Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fincher Wrestles With Another Cinematographer

After the infamous disagreements on Panic Room that lead to Darius Khondji leaving the project - it seems like Fincher was too stubborn and ignorant to heed his DP's good advice, and it ended up costing him - the director has now wrestled with Harris Savides, the cinematographer of Zodiac.

The American Cinematographer website has the goodies, but here's some key quotes and their translations.

"I was concerned about the amount of non-cinematic information that had to be conveyed onscreen. There was so much exposition, just people talking on the phone or having conversations. It was difficult to imagine how it could be done in a visual way. I told David we had to figure out ways to make these scenes interesting and cinematic, but our solution was the opposite: to simply have faith in the material and present it truthfully"

really means, I think

"This film is a bunch of dull talking heads and Fincher failed to find any suitable cinematic way to tell the story. This script was better suited to radio in the first place."

and when Harris says

"To my eye, the Viper’s digital images have a synthetic quality that is at odds with what we were trying to do. It’s hard to put an audience in a darkened theater and screen ‘reality’ for them, because the whole thing is a falsehood. But if you have a synthetic image like the Viper’s — which reminds me a bit of the vivid, colorful look of a cibachrome photo — you’re taken right out of the story"

and then David says

"Harris initially thought the image looked a little ‘plastic-y,’ but I thought that helped us"

it becomes even more clear that they were at odds. Later, Harris spells his doubts out again

"Nevertheless, after day 30, I was asking myself if we were on the right path! I was worried our approach could result in a boring movie, but we just had to have faith in the script and the dogma we’d designed."

As I understand it, Zodiac really is quite a dull film. I'm curious to see it myself - Fincher has talked up his restrained approach this time, but I spotted the odd flash of baroque nonsense in the trailer.

There's lots more doubting from Savides if you read the entire piece. And bear in mind, he's trying really hard to not sound negative here. Imagine what would pour out if he wasn't trying to promote the film?


Rob said...

zodiac isn't boring at all. you don't need camera tricks if the story is interesting. i'd have to agree with fincher on that one.

Brendon said...

I agree that an interesting story doesn't need camera tricks. But we're not in agreement with David here, Rob. There ARE camera tricks in Zodiac. I've seen them myself, in just the trailer and clips.

But it wasn't TRICKS I was talking about. It was a cinematic way of telling the story and not just a series of talking heads.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Brendon - I saw Zodiac on it's release and it's terrific filmmaking. Fincher is remarkably restrained - few of his usual flashy (though admittedly entertaing) techniques are on show here, and it makes the film flow all the better. It's a long film, and I'm already looking forward to the rumoured 'directors cut' on DVD with more R.D.Jr.. Who, pray tell, is filling you with nonsense like 'Zodiac is dull'??! Send them off to Norbit whoever they are..good riddance!

Anonymous said...

Hang on.. it's Rob I agree with, not Brendon..my bad.

Again, Zodiac is NOT full of the usual 'Fincherisms' and it's GREAT. Very cinematic, like All the President's Men is cinematic!