David Fincher’s 11th feature film, Mank, is a passion project like no other on the director’s résumé — a drama, shot in black-and-white, about the formative years of Hollywood’s sound era, the agony and the ecstasy of what he calls “enforced collaboration” between directors and writers, and the political ruthlessness of Golden Age studios, told through the journey of an unlikely hero — Herman J. Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman), the newspaperman turned screenwriter who co-wrote (or wrote, depending on your POV) the screenplay for Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. Every frame of the movie, which opens in select theaters November 13 and will hit Netflix on December 4, brims with the director’s loving but unsentimental view of film history and of filmmaking — and also carries an unexpected wallop of political resonance with media manipulation and the creation of “fake news” disinformation that couldn’t possibly have been anticipated 30 years ago, when his late father, Jack, first wrote the script. Mank is an unusually personal film for Fincher, not only because it memorializes his work with his father (who died in 2003), but because, in a way, it continues a passionate conversation about movies that began between the two of them when Fincher was a young boy. Its history also spans Fincher’s entire feature career — the original draft was written just before he went off to direct his first film. In two interviews over a long weekend, the director talked about bringing it to the screen.
“Excited to share these images which I have been working on for the past year in support of Mank. Thank you to David Fincher and Ceán Chaffin for the opportunity to witness and photograph the production of this incredibly unique film. Scorsese said that the most personal is the most creative, and as such, Mank is Fincher’s best film yet.” 
“I shot everything digitally, 95% of it on a Leica Q2. I spent a lot of time making everything look like 4×5 – scanning vintage negatives to place around the images, decreasing depth of field/softening the photos by adding Gaussian blur in Photoshop, adding shadow and highlight halation, dodging and burning every image to get the best tonality out of the files while emulating panchromatic film, adding vignetting, and the right amount of grain. I could never have achieved these shots using 4×5, and it was David Fincher’s idea to do this all digitally, and in the process make something that looks even better than film.”
“The reason I chose the Q2 was for its high resolution, as well as its ability to achieve shallow depth of field on a wide angle lens, which I then augmented even further in post.”
“I didn’t push the ISO very often, shooting at f1.7 helped. I don’t like to go above base (50) on the Q2. For Mindhunter I used the Q, as the Q2 wasn’t out yet.” 
One of his most-repeated wisecracks originated at a dinner party hosted by Arthur Hornblow Jr., a cultured and talented producer so sophisticated that he and Myrna Loy celebrated their divorce with a party at the Mocambo nightclub. The elegant Hornblow was known for lavishing care on his food and wine, but on that occasion, Herman drank so much that he had to bolt from the table to vomit. “Don’t worry, Arthur,” he airily told his host afterward. “The white wine came up with the fish.”
Amanda Seyfried Lily Collins – Arliss Howard Tom Pelphrey – Sam Troughton – Ferdinand Kingsley Tuppence Middleton – Tom Burke – Joseph Cross Jamie McShane – Toby Leonard Moore – Monika Gossmann and Charles Dance
Casting by Laray Mayfield Sound Supervised by Ren Klyce Music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Gowns and Costumes by Trish Summerville Film Edited by Kirk Baxter, A.C.E. Production Designed by Donald Graham Burt Photographed in Hi-Dynamic Range by Erik Messerschmidt, ASC Produced by Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, Douglas Urbanski Screen Play by Jack Fincher Directed by David Fincher
MPPDA – Recorded in Mon((o))scape – I.A.T.S.E. – Rated R. Some Language
“A place to unload all my cinematic truths.” —Newton Thomas Sigel, ASC
How do you cultivate a career in Hollywood? What does it take to make iconic work? There’s an art to everything in life and the Art of the Shot explores the answers to those questions and more through deep-dives into the minds of master filmmakers. Join host Derek Stettler, young filmmaker and writer for the ASC and SOC magazines since 2016, as he learns from the artists behind today’s most strikingly-shot projects. Enjoy compelling conversations on the craft, insights from successful careers, tips, techniques + more!
In this episode, you’ll hear from both the cinematographer and the “A” camera operator of Mindhunter, who worked together throughout Season 1 and 2 to shoot every single episode. Please enjoy this exclusive interview with Erik Messerschmidt, ASC and Brian Osmond, SOC!
