008, Firstshowing.net reported that Matt Damon is in talks to play Eliot Ness in Ness with Fincher lined up to direct an adaptation of the graphic novel Torso by Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko, and that the producers were looking for locations in Cleveland, Ohio.
Variety reported that Paramount Pictures will make another animated film with David Fincher, based on the Heavy Metal comics. Fincher was set to direct one of the film’s eight or nine segments, which also featured other directors such as animator Tim Miller and magazine owner and publisher Kevin Eastman directing another.
The film is envisioned as being an animated, adult-themed R-rated film. On July 14, 2008, Paramount Pictures announced that the movie is put on hold. On September 4, 2008, it was announced the film was to be made by Columbia Pictures, and a few of the directors attached to make a segment each include Zack Snyder, Gore Verbinski and Guillermo del Toro as well as James Cameron.
Variety reported that Fincher will direct an adaptation of the comic limited series Black Hole. Set in the ’70s, the plot follows teenagers who spread “the Bug,” a fictional, incurable STD that causes the sexually-active to develop horrific physical deformities, as well as those who didn’t catch it but reacted to the plague. At one point, Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman were attached to adapt the screenplay in 2006.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Fincher was attached to direct 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for Walt Disney Pictures, based on the Jules Verne novel of the same name.
Rendezvous With Rama
Fincher had been attempting to make this science fiction film for years with Morgan Freeman in the lead. At first in 2008, Fincher announced he was no longer making the film due to Freeman's health, but Freeman said in late 2010 that Fincher is "still part of the conversation."
Fincher often casts certain actors more than once in his films. Fincher has consistently worked with Richmond Arquette, Bob Stephenson, Christopher John Fields, Brad Pitt and Joel Bissonnette.