Two days ago, TheWrapbroke the news that Quentin Tarantino had cast Australian actor Damon Herriman as Charles Manson in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but sources say he wasn’t the first auteur to have that idea, as Collider has exclusively learned that David Fincher already cast Herriman as Manson in the upcoming second season of Netflix’s Mindhunter.
A representative for Netflix declined to comment.
Sources say that while Herriman will appear as a 1969-era Manson in the Tarantino film, his appearance in Mindhunter will be in the ’80s, when Manson was already behind bars. That lines up with previous reports that the second season will feature the Atlanta Child Murders, which took place between 1979 and 1981. Other serial killers expected to appear include the Son of Sam and, of course, the BTK Killer, who popped up throughout the first season, though he was never mentioned by name.
Sources say that while Herriman’s casting in the Tarantino film was announced first, he was actually cast in Mindhunter much earlier, and in fact, already shot his scenes in July. Either way, the fact that he booked projects from Fincher and Tarantino back-to-back should speak highly of his take on Manson. I mean, when masters of casting like Fincher and Tarantino vouch for you, who else do you need to impress in this town?
David Fincher‘s knuckle-biting Mindhunter series for Netflix is based on the true-crime book, Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, an autobiography centered around the establishment of the FBI Investigative Support Unit, the foundation of which would become modern day criminal psychological profiling.
Each hour-long show (from the 10-episode run) was graded by colorist Eric Weidt, who navigated between ultra-modern capture technology, the time and place of late 70s cinema and the very specific needs of Fincher. Weidt started with Fincher as a visual effects beauty artist for the 2014 film, Gone Girl. Before that, he had worked in post production in the world of Parisian fashion.
With considerable experience in Photoshop and the Adobe infrastructure, Weidt brought his retouching talents to motion as photography and filmmaking began to bleed together. Weidt even created custom film-emulation ICC profiles and scanned grains for photographers transitioning from film to digital capture.
Colorist Eric Weidt.
Meanwhile, Fincher and his team had been working with FilmLight‘s Baselight color grading tools and plug-ins since The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and on the Netflix series, House of Cards. Adding an editorial and visual effects team at his facility in Hollywood, Mindhunter was the first time that the auteur established his own in-house DI. Weidt was brought on to lead color.
“It’s important to note, we had a lot more time to work on this show than most grades,” Weidt pointed out during a special HDR presentation by FilmLight, Dolby, and Red Digital Cinema at the Dolby Cinema Old Vine theatre in Hollywood. He was given a simple brief: The show was set in the late 70s, centered on the FBI interviews of serial killers.
“The 70’s and serial killers backdrop brought to mind David Fincher’s Zodiac, which is an absolutely brilliant movie; a masterpiece in terms of both content and color,” he says. “The 70s has a distinct color palette. You say 70’s’ and everyone already has an image” he continues. Street photographers William Eggleston and Stephen Shore are personal sources of inspiration for initial color grading.
Post and edit began as production rolled in Pittsburgh. Dailies were usually available to Fincher by the following day. The production used FotoKem‘s nextLAB dailies system and the PIX asset and data management and delivery platform.
Due to overlapping shoot and post production schedules, “David looked at things on his iPad for two-thirds of the season,” says Weidt, explaining that he had a complex rendering process that allowed him to manage new HDR footage as well as sending regular corrections from Fincher to view in SDR. The Baselight workflow file was separated into two timelines, one for any creative color adjustments, and another that had stabilizations and lens emulations applied. Weidt would daisy-chain them, run it through the Dolby Vision HDR professional tools, which automatically take his XML trims, and using that, create offline files to view on an iPad or monitor.
“All you really need to do is add a trim pass layer to each shot, then hit analyze. It might take 40 minutes to analyze the whole hour’s episode. You come back, and you have your SDR version. It’s done, except that you are able to then do lift/gamma/gain, or some saturation adjustments on the trim pass. I found that maybe 85 percent of the time it looked like there wasn’t really anything to do. Out of the box, it’s pretty amazing.”
He continues that, “You don’t want to grade with both monitors, because you’ll go nuts. You have to learn to accept that the REC 709 compared to the HDR is going to look more dull.” Weidt says that Fincher’s color design for Mindhunter was heavily influenced by the organic palette of several classic films, such as McCabe and Mrs. Miller, All the President’s Men and the more chromatic yet grittier look of The French Connection. They also wanted a low contrast, information-rich picture, and had first experimented with low contrast optical filtration on set but preferred in the end to “set up the digital chain in a way that Fincher was getting the type of image that he wanted.”
The RED Xenomorph custom camera for Fincher.
“Low contrast does not mean low detail,” Weidt carefully points out. That required a camera with outstanding capabilities for the production. Cinematographers Erik Messerschmidt and Christopher Probst, ASC, employed a one-of-a-kind Red camera with a 6K Dragon sensor called Xenomorph, developed by Red to Fincher’s specifications. Weidt’s starting point for dailies, as well as any color work on the master, began with a low-contrast log curve based on REDgamma3 that maintained as much of the dynamic range provided by the Red Xenomorph as possible, and gave the SDR monitoring on set an approximation of Weidt’s HDR workflows.
