London-headquartered facility Territory Studio, has recreated the iconic LA street of Wilshire Boulevard for David Fincher’s 1930’s-set, Mank. The sequence using LED rear projection to evoke the traditional techniques used during the 1930s and 1940s which the movie pays homage to. Here’s how.
Territory’s team led by VFX Supervisor Simon Carr and CG Supervisor Ashley Pay spent a considerable amount of time in LA in pre-production, working with Fincher and DP Erik Messerschmidt ASC. They used archival footage, maps and old photography coupled with their own research and black and white photographic references captured while driving on Wilshire Blvd to inform lighting and texture in the CG scene. They began to rebuild the famous street as it would have appeared when Herman J. Mankiewicz and Sara Mankiewicz drove down it in 1934.
“We wanted to capture the imagery of a new city rising from the sand and dust, distinctly modern, yet with a sense of the Wild West,” Carr says.
Territory was tasked with conveying the sense of lawlessness and neglect in a city without road markings or highway code. Scouting both on the ground in LA and via Google Maps, they drew out the ground plan: identifying shops, gas stations and cinemas from the archive footage along which to drive a virtual camera car.