Biography of David Fincher

Born August 28, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, David Fincher is one of the most acclaimed film directors working today. Fincher made his name with dark and stylized thrillers such as “Seven,” “Fight Club,” “Panic Room,” “Zodiac,” and “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.” He was previously nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Director for his work on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network.” He won the BAFTA and a Golden Globe for “The Social Network.”

Fincher began making films at the age of eight with an 8mm camera. After turning 18, Fincher went to work for John Korty at Korty Films. He then worked for George Lucas’s special-effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, where he worked on “Return of the Jedi” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” in the visual effects department. He left the company in 1984 to direct a commercial for the American Cancer Society, which brought him more work as a commercial director. Through directing music videos, Fincher began to develop his own style more and more.

In 1985, Fincher joined the now-defunct Propaganda Films, a video production company founded by producers Steve Golin and Sigurjon Sighvatsson. The company became a launching pad for many directors including Spike Jonze, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Romanek, Michel Gondry, Michael Bay, Steven Hanft, Nigel Dick, David Kellogg, and Alex Proyas.

Fincher began a career directing big-budget music videos for artists such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Nine Inch Nails, Paula Abdul, and George Michael. Having cemented a solid reputation with these productions, Fincher was given his first opportunity to direct a feature film.

"Alien 3," Fincher’s debut, proved to be a difficult production, with numerous disputes between the director and Twentieth Century Fox over budget and script issues. Fincher was reportedly convinced that his career as a feature film director was already over before it began. The film opened to tepid reviews and Fincher returned to directing music videos.

Fincher returned to the feature film world with 1995’s “Seven,” which would gross over $300 million internationally. Fincher’s moody style fit well with the plot: two detectives face off against a serial killer basing his murders on the seven deadly sins. However, Fincher still encountered difficulty with the production. New Line Cinema originally refused to allow the film’s climactic ending to be filmed, opting for a different ending altogether. Brad Pitt, who was starring in the film and who would go on to work with Fincher several times, threatened to leave the production if the original ending was not kept. New Line eventually allowed Fincher to film as he intended.

Fincher followed with 1999’s “Fight Club,” based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Although initially panned by critics, the film has gone on to become a cult favorite thanks largely to its DVD release. Fincher followed with “Panic Room” in 2002, about a mother and daughter who square off against a trio of burglars who are after a fortune in the home’s panic room.

Fincher returned in 2007 with “Zodiac,” his first feature to be filmed in a digital format. “Zodiac” was a slower, more deliberate film than any of Fincher’s previous efforts and also marks a turning point in the director’s oeuvre. Although it was one of the best reviewed films of that year, “Zodiac,” based on the real-life serial killer of the same name, did not command large box office profits. There was considerable speculation that the film might earn an Academy Award nomination for the director and star Robert Downey Jr. but no nominations were granted.

This would change in 2008 with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who ages backwards. It also starred frequent collaborator Brad Pitt. The film would earn Fincher his first Oscar nomination for Best Director.

In 2010, Fincher generated substantial buzz for “The Social Network,” a film written by Aaron Sorkin about Mark Zuckerberg and the origins of Facebook. The film earned Fincher a Golden Globe for Best Director and won three Academy Awards for Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.

Fincher most recently directed the highly-anticipated American film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Based on its success, Fincher is also signed to complete film versions of the other two books in Larsson’s trilogy: “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.”

Study Guides on Works by David Fincher

Fight Club is a Twentieth Century Fox production shot in 1998 and released in the United States in 1999. The film is based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk of the same name. The rights to the novel were acquired by producer Laura Ziskin for $10,000...