The film charts the origins of Facebook and the disputes that arose between founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his co-founder and friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield).
Another key strand of the plot involves the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer, who plays both) and their business partner Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) who claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea and made it his own.
In 2004, the two twins rowed in the Final of The Grand Challenge Cup at Henley and Fincher was at the Regatta last summer to recreate the race for the film.
Someone with a camera spotted the director filming across the Thames (he’s the one with the hat on).
If you look at this location on Google Maps you can see the view Fincher was aiming for, with the marquees on the other side.
(I can’t be the only one to notice the irony of the director of Fight Club shooting at a place that almost defines English privilege)
What’s interesting about the scene is that it uses some unusual camera techniques to depict the boat race.
In a recent interview with /Film, Fincher described the effect he was going for:
/Film: The tilt/shift isolated focus you employed in the boating sequence. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen on the big screen before and would love to learn what inspired it.
Fincher: We could only shoot 3 races at the Henley Royal Regatta; We had to shoot 4 days of boat inserts in Eton. The only way to make the date for release was to make the backgrounds as soft as humanly possible. I decided it might be more “subjective” if the world around the races fell away in focus, leaving the rowers to move into and out of planes of focus to accentuate their piston-like effort.
Earlier in his career Romanek was a contemporary of Fincher at Propaganda Films where they both cut their teeth on music videos and commercials.
Romanek recently spoke about this time:
I guess I was in the right place at the right time along with a bunch of other guys. (…) It’s like there was this exciting sense. David Fincher the other day was saying it was like “Dogtown and Z-Boys.” It was just this moment, particularly at Propaganda and Satellite Films, where you really felt you were part of something going on in the zeitgeist.
And people were culturally, on a global scale, they were paying attention to what you were doing. So if you were making this thing, it would be serviced to 17 countries the next day.
Back then, it’s only 10 years ago or something, they didn’t really do movies day-and-date globally. And TV commercials were usually pretty regional. But music videos, if you made a music video, it went out to 22 countries the day you finished the master. That’s pretty heady stuff. And to young people, by and large, who are going to have an effect on the culture.
And it was very exciting because I had an office. Spike Jonze had an office next to me, and David Fincher was down the hall, and David Lynch was walking around, and Michel Gondry would come over from France to do a video. And we’d all be at the coffee shop at Propaganda talking shop. It was pretty f–king cool.”
Both directors now have films coming out: Fincher’s The Social Network is out in the UK on October 15th whilst Romanek’s Never Let Me Go is out on January 11th over here.
* UPDATE 11/10/10: Effects house A52 have put the Henley sequence online