Fincher Film Style Guide

Fincher Film Style Guide

There's some big movies to check out here - Fight Club, Gone Girl, The Social Network... they might seem very different in topic, but let's break down what they have in common to see what makes a Fincher movie so impactful.

Palette Guide


Fincher’s use of color is characterized by a high-contrast palette, with strong color grading that helps to create a sense of tension and suspense. This is particularly evident in his use of deep blues and reds, which can be seen in many of his films, such as "Se7en" and "Fight Club".

This cool blue tone can convey a sense of detachment and detachment, while a warm gold or red tone can be used to create a sense of danger. The two together don't initially seem to be a good match but pairing them up overall they give an unsettling specific mood and look, like the high contrast light and shadow that he also uses.

fincher social network movie look

It's embodied in the pairing of Tyler Durden in his burgundy leather jacket, and the Narrator, in cool blue, grays and white. They're two sides of the same very disturbing coin...

fincher use of color


Fincher's green can be bilious, nauseating - symbolizing something "off" - something abnormal or uneasy. This is notable in Gone Girl, with yellow-gold tones, hinting that her 'escape' is not any kind of release you might be expecting.


Signature Shots

Fincher's signature style employs a static camera, shooting from a distance to create a sense of detachment, and in turn, heightened suspense. Rarely is a handheld or steadicam shot used - most often it's in Se7en, where the emotional cost is high.


He also uses tight shots and close-ups to create a sense of psychological intensity - but cautiously.


Perhaps most distinctively of all, Fincher has a highly stylised way of using a pan or tracking shot that follows the main subject of the scene in subtle movements of their head or pauses - it gives the sense we are both somehow spying or hunting the character and also in sync - connected psychologically. We are their shadow. 


This is very precise - Fincher was an early adopter of digital filmmaking, as he found it suited his way of directing, and likely enabled him to perfect the shots more easily while he was working than the stop and start of a clapper board. 

Motifs & Symbols

Themes often center around themes of identity, obsession, and power. Rebels or characters defying stereotypes are prevalent... the detective is not stuffy, the hacker is goth punk, the rising star of The Social Network is still an outsider - and Fincher loves them all. 

fincher movie style look

In "Se7en", for example, the recurring image of a box symbolizes the idea of the unknown and the mysterious.

Fincher Movie Fridge Fight Club

He also loves a fridge... it's part of the plot in Fight Club and Se7en, and in The Social Network it's part of the character description.

In "Fight Club", the recurring image of fire and burning symbolizes the destruction of the old self and a mix of pain and pleasure. Again this is part of the intense lights and darks that unite Fincher's movies.

fincher movie style

Moving in shadows - even the main characters will often be thrown into near-complete darkness. It's enigmatic, and it reminds the viewer they can't see or know everything about the personality they're watching. 

Recipe for a Fincher movie

  • High-contrast, desaturated colors 
  • Static camera from a distance
  • Fluid tracking shots that shadow a character's movement
  • Themes of identity and power
  • Bright lights, dark shadows
  • Rebels (usually with a cause, or vengeance)
Never shake - measure precisely with a sometimes nauseating color palette for an unnerving, tension-building movie where nothing ever quite seems settled, easy, or in any way reliable. Refrigerate, then make over again until it's perfect.