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David Fincher Talks 'House of Cards' -- Freedom of Working with Netflix, Bringing His Many Takes to Series' Set and More

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood January 23, 2013 at 12:28PM

In the new Winter 2013 issue of the DGA Quarterly, David Fincher discusses his newest project, "House of Cards," a 13-episode political thriller series starring Kevin Spacey to debut February 1 on Netflix. Fincher directed the show's first two episodes, and served as executive producer for the series. Highlights from his interview below, in which he discusses the freedom of working with Netflix, his infamous many takes and more.
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David Fincher
David Fincher

In the new Winter 2013 issue of the DGA Quarterly, David Fincher discusses his newest project, "House of Cards," a 13-episode political thriller series starring Kevin Spacey to debut February 1 on Netflix. Fincher directed the show's first two episodes, and served as executive producer for the costly series. Highlights from his interview below, in which he discusses the freedom of working with Netflix, his infamous many takes and more.

The complete interview is here.

Check out the trailer for "House of Cards" here.

On the freedom of directing the series:

“This isn't TV, because we don't have the studio, we don't have standards and practices, we don't have people breathing down your neck saying, ‘Remember, kids love bright colors!’ We don't have people militating against collective disinterest. I wanted to create an environment where you go in, point at the left field wall and swing as hard as you can.”

On the positive experience of working with Netflix:

"Netflix has been incredibly respectful. They've actively looked for ways to put themselves in business with people [with whom] they could say, 'Go make the thing we just talked about.' It's how the movie business was described to me in the early 70s at Warner Bros. If you could come in and tell your story, and a reasonable number [to make] it, you'd go do it."

On bringing his infamous many takes to "House of Cards," and the Frank Capra influence:

"A lot of people had a smile in the corner of their mouths when they said to me, 'Dave, if you think you're going to get 20 takes, you're just not going to make your day.' But I think I averaged somewhere around 35 setups and 14 takes per setup. It's about how you manage your time. Obviously, shooting digitally helps, [House of Cards was shot using the RED camera] because I never had to cut. I could say, 'Go back out and come in again,' and it's amazing the pace you get. It's a Frank Capra trick from way back. Because he could only print so many takes, he used to say, 'Keep it rolling, go out and come in.' What he found was people were more energized, and it gave this effervescence, and I ended up having to do that."

This article is related to: Interviews, David Fincher, David Fincher, Netflix, Kevin Spacey


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.