David Fincher’s 11th feature film, Mank, is a passion project like no other on the director’s résumé — a drama, shot in black-and-white, about the formative years of Hollywood’s sound era, the agony and the ecstasy of what he calls “enforced collaboration” between directors and writers, and the political ruthlessness of Golden Age studios, told through the journey of an unlikely hero — Herman J. Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman), the newspaperman turned screenwriter who co-wrote (or wrote, depending on your POV) the screenplay for Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. Every frame of the movie, which opens in select theaters November 13 and will hit Netflix on December 4, brims with the director’s loving but unsentimental view of film history and of filmmaking — and also carries an unexpected wallop of political resonance with media manipulation and the creation of “fake news” disinformation that couldn’t possibly have been anticipated 30 years ago, when his late father, Jack, first wrote the script. Mank is an unusually personal film for Fincher, not only because it memorializes his work with his father (who died in 2003), but because, in a way, it continues a passionate conversation about movies that began between the two of them when Fincher was a young boy. Its history also spans Fincher’s entire feature career — the original draft was written just before he went off to direct his first film. In two interviews over a long weekend, the director talked about bringing it to the screen.
“Excited to share these images which I have been working on for the past year in support of Mank. Thank you to David Fincher and Ceán Chaffin for the opportunity to witness and photograph the production of this incredibly unique film. Scorsese said that the most personal is the most creative, and as such, Mank is Fincher’s best film yet.” 
“I shot everything digitally, 95% of it on a Leica Q2. I spent a lot of time making everything look like 4×5 – scanning vintage negatives to place around the images, decreasing depth of field/softening the photos by adding Gaussian blur in Photoshop, adding shadow and highlight halation, dodging and burning every image to get the best tonality out of the files while emulating panchromatic film, adding vignetting, and the right amount of grain. I could never have achieved these shots using 4×5, and it was David Fincher’s idea to do this all digitally, and in the process make something that looks even better than film.”
“The reason I chose the Q2 was for its high resolution, as well as its ability to achieve shallow depth of field on a wide angle lens, which I then augmented even further in post.”
“I didn’t push the ISO very often, shooting at f1.7 helped. I don’t like to go above base (50) on the Q2. For Mindhunter I used the Q, as the Q2 wasn’t out yet.” 
One of his most-repeated wisecracks originated at a dinner party hosted by Arthur Hornblow Jr., a cultured and talented producer so sophisticated that he and Myrna Loy celebrated their divorce with a party at the Mocambo nightclub. The elegant Hornblow was known for lavishing care on his food and wine, but on that occasion, Herman drank so much that he had to bolt from the table to vomit. “Don’t worry, Arthur,” he airily told his host afterward. “The white wine came up with the fish.”
Amanda Seyfried Lily Collins – Arliss Howard Tom Pelphrey – Sam Troughton – Ferdinand Kingsley Tuppence Middleton – Tom Burke – Joseph Cross Jamie McShane – Toby Leonard Moore – Monika Gossmann and Charles Dance
Casting by Laray Mayfield Sound Supervised by Ren Klyce Music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Gowns and Costumes by Trish Summerville Film Edited by Kirk Baxter, A.C.E. Production Designed by Donald Graham Burt Photographed in Hi-Dynamic Range by Erik Messerschmidt, ASC Produced by Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, Douglas Urbanski Screen Play by Jack Fincher Directed by David Fincher
MPPDA – Recorded in Mon((o))scape – I.A.T.S.E. – Rated R. Some Language
Herman ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) drunkenly harangues the dinner guests at Hearst Castle
Directed by: David Fincher Produced by: Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, and Douglas Urbanski Written by: Jack Fincher Score by: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Costumes by: Trish Summerville Edited by: Kirk Baxter, ACE Production Design by: Donald Graham Burt Photography by: Erik Messerschmidt, ASC Co-Produced by: Peter Mavromates & William Doyle
Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) sits in growing horror as her dinner party is disturbed by Mank
Cast: Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies Lily Collins as Rita Alexander Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer Tom Pelphrey as Joe Mankiewicz Sam Troughton as John Houseman Ferdinand Kingsley as Irving Thalberg Tuppence Middleton as Sara Mankiewicz Tom Burke as Orson Welles Joseph Cross as Charles Lederer Jamie McShane as Shelly Metcalf Toby Leonard Moore as David O. Selznick Monika Gossmann as Fraulein Freda and Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) beside MGM’s Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard)
Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz (Gisele Schmidt/NETFLIX)
Gary Oldman (as Herman Mankiewicz), Sean Persaud (as Mank’s colleague Tommy), and Gaffer Danny Gonzalez, before a LED backdrop of the desert (Gisele Schmidt/NETFLIX)
Gary Oldman (as Herman Mankiewicz) shot with the RED Monstro 8K Monochrome by Camera Operator Brian Osmond (Nikolai Loveikis/NETFLIX)
Even before theatrical failures dimmed his dreams of escape, Herman had decided he could bring New York to Hollywood by importing some of his friends. If Ben Hecht couldn’t write him a good script, Herman told Schulberg, then Schulberg could tear up Herman’s two-year contract and fire them both. His boss could hardly refuse a bet like that, so Herman wired, “Will you accept three hundred per week to work for Paramount Pictures. All expenses paid. The three hundred is peanuts. Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don’t let this get around.”
Hecht, who later claimed that Herman’s telegram arrived just in time to avert a financial disaster so severe that he had taken to his bed with Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, hurried west to enroll in what he called the Herman Mankiewicz School of Screenwriting.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Se7en and the 10th anniversary of The Social Network, The Ringer hereby dubs September 21-25 David Fincher Week. Join us all throughout the week as we celebrate and examine the man, the myth, and his impeccable body of work.
The protagonists of everything from ‘Fight Club’ to ‘Zodiac’ to ‘Gone Girl’ have something in common: they’re all cut from the same cloth as their director
No filmmaker has ever put himself into his work like Alfred Hitchcock. In movie after movie, the director made blink-or-miss-them appearances located at the edge of the frame—crossing a street walking a dog; appearing in a photo for a weight loss clinic—that prompted audiences to play a game of spot-the-auteur. These slyly miniaturized acts of showmanship were simultaneously sight gags and wry reminders of who was really in charge: The so-called “master of suspense” mixed in among the actors he infamously referred to as “cattle.”
David Fincher has not appeared in any of his own films: the closest thing to a cameo comes in 2014’s Gone Girl, a positively Hitchcockian thriller right down to its shower scene featuring a bloody blond. Midway through the film, suspected wife killer Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is being coached on an upcoming television appearance by his high-priced lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), who’s determined that his client makes just the right impression. During their dressing room prep session, the attorney pelts Nick with gummy bears to sharpen his posture and line readings. Perry supposedly didn’t know who Fincher was before being cast in the part, but that doesn’t preclude the fact that in this scene, he’s doing an indirect impression of his director—a control freak who once said there are only two ways to shoot any given scene, and that one of them is always wrong.