Fincher, Fantasia and the SAG agreement

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

David Fincher’s The Killer, Pete Davidson, the SAG agreement and Fantasia.

Let’s go!


FINCHER’S KILLER INSTINCT:

The Killer is the incarnation of a new form of Fincher cinema.

It combines the sleekness of his later work (The Social Network) with the experimental nature of his early films (Fight Club).

It all comes down to dialogue.

In The Killer, Michael Fassbinder, who plays the assassin, has ten lines in total.

Like in Fight Club, Fincher relies heavily on V.O. to build the interior world of the character, thereby riveting us to their every inclination (“I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.”)

Fincher stated:

“I like the idea of an assassin who has to, in order to differentiate what he does from serial killing, he has to in some way create a code for himself.”

Fincher built this interior world in a way that reflected his own: one of ritual and meticulous attention to detail.

The journey began with the screenplay. Fincher hired a writer who both understood the intricacies of a skilled killer and his own obsessive directorial temperament. That writer was Kevin Andrew Walker, who scripted Fincher’s film Se7en. Fincher praised Walker, who also helped polish the scripts for Fight Club and The Game:

“Andy’s going to take out his composition book, which has all of his John Doe writings in it, and he’s going to flip to the page, and he’s going to go, yeah, I gamed [various courses of dialgoue] out. There aren’t many minds like that. This is a guy who can take you through a half-hour discussion as to why something needs to land in the first quarter of page 23. [Laughs] It’s nice to turn over that aspect of the laying out to somebody who takes it so seriously and engages with it so thoroughly.”

With The Killer, Fincher not only tried to redefine his cinematic language but also challenged the audience’s perception, blurring the line between the observer and the character. This sets a high cinematic bar for Fincher in creating an immersive experience where viewers are drawn into the assassin’s world in an attempt to make them feel as if they were the killer.

He hit his target.

For More:

The Killer is now on Netflix. Check out the trailer.

Fincher’s next feature is Serenity’s Edge. Margot Robbie is being eyed for the lead role. The film is set on a spaceship exploring a distant planet. We’re getting major Alien vibes. Wouldn’t watching him redefine the space-thriller/horror genre be fantastic?


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

The SAG/AFRTA deal has landed! Here are the main gains:

  • ↑ Minimum wage.
    • First year: 7%
    • Second year: 4%
    • Third year: 3.5%
  • ↑ Background actor’s wage:
    • First year: 11%
    • Second year: 4%
    • Third year: 3.5%
  • $40M/year streaming participation bonus for 3 years:
    • 75% for top actors (e.g., 20% of streamers view their content in a 90-day window)
    • 25% distributed more broadly amongst actors on the platform
  • Relocation allowances for series performers:
    • $5000/month, up to 6 months
  • Casting protections:
    • 48 hours minimum to send actors sides/script
    • 8 pgs max of material
    • If memorization is required, performers are entitled to compensation
  • Mandated intimacy coordinators for scenes with nudity.
  • Protections against AI. Read SAG’s detailed infographic.

86% of the SAG/AFTRA board voted “yes” on the terms. But not everyone was happy. Here’s the full tentative 18-page agreement from SAG/AFTRA.

Pixar tackles puberty. The trailer for their latest film, Inside Out 2, reunites us with Riley in her teenage years, who encounters anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke). It’s the first time a Pixar trailer has been cut to heavy metal.

The film could be the ticket to rehabilitating Pixar’s image over the past few years. Although by no means a critical failure, the last four Pixar movies:

Have not shared the rampant critical or commercial success that epitomized the studio’s early work:

Inside Out 2 hits theaters Summer 2024.

Mufasa’s death in Lion King was hard to watch, no matter your age. Disney’s latest edition to the live-action version of the series is Mufasa: Lion King. The project has just been pushed from summer 2024 to winter 2024. The synopsis reads:

Simba, having become king of the Pride Lands, is determined for his cub to follow in his paw prints while the origins of his late father Mufasa are explored.

Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) will direct. It’ll be fascinating to see how Jenkins tackles his first big IP studio project.

Starz to cut 10% of their employees, following their upcoming separation from Lionsgate.

The following executives will be departing:

  • Kathryn Tyus-Adair (SVP of Original Programming)
  • Kevin Hamburger (SVP and Head of Production)
  • Alex Alberts (Director of Original Programming)

Back in March, when the separation was announced, Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns said:

“When you have two very different businesses, it’s tough to put a blended multiple on that, trying to show shareholders the value of both sides of the business. A separation is the cleanest way to do that.”

To balance out the loss, Lionsgate acquired eOne back in August.

