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Directors & Their Troops: David Fincher on His ‘Gone Girl’ Team

A film version of “Gone Girl” would seem like a slam dunk, since the book was well-crafted and popular (Gillian Flynn adapted her own novel). But in truth, it’s tricky material that could have gone wrong in every way. David Fincher, Fox and the producers made the film a box office hit — $345 million globally so far — and an artistic success via smart choices in his actors and his team of artisans. The story is set in upper-middle-class and blue-collar America, but there are shadowy undercurrents everywhere, and the characters are rarely what they seem. As the story becomes a dark comedy about media obsessions, Fincher told Variety that he and his below-the-line team — most of whom he’s worked with multiple times — found inspiration in unexpected places.

Music, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
“The working process with those two is not something that can be mandated. They’re solving problems we didn’t know we had. So I thank them for that. A lot of this score was written while they were on the road. With ‘Social Network,’ there were moments when we needed to have a cue; but there were also times they would write a piece and say, ‘This is part of the fabric you’re talking about — but can we use it?’ And we’d always find place for it. We found ourselves experimenting. That’s the same process we used with ‘Gone Girl.’ ”

Casting, Laray Mayfield
“The cast has to be as carefully selected as the crew. You need a team; you can’t have people who are distracting. Laray is great at finding people. I watched Kim Dickens’ audition thinking, ‘Where do I know this person from?’ Of course it was ‘Treme,’ but she was so different, she was a surprise. And when it came to Officer Jim Gilpin, Laray said, ‘What about Patrick Fugit?’ I said, ‘Great idea! Bring him in.’ So sometimes Laray introduced us to someone we didn’t know, or thought of someone in a different way than we’d been thinking.”

Costume design, Trish Summerville
“It is tough to do what she did, saying things about characters without being showy. It’s a tricky thing. We didn’t want to make fun of local police. I did think of (Detective Rhonda) Boney as being good at what she does. I loved what (Dickens) and Trish did. I love that Ben wears the same clothes for two-thirds of the movie. When I see the tapestry of what she did, I’m impressed.”

Cinematography, Jeff Cronenweth
“We didn’t want the film to feel lit, like there’s a 10K (lamp) just outside of the frame. A lot was decided on the basis of ‘What will it look like if we don’t do anything?’ We talked about influences, but there are no painter influences or anything like that (laughs). If anything, it was reality TV. We decided, ‘We need to go into this like reality show and take whatever we can use.’ ”

Production design, Donald Graham Burt
“We scouted locations and shot exteriors. A lot of it was matching locations to set work. Much of our work was about ‘Let’s take a still and make it look like that.’

Editing, Kirk Baxter

“He was in L.A. when we were (filming) in Missouri. It’s important to have a distance between what you were trying to accomplish and ultimately what you did accomplish. It’s important for an editor to not be clouded — just present it to the audience. We don’t talk about footage that hasn’t been shot. We talk about what he can actually touch.”

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