Artist Spotlight: Mank Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt’s Black and White World

Edward Douglas
February 5, 2021
Below the Line

Whenever David Fincher releases a new film, it’s a joy for cinephiles and filmmakers alike to see how the Oscar-nominated filmmaker has stretched the boundaries of filmmaking. His latest Netflix film Mank is no exception.

For the film shot all in black and white, Fincher teamed with his Mindhunter Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, and people have been quite awed by his camera and lighting work being that it’s his first film credited as a Cinematographer. That’s only part of the story – we’ll let him tell the rest – but the young DP has paid his dues by rising up the ranks through the electrical side of things.

Either way, the results are amazing as Fincher works from a script written by his late father, Jack Fincher, to tell the presumably fictionalized story of Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), the well-regarded Hollywood screenwriter whose many relationships during the ‘30s, led to the initial script that would eventually become Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Fincher’s film explores the way Mank viewed the relationship between mogul William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) and his girlfriend and ingenue Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) and molded that into Kane, all while battling his demons in a bottle with the help of his helper Rita (Lily Collins).

Below the Line got on Zoom with Mr. Messerschmidt a few weeks back to talk to him about what went into making such a gorgeous black and white film that stands next to Welles’ great cinematic masterpiece.

Read the full interview

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