Jan Pascale’s set decoration on ‘Mank’ captures ’30s Hollywood glamour

Joshua Axelrod
April 3, 2021
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jan Pascale seems to find her greatest success when working in black and white.

The Beechview native has been a set decorator for major Hollywood projects since the 1980s, but didn’t pick up her first Oscar nomination until 2005’s “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a black-and-white film directed by George Clooney. She wound up losing out to “Memoirs of a Geisha” at the 2006 Academy Awards.

Fifteen years later, she has another shot at Oscar glory later this month with her best production design nomination for “Mank,” David Fincher’s black-and-white Netflix drama chronicling Herman J. Mankiewicz’s efforts to write the screenplay for “Citizen Kane.”

“It’s really exciting and humbling,” Pascale told the Post-Gazette. “It’s unique that both of my nominations were for black-and-white films done completely differently.”

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‘Mank’ Costume Designer Trish Summerville On Turning Color Into Black & White

Gregory Ellwood
April 2, 2021
The Playlist

Costume designer Trish Summerville has collaborated with David Fincher on films such as Gone Girl” and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and with other filmmakers on large fantasy films including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and The Dark Tower.” None of that prepared her for tackling Fincher’s passion project, however. Mank” not only found her designing clothing from Hollywood’s golden era, but translating those costumes specifically for a black and white digital canvas.

“We had to make a really big decision on how we would go about translating the degrees and tones that we needed on screen, but not to be too jarring and distracting to the actors while on set. Because a lot of the women’s clothes that actresses wore were in corals and short truce, lime green, bright purple, a lot of bright t-shirts,” Summerville recalls. “So for us, that would have been too distracting to have all those colors to the naked eye on set but would have translated lovely in black and white. It was just kind of figuring out what colors we could use that adjusted that a bit and tones we would go in, and just keep the pallet a little bit more stabilized in different scenes, especially scenes where we have larger background numbers. We just kind of wanted to keep the color palette very contained.”

Currently in production on Francis Lawrence’s “Slumberland,” Summerville revisited her work on the Netflix release which included a lot of time showcasing the character and real-life historical figure Marion Davis, portrayed by another first-time Oscar nominee, Amanda Seyfried.

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The Filmmakers Podcast: The Making of David Fincher’s “Mank”

Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, Make Up Designer Gigi Williams, Production Designer Don Burt & Costume Designer Trish Summerville

Giles Alderson, Andrew Rodger, Phil Hawkins
April 2, 2021
The Filmmakers Podcast

We are delighted to bring to you our SPECIAL bumper episode on the Making of David Fincher’s BAFTA & OSCAR nominated ‘Mank’.

We start with Giles Alderson and Andrew Rodger having a chat with ‘Mank’ Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt about going from Gaffer on Fincher’s Gone Girl to DoP on Mank and how he made the transition to make his debut feature film.

He talks pre-production, how he works with Fincher especially during the repeated takes, what the process was to shooting in black and white and the camera they used.

Co host Phil Hawkins then joins Giles to chat to Make Up designer Gigi Williams about her process, the difference between shooting on digital vs. film. What she works on first how she collaborates with the HOD team and gives some brilliant Make Up tips.

We then chat to Production Designer and Art Director Donald Graham Burt AKA Don Burt about designing the film from preparation through the shooting. He explains why listening is so important in film-making, how he researches a project and how he created the 1930/s & 1940 style and look. And how you don’t have to appease to get ahead.

Finally we chat to Costume Designer Trish Summerville about how she created the look and feel of Mank through her costumes. She talks about working in teams, how to collaborate with actors to help create the characters and how to use colours and patterns to portray certain emotions!

Listen to the podcast:

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MovieMaker Podcast: David Fincher and Don Burt (Mank‪)

Tim Molloy
March 31, 2021
MovieMaker

Director David Fincher and production designer Don Burt have collaborated since Zodiac. For their latest film, Mank, they talk about the process of deciding what to include and subtract from every scene.

In Mank, that meant re-creating Hearst Castle, the realm of media baron William Randolph Hearst… and the guests Fincher describes as his “captives.”

Listen to the podcast and read the articles:

David Fincher: ‘Perfectionism Is a Term That’s Thrown About Mostly by People Who Are Lazy’

How Mank Production Designer Don Burt Recreated Hearst Castle Without Visiting It

Podcast also available on:

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Mank’s Monochrome Effects

Mike Seymour
March 14, 2021
fxguide

Mank is nominated for 10 Academy awards in this year’s 93rd Oscars in categories such as Best Picture, Lead Actor, and Best Director. It is also nominated for the VES award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature. The film follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s tumultuous development of Orson Welles’ iconic masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941).

There were several VFX supervisors nominated, Simon Carr (Territory Studio), Wei Zheng (Artemple), James Pastorius (Savage VFX), along with Peter Mavromates. In many respects, director David Fincher could have also been nominated for VFX. The director is himself an expert in visual effects and was a very active contributor to the film’s effect work. Peter Mavromates is a long-time collaborator with David Fincher and was officially the Co-producer, Post Supervisor and VFX Producer on the film. Additionally, Pablo Helman at ILM was key in creating the CG animals at the San Simeon zoo.

