‘Mank’ Editor Kirk Baxter On The Most Daunting Scene To Cut & The Performance That Captured His Heart

Matt Grobar
February 19, 2021
Deadline

When editor Kirk Baxter boarded labyrinthine, Old Hollywood drama Mank, he was met with multiple timelines, and rapid-fire dialogue from a vast assortment of real-life characters.

While Baxter would be tasked with guiding the viewer through the complex period piece, he never thought of the film as a challenge, per se. “I look back,” he tells Deadline, “and see it as a joy.”

Directed by David FincherMank follows alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), as he endeavors to finish the screenplay for Citizen Kane. Along the way, it also examines the washed-up wordsmith’s relationships with icons of his time, including Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried), William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), and Orson Welles (Tom Burke).

First collaborating with Fincher on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Baxter quickly developed a shorthand with the auteur, going on to reteam with him on four other films and two TV series. While Benjamin Button would land him his first Oscar nomination, his first pair of statuettes would come shortly thereafter, for his contributions to The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Poised to return to the race once more with Mank, Baxter spoke with Deadline about the scene in Fincher’s longtime passion project that scared him the most, the performance that captured his heart, and the aspect of the process that felt like “the cherry on top.”

Read the full interview

More Like This: Spotlight on Mank, featuring Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Erik Messerschmidt and more

Krista Smith
February 10, 2021
More Like This (A Netflix Queue Podcast)

A podcast from Netflix Queue, the journal that celebrates the people, ideas, and process of creating great entertainment on Netflix and beyond. Host Krista Smith is joined by a different co-host each episode – Franklin Leonard, Tre’vell Anderson, and others – to give an insider’s peek into the creation of your favorite films, series and documentaries and the incredibly talented people who make them.

More Like This gets the Mank treatment! In this very special episode, Krista takes us behind the scenes of David Fincher’s Mank, sharing interviews with key members of the creative team. Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross talk about the power of storytelling through music, how they pulled inspiration from composers of the past, and how pandemic restrictions forced them to record a 70-piece orchestra one instrument at a time; set decorator Jan Pascale demonstrates how the smallest details make the biggest impact; cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt details how he combined classic and modern techniques to transport a 21st century audience back in time; and editor Kirk Baxter explains why David Fincher once called him 50% blacksmith and 50% poet. Enjoy this deep dive into the process of making movie magic with film collaborators at the top of their game, and be sure to see their work in Mank, now streaming on Netflix.

Listen to the podcast:

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Stitcher

Simplecast
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Excerpt with Erik Messerschmidt:

Cinefade VariND

Editor Kirk Baxter Thrived on Mank’s Dialogue-Heavy Sequences

Clarence Moye
February 8, 2021
Awards Daily

Netflix’s Mank marks editor Kirk Baxter’s fifth cinematic collaboration with director David Fincher. It’s a collaboration that proved extremely rewarding for the editor who received two Academy Awards for his work with Fincher — 2010’s The Social Network and 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In fact, Baxter and then co-editor Angus Wall achieved an incredibly rare feat with their Dragon Tattoo win given its lack of a Best Picture nomination.

That successful collaborative history with Fincher stems from Baxter’s willingness to accept feedback and push his work to be the best it can be.

“I don’t seek to be finished, and I remain curious with the material. I don’t work from a defensive standpoint. I don’t have this protectionist quality about the work I’ve done,” Baxter explained when ruminating on his partnership with Fincher. “I just show the work, and if he’s into it, he’s into it. If he’s got a way that he thinks it can be improved, then I’m into that. That’s the relationship. It’s a lot of back and forth, and I’m really comfortable doing it.”

Read the full profile

Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl Commercial Executive Produced by David Fincher and Directed by Adam Hashemi

February 3, 2021
Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch – Let’s Grab a Beer (Super Bowl LV) (“90)

Anheuser-Busch – Let’s Grab a Beer (Super Bowl LV) (“60)

Tagline
“It’s never just about the beer. It’s about being together.”

