December 4, 2020
In David Fincher’s “Mank,” bowing Dec. 4 on Netflix, a key sequence takes place at Hearst Castle, when Gary Oldman’s Herman J. Mankiewicz shows up drunk and unannounced at a lavish dinner party thrown by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, played by Charles Dance.
Filming is normally not allowed at the actual estate, with Lady Gaga’s “G.U.Y.” video the rare exception. So production designer Donald Graham Burt and Fincher spent months tracking down locations around Los Angeles that could stand in for the grand mansion. Interiors and exteriors were shot at a Pasadena estate, the Huntington Gardens, in Malibu and on soundstages, all carefully decorated to give the feel of San Simeon if not the exact details.
It was up to sound mixer Ren Klyce to capture the extravagance that Fincher sought when filming those scenes. Klyce reverse-engineered the mix — distorting sounds, lowering the dynamic range and limiting the high frequency to take audiences back to 1930s Hollywood and the “Citizen Kane” era.
Burt and Klyce break down how they re-created the estate and captured the aura of wealth.