Below is an extract from an interview with David Fincher.
I found it striking. In my profession — as a maker and shaper of digital experiences — I constantly need to balance and navigate ambiguity. Would have been all right if it was only my own relationship to it; but more often than not the challenge is to counter balance others discomfort that arise from it.
Designing an experience — especially those without obvious physical rewards such as a motion picture, music or digital services — is in many ways the art of: projecting oneself into the future; imagining an emotional response; go through the process of shaping this fantasy into a transmittable form; in the act of doing so learn, adjust and revise; and finally let it go for others to experience. As a friend of mine once said, “It’s a long and arduous journey of contradiction and vagueness”.
You can have all the best intentions but there are things you can’t plan for or make technology do. You should really embrace this and design the experience in a way that people can fill in the blanks and make it their own.
There is a fallacy in how one design a motion picture experience. I think the fallacy is that it’s a wind-tunnel tested, extremely technical, scientific experiment. That really isn’t the case. There is a lot of technical knowledge and a lot of technical expertise that goes into making a film, but remember the ultimate takeaway of a film is emotional.
You just saw a dream and either it affected you or didn’t. Louis B. Mayer once said: “the beauty of the movie business is that the only think that the buyer gets for their cost of emission is a memory.” A memory is evocative, because they work on an emotional plane.
You can have all the best intentions. You can work backwards from an impeccable blue print to hopefully bring in an audience into this place where they go, “oh! I never imagine that was going to happen”, or, “oh my god that’s so funny” , or, “that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen”. You are working towards that; but they are going to have to meet you half way. That’s the thing you can never plan on.
So when you’re interfacing with a sound designer like Ren Klyce, an editor like Kirk Baxter or cinematographer like Jeff Cronenweth, you are not talking about people who are measuring things in terms of decibel, foot-candles or feet and frames — you are talking about people who are projecting themselves into an experience and imagining an emotional response.
If that’s the intention, then the idea of saying, “OK, by 18 feet and 6 frames we need to have X” doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make any sense to talk to Trent Reznor that way. You kind of have to say to him, “I hoping that this is where the other shoe drops”, “I’m hoping that this is where people begin to go; ohhhh he’s not such a good guy, he might actually be a murderer”.
That’s the discussion you’re having with the people I’m lucky enough to work with; what do you want to feel; how do we bring people that we have never meet to the same place all at the same time; people from different places in their lives and different places in the world. […]
We are talking about taking people to a place where they get emotionally hit by the same technical presentation, and they feel the same thing in unison.
Hear the entire interview here: