|Birth Day:||August 28, 1962|
|Birth Place:||Denver, Colorado, United States|
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David Andrew Leo Fincher was born on August 28, 1962, in Denver, Colorado, the son of Claire Mae (née Boettcher), a mental health nurse from South Dakota who worked in drug addiction programs, and Howard Kelly "Jack" Fincher, an author from Oklahoma who worked as a reporter and bureau chief for Life magazine. Howard died of cancer in April 2003. When he was two years old, the family moved to San Anselmo, California, where filmmaker George Lucas was one of his neighbors. Fincher was fascinated with filmmaking from the age of eight. After watching the documentary on the making of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), he began making films at age eight with an 8mm camera. He has said:
While establishing himself in the film industry, Fincher was employed at John Korty's studio as a production head. Gaining further experience, he became a visual effects producer, working on the animated Twice Upon a Time (1983) with George Lucas. He was hired by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in 1983 as an assistant cameraman and matte photographer and worked on Return of the Jedi (1983) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). In 1984, he left ILM to direct a television commercial for the American Cancer Society that depicted a fetus smoking a cigarette. This quickly brought Fincher to the attention of producers in Los Angeles, and he was soon given the opportunity to direct Rick Springfield's 1985 documentary, The Beat of the Live Drum. Set on a directing career, Fincher co-founded production company Propaganda Films and started directing commercials and music videos. Other directors such as Michael Bay, Antoine Fuqua, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Alex Proyas, Paul Rachman, Mark Romanek, Zack Snyder and Gore Verbinski also honed their skills at Propaganda Films before moving on to feature films.
Fincher directed TV commercials for many companies including Levi's, Converse, Nike, Pepsi, Revlon, Sony, Coca-Cola and Chanel, although he loathed doing them. Starting in 1984, Fincher began his foray into music videos. He directed videos for various artists including singer-songwriters Rick Springfield, Martha Davis, Paula Abdul, rock band The Outfield, and R&B singer Jermaine Stewart. Fincher's 1990 music video for "Freedom! '90" was one of the most successful for George Michael. In addition, he directed Michael Jackson's "Who Is It", Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun" and Billy Idol's "Cradle of Love". For Madonna, he directed some of her iconic music videos: "Express Yourself", "Oh Father", "Vogue" and "Bad Girl". Between 1984 and 1993, Fincher was credited as a director for 53 music videos. He referred to the production of music videos as his own "film school", in which he learned how to work efficiently within a small budget and time frame.
In 1990, 20th Century Fox hired Fincher to replace Vincent Ward as the director for the science-fiction horror Alien 3 (1992), his film directorial debut. It was the third installment in the Alien franchise starring Sigourney Weaver. The film was released in May 1992 to a mixed reception from critics and was considered weaker than the preceding films. From the beginning, Alien 3 was hampered by studio intervention and several abandoned scripts. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone calls the film, "bold and haunting", despite the "struggle of nine writers" and "studio interference". The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. Years later, Fincher publicly expressed his dismay and subsequently disowned the film. In the book Director's Cut: Picturing Hollywood in the 21st Century, Fincher blames the producers for their lack of trust in him. In an interview with The Guardian in 2009, he stated, "No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me."
Fincher married model Donya Fiorentino in 1990 and divorced in 1995. They have one daughter together, born in 1994. In 1996, he married producer Ceán Chaffin.
After this critical disappointment, Fincher eschewed reading film scripts or directing another project. He briefly retreated to directing commercials and music videos, including the video for the song "Love Is Strong" by The Rolling Stones in 1994, which won the Grammy Award for Best Music Video. Shortly, Fincher decided to make a foray back into film. He read Andrew Kevin Walker's original screenplay for Seven (1995), which had been revised by Jeremiah Chechik, the director attached to the project at one point. Fincher expressed no interest in directing the revised version, so New Line Cinema agreed to keep the original ending. Starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey, it tells the story of two detectives who attempt to identify a serial killer who bases his murders on the Christian seven deadly sins. Seven was positively received by film critics was one of the highest-earning films of 1995, grossing more than $320 million worldwide. Writing for Sight and Sound, John Wrathall said it "stands as the most complex and disturbing entry in the serial killer genre since Manhunter" and Roger Ebert opined that Seven is "one of the darkest and most merciless films ever made in the Hollywood mainstream."
Following Seven, Fincher directed a music video for "6th Avenue Heartache" by The Wallflowers and went on to direct his third feature film, the mystery thriller The Game (1997), written by the duo John Brancato and Michael Ferris. Fincher also hired Seven screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker to contribute and polish the script. Filmed on location in San Francisco, the story follows an investment banker, played by Michael Douglas, who receives an unusual gift from his younger brother (Sean Penn), where he becomes involved in a "game" that integrates with his everyday life, making him unable to differentiate between game and reality. Almar Haflidason of the BBC was critical of the ending, but praised the visuals—"Fincher does a marvelous job of turning ordinary city locations into frightening backdrops, where every corner turned is another step into the unknown". Upon The Game's release in September 1997, the film received generally favorable reviews but performed moderately at the box office. Sometime afterwards, The Game was included in the Criterion Collection.
