Scenes in ‘Mank’ look familiar? That’s because it was filmed in California’s high desert

Brian Blueskye
February 23, 2021
Desert Sun

If you’re watching the film “Mank,” you may notice some familiar scenes. That’s because it was filmed in part at the Kemper Campbell Ranch in California’s high desert.

A production crew of 80 people arrived in Victorville in December 2019 with trucks containing vintage items, automobiles from the 1930s and more to take the historic property back to the 1940s. 

Mank,” which premiered on Netflix last December, is the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz‘s struggle to finish the screenplay for Orson Welles’ 1941 film “Citizen Kane.” He arrived at the property, then known as North Verde Ranch, in 1940 to finish the script.

Nominated for six Golden Globe awards, the film stars Gary Oldman as Mankiewicz, Amanda Seyfried as actress Marion Davies and Lily Collins as Mankiewicz’ secretary Rita Alexander. It was directed by David Fincher.

For production designer Don Burt and set decorator Jan Pascale, it was important to make the film feel as authentic as possible. After some research on the North Verde Ranch, Burt learned it was still mostly intact. 

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