Thursday, September 28, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Fincher in MP3 form!
Ezra on MySpace
Ok. So, clearly, David Fincher just can't get enough of the Buzzington, man. Just back from reshoots on Zodiac. This time it was, like, 10 blocks from my house so that was totally sweet. The other stuff they shot of me was good (according to DF) but they decided to add a lot more informants so David wrote up something different for me cos the other stuff was stand alone. Anyway, my guy this time has a plan to catch Zodiac and, according to all the grips, gaffers and assorted crew members, I was hilarioooos. So, that rocks. And this time I got a shot of me and Mark Ruffalo. Again, great guy. Smart, funny and upbeat. As soon as I can figure out how to upload from my picture phone onto my computer, I'll post it. Till then, er.... rent his movies.Oh, and mine. Go rent mine too.Loving the Fincher...Zra
[On the release date] Somebody said today that we shouldn't even start looking for it till 2007. David moves reeeeeeally slow. ie: particular. But, since these were specific reshoots or shots he wanted inserted in the already cut film, I'm still hoping for early winter.[On Mark Ruffalo] He totally ruled. We kept making each other laugh during the takes. Loves me some Mark Ruffalo.
To Release Or Not To Release?
Paramount is apparently still on the fence (i.e., reluctant but unwilling to give this reluctance a full voice) about giving David Fincher's allegedly top-drawer policier a New York and L.A. debut on or before before 12.31.06. (The studio intends to release it wide on 1.17.07.) I've written two or three articles pushing for this, but I've only read an early version of the script. Since Fincher is now, according to Hammond, "completing editing and mixing and the film should be pretty much wrapped in a couple of weeks," he and his producers should simply arrange for a quiet little columnists-and-critics screening of Zodiac so certain parties can see it and respond first-hand.
Zodiac may not be all it's cracked up to be, in which case nobody has to write anything one way or the other and Paramount and the Zodiac team can duke it out between themselves. But if it's an exceptional wow, which I've been told by certain parties, then certain columnists and critics could conceivably proclaim this and the Zodiac team would have a stronger case to make to the Paramount foot-draggers.
"Sources are saying it is brilliantly made with great performances across the board," writes Hammond. "The cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards. And even though Fincher's hard edged previous films (Fight Club, Panic Room, Se7en) have received a grand total of 2 Academy nods in tech categories, this is said to be the one that could change that pattern."That is, if Zodiac receives a qualifying run in December ahead of its wide January release. If it has to wait until next year, the odds are long [for '07 Oscars] since January films are a distant memory come nomination time. But hope remains that Fincher's film will still be a part of this year's kudos story. We've been told that it's a complex situation and there are 'discussions that are probably going to take place.'
"One hurdle may be that Paramount really doesn't need another picture going for the gold this year since they already have World Trade Center and the upcoming Dreamworks'films Flags Of Our Fathers (10.20) and Dreamgirls (12.21). And although it is a completely separate entity, specialty division Paramount Vantage has a major contender in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu's Babel (10.27).
"But if Zodiac really does deliver the goods (as those few who have seen it believe), then how can it be denied a passport to the Kodak? After all, remember 1974. One studio accounted for three, count `em , three of the five Best Picture Oscar nominations. The movies were The Godfather Part II , Chinatown and The Conversation. The studio was, you guessed it, Paramount."
