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Watch: David Fincher on Actors and His Movies

The emphasis in this edited series of highlights from David Fincher’s recent BFI talk is, refreshingly, more on the actors than on his much-dissected, formidable technical acumen. One key takeaway from this brisk trot through his career is Fincher’s take on his infamous penchant for endless takes. “My philosophy is, you spend $250,000 on a set,” he explains. “Put it on a soundstage, it costs you $5,000 a day. You’re gonna put $8,000 of lights and you’re gonna bring a $150,000 crew in. You’re gonna bring actors in from all over the world, you’re gonna put them up in hotels, they’re gonna come there and the idea is to get them out as soon as possible? If I fly you out from Iceland and you’re supposed to do one day, I want to make sure we get it.” What he doesn’t say (and what I suspect is part of the reasoning) is that all those takes allow for multiple camera set-ups, which in turn allow for his fearsomely quick back-and-forth cutting, which helps keep viewers’ eyes moving through long passages of potentially static dialogue.

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