In this video, I explore David Fincher‘s 2007 film Zodiac, and how yellow is secretly used to help tell the story.
MUSIC IN THIS VIDEO: Astral Projection, Astronomy, Unsolved Mystery – by White Bat Audio
Multi-award winning costume designer and FIDM Grad Trish Summerville joins FIDM Museum Curator Kevin Jones for a live Q&A about her work on the hit Netflix film Mank, nominated for 10 Academy Awards this year including Best Costume Design (Trish Summerville), Best Picture, Best Director (David Fincher), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Oldman), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Amanda Seyfried).
Learn how Trish recreated looks based on real-life people, including Marion Davies, as she and her team take audiences back to the golden age of Hollywood when Herman J. Mankiewicz sets out to write Citizen Kane.
Known for her impressive work on films including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl, Trish will share advice and key takeaways from her career spanning decades. You’ll have a chance to submit your own costume design questions, so we encourage you to come prepared.
Her work has been featured many times in the FIDM Museum’s “Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” and “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibitions.
Citizen Kane is often regarded as the greatest film ever made. The fictionalized story of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst didn’t win a Best Picture Oscar in 1942, but it did win a Best Original Screenplay award. Hollywood still loves a story about itself, and this year, Mank, a film about Citizen Kane‘s screenwriter, Herman Mankiewicz, earned 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. It also received a nomination for Amanda Seyfried for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Marion Davies.
In real life, as in Mank, Davies was a starlet who lived a life of luxury with Hearst. She was born in Brooklyn and went from the Ziegfeld Follies to Hollywood. She became a siren of the silent movies in the 1920s, and ironed out her accent as she moved into talking pictures.
“Marion was a really talented actor, she had incredible range, she was really funny, and she was able to lighten any scene that she was in,” says Seyfried. “She was very unfiltered like I am, and she was very allergic to being dishonest, which I am absolutely. You know, the Brooklynese was kind of, just, at the end of the day, when she took her shoes off and she grabbed her bottle of gin. She was exactly who she was and you know, she had no shame from where she came from.”
Having collaborated with David Fincher — and each other — on previous projects such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl, costume designer Trish Summerville and production designer Donald Graham Burt were both aware of the director’s long-gestating project Mank before it ever got the greenlight.
April 12, 2021
Fincher had wanted to make this 1930s Los Angeles-set period piece about screenwriter Herman J Mankiewicz and his troubled writing of Citizen Kane for director Orson Welles ever since his journalist father Jack penned a screenplay in the late 1990s; Fincher Sr died in 2003 with the script still in a drawer. When Netflix approached Fincher about making a film following their collaboration on crime series Mindhunter, the director immediately suggested Mank and brought Summerville and Burt onboard.
“It was a project that I really wanted to be a part of,” says Summerville. “Being black and white, being a period setting, being with David, it’s the kind of film that’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance.” Burt, too, felt an instant connection. “It’s a period Los Angeles film-industry movie, and I immediately fell in love with it.”
Fincher’s film was to be an authentic emulation of a 1930s movie, featuring real-life locations and characters including Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), Welles (Tom Burke), media titan William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), MGM boss Louis B Mayer (Arliss Howard), producer Irving Thalberg (Ferdinand Kingsley) and Hearst’s girlfriend, actress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried). That meant research — and lots of it.
Oscar nominees Amanda Seyfried, Trish Summerville, Gigi Williams and Colleen Labaff spoke with THR’s Scott Feinberg.
April 9, 2021
The Hollywood Reporter
“He’s extremely efficient, so the team around him has to be very efficient as well,” says Trish Summerville, Mank‘s Oscar-nominated costume designer, as we — along with the film’s best supporting actress nominee Amanda Seyfried, who plays actress Marion Davies, and best makeup and hairstyling nominees Gigi Williams (the makeup department head) and Colleen Labaff (the assistant head hair stylist) — discuss the film’s Oscar-nominated director, David Fincher, during an episode of THR Presents.
Mank, a Netflix film about the alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and the writing of the 1941 classic Citizen Kane, was designed to look and sound as if it was made during the same era as Kane. This required special attention from each of these four women. Seyfried had to adopt a pre-Method style of acting. Williams and Labaff had to recreate the looks of specific famous people from that time. And Summerville had to design or obtain clothing that was not only period-appropriate, but that also looked right in black-and-white.
“You guys are geniuses,” Seyfried says to her three fellow artists, noting that without their contributions she could never have given the career-reinventing performance that she did.
Fincher is famously a perfectionist, sometimes shooting dozens upon dozens of takes, and is also regarded as intimidating by many who don’t know him, as was the case for Seyfried and Labaff prior to Mank. But Summerville had previously collaborated with him on music videos, 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and 2014’s Gone Girl, and says, “Every time I work with him I feel like I become a better filmmaker, I become better at my job.” Adds Williams, who worked with him on Gone Girl and the 2017-2019 TV series Mindhunter, “I just adore him — he has made me a better makeup artist.”
Whatever Fincher does, it clearly brings out the best in those around him, at least on Mank, which landed 10 Oscar nominations, four more than the next-most-nominated film this year, including best picture.
A conversation with Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, ASC, Production Designer Donald Graham Burt, Set Decorator Jan Pascale, Costume Designer Trish Summerville, and Makeup Department Head Gigi Williams on behalf of Mank. Moderated by Wendy Mitchell.
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.
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: