‘Mank’ Cast and Crew on Jack Fincher’s Script and Shooting in Black and White

Antonio Ferme
February 22, 2021
Variety

While Netflix’s Oscar contender “Mank” was directed by David Fincher, the script was written by his father, Jack Fincher, prior to his death in 2003. Gary Oldman, who starred in the film as “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, said Fincher’s script was one of the best he had read in a long time.

“It is fun to be a detective and go off and read things and find out things and all of that,” Oldman said. “That’s great fun, but I felt that the work had really been done by Jack.”

In the Variety Streaming Room, hosted by deputy awards and features editor Jenelle Riley, the cast and crew of “Mank” discussed how Jack Fincher’s script was able to capture the extensive legacies of some of the icons from the golden age of Hollywood, as well as the challenges of shooting in black and white.

Amanda Seyfried, who portrayed William Randolph Hearst’s mistress Marion Davies, said that Fincher’s script infused new life into the cinema starlet’s legacy.

“None of what I read in my investigation was different from what the sense that I had gotten of her,” Seyfried said. “The essence was captured in that script right off the bat. So if I had nothing, I would have been okay.”

Aside from a handful of music videos and commercials, “Mank” was the first project cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt had ever filmed in black and white. He said the crew bounced many ideas off of each other when it came to figuring out what colors would look like on set.

“It becomes this very exciting kitchen of ideas, which is a very special thing to participate in,” Messerschmidt said.

When it came to fitting photos, costume designer Trish Summerville said she only sent them to Fincher in black and white. She said she did a lot of her research on what worked as far as which colors, prints and patterns translated well.

“Some things became really contrast-y and too kind of like confetti,” Summerville said. “Once we got to do the camera test, which I think helped us all greatly with seeing what the lighting was going to be, it helped with hair, with makeup, with clothes. It was a big tool for us.”

Watch the full conversation

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