The bidding war for Britney Spears’ memoir, The Woman in Me, might turn Toxic. The book has become a sensation, with sales surpassing 1.1 million copies in the U.S. within its first week and securing the top position on The New York Times bestseller list. The book’s success has ignited an IP battle among Hollywood’s top talent and producers such as Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Shonda Rhimes and Reese Witherspoon all bidding to to obtain the rights.

Although the rights are expected to sell for 8-figures, Spears and her team at CAA have decided to delay any decisions on adaptation rights. This postponement comes as Spears processes the intense reaction to her memoir and its contents, which range from personal revelations to her experiences under a 13-year conservatorship.

John Bailey, former Academy President, passed away on Friday, November 10, in Los Angeles at 81. He was the first cinematographer to serve as Academy President (2017 – 2019).

His cinematography credits include:

His wife Carol Littleton (Editor: E.T.) remembered:

“It is with deep sadness I share with you that my best friend and husband, John Bailey, passed away peacefully in his sleep early this morning. During John’s illness, we reminisced how we met 60 years ago and were married for 51 of those years. We shared a wonderful life of adventure in film and made many long-lasting friendships along the way. John will forever live in my heart.”

Bailey was honored with the American Society of Cinematographers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. He will be missed.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Pete Davidson just signed with WME. He already seems to be on everyone’s mind, whether he’s hosting SNL, co-starring in the movie Dumb Money and Meet Cute, or popping on screen for a cameo in the latest Fast and the Furious movie. It feels a bit overdue, given his propulsive post-SNL ascent to stardom. We hope this new agent (Josh Sandler) enables him to take on roles that allow him to explore beyond his typical zany or melancholy characters. Next up for Davidson, A24’s comedy Wizards! The synopsis for that project reads:

The problems of two unlucky beach bar operators (Pete Davidson and Orlando Bloom) start when they find stolen loot that they really should have left alone.

Wizards!, directed by David Michôd (Animal Kingdom, The Rover), an Australian director known for his dark themes, may present the role that cements Davidson as a more serious actor.

“Albert Brooks is the funniest man in the world.” The documentary about the actor and comedian’s life features Steven Spielberg, David Letterman, Judd Apatow (quoted above), and Jon Stewart gushing about Brooks’ comedic talents.

In addition to populating every late-night show under the sun, he’s acted in:

In the documentary, Brooks discusses a call from Stanley Kubrick that altered the course of his life. Albert Brooks: Defending My Life is now available to stream on Max. Watch the trailer here.

Follow up on Michelle Yeoh’s film, The Brother’s Sun, which we discussed in last week’s edition. It’s just dropped a trailer. It’s great to see her in another role that goes deeper than violent martial arts and centers around a close-knit family—releasing on Netflix on January 4, 2024.

Daisy Ridley finds immense power in stillness in her latest film, Sometimes I Think About Dying. The trailer showcases her ability to let scenes move through her–the power of minimalistic acting.

The film’s synopsis reads:

Fran, who likes to think about dying, makes the new guy at work laugh, which leads to dating and more. Now, the only thing standing in their way is Fran herself.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is being released by indie distributor Oscilloscope (Coherence, We Need to Talk About Kevin). No release date has been set. We cannot wait!


FESTIVALS

Our friends at The Gotham Film & Media Institute welcome Jason Cassidy (Focus Features Vice Chairman) and Riley Keough (American Honey) to its Board of Directors, enriching its mission to support independent film and media. Their expertise in film and acting will bolster The Gotham’s influential role in the industry, promising a bright future for independent storytelling and creativity.

Dolby Laboratories and Ghetto Film School announced the winners of their 2024 New Voices. New Visions. This collaboration spotlights emerging filmmakers:

Offering them mentorship from:

As well as color grade and mix from Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos and a 25K grant. We look forward to seeing what these storytellers produce as they continue to redefine cinematic boundaries.

The Nickelodeon Writing Program, established in 2000, offers a paid, yearlong developmental opportunity for unique and underrepresented comedy writers. Participants engage in workshops, receive mentorship, and gain experience in Nickelodeon’s renowned live-action and animation writers’ rooms. This program is a career launchpad, fostering talent with a focus on children’s and family content.

Deadline is November 15th. Apply here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Adele Romanski is one of the most talented indie producers in the industry. And she did it by sticking close to the first connections she made in college. She served as Barry Jenkins’ (dir: Moonlight) script supervisor in his college short My Josephine (2003):

“Coming up, everyone was so excited to support each other. On the set of [Jenkins’ feature debut] Medicine for Melancholy, I applied black mascara to
Wyatt Cenac’s beard. That was my job. Barry said publicly that I ‘saved’ his life, and he saved mine too. I don’t think either of us would be standing where we are without each other.”

She continued:

“There have been times when I’ve been fucked over in this business, and it has never been by a friend. I think I’m really interested in relationships that are complex and long. It’s the only way I want to live and work.”