The film had its roots going back over 20 years. “We had a false start about 20 years ago, around 1999. The script had been written at that time but it never happened for a number of reasons,” Mavromates comments. “Probably a contributing factor was that it was black and white and if you weren’t Woody Allen in the 90s, you couldn’t shoot black and white. Even Mel Brooks had to change producers for Young Frankenstein because the studio wouldn’t let him shoot black and white and he had to find another studio.”

The movie finished filming about 2 weeks before the W.H.O. declared the COVID pandemic in Feb 2020. This meant nearly all the VFX was done using remote protocols at each of the VFX vendors.

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For ‘Mank,’ it wasn’t impossible to track down L.A.’s history. But it sure wasn’t easy

Gregory Ellwood
March 31, 2021
Los Angeles Times

When Donald Graham Burt first began working on David Fincher’s “Mank,” the filmmaker passed along some location photos from the late 1990s, when he had first tried to get the movie off the ground. Even for a film set at the peak of the Golden Age of Hollywood, the 1930s and 1940s, you might expect more of Los Angeles’ period architecture to have survived. Looking through the photos, Burt quickly realized that that wasn’t the case.

“So many places in L.A. have been razed that were [standing] even at the turn of the century. And I was seeing places like Perino’s [restaurant] and, of course, the Ambassador Hotel, but it seemed like all the Paul Williams architecture, for some reason, was being destroyed. And it was so interesting just to see the locales of Los Angeles from the late ’90s and realizing, ‘Oh, wow, we are removed from that. Aren’t we?’”

Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including production design, “Mank” centers on screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) during the period in 1940 he spent writing the screenplay for the cinematic classic “Citizen Kane.” It also flashes back to Mank’s life a decade prior, when he found himself in the social circle of media tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) and his very public mistress, screen star Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried).

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Oscar-Nominated Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt on “Mank”

Matt Hurwitz
March 31, 2021
The Credits (MPA)

Actors Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried go for their characters’ leisurely evening stroll outside San Marino’s Huntington Library, which is subbing in for William Randolph Hearst’s Hearst Castle at San Simeon.  The only thing is, it’s not night – and the actors are wearing custom-tinted contact lenses to help them avoid squinting, due to the additional bright lights director of photography Erik Messerschmidt has added to make his day-for-night photography appear correct in the final image.

Day-for-night is not the only classic technique the Oscar-nominated cinematographer utilized on David Fincher’s Oscar-nominated movie, Mank. The film, which tells the tale of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s path to writing the screenplay for 1941’s Citizen Kane, pays homage not only to Mank himself but to that film’s legendary cinematographer, Gregg Toland. And while the two made use of some of Toland’s techniques, they did so with great care.  “We refused to allow ourselves to think of Toland exclusively,” says Fincher. “We didn’t want to ape – we wanted to inhabit.”

He and Messerschmidt have worked together over two seasons of the director’s intriguing crime series, Mindhunterand Fincher had mentioned the film project, written by his father Jack Fincher, to his DP on occasion. The two were prepping another film, World War Z 2, but when the project came to halt, Messerschmidt went off to South Africa to shoot several episodes of HBO Max’s Raised by Wolves. While there, he says, “David e-mailed me and said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna do this movie, Mank, about Herman Mankiewicz. Would you like to do it?’” The answer, of course, was yes.

Read the full profile:

Part I
Part II

Creating the Physical Look of David Fincher’s ‘Mank’

Jeffrey Reeser
March 30, 2021
No Film School

Every detail matters.

It’s no surprise that David Fincher‘s Mank was nominated for Best Production Design at this year’s Oscars. Production designer Donald Graham Burt is a veteran Fincher collaborator, and he has a perfectionist streak equal to the director. Along with set decorator Jan Pascale, Burt tells us how he helped craft a period-specific look for the celebrated film.

From the daunting task of recreating Hearst Castle interiors to the iPhone filter they used to audition every possible prop, you’ll get a sense of designing the look of a film on this scale, as well as applicable tips to any production at any size.

Listen to the podcast:

No Film School
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iHeart

The ‘Mank’ scene that best encapsulates its 10 Oscar nominations

Christopher Rosen
March 30, 2021
Gold Derby

No movie received more Oscar nominations in 2021 than David Fincher’s “Mank,” a Hollywood throwback about Herman Mankiewicz (Best Actor nominee Gary Oldman), Marion Davies (Best Supporting Actress nominee Amanda Seyfried), and the writing process behind Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” With 10 total nominations — including Best Picture, Best Director for Fincher, Best Actor for Oldman, Best Supporting Actress for Seyfried, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Hair & Makeup, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score — the lavish black-and-white Netflix film is just the 96th feature in Academy Awards history to receive double-digit citations and the second-most lauded Fincher effort behind only “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

With a project comprised of so many academy-endorsed contributions, it might be difficult to imagine one single scene representing the sum of the whole. But nestled within the complex structure of Jack Fincher’s time-hopping screenplay is a sequence that combines all 10 of the “Mank” nominations and shows how each department and performance elevated the next: Mank and Marion’s stroll through San Simeon.

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Behind the Seams: CDGA Nominees Trish Summerville and Michael Wilkinson

JL Pomeroy
March 28, 2021
Costume Designers Guild Awards (Twitter)

Join us on another installment of Behind the Seams: Runway to the CDGA! This week, our host JL Pomeroy is joined by nominees Trish Summerville (Mank) and Michael Wilkinson (Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey).