In the footsteps of David Fincher
David Fincher at the movies
Renowned for his perfectionism, David Fincher is also known for his many successful productions. Since 1985, the director has made many film buffs dream and has contributed to the fame of certain places thanks to his creations.
14th Precinct – Seven
The fourteenth district is actually a building formerly owned by the National Biscuit Company and converted into a residence. Named Biscuit Company Lofts, these apartments attract many celebrities. Kevin Spacey, Ichiro Suzuki and Vincent Gallo each bought one. The script of the film has been somewhat modified because of Brad Pitt. During the chase scene with the killer, the actor broke his arm, forcing the production to revise the script so as not to delay shooting.
Support Group – Fight Club
Edward Norton’s support group meets in this church. Built in 1927, it was also used in the 1953 film, War of the Worlds but also in Armageddon and Spider-Man 3. The feature film was inspired by Chuck Palahniuk’s eponymous novel. He came up with the idea for Fight Club after a weekend with friends during which campers beat the author up. On Monday, at work, none of his colleagues asked him about the marks on his face, giving him an idea of the story. In another scene, Edward Norton punches Brad Pitt in the ear. If the move is so spectacular and Brad Pitt’s reaction so mythical, it’s because David Fincher once asked Edward Norton to hit his colleague for real.
Meg and Sarah’s House – Panic Room
The interiors of the house were built at Raleigh Studios on a budget of $6 million. The panic room in question, in which are entrenched Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart), measured 1.8 metres by 4.3 metres. Three versions were built plus a digital 3D version to allow David Fincher to realize his sequence shot.
House – The Strange Story of Benjamin Button
Built in 1832, this house was used many times for Benjamin Button. Named Nolan House, the house had been inhabited for three generations by the Nolan family, whose daughter, Ashley, plays a doctor in the film. In 2010, the property was sold at auction for $2.85 million. With Déjà Vu, released in 2006, the feature film was one of the first productions to be shot in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
House of Dunne – Gone Girl
On his way back from the bar, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) discovers with horror his house upside down and the absence of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike). While Ben Affleck was an obvious choice for the male lead, the choice of the female lead was more chaotic. Natalie Portman, Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron declined the role while Abbie Cornish, Olivia Wilde and Julianne Hough were approached before Rosamund Pike was chosen.
Harvard – The Social Network
While Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is supposed to study at Harvard, the scenes were filmed at several universities: the Phillips Academy, the Milton Academy and Johns Hopkins University. The latter is one of the most prestigious in the United States. 37 Nobel Prize winners are associated with this institution, such as Woodrow Wilson, Frederick Kaufman and Donald Henderson. David Fincher is so fond of special effects that The Social Network uses more of them than Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla.
St John’s Zachary Churchyard – Millennium: Men Who Didn’t Like Women
We see Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) and Mikael (Daniel Craig) discussing in this green setting. It is actually the former cemetery of a church, built around 1181. During the great fire of 1666, the building was destroyed and not rebuilt. It was not until 1941 that a park was created in memory of the lost place of worship. The project for the adaptation of the novel Millennium was proposed to David Fincher by producer Cean Chaffin, long before the shooting of the Swedish adaptation. Little convinced by the book, the director did not pay any attention to the project at the time. A few months later, Niels Arden Oplev’s film Arden Oplev was released in cinemas and met with worldwide success…
David Fincher on television
If cinema is the director’s first love, the small screen also makes an eye for him. In addition to the animated series Love, Death and Robots, David Fincher has contributed to two well-known series.
House of Frank and Claire Underwood – House of Cards
David Fincher is one of the producers of the series and director of the first two episodes. The opportunity for the filmmaker to meet Kevin Spacey, an actor whose revelation he contributed to in 1995 thanks to Seven. While the action takes place in Washington DC, Frank and Claire Underwood’s home is actually in Baltimore, Maryland.
Joliet Prison – Mindhunter
Another successful series, David Fincher co-produces and directs a few episodes of Mindhunter. While most sets are built in the 31st Street studios in Pittsburgh, some come to life in other locations. For example, the Joliet Correctional Centre appearing on the screen is actually the former West Virginia State Penitentiary. Built in 1875, the building was used as a prison from 1876 to 1995. Used as a training centre for police and prison officials for riot drills, the premises are open to visitors and are popular with paranormal enthusiasts. Indeed, the building would be built on the site of a former Amerindian burial site and would be haunted. Many accounts of guards evoke visions of inmate ghosts, inexplicable noises, voices, and some reportedly felt curious cold sweats.
David Fincher in music videos
David Fincher is not the only filmmaker to shoot music videos. Martin Scorsese had filmed Bad by Michael Jackson, Michael Moore Testify for Rage Against the Machine and Michel Gondry The Hardest Button to Button by The White Stripes. However, David Fincher has worked on more than 30 clips for various artists, from Patti Smith to the Gipsy Kings to Michael Jackson.
Quentin Crisp’s apartment – Englishman in NY de Sting
This hit was born from the meeting of Sting and Quentin Crisp, an exuberant actor and writer, on the set of The Bride in 1985. Sting was inspired by the story of this British artist and gay icon full of humour, who arrived in New York in October 1978 to give a one-man show. Crisp was staying at the Chelsea Hotel when it was the scene of a fire, burglary and the assassination of Nancy Spungen by Sid Vicious (or not). Events that did not discourage this flamboyant subject of His Majesty, since he literally fell in love with New York and settled there permanently three years later. The clip of this classic of the ex-The Police repertoire was filmed by David Fincher partly in Quentin Crisp’s apartment in the East Village.
Empire Diner – Madonna’s Bad Girl
Madonna, here a real Bad Girl in the person of Louise Oriole, dines at the Empire Diner, closely watched by her “guardian angel”, Christopher Walken. This clip is the fourth collaboration between Madonna and David Fincher. The song was very controversial and did not achieve the same success as the other Madonna singles. However, the video was acclaimed by Scott Kearnan of Boston.com, Georges-Claude Guilbert in his book Le Mythe Madonna and by Billboard Magazine, ranking the video ninth in Madonna’s Best Music Videos.
Rama’s Cafe – 6th Avenue Hearthache by The Wallflowers
The grief of 6th Avenue has no place at Rama’s Cafe, since in reality this small restaurant was located on 5th Avenue. It is now gone and an apartment building stands in good stead, probably tearing the hearts of the Wallflowers. The detail is anecdotal, but the song is far from it. A real hit of the 1990s, this song from Bob Dylan’s son’s band appears as well in an episode of Friends and Cold Case. Directed by David Fincher, the clip is presented as a succession of black and white photographs giving the impression of movement. Some of them are scratched or have irregularities like the opening credits of Seven.
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By Anthony Thibault