David Fincher Explains the Henley Royal Regatta Tilt-Shift Scene from THE SOCIAL NETWORK

One of my favorite scenes in David Fincher's The Social Network was the Henley Royal Regatta tilt-shift scene, because it was so beautifully shot. I know many of you thought the same thing, there's been a lot of discussion about this scene. Now we know what Fincher was thinking when he put it together.

Ropes of Silicon recently got there hands on a Blu-ray copy of the film and Fincher talks about this scene in the special features. The site did through together a transcript of what Fincher had to say about it and here's part of what he had to say,

The Henley Royal Regatta were incredibly good to us and they allowed us to actually shoot the race at Henley. I had no idea how huge the Henley Royal Regatta was. I’d only seen photographs and a lot of them are telephoto so you don’t get the idea of this mile-and-a-half of grandstands and corporate sponsors. I mean, it's a huge thing and we originally thought we would shoot a bunch of inserts on the Charles [River] and then use that footage to intercut with wide shots we'd shot at Henley.

The trick of this scene, and the thing that made it so difficult was, it's not like the fight in Rocky where it's been talked about forever and it's importance has been established and you know what it means to the Winklevosses. You get dropped into the middle of this race, and I joked with Aaron [Sorkin] about it a lot, 'How do I make people care about whether or not these guys win or lose a race that we don't know where it is, we don't know what it means?' And he was like, 'Well that's your problem.' [laughing]

He was using it as a way of saying, 'You miss by that much.' Then to have the Winklevosses miss by that much with Mark Zuckerberg, they missed by that much with Larry Summers, they're missing by that much at Henley and it's the final straw.

But it is a tricky thing to design a sequence around missing by that much when you literally get dropped into the middle of it. You really don't know where you are, it requires a subtitle to tell you you're now in Henley for the Henley Royal Regatta, which you probably don't know is the Super Bowl of boat racing.

So this was one of those sequences where the only time we could shoot it was July 4, 2010. It was literally five to six weeks before we had to finish the movie. The movie had to be done so we could get it in theaters, and they were incredibly helpful to us and made it all possible.

One of the reasons it was done in this faux, swing and tilt– tilting lens board style was because all of the close-ups of the Winklevosses and the Dutch rowing were done in Eaton on a man made lake that doesn’t look anything like Henley. Doesn’t have any– just has green grass, but we would shoot the close-ups of all the people and then we had to matte in still photographs that we’d shot at Henley.

Here's a clip of that scene that you can watch for a little reminder.

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