“When you grade something, the tone curve can be your initial contrast,” says Weidt. “It’s a bit like choosing a film stock. With Red, at that time, the most current tone curve was REDgamma4. It’s a nice, contrast-y curve, but David wanted to go back to a previous tone curve, which was REDgamma3. It’s a softer curve, and it rolls off quicker and easier in the highlights and also in the shadows.”
With the Dolby Vision HDR toolset, custom color transforms helped manage the monitoring during production. From 6K .R3D files to linear OpenEXR files, they were able to go straight to grade in Weidt’s and Messerschmidt’s preferred ‘flat’ log. For Dolby Vision HDR mastering, Weidt used the Dolby Pulsar 4000-nit professional reference display, while the Rec709 passes were done with automated mapping to SDR from Baselight. For SDR, they used a Dolby PRM monitor at 120-nits.
The HDR look was developed in post production: “In HDR, we initially came across a lot of scenes where the light sources were taking too much prominence,” Weidt says. “David and his post supervisor Peter Mavromates really wanted an elegant balance. Mindhunter‘s HDR is not trying to strike you or slap you in the face. Just like the sound mixing, or cutting, it is not trying to blow your mind, but rather convey the story content. The latter is really what’s going to punch you.”
Areas of focus circled using PIX.
After the grade.
Many of Fincher’s notes require simple dodging and burning, performed primarily through Weidt’s use of shapes, masking and tracking in Baselight. Using PIX, Fincher would circle subjects or areas of a frame, giving suggestive chromatic terms like ‘sallow’ or ‘ruddy,’ and ‘equidistant’ or ‘symmetrical’ in regard to reframing. Mindhunter used a 5K working area extracted from the full 6K frame, ultimately downconverted to a 4K deliverable, a Netflix requirement. As a 2.2:1 center extraction, the editors were able to reposition the image subtly, as needed. The image was stabilized further as necessary by using sophisticated tracking for repositioning and resizing without loss of resolution upon deliverable at 4K.
“David is famous for having a visual style where he is going to stabilize two-thirds of the shots in an episode, or in a movie, so that everything is absolutely perfect,” says Weidt. “What he wants is that the camera, the gaze into the image, is totally unconscious, and you’re really in there without distractions that most people take for granted.” After Fincher returned to Los Angeles, their standard workflow on a scene together would start with a master shot that incorporated the characters as well as background, timing color and light levels for other shots and angles in scenes to be timed from that reference.
Fincher’s eye for detail goes far beyond that, though, and Weidt noted several corrected items that would have escaped his attention, like plants outside a prison that were too vibrantly green, or highlights in reflections that needed to be turned down to match light sources. “There are certain colors that David needs to suppress, and that’s mostly pink,” he continues. “Pink appears in people’s skin tones, and if you get it wrong in the grading suite and ends up on a monitor outside of that environment, it’s going to appear like they have pink faces and it looks really bad. David wants to control that.”
Before / After
Using Summilux-C primes from CW Sonderoptic, XML information was created for every focal length. This was a requirement on Mindhunter as simulations of grain, lens barreling and chromatic aberration in Baselight were tailored to the specific focal length throughout the show. Weidt even created anamorphic effects for the spherical lenses.
“David wanted to refer to 70’s in what could be called ‘the anamorphic wide-screen era,'” he says . “Unfortunately, that focal length is not something that’s carried through in metadata. It’s tallied by the camera assistant with name of the clip and the focal length and put into a database. I had to find a way to apply the right settings for every single clip, in the absence of metadata.”
Weidt was able to merge this information by teaching himself the Python scripting engine for asset management adding the focal length as a variable in the comment field. That enabled him to classify and organize shots by telephoto, standard and wide, then multi-paste effects into an alpha-numerically sorted timeline which came in handy throughout the production. “It worked beautifully,” he says.
He also added pseudo chromatic aberration “on every shot and every episode of Mindhunter,” which he developed himself, as the vast majority of plug-ins and filters will simply shift one of the primary color plates, stretching from center, resulting in bi-color aberrations. These created results that Fincher found lackluster, when for example given a cyan-red, he’d really only want the cyan. “I found the solution in Baselight, which essentially took 20 layers, using blending modes that are usually the purview of a compositing tool,” Weidt says.
Creating a specific ’70s look.
is graded on Baselight.
“David directed four episodes of Mindhunter, but he’s the executive producer for the show, and he’s definitely the director of the DI,” he adds. “All of the color, he directed himself, with contributions from Erik.”
Weidt notes that next season will be shot using a Helium sensor, and HDR monitors will be on set along with a new ACES color space workflow. “We’ve got 20 layers just for chromatic aberration. We’ve got lens warping. We’ve got three different types of grain as well, because you couldn’t just have one,” Weidt adds, regarding the final rendering process.
“Season 2 is going to be just like a real walk in the park compared to season one. We learned so much.” Season 2 of Mindhunter is currently in production.
