Let me just start by saying that I’m a huge David Fincher fan. Huge.
I would probably give away anything I own to be his (or his cinematographers) apprentice, including my cat. No, wait, that is a lie. Anything that isn’t alive.
So I guess it isn’t too surprising that I have found great inspiration in some of his work when I started working on the storyboard for our film. Se7en and Fight Club has been the two main sources, but also the remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They are all gritty, dark and frightening, and has a look that I hope we can achieve in The Assassin.
What is it that makes it so good?
First of all, the lighting. Especially in Se7en, where we are stuck in a (whats the opposite of utopian?) city where the sun never shines, and the building and the people are dirty and corrupt. This shot is supposed to be in a hospital, but when were ever a hospital this grey and “poorly” lit? Brad Pitt and the dead obese man is both being lit slightly above from the right, and I think they must have used reflectors to light his face from beneath as well.
The lamp in the room is used cleverly, and functions as a hair light on Pitt.
Another feature in Finchers films is the use of suspense, often helped by close ups. In the intro sequence we se several short, extreme close ups of hands cutting out things, writing, etc, but because of the shallow depth of field we are unable to see what is going on. However, the music and the editing pace keeps us almost in a trance, anxious to find out what is going on.
Did you watch the videoclip? No? Why do you think I put it there?
Go back an watch it, right now!
In the video you can see, like I mentioned earlier, the specific use of lighting. We are being denied a full overview of the situation (also caused by the overlapping images and quick editing), and the restriction is making us curious; we want to watch more.
I’m not sure how we can do this in our film; I think we have to try an light our shoot as well and thorough as possible, and perhaps make it look darker in post production.
After all, it is an ambiguos film. We want to trick the audience into believing that the person we see in the diegetic world is the person who does the voiceover, hence a dark and gritty light could function nicely. However, it turns out that the person on screen is simply another victim, so we want people to be shocked and perhaps have a little sympathy with our man.
Perhaps a combination of both can be used.