Welcome to the Rock ‘n Roll Ghost Podcast. On this episode, the Ghost speaks with musician and composer Jason Hill about his career dating back to his days in the bands Convoy, Louis XIV and Vicki Cryer. As well as his work with The Killers and producing/touring with the New York Dolls and the recent passing of Sylvain Sylvain. Hill also talks about his late career turn towards film and TV composing. He has worked closely with director David Fincher on projects such as Fincher’s Gone Girl and the Netflix series Mindhunter. It’s a pretty wide ranging, fun interview with someone I go back nearly twenty years with.
Also, starting April 1st, Hill will be hosting Film Composing and Music production masterclasses. Check out the Department of Recording and Power‘s website for more information.
A disillusioned screenwriter in old Hollywood gets a shot at redemption in Director David Fincher’s biographical comedy-drama, Mank.
Fincher’s film takes place as film 24-year-old wunderkind Orson Welles hires scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz to write the screenplay for his masterpiece, Citizen Kane.
On February 6, Fincher discussed the making of Mank in a DGA Virtual Q&A moderated by Director Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7).
During their conversation, Fincher spoke about his love for “the altar of cinema,” the communal aspect that can come through film. “For me, what I love about cinema is going into a big dark room with 700 people and through their laughter and through their surprise and through their shock and through their reactions you realize, I’m not alone. I’m the same. I’m wired into this group in the same way just organically and I’m picking up on all these other cues. That is what makes the cinema, or a great grand theater, an almost cathedral-like experience.”
Fincher’s other directorial credits include the feature films Se7en, The Game, Panic Room, Zodiac, Gone Girl; episodes of the television series House of Cards and Mindhunter; and countless commercials and music videos. He has been nominated for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In 2013, he was nominated for the DGA Award for Dramatic Series for House of Cards, “Chapter 1” and has twice been nominated for the DGA Award for his Commercial work with Anonymous Content in 2003 and 2008, winning the Award in 2003 for Beauty for Sale (Xelibri Phones), Gamebreakers (Nikegridiron.Com) and Speed Chain (Nike).
You don’t win two Academy Awards without being pretty great at your job. So, it’s not a stretch to call Kirk Baxter an ace editor. His work, not just alongside Angus Wall, but with director David Fincher, has produced some impeccably edited films. The Social Network, along with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, won Baxter and Wall Oscars, while they also received a nomination for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Throw in Gone Girl, as well as now Mank (which is a solo editing job, without Wall), and you have someone who is truly at the top of their craft. So, getting the chance to pick Baxter’s brain was a chance I had no intention of passing up.
Below, you can hear my conversation with Baxter. Mank is at the center of our chat, but I was just fascinated by editing in general and wanted to hear as much as I could from him. So, we move in a few different directions, thought the Fincher flick is never far from our minds. Baxter is well on his way to another citation from the Academy, so it’s a perfect time to revisit the film over on Netflix. As I wrote in my review (found here), the tech work in the movie, including Baxter’s, is beyond reproach.
Because We Love Making Movies is an ongoing conversation with filmmakers who work behind the scenes to make the movies we love. These are the invisible warriors we don’t think of: Production & Costume Designers, Cinematographers, Editors, Producers, and the whole family of artists who make movies with their hands and hearts.
Today, we have a special treat… Production Designer Donald Graham Burt returns to talk about designing and making Mank… David Fincher’s love letter to old Hollywood & California, and the portrait of a man in conflict with everyone. It is a masterclass in filmmaking and the power of limitations from the most humble of masters.
Recommended Viewing: Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, and Mank.
The counterculture movement of the 1960s clashes with the hostile Nixon administration in Director Aaron Sorkin’s historical drama, The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Set in the aftermath of what happened after a peaceful protest turned into a violent encounter with the police at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Sorkin’s film recounts the infamous 1969 trial of seven political activists – that included moderate Students for a Democratic Society led by Tom Hayden, militant Yippies led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers – who were all charged with conspiracy in an unfair trial that transfixed the nation and sparked a conversation about mayhem intended to undermine the U.S. government.
On January 23, Sorkin discussed the making of The Trial of the Chicago 7 in a DGA Virtual Q&A session moderated by Director David Fincher (Mank).
During the conversation, Sorkin spoke about how he came up with a plan to shoot the riot scenes despite his budgetary limitations.
“I find a constraint like that forces you to get creative,” said Sorkin. “It forces you to have an idea. So we came up with this plan, we were going to get a few wide shots and we were going to take advantage of the tear gas. We got smoke everywhere. I discovered what happens when you shoot light through smoke so I wanted smoke in every scene. I could not get enough smoke. It didn’t matter where we were.”
In addition to his directing work on The Trial of the Chicago 7, Sorkin was nominated for the 2017 DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in First-Time Feature for his debut film, Molly’s Game. He was also part of the producing team (which includes DGA President Thomas Schlamme) that won multiple Emmy awards for “Outstanding Drama Series” for their work on the series The West Wing. Sorkin also took home an Academy Award for “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay” for David Fincher’s feature The Social Network.
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.
Designing Hollywood Podcast new home edition with guest talented costume designer Trish Summerville known for her work on:
The Hunger Games ‘Catching Fire’ (2013) ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ (2011) ‘Gone Girl’ (2014) & most recent ‘Mank’ (2020)
With Host Phillip Boutte Jr. Produced by Ceo & Founder Martika Ibarra.
Thank you to our sponsor Gardena Cinema, the only old-fashioned single-screen stand-alone neighborhood movie theater still in operation in the Los Angeles area. Owned and operated by Judy Kim and the Kim family since 1976.
A David Fincher film has a number of hallmarks to it, but one guarantee is some top-notch cinematography. His latest movie, Mank, is certainly another example of this. Fincher’s cinematographer here is Erik Messerschmidt, who is quickly becoming a major name in the business. Messerschmidt is a terrific up and coming DP, one who is a major reason why Mank is as good as it is. Given the talent on display, as well as the unique visual elements on display in Netflix’s likely Oscar juggernaut, an opportunity to speak with him was one I couldn’t pass up. Cinematographers are always great to talk to, and he was no exception