Brian Osmond, Gaffer Danny Gonzalez, and Erik Messerschmidt (Nikolai Loveikis)
In this episode, you’ll learn:
– Erik’s career path (00:04:06) – Erik’s favorite part of the job (00:06:42) – What DP’s should know to best work with their gaffers, from Erik’s experience working as a gaffer before becoming a DP (00:07:02) – Unique skills Erik gained from his experience as a gaffer (00:07:56) – How Brian got his career started (00:11:19) – Brian’s favorite part of his job (00:12:19) – What other directors can learn from how David Fincher treats his crew (00:18:39) – The thought process & techniques behind Mindhunter‘s precise camera movement (00:22:50) – The strategic use of handheld camera operating (00:34:27) – The collaborative nature of the Mindhunter set (00:37:34) – The importance of having a dedicated camera operator on set, especially on a David Fincher set (00:41:19) – Erik’s role as “quality control supervisor” (00:44:21) – Why a monitor on a David Fincher set is covered in smudges (00:46:57) – Why there’s no such thing as a B camera “bonus shot” on Mindhunter & how shots are planned out for multiple cameras (00:48:23) – What Erik thinks is the hardest shot to do well (00:52:04) – How Erik lights & shoots with 2 cameras simultaneously (00:53:41) – Erik’s approach to lighting Mindhunter & techniques used (00:56:55) – Erik’s preference for real fluorescent lighting (01:03:30) – Mindhunter‘s production design and how much of the locations were built (01:05:01) – Favorite set of Season 2 (01:06:26) – How getting scripts in advance helps them work better (01:10:44) – The innovative car process shooting on Mindhunter & how it works (01:12:38) – How virtual production helps realize every filmmaker’s dream, stopping time, & how Erik used that to shoot a 9-minute dialog scene at dawn (01:18:02) – How the car process shooting on Mindhunter evolved from Season 1 (01:22:37) – How the custom RED digital cinema camera, dubbed the Xenomorph, evolved from Season 1 (01:27:22) – Why Brian prefers a fluid head over a geared head to achieve those smooth, precise shots David Fincher loves (01:37:34) – How to shoot a scene & why “Fix it in prep!” should be every filmmaker’s mantra (01:42:08) – All about the lenses used on Mindhunter & how Erik art directed the artifacts & nuances of every optical aberration (01:48:10) – Tips from Brian on getting really precise shots with a fluid head, what operating technique Erik has learned from Brian, & how being self-critical is a key to his success (01:56:42) – What Erik & Brian feel is the most rewarding part of working on Mindhunter (02:02:47)
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I have a very precise memory of watching The Game for the first time, of sitting on the couch in the family room of my childhood home, inserting the VHS tape, and being totally taken in. At the time I was overcome by the specificity of the details in the film and the illusion of control that they gave me, making me feel smarter than the movie before ever so delightfully pulling the rug out from under me.
Every time I’ve revisited the film since, it has opened up more, or perhaps more accurately, closed in on itself, collapsed in form to reveal a world, our world today, which, as it turns out, is just a plaything for the rich. What stands out to me now isn’t the detail-laden plot—about a man named Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) and a strange experiential game gifted to him by his brother, created by a company called Consumer Recreation Services—but things like Daniel Schorr, as himself, talking about rising unemployment and a legislative effort to get small businesses to provide health insurance to their workers. Or Van Orton’s utter disgust as he momentarily holds a bag of someone else’s takeout Chinese. While the surface-level pleasures of the film revolve around wondering who in the film is an actual person and who is an actor working for CRS, the foundations of it lie in exposing society’s deep inequality.
Herman ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) drunkenly harangues the dinner guests at Hearst Castle
Directed by: David Fincher Produced by: Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, and Douglas Urbanski Written by: Jack Fincher Score by: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Costumes by: Trish Summerville Edited by: Kirk Baxter, ACE Production Design by: Donald Graham Burt Photography by: Erik Messerschmidt, ASC Co-Produced by: Peter Mavromates & William Doyle
Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) sits in growing horror as her dinner party is disturbed by Mank
Cast: Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies Lily Collins as Rita Alexander Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer Tom Pelphrey as Joe Mankiewicz Sam Troughton as John Houseman Ferdinand Kingsley as Irving Thalberg Tuppence Middleton as Sara Mankiewicz Tom Burke as Orson Welles Joseph Cross as Charles Lederer Jamie McShane as Shelly Metcalf Toby Leonard Moore as David O. Selznick Monika Gossmann as Fraulein Freda and Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) beside MGM’s Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard)
Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz (Gisele Schmidt/NETFLIX)
Gary Oldman (as Herman Mankiewicz), Sean Persaud (as Mank’s colleague Tommy), and Gaffer Danny Gonzalez, before a LED backdrop of the desert (Gisele Schmidt/NETFLIX)
Gary Oldman (as Herman Mankiewicz) shot with the RED Monstro 8K Monochrome by Camera Operator Brian Osmond (Nikolai Loveikis/NETFLIX)
Even before theatrical failures dimmed his dreams of escape, Herman had decided he could bring New York to Hollywood by importing some of his friends. If Ben Hecht couldn’t write him a good script, Herman told Schulberg, then Schulberg could tear up Herman’s two-year contract and fire them both. His boss could hardly refuse a bet like that, so Herman wired, “Will you accept three hundred per week to work for Paramount Pictures. All expenses paid. The three hundred is peanuts. Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don’t let this get around.”
Hecht, who later claimed that Herman’s telegram arrived just in time to avert a financial disaster so severe that he had taken to his bed with Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, hurried west to enroll in what he called the Herman Mankiewicz School of Screenwriting.