Whether you love his films or not, it’s hard to deny that David Fincher is incredibly smart. If you listen to any of his audio commentaries, you’re keenly aware that this is a guy who has thought long and hard about every single shot and decision, and has reasoning behind every little choice. He’s also the guy who helped make “the Facebook movie” into a defining film about the early 21st century.
So when Fincher talks about the current cinematic landscape, folks listen up. And while the filmmaker hasn’t done a ton of interviews for his brilliant new Netflix series Mindhunter, in speaking with the Financial Times (via The Playlist) he did get pretty candid about the lack of time for character in the current cinematic landscape:
“There’s no time for character in movies. No, now. Look at All The President’s Men — everything is character. Now, movies are about saving the world from destruction. There aren’t a lot of scenes in movies, even the ones I get to make, where anyone gets to muse about the why. It’s mostly the ticking clock. And in this show it’s hard to find the ticking clock. But the thing is: I don’t care if the whole scene is five pages of two people in a car sipping coffee from paper cups as long as there’s a fascinating power dynamic and I learn something about them. And I do not care if the car is doing somewhere between 25 and 35 miles per hour.”
Fincher isn’t the first filmmaker to contrast the current landscape with the talky, experimental 1970s era, but he is pretty up front about the limitations:
“Look, many people at studios are still fighting the good fight. There are executives there who are friends of mine. But if you want to make studio movies, you stay in their lanes, which are romantic comedy, affliction Oscar bait, Spandex summer, superhero tentpole, moderately budgeted sequel.”
During a discussion with journalists posted by Yellow King Boy, Fincher pointed to television as a haven for character-centric storytelling while singling out Marvel Studios as an example of studio limitation on filmmaking:
“Look, there’s a very large talent pool of people who are—don’t feel there’s much for them in terms of sustenance (working for Marvel),” said Fincher, prompting the listeners to laugh. “And I think that if we can make a playground for them that is thoughtful, adult, interesting, complex, challenging stories and figure out ways to pull them into it, there’s a chance at something that isn’t lassoed and hogtied by three acts. And there’s something else that doesn’t have to be 22-minute half hour or have a cliffhanger. I think it is an exciting time.”