Important Filmmaking Advice From David Fincher

Have you talked to experienced filmmakers? It's like attending a miniature film school where you can almost get a degree. Here are a few solid tips from David Fincher himself that you can apply to to small productions you may be in charge of.

As creative persons we have our own vision about the videos and films we make. However, in collaborations, and especially in commissioned projects, it's absolutely normal to face disapproval. You may like a certain camera angle and lighting, but it may not suit the actor or the client's facial features at all. Fincher's advice is to get your creative pride down and neither to agree because you want to be respectful to once's opinion nor to stick to your guns, because you are the great professional. You have to be objective in your judgment and it's the best ideas that should remain at the end.

When it comes to blaming someone for a film or a video, it's the captain of the ship. Taking full responsibility for the decision that are made during the production whether or not they were your ideas or someone else's is another advice from the director.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable asking your actors or clients to repeat their performance, because you didn't like it? Don't think it's just for narrative films. It's absolutely the same when a CEO gives a scripted interview for a corporate video. Would you say "It was great" and pass on to the next question, when it wasn't great at all? Fincher is famous for his multiple takes on a scene. While you might not have the nerve to ask someone to repeat their actions 50 or 75 times, you should know that at the end they would blame you for the bad take. If needed, explain to your actors or clients that you have to make that part as perfect as they allow you to and this will naturally happen by repetition until they get the performance flow comfortably with themselves.

Saying "no" to well-paid projects when they don't fit your vision or creative direction is an important skill according to David Fincher. This is because the days spent on a film or a video have to be absolutely worth it. Your most precious asset is time and you ought to highly value it.

Those are some of my favorite tips from David Fincher that were compiled by the guys from No Film School. Read their blog post to see the rest of the advice from the cinematographer.

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4 Comments

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

From the moment “sloth” sat up in bed, Ive been a life long fan. Contrary to popular opinion, I also love his contribution to he Alien canon. His darkness and lyricism of camera movement are genius.
Hadn’t seen this before. Thanks for pulling it out.

Mark Holtze's picture

Huge fan of this, it's this kind of stuff that made me want to get into filmmaking. Behind the scenes, commentary, philosophical discussions. This is 10000x more helpful than "how to make a speed ramp transition" for sure.

Very nice post, thanks for sharing.

Dear Ed. Advice should not be plural. “Important Filmaking Advice from...

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Thank you. Note taken.