A director’s process, at times, can sound daunting. Such was the case when it was revealed last year that, as part of a pivotal scene in David Fincher’s Netflix feature, “Mank,” the director had Amanda Seyfried perform over 200 takes. Now, Fincher is discussing how he came to see the usage of multiple takes with director Ben Affleck as part of Variety’s Directors on Directors series.
“It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea of saying, ‘Another one, and I want you to think about this,”‘ Fincher said.
“So often, you’re pressed up against the glass going, ‘Please don’t take this the wrong way. I need you to come out, we’re going to try one more.’ It’s like Carrie [Coon] said, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ You’re not doing anything wrong. We’re gonna do three weeks or at the rehearsal, we’re gonna do a table read, we’re gonna open out of town, we’re gonna have at least three previews. And we’re gonna do all that today before lunch with this master. We’re gonna go through all that so that you can get to a place where you go, ‘Yeah, I’ve tried this. I’ve tried that. No, really, it’s over here.’ And everyone can feel good about work. This is what we’re trying to tighten. This is the lump of coal that we’re going to try to turn into a diamond.”
For Affleck, who worked with Fincher on the 2014 feature “Gone Girl,” multiple takes were relieving to him. “It was wonderful. It also relieves you as an actor of this notion that there’s a finish line, there’s an end. We’re going to get ‘it’ and it’s going to be accomplished.”
In talking about the “Mank” scene itself, Seyfried said last year, “I was part of scenes with tons of people in it and we would do it for an entire week. I can’t tell you how many takes we did, but I would guess 200, maybe I could be wrong and could be way off. I could be underestimating…[sometimes it was] five days of one scene when I didn’t have one line. You think, ‘I can just relax?’ No, because there are probably about nine or 10 different camera angles that had been on me at one point.”
“Mank” is on Netflix now.