Based on the best-selling psychological thriller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay, David Fincher’s new movie Gone Girl seems like an apt follow-up project to his last film, the dark and suspenseful The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, it tells the story of an apparently happily married couple, Nick and Amy Dunne, and what happens when, on their fifth wedding anniversary, the wife mysteriously disappears.
Family secrets are, once again, front and center, as Fincher explores the murky moral depths of human nature. And, once again, the director has teamed up with cinematographer and frequent collaborator Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, who lensed Fight Club, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. "We didn’t stray far from the book’s storyline, but obviously had to condense certain elements," reports Cronenweth.
Asked about the film’s visual style, Cronenweth notes, "Gone Girl is essentially an intricate human chess game; the characters and dialogue are the driving force of the drama. So my challenge was to try and find a visual style that doesn’t get in the way of the story, but helps it along seamlessly."
Having shot their last film with the RED EPIC, this time the ongoing partnership between Fincher and Cronenweth took advantage of the brand-new 6K EPIC DRAGON. "We were essentially the beta guinea pigs, taking the new camera to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where we began our principal photography," he says.
After shooting on location for 10 weeks, the production moved back to Los Angeles, where they continued filming at RED Studios Hollywood for several more months. The crew also spent a couple of days shooting establishing shots in New York.
"David and I have a long relationship with RED, and we’re big admirers of their progressive technology—they’re constantly seeking feedback and incorporating those ideas into reality, so their cutting-edge technology continues to remain streets ahead of the game," adds Cronenweth. "When the new DRAGON was ready, we shot tests, along with the new motion mount, and were beyond impressed. We could shoot 6K, a first for a movie. While the obvious increase in resolution is phenomenal, for me, it was the latitude and color science that were the real game changers."
Cronenweth notes that, as of now, there’s no way to commercially present the material in 6K. "But we capture everything in 6K, frame for 5K with a 2.40 frame line," he explains. "This gives us extra room to stabilize and reposition should we need to, and then we down-res it for the 4K and 2K releases."
This approach works really well for Fincher and Cronenweth’s distinctive style. "And we had no problems at all," says the DP. "All the new equipment worked like a dream, and unlike with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, where we had to deal with extreme cold and dampness most of the time, we were shooting in the Midwest in August, with extreme heat and humidity, but neither proved to be any sort of problem. The DRAGONs performed flawlessly right out of the box, and while their cameras have really evolved with a lot of field-testing over the years since the RED ONE first came out, they took a different approach with the DRAGON’s development and had already worked out most of the kinks before we got it."