David Fincher: Directing Animation Is Incredibly Freeing Because Space Is Entirely Plastic

David Fincher has accomplished many things over the course of his nearly three-decade directing career. But until recently, he had never dabbled in directing animation. That changed last year when he helmed “Bad Travelling,” an episode of his Netflix episodic anthology series “Love Death + Robots.”

Fincher has been an executive producer on “Love Death + Robots” for its entire run on Netflix, though it took three seasons to get him to step behind the camera. But Fincher was definitely a fan of the experience. In a new interview with the New York Times, the Oscar and Emmy nominee shared his thoughts on the shoot and the ways that animation might be a perfect match for his infamous perfectionism.

“Bad Travelling” was filmed via motion capture, and Fincher was amazed at the freedom it gave him to block scenes without being constrained by physical set pieces.

“When I’m setting up to do a master, I’m thinking in terms of, ‘If this is going to be an over-the-shoulder shot, I either have to get this person away from the door frame, or I have to tell the key grip to go get a chainsaw.’ But in [computer-generated imagery], that kind of stuff doesn’t enter into it,” Fincher said. “The space is entirely plastic. It was an incredibly freeing, eye-opening, mind-expanding way to interface with a story because so much of live-action storytelling is enduring or working around practical things.”

That freedom extends to post-production as well. In the editing room, Fincher was able to alter the most specific details until the last possible moment.

“Of course, when you can change anything at a later date, you also have to ask yourself, ‘How far am I going to kick this can?’” Fincher said. “You can open up these files and go, ‘I want the chin to do this, and I want the ears here.’ You can modify all this stuff ad infinitum. For somebody who likes to polish as much as I do, at some point they just have to pull it from your cold, dead hands.”

Season 3 of ‘Love Death + Robots’ is now streaming on Netflix.

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