Bottom line: if Zodiac is the goodie its supporters say it is, there is no downside -- zip, nada, none -- to giving it a platform debut in four or six theatres in N.Y. and L.A. in late December. Paramount can't lose, especially given the apparent likelihood that Zodiac will need some kind of big advance sell since it's fairly long (about three hours) and doesn't end its hunt-for-a-serial-killer plot with a conventional finale.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Another set report
I'm an actor who was used in one of the retake scenes done recently in L.A., and since Mr. Fincher's fans here seemed to really like the reports given about the Southgate shooting discussed in another thread, I'll post some odds and ends about my experience with ZODIAC/CHRONICLES. I'll be vague about some of it, because apparently there's some secrecy about this film and I'd like to work for this director again and not be branded for leaking vital information.First of all, let me say that I hate it when people who don't know a particular celebrity personally go ahead and refer to them by their first name, as if they were buddies or something. It's more trouble to type out "Mr. Fincher" than "David" (or worse, "Dave") but isn't that who he is to us? Uggh. When I met him, I didn't say, "Hiya, Dave!" and I won't refer to him that way here.That's probably not the type of tidbit you're looking for, though. So...I was told Mr. Fincher likes to use unknown or unrecognized, up-and-coming actors in smaller roles, because he genuinely likes to see what unknown people can do. Although I had a speaking role, it was cast just days before filming, and the whole casting process consisted of being put on videotape in one session with the casting director (no callback)which I suppose was then shown to him. I was really shocked by this, because often auditioning for films and TV shows, even with smaller roles, is this endless, drawn-out process of meeting multiple people in different sessions and then waiting forever to hear if you've been hired. But this happened very fast.I was surprised by how involved Mr. Fincher was with shaping these smaller performances. At the wardrobe fitting, I was photographed in quite a few outfits (all variations on the same look) and the designer then brought the Polaroids to the set so the director could pick exactly what he wanted. As I'm sure his fans here know, Mr. Fincher is extremely visual, and whether an outfit is maroon or silver or reflective or matte or long or short or whatever is important to him.When I shot the actual scene the next day, the crew was very effecient and in good spirits. Talking with the designers while being made up and costumed, etc., I was told they considered themselves very lucky to have all ended up with a good, harmonious team, and they all enjoyed working with Mr. Fincher because he's an artist who's actually CREATING a cohesive thing and appreciates their contribution. There were all kinds of research binders in the hair and makeup trailers, containing tear sheets from 1970's magazines, etc., that could be referred to in building the film's look.(Hmmmm...this is not as exciting or revelatory as I'd thought
it might be. Sorry!)OKAY, I'll CUT TO THE GOOD PART: Although I just had a few lines with one other actor (one of the stars of the film), we spent what felt like hours on my scene. We did about 10 takes with minor variations, then Mr. Fincher paused to watch the scenes on playback, then we did 10 more takes and he broke for a long time to watch again. Then we did 10 more takes. Then we broke and went through the whole multiple process again with the other actor after changing the lighting around and moving to another wall of the set for their background. During the first break, the actor said to me, "Don't worry.
It's not that you're not getting it right, this is just how he works. He likes
to have lots of choices." Mr. Fincher gave some initial direction face to face when we began, then called out his direction from across the room (not really that far away) where he was watching the playback. When I had a specific question about what he wanted and asked him to paraphrase a line so I could tell what it was he wanted it to mean, he came back to where we were across the room and answered me in depth himself.I thought this was extremely courteous, and it helped me to relax, as I couldn't completely put out of my mind that I'd just found out practically hours before that I was in a MAJOR MOTION PICTURE for DAVID FINCHER, acting with ______ ______...which hardly happens to me every day. So we did this scene again and again, and it wasn't tiring or frustrating, it was actually very stimulating, artistically, because Mr. Fincher was calling out little adjustments in the lines and the blocking and the character's motivation between each take, and it was technically challenging because I had to sense what was working for him and keep those bits in -- and try to keep them consistent -- while still trying to stay open and in the moment, to leave room to be spontaneous. I also liked that the other actor and I weren't stopped when we began to improvise a tiny bit. This made it feel more free, like we weren't locked into doing the scene a certain way in some Pass or Fail competition. Another thing that built intimacy was that the set was VERY DARK outside our acting area. It was on a huge, well chilled sound stage with lots of little fragments of sets grouped apart from each other that would be used throughout the day in other scenes. Mr. Fincher and the cinematographer both wore white shirts so the cast and crew could find them in the dark. There was also a second, smaller film crew wandering around shooting stuff for what I imagine will be a "Making Of" documentary or featurette. I tried to block them out, as concentrating on working with one film crew was enough. (Actually, they weren't terribly interested in me, anyway. So sad.)Another thing that helped me was that although the scene was shot from two angles -- first featuring me, then the star -- this actor stuck by