She went on to win the Academy Award for producing his film Moonlight (2016). She’s also produced this incredible array of projects:

At a masterclass at Poland’s American Film Festival, she discussed working with Barry Jenkins on his upcoming Disney film, Mufasa: The Lion King:

“I think anything new is scary and scary is exciting. I run towards that. What we saw was an opportunity to work with new tools, to explore the inside of a different medium and put our own stamp on it.”

She received the festival’s Indie Star Award. Congratulations, Adele, we’ll keep watching.

Darren Aronofsky is directing an Elon Musk biopic with A24. No matter what you think of Musk, the opportunity for Aronofsky to delve into his psychology using Walter Isaacson’s (Steve Jobs) recently released biography as source material may produce a sensational result. Musk went through a particularly dark time when both Tesla and SpaceX were weeks from bankruptcy—the moment of truth hinged on whether SpaceX could execute a successful launch after failing three times in a row. The rest, of course, is history.

Aronofsky’s heightened grittiness, best showcased in The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream, could turn that launch sequence scene into a cinematic gem.

Judd Apatow EP’s documentary director Chris Wilcha’s TIFF documentary, Flipside. To say Wilcha has had a circuitous path would be an understatement. He made his first documentary by infiltrating Columbia Records. The full feature is available here. He parlayed that project into a stint at This American Life before burning out in LA directing TV.

In Flipside, middle-aged Wilcha revisits the New Jersey record store of his youth, “12 CDs for a penny,” seeking lost zeal among its records. His journey reignites when he discovers a treasure trove of hard drives and half-finished documentaries featuring insights from luminaries like Ira Glass and David Milch. This personal quest mirrors the introspective storytelling spirit of This American Life.

No release date yet, but this letterbox’d review seems to capture the vibe:

“Being a young creative freshly out of university, aimless and fearful, I have never felt so hopeless and hopeful all at once.”

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

From Taiwanese public television to the president of one of Taiwan’s leading production companies, Phil Tang wants to gain more recognition for the films coming out of his country. Five years ago, when Netflix entered the market, he decided to quit his local broadcasting job. Now, he’s produced a handful of Netflix shows, including:

Copycat Killer, a series that centers on the destabilization of an entire media organization through one demented killer. The trailer is 10% Saw, 90% Tokyo Vice.

The Victim’s Game is not dissimilar to the series above, but it plays a little bit more like a CSI episode that centers on a forensic scientist with Asperger’s. Warning: the trailer features some grizzly murders.

Tang says:

“Around half the dialogue is in English as the cast includes other non-Taiwanese characters, so it’s natural for them to communicate in English. This is something unique for Taiwanese audiences, but we think the international audience will find it interesting as well.”

Taiwan’s government is rejuvenating its drama industry with a $311M “T-Content Plan” to boost international appeal. Embracing a diversified distribution model, Taiwan is shifting towards multiple global streamers. Collaborations with international entities like France’s CNC and Korea’s CJ ENM, and a focus on promoting local talent and stories reflect Taiwan’s ambition to become a global content hub, drawing inspiration from the successful Korean drama model.

Kôji Yakusho won best actor at the Cannes Film Festival this year for his performance in Wim Wenders’ (Paris, Texas) film Perfect Days. The film’s synopsis reads:

Hirayama seems utterly content with his simple life as a cleaner of toilets in Tokyo. Outside of his very structured everyday routine, he enjoys his passion for music and for books. A series of unexpected encounters with his niece, who has run away from home, reveal more of his past.

The trailer seems to share some DNA with Ikiru (1952). It’s a big statement, given Ikiru is an Akira Kurosawa masterpiece, but at a bare minimum, Perfect Days encompasses a similar character arc.


READER SPOTLIGHT

Richard Bazley is an Emmy-nominated director. He started his career working in the animation department on:

In 2014, Bazley Directed Lost Treasure Hunt, an animated half-hour pilot. Bazley received two Emmy nominations for his work on the show.

Bazley’s latest films include Censure. The synopsis reads:

When introvert, Aaron, finds himself struggling under the weight of a revelation, he dreams of escaping to the only place he can breathe. But escape has a cost, and he must ask himself if it is a price he is willing to pay.

Here is Bazley’s showreel.

If you’d like to be featured in our “readers spotlight,” click here for more information.


See you tomorrow!


ON THIS DAY

1940. Walt Disney’s animated film Fantasia, starring Leopold Stokowski, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Mickey Mouse, and ballet-dancing hippopotamuses, premieres at the Broadway Theatre, New York City.


Today’s edition was written by: Gabriel Miller and Spencer Carter. Edited by Clarke Scott.

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