Press Release

CREDITS

Agency
Wieden+Kennedy Portland

Global Chief Creative Officer
Karl Lieberman

Global Chief Operating Officer
Neal Arthur

Director of Strategic Planning
Dan Hill

Creative Director
Michael Hagos

Copywriter
Brad Phifer

Head of Integrated Production
Nick Setounski

Executive Producer
Jessica Griffeth

Senior Producer
Bianca Cochran

Group Account Director
Brooke Stites

Account Supervisor
Meredith Zambito

Group Strategy Director
Stephane Missier

Strategist
Matt Hisamoto

Social Strategist
Irsis Cabral

Comms Director
Zack Green

Business Affairs
Daniella Vargas

Traffic Coordinator
Tina Wyatt

Production Company
Reset

Executive Producer
David Fincher

Managing Director/Executive Producer
Dave Morrison

Executive Producer
Deannie O’Neil

Producer
Vincent Landay

Assistant Producer
Grace Campos

Director
Adam Hashemi

1sr Assistant Director
Bob Wagner

Directors of Photography
Eigil Bryld, Chayse Irvin

Production Designer
Donald Graham Burt

Costumes
J.R. Hawbaker

Sound
Ren Klyce

Music
Barking Owl

Composer
Atticus Ross

Musical Creative Director
Kelly Bayett

Editorial & Finishing
Exile

Editor
Kirk Baxter

Additional Editor
Grant Surmi

Assistant Editor
Christopher Fetsch

Flame Artist
Dino Tsaousis

Flame Assistant
Adam Greenberg

Executive Producer
Sasha Hirschfeld

Post Producer
Toby Louie

The Perfect Storm That Led to Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl Ad

Inside the journey to W+K’s ‘Let’s Grab a Beer’

Tim Nudd
February 15, 2021
Muse by Clio

“Let’s Grab A Beer” Grabs 1st Place In Top Ten Tracks Chart

Atticus Ross and Ren Klyce continue to collaborate with David Fincher–this time on a Super Bowl spot directed by Adam Hashemi.

April 2, 2021
Shoot

Mank, The Unmaking

January 28, 2021
Netflix

manktheunmaking.com

Text by:

Nev Pierce

Photography by:

Erik Messerschmidt
Miles Crist
Gisele Schmidt-Oldman
Gary Oldman
Ceán Chaffin
Nikolai Loveikis

Art Of The Cut Podcast: “Mank” Editor Kirk Baxter, ACE

Steve Hullfish (Twitter)
January 27, 2021
Art Of The Cut Podcast (ProVideo Coalition)

The Art of the Cut podcast brings the fantastic conversations that Steve Hullfish has with world renowned editors into your car, living room, editing suite and beyond. In each episode, Steve talks with editors ranging from emerging stars to Oscar and Emmy winners. Hear from the top editors of today about their careers, editing workflows and about their work on some of the biggest films and TV shows of the year.

On this episode of the Art of the Cut Podcast, Steve talks with multi-award winning editor Kirk Baxter, ACE about editing the Netflix film “Mank.” You likely know Kirk from his Oscar winning work on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Social Network” as well as his Oscar nominated work on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” In addition to his feature film work, Kirk was nominated for Prime Time Emmy’s for “House of Cards” and “Big Love.” All of this just scratches the surface of Kirks filmography, check out his IMDb page for a full breakdown!

This episode of the Art of the Cut Podcast is brought to you by Filmtools.com, Hollywood’s trusted one-stop shop for all things production and post.

Want to read/ listen to more interviews from Steve Hullfish? Check out The Art of the Cut Archive for more than 200 interviews with some of the top film and TV editors of today!

The Art of the Cut podcast is available on:

ProVideo Coalition
Apple Podcasts
Spotify
Anchor
Google Podcasts
Breaker
Pocket Casts
Overcast
Radio Public

If you like the podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes and tell an editor friend.

Read the transcription of this interview:

ART OF THE CUT with Kirk Baxter, ACE on editing Fincher’s “Mank”

Steve Hullfish
February 2, 2021
ProVideo Coalition

Kirk Baxter on editing David Fincher’s Mank

Oliver Peters
January 20, 2021
postPerspective

David Fincher’s Mank follows Herman Mankiewicz during the time he was writing the classic film Citizen Kane. Mank, as he was known, wrote or co-wrote about 40 films, often uncredited, including the first draft of The Wizard of Oz. Together with Orson Welles, he won an Oscar for the screenplay of Citizen Kane, but it’s long been disputed whether or not he, rather than Welles, actually did the bulk of the work on the screenplay.

The script for Mank was penned decades ago by David Fincher’s father, Jack, and was brought to the screen thanks to Netflix this past year. Fincher deftly blends two parallel storylines: Mankiewicz’s writing of Kane during his convalescence from an accident and his earlier Hollywood experiences with the studios, as told through flashbacks.

Fincher and director of photography Erik Messerschmidt, ASC, (Mindhunter) used many techniques to pay homage to the look of Citizen Kane and other classic films of the era, including shooting in true black-and-white with Red Monstro 8K Monochrome cameras and Leica Summilux lenses. Fincher also tapped other frequent collaborators, including Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the score and Oscar-winning editor Kirk Baxter, ACE, who won for the Fincher film’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network.

I recently caught up with Baxter, who runs Exile Edit, to discuss Mank — starring Gary Oldman in the main role — the fourth film he’s edited for David Fincher.