In August 1997, Fincher agreed to direct Fight Club, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. It was his second film with 20th Century Fox after the troubled production of Alien 3. Starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, the film is about a nameless office worker suffering from insomnia, who meets a salesman, and together form an underground fighting club as a form of therapy. Fox struggled with the marketing of the film, and were concerned that it would have a limited audience. Fight Club premiered on October 15, 1999 in the United States to a polarized response and modest box office success; the film grossed $100.9 million against a budget of $63 million. Initially, many critics thought the film was "a violent and dangerous express train of masochism and aggression." However, in following years, Fight Club became a cult favorite and gained acknowledgement for its multilayered themes; the film has been the source of critical analysis from academics and film critics.
In 1999, Fincher was shortlisted by Columbia Pictures, as one of the potential directors to helm Spider-Man (2002), a live-action adaptation of the fictional comic-book character of the same name. Fincher's pitch featured an older, experienced version of the titular character in his adult years and the post-adolescent portion of his life as a photographer and his crime-fighting double life as a vigilante, with a more grounded, character-driven and drama-oriented tone and direction. Fincher later said of his pitch, "I went in and told them what I might be interested in doing, and they hated it". Sam Raimi was chosen as director instead.
In 2001, Fincher served as an executive producer for the first season of The Hire, a series of short films to promote BMW automobiles. The films were released on the internet in 2001. Next in 2002, Fincher returned to another feature film, a thriller titled Panic Room. The story follows a single mother and her daughter who hide in a safe room of their new home, during a home invasion by a trio. Starring Jodie Foster (who replaced Nicole Kidman), Forest Whitaker, Kristen Stewart, Dwight Yoakam, and Jared Leto, it was theatrically released on March 29, 2002, after a month delay, to critical acclaim and commercial success. In the United States and Canada, the film earned $96.4 million. In other countries, it grossed $100 million for a worldwide $196.4 million. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle praised the filmmakers for their "fair degree of ingenuity... for 88 minutes of excitement" and the convincing performance given by Foster. Fincher acknowledged Panic Room for being more mainstream, describing the film, "It’s supposed to be a popcorn movie—there are no great, overriding implications. It’s just about survival."
Tim Walker of The Independent praised Fincher's work, stating "His portrayals of the modern psyche have a power and precision that few film-makers can match." In 2003, Fincher was ranked 39th in The Guardian's 40 best directors. In 2012, The Guardian listed him again in their ranking of 23 best film directors in the world, applauding "his ability to sustain tone and tension". In 2016, Zodiac and The Social Network appeared in the BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century list. In addition to films, Fincher has often been admired for producing some of the most creative music videos.
Five years after Panic Room, Fincher returned on March 2, 2007, with Zodiac, a thriller based on Robert Graysmith's books about the search for the Zodiac, a real life serial murderer who terrorized communities between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fincher first learned of the project after being approached by producer Brad Fischer; he was intrigued by the story due to his childhood personal experience. "The highway patrol had been following our school buses", he recalled. His father told him, "There’s a serial killer who has killed four or five people... who’s threatened to... shoot the children as they come off the bus." After extensive research on the case with fellow producers, Fincher formed a principal cast of Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr., Anthony Edwards and Brian Cox. It was the first of Fincher's films to be shot in digital, with a Thomson Viper FilmStream HD camera. However, high-speed film cameras were used for particular murder scenes. Zodiac was well received, appearing in more than two hundred top ten lists (only No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood appeared in more). However, the film struggled at the United States box office, earning $33 million, but did better overseas with a gross of $51.7 million. Worldwide, Zodiac was a moderate success. Despite a campaign by Paramount Pictures, the film did not receive any Academy Award or Golden Globe nominations.
In 2008, Fincher was attached to a film adaptation of the science-fiction novel, Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, however, Fincher said the film is unlikely to go ahead due to problems with the script. His next project was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's eponymous 1923 short story, about a man who is born as a seventy-year-old baby and ages in reverse. The romantic-drama marked Fincher's third collaboration with Brad Pitt, who stars opposite Cate Blanchett. The budget for the film was estimated to be $167 million, with very expensive visual effects utilized for Pitt's character. Filming started in November 2006 in New Orleans, taking advantage of Louisiana's film incentive. The film was theatrically released on December 25, 2008, in the United States to a commercial success and warm reception. Writing for the USA Today, Claudia Puig praises the "graceful and poignant" tale despite it being "overlong and not as emotionally involving as it could be". The film received thirteen Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Fincher, Best Actor for Pitt, and Best Supporting Actress for Taraji P. Henson, and won three, for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects.
Fincher directed the 2010 film The Social Network, a biographical drama about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg and his legal battles. The screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin, who adapted it from the book The Accidental Billionaires. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg, with a supporting cast of Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer and Max Minghella. Principal photography started in October 2009 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the film was released one year later. The Social Network was also a commercial success, earning $224.9 million worldwide. At the 83rd Academy Awards, the film received eight nominations and won three awards; soundtrack composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won for Best Original Score, and the other two awards were for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. The film also received awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score at the 68th Golden Globe Awards. Critics including Roger Ebert, complimented the writing, describing the film as having "spellbinding dialogue. It makes an untellable story clear and fascinating".
