Watch: David Fincher, From His Commercials Up to ‘Se7en’: A Video Essay

Watch: David Fincher, From His Commercials Up to ‘Se7en’: A Video Essay

This piece, the second part of a prolonged series on David Fincher, takes us inside the work leading up to ‘Se7en.’ Fincher made, prior to this remarkable film, a number of inspired and influential commercials for Nike, Coca-Cola, and other companies. And it could be said that he brought his gift for rattling around inside a form to ‘Se7en’: just as he did with the constraint of creating an advertisement, he took what could have been a fairly routine police procedural and transformed it into a horror-show on more levels than just the "what’s in the box" level–professional integrity, marital stability, and the nature of masculinity are all questioned and examined inside a film that unfolds like the best yarn you’ve ever heard. The Raccord collective is making a significant contribution to film scholarship with their directors series, and it behooves any earnest film fan to take heed.

Watch: Why the Beginning of David Fincher’s ‘Se7en’ Is the Perfect Opening Sequence

Watch: Why the Beginning of David Fincher’s ‘Se7en’ Is the Perfect Opening Sequence

A filmmaker once told
me that exposition in dialogue must be stated twice if anyone is going to
remember it. The opening to David Fincher’s ‘Se7en’ introduces the
protagonists, sets up the initial premise, and displays how their different
personalities will clash throughout the film. Not only does it do this in less
than four minutes, but it manages to communicate this information twice. It was
fascinating to discover that this simple and graceful opening was actually
pieced together from a much longer opening, which contained details that were
meant to make appearances throughout the film. Due to the inability to move the
production to New York for a shot of Morgan Freeman on a train bound for the
city, the opening was ultimately carved up and rearranged into the one we now
know. Without this turn of events, we never would have gotten the brilliant
opening credits sequence that was made to replace the train shot. The trimmed-down opening gives us the opportunity to jump right into the story.

Tyler Knudsen, a San
Francisco Bay Area native, has been a student of film for most of his life.
Appearing several television commercials as a child, Tyler was inspired to
shift his focus from acting to directing after performing as a featured extra
in Vincent Ward’s
What Dreams May Come. He studied Film & Digital
Media with an emphasis on production at the University of California, Santa
Cruz and recently moved to New York City where he currently resides with his girlfriend.


For more of Tyler’s video essays, check out his channel at