Read the full interview

Art Of The Cut Podcast: “Mank” First Assistant Editor Ben Insler

Steve Hullfish (Twitter)
December 9, 2020
Art Of The Cut Podcast (ProVideo Coalition)

The Art of the Cut podcast brings the fantastic conversations that Steve Hullfish has with world renowned editors into your car, living room, editing suite and beyond. In each episode, Steve talks with editors ranging from emerging stars to Oscar and Emmy winners. Hear from the top editors of today about their careers, editing workflows and about their work on some of the biggest films and TV shows of the year.

On this episode of the Art of the Cut Podcast, Steve talks with editor Ben Insler about his work on the new Netflix Film “Mank.” Ben has edited multiple series including the Netflix series “Mindhunter.” In this episode Steve dives deep into the work flows and technology used to cut this film including the challenges of finishing a film remotely due to COVID-19.

On a future episode, Steve will also be talking with editor Kirk Baxter about leading the “Mank” editing team. Make sure to keep a look out for that episode!

This episode of the Art of the Cut Podcast is brought to you by Filmtools.com, Hollywood’s trusted one-stop shop for all things production and post.

Want to read/ listen to more interviews from Steve Hullfish? Check out The Art of the Cut Archive for more than 200 interviews with some of the top film and TV editors of today!

The Art of the Cut podcast is available on:

ProVideo Coalition
Apple Podcasts
Spotify
Anchor
Google Podcasts
Breaker
Pocket Casts
Overcast
Radio Public

If you like the podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes and tell an editor friend.

Read the transcription of this interview:

ART OF THE CUT on the workflows and methods for editing “Mank”

Steve Hullfish
December 9, 2020
ProVideo Coalition

The People Who Can See Inside David Fincher’s Head

The famously meticulous Mank director is surrounded by collaborators tasked with turning his most ambitious ideas into reality.

David Sims
December 9, 2020
The Atlantic

Early in Netflix’s Mank, the screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman) ambles onto an outdoor movie set, where he bumps into an array of glamorous characters. In a scene full of repartee with real-life figures such as the actor Marion Davies, the film honcho Louis B. Mayer, and the mogul William Randolph Hearst, the visual details of the environment might seem unimportant. But to Mank’s director, David Fincher, they mattered. “The grass was not to David’s liking, and the sky was not to his liking, so all that’s been replaced,” Peter Mavromates, his co-producer, told me. When making a movie, Fincher literally controls heaven and earth.

That example sums up the capricious-sounding, godlike power of a director, especially in the age of digital filmmaking, which allows for total command of every frame. But as with all of his movies, Fincher’s vision for Mank was realized by a group of dedicated collaborators, most of whom have worked with the director for many years across projects. This film, which Fincher mulled for nearly three decades, is unlike anything he has made before. An unusual-looking-and-sounding film set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, Mank reflects the aesthetic of the 1930s with its black-and-white cinematography; an echoey, old-fashioned sound mix; and a brassy, orchestral score. But Fincher also wanted it to be a distinctly modern film, which posed many unique and fascinating technical challenges to the creators charged with bringing his lofty ideas to life.

Read the full profile

X2X: Glimpse into Future Filmmaking with Mank

How will filmmaking adapt in the post-Covid era? A glimpse into the future is afforded by Mank, the forthcoming Netflix feature project directed by David Fincher and spearheaded by producer Ceán Chaffin. More than a love letter to a catalog title, Mank is a glimpse of the complex interplay of human creativity and the filmmaking process as practiced in Hollywood’s golden era.

December 9, 2020
X2X

Fincher is known for working in the vanguard of filmmaking technology. Examples include a very early digital intermediate on Panic Room – the first ever in a facility designed for the purpose – and Zodiac, one of the first major features to be shot almost entirely digitally. The remote collaboration envisioned by futurists at the dawn of the internet era was already common practice for his team long before the pandemic.

“Fortunately, we have not missed a beat,” says Chaffin. “We are working now exactly how we mostly could have been working the past ten years, which is working from home during post.”

But the virus and its requirement to remain physically apart may constitute a final push for the industry at large. All the attributes of true remote connectivity – reduced travel time and its attendant benefits in terms of stress, pollution and time savings, enhanced with rapid feedback, superior organization and a centralized database – will still be applicable when health concerns subside.

A canvas of the top pros on David Fincher’s team indicates that while the pandemic naturally raises stress levels, the need to work separately has been essentially a non-factor in terms of their ability to collaborate efficiently and keep the production on track.

Fincher came to the project with a mandate that the production work with the PIX production hub. Chaffin, who has made nine films with Fincher, says that the system is an essential tool for collaboration and input.

“This is how we have worked for a long time.” says Chaffin. “David feels the team is making the film with him, sharing in the problem-solving. Even when we were in the same building, David was often responding exclusively through PIX. His preferences and concerns are there for everyone to refer to. You don’t have to go find that one email, or remember a comment someone made on their way out the door.

Read the full case study