me the whole time. While the crew was initially doing my lighting, they even stood in for themselves off camera where they would eventually be talking from, even though they weren't in this first shot. (Tweaking lighting is a tedious experience that can take as long, if not longer, than the actual shooting of a scene.) Some stars have the script girl cue you with their lines from off camera while they're relaxing in their trailer, but this one didn't, and even got me some water during one of the breaks. I don't know if this actor is just naturally kind, or they realized that the more at ease I was the better I would be (and subsequently, the better the scene and they themselves would be) but at any rate, I was very appreciative and quite impressed. This process actually began at the beginning of the day, when the Assistant Director made sure to
introduce me to the director and the stars right when I arrived on the lot. This kept me from then sitting around in my trailer for hours, wondering what they would all be like and if we'd get along. So by the time I was called to the set, there were no surprises and it felt more familiar.I do have to say Mr. Fincher is the best director I've worked with in film, in that he was not only very articulate and clearly had an imaginative and specific point of view, but he was also very accessible. (Maggie Smith said that the most vital thing a director can give her is trust, because it opens the door to emotion.) Mr. Fincher seemed like he had a good sense of humor. I also appreciated him taking SO MUCH TIME with my short scene and really exploring it in a variety of ways, because usually when you play a small part like that, as long as you're in focus and get the lines right (or basically right), it's like, "Okay! We're moving on!" Usually you leave working a day on a set like that thinking, "I wish I'd done it funnier or tried playing it sexier, or maybe I should have seemed more angry," but this felt very complete because we did it just about every way.So, that was that....and now I just hope I'm not cut out!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Set Visit + Photo
As Fincher said: “If you have a fucking clue and a passion, people will get out of your way because people want someone to follow.” Well, I think they’ll certainly be following him in the way he’s shooting Zodiac.
Fincher’s background at ILM in effects has to help, as does his desire to constantly push filming technology to its limits. From his use, with Darius Khonji, of bleach bypass for Se7en to create a dark and hostile environment, to his use of pre-visualisation, motion control and computer-generated images in Panic Room, he has always been at the edge of what is possible.
Now, with his approach to Zodiac, he goes one step further. The movie revolves around a serial killer known as ‘the Zodiac’ who operated in San Francisco during the late 1960s. Leaving several victims in his wake and taunting police with letters written to the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, the Zodiac was never officially caught. The film tells the story of the killings, still one of San Francisco’s most infamous unsolved crimes, and of the four men whose lives and careers were built and destroyed around the hunt for the killer.
Mark Ruffalo plays Dave Toschi, the San Francisco detective who led the investigation, and Anthony Edwards plays his partner Bill Armstrong. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist and later author of two books about the Zodiac, on which the film was based. Robert Downey Jr plays journalist Paul Avery and Gary Oldman stars as Melvin Belli, a lawyer who was contacted by the Zodiac.
The movie has been shot as much as possible on original locations and uses the police officers and others involved as on-set advisors. When I visited the set, they were shooting a night scene where one of the victims is found in a car. Fincher was asking one of the officers who was actually on the scene of the real crime if they would be smoking at the crime scene or not. He was determined that it would be accurate.
“People will say, ‘there are a million ways to shoot a scene,’ but I don’t think so,” says Fincher, “I think there’re two, maybe. And the other one is wrong.”
Monday, September 18, 2006
Zodiac tidbit from Hollywood Elsewhere
"This girl is very smart and cool," this guy says. "She's very much the San Franciso arty girl who hates a lot of Hollywood shit and is funny talking about working on all the shit she does. Anyway, she said Zodiac is fucking brilliant and so amazing and smart. I really, really trust this girl. She says the movie is great and that George Lucas was blown away by it.
"She also said that Robert Downey, Jr. gives an incredible Oscar-level performance.
"But here's my favorite detail. The first half of the movie, which takes place in the late '60s, is mixed mono when all of radio was AM and with the advent of FM, in the chronology of the film as the calendar moves into the '70s, the movie turns stereo. Such a great idea. She said that Fincher has the best ears of anyone other than David Lynch.
"The other point to make here is that if Zodiac sucked there's noway Dreamamount would ever greenlight Fincher's Benjamin Button project, which will star Brad Pitt."