Darius Khondji and Jeff Cronenweth have served as cinematographers for Fincher's films. Khondji said, "Fincher deserves a lot of credit. It was his influence that pushed me to experiment and got me as far as I did". The director has hired sound designer Ren Klyce in all his films since 1995, whom Fincher trusts "implicitly". Fincher has also worked with film editor Angus Wall since 1988, who has edited six of his films. Donald Graham Burt has served as a production designer for five films and Bob Wagner has served as an assistant director for six. Lastly, casting director Laray Mayfield has worked with Fincher for more than thirty years. In a 2010 interview, Fincher said, "you don’t have to love all of your co-collaborators, but you do have to respect them. And when you do, when you realize that people bring stuff to the table that’s not necessarily your experience, but if you allow yourself to relate to it, it can enrich the buffet that you’re going to bring with you into the editing room."
In 2011, Fincher followed the success of The Social Network with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a psychological thriller based on the novel by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Screenwriter Steven Zaillian spent three months analyzing the novel, writing notes and deleting elements to achieve a suitable running time. Featuring Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, it follows Blomkvist's investigation to solve what happened to a woman from a wealthy family who disappeared four decades ago. To maintain the novel's setting, the film was primarily shot in Sweden. The soundtrack, composed by collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, was described by A. O. Scott of The New York Times as, "unnerving and powerful". Upon the film's release in December, reviews were generally favorable, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Scott adds, "Mr. Fincher creates a persuasive ambience of political menace and moral despair". Philip French of The Guardian praises the "authentic, quirky detail" and faithful adaptation. The film received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress for Mara, and won the award for Best Film Editing.
In 2013, Fincher served as an executive producer for the Netflix television series House of Cards, a political thriller about a Congressman's quest for revenge, of which he also directed the first two episodes. The series received positive reviews, earning nine Primetime Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series. Fincher won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for the first episode. He also directed a music video for the first time since 2005, "Suit & Tie" by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, which won a Grammy Award for Best Music Video. Following the publication of Dave Cullen's book, Columbine, which was adapted into a play in 2014, Fincher considered making it into a film, however, the idea was dropped due to its sensitive nature. That same year, Fincher signed a deal with HBO for three television series, titled Utopia, Shakedown, and Videosyncrazy. In August 2015, budget disputes between him and the network halted production. However, Utopia was soon picked up by Amazon Studios with Gillian Flynn as creator.
2014 saw Fincher direct Gone Girl, an adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel of the same name, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Fincher even met with Flynn to discuss his interest in the project before a director was selected. Set in Missouri, the story begins as a mystery that follows the events surrounding Nick Dunne (Affleck), who becomes the prime suspect in the sudden disappearance of his wife Amy (Pike). A critical and commercial success, the film earned $369 million worldwide against a $61 million budget, making it Fincher's highest-grossing work to date. Writing for Salon, Andrew O'Hehir praises the "tremendous ensemble cast who mesh marvelously", adding, "All the technical command of image, sound and production design for which Fincher is justly famous is here as well." Gone Girl garnered awards and nominations in a variety of categories; Pike earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and Fincher received his third Golden Globe nomination for Best Director.
In 2015, it was announced that Fincher and Gillian Flynn were working on a "modern take" of the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock film, Strangers on a Train, for Warner Bros. In July 2019, it was reported that Fincher had signed on to direct Mank, a biographical film centred on Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, with Gary Oldman playing the lead role.
Since 2016, Fincher has directed, produced and served as showrunner for another series, crime thriller Mindhunter, starring Holt McCallany and Jonathan Groff. The series, based on the book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, debuted on Netflix worldwide on October 13, 2017. In June 2017, Jim Gianopulos of Paramount Pictures announced that a sequel to World War Z was "in advanced development" with Fincher and Brad Pitt. Producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner said that Fincher would begin directing it in June 2019. However, in February 2019, Paramount cancelled the project. As of 2019, Fincher also serves as an executive producer for Love, Death & Robots, an animated science-fiction web series for Netflix.
Fincher has explored themes of martyrdom, alienation and dehumanization of modern culture. In addition to the wider themes of good and evil, his characters are often troubled, discontented and flawed, unable to socialize and suffer from loneliness. In Seven, Zodiac and The Social Network, themes of pressure and obsession are explored, leading to the character's downfall. Quoting historian Frank Krutnik, the writer Piers McCarthy, argues, "that the protagonists of these films are not totally in control of their actions but are subject to darker, inner impulses". In a 2017 interview, Fincher explained his fascination of sinister themes, "There was always a house in any neighborhood that I ever lived in that all the kids on the street wondered, “What are those people up to?” We sort of attach the sinister to the mundane in order to make things interesting... I think it's also because in order for something to be evil, it almost has to cloak itself as something else." Fincher once stated, "I think people are perverts. I've maintained that. That's the foundation of my career."
Currently, David Fincher is 59 years, 0 months and 20 days old. David Fincher will celebrate 60th birthday on a Sunday 28th of August 2022.
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