David Fincher video essay

Things that are absent can be just as important as what is present. When talking about directors, the classic approach is to focus on the “positive space,” to appropriate a concept. What does the director do? They use handheld or dolly shots in a certain way; maybe they have a consistent approach to blocking two-shots and conversations; perhaps they consistently use close-ups to deliver information to the audience.

And then there’s the negative space. What does a director not do? What do they avoid, and why? With the release of Gone Girl, many people (including us!) are looking back at the consistent filmmaking techniques and concerns employed by David Fincher. A new video essay from “Every Frame a Painting” editor Tony Zhou focuses on the elements that are absent from Fincher’s technique. Why does he avoid close-ups and hand-held shots? What does his positioning of actors tell us about a scene? There’s a lot of information in the great David Fincher video essay, and I expect many people will view Fincher’s work a bit differently after watching.

Watch this whole thing, because if you haven’t seen the interview with Fincher that provides the very last bit you’re going to love it.

On the essay’s Vimeo page Zhou explains:

For sheer directorial craft, there are few people working today who can match David Fincher. And yet he describes his own process as “not what I do, but what I don’t do.” Join me today in answering the question: What does David Fincher not do?

(There’s also a YouTube version, if you’d prefer to watch it there for some reason.)

For more on Fincher’s work, check out our look back at his feature career.

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