Hard working Background Casting Director Jennifer Nash, from Mindhunter Extras Casting, continues to make the rounds looking for the literally thousands of background actors of all ages and ethnicities, especially African-American, that Mindhunter is going to need for its second season. Last May, she paid a visit to The Burgh Boyz and asked for their help:
“Season one took to film about 11 months. And there’s some pre-production too.”
“We’ve just started shooting season two.”
“[We’ll be here] at least until Christmas, very possibly until March of 2019.”
“Costumes are such an important part of this. Our team of customers is award-winning. If you checked out their resumes, and our hair and makeup, you would just go: “Oh, my goodness!”. They’re the best in the business. As is David Fincher, our incredible Director and Executive Producer, who is directing this first episode, which is epic. So, if you want to be on Mindhunter and work with David Fincher, get in now, get in now! You’ll be working with him!”
“David Fincher handpicks about 90% of all of the background actors in the episodes that he directs. He is so specific and detail-oriented. Makes my job Super Duper hard but you’re not just a crowd. You’re always hand chosen by everybody for that specific role.”
“I’ve been able to cast television shows and movies in New York from the beach in L.A. Not this one. This one I am like hustling hustling, because I need real people that have real jobs. In season one I’ve cast Dental Hygienist, a literal Rocket Scientist, I’m not even joking, Professors, College Students, Uber and Lyft Drivers, Waiters, Waitresses, Bartenders, ex-Military, ex-Police, Sheriff’s, everybody who looks like you [one of the hosts] for FBI…”
“This summer in Wilkinsburg, we have scenes coming up where I need thousands of background actors, thousands per day. We are going to be like the circus comes to town, to Wilkinsburg, and that community can use all of the business that we bring, we’re going to bring a lot of business to that community. And it’s going to be iconic scenes there, in my opinion from reading the scripts, the standout scenes of the entire season two. I’m not supposed to really tell, give the story away, but it gives me goosebumps just to think about these scenes. And it’s mostly African-American that I need for those scenes that are going to be very dramatic.”
“I’m looking for background actors of all ages, no experience needed. I need babies to 106 years old. Last season our age range was six months to 96, so this season I’m putting out the challenge, just push it a little. All colors of the rainbow. In fact, some colors of the rainbow are hard to find in Pittsburgh, not a huge Latino community here. All you Latino beautiful people, I need you, and everybody else. And thousands of background actors in Wilkinsburg this summer, thousands, for iconic scenes that you will never forget. Promise.”
Fincher will direct the two-hour long season premiere and finale:
Andrew Dominik (“The Assassination of Jesse James,” “Killing Me Softly”) will helm another two, and filmmaker Carl Franklin (“Devil In A Blue Dress,” “One False Move”), who’s become something of a journeyman director on TV in recent years (“House Of Cards,” “The Leftovers,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Vinyl” and more), will direct the rest and bulk of the show.
Fincher is currently in Pittsburgh doing prep on season two which starts at the end of the month. It should keep him busy for most of the year and regardless, I’m told Netflix intends to hold it for an early 2019 release. The “Mindhunter” filmmaker directed all the reshoots for every episode of season one and he’ll be doing the same for season two; they’ll be baking in time for that as well.
Dominik was apparently a big fan of Fincher, and their connection is through Brad Pitt who starred in the aforementioned ‘Jesse James’ and has obviously led many a Fincher movie including “Seven,” and “Fight Club,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and possibly the “World War Z” sequel if they can ever figure out the script.
Before any director calls action, Jennifer Nash has long begun the second season scramble to scout for extras in western Pennsylvania to appear in “Mindhunter,” which enjoyed a critically successful first season on Netflix last year.
In charge of recruiting and hiring extras for the episodic program about the early days of FBI profiling that grew into the study of serial killers, Nash emphasized just how heavily the show invests to hire extras in both type and number.
“We need so many more people than just the normal background acting community,” she said. “We need regular people.”
This season, one of her biggest tasks will be to hire a significant number of African-American people as extras. This includes a major scene in which 1,000 people, mostly African-Americans, will be needed for a protest expected to be shot in Wilkinsburg for several days.
“We’re going to be bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, to African-American communities,” she said, of Mindhunter’s second season emphasize on story lines involving African-Americans.
Last year, Nash was charged with recruiting 3,000 people to be extras in the 10-episode first season of “Mindhunter.” This year, she needs 5,000 for an eight-episode season, including two episodes that will be two hours each.
“I really have my work cut out for me,” she said, of hosting casting call events at places such as Trixie’s on the South Side, where a line stretched around the block. She also wants candidates to reach out to her at email@example.com.
“A little late-night Xenomorph Mk2 Firmware Testing”.
RED Xenomorph Mk2 custom camera for David Fincher:
RED Helium 8K S35 sensor Leica Summilux-C lenses by CW Sonderoptic RTMotion lens motor control Paralinx Tomahawk 2 wireless HD video Zaxcom wireless audio and timecode
7.0″ LCD Touch Foolcolor Foolcontrol camera control app for iOS & OS X
Extended WiFi/Foolcontrol antenna array Anton Bauer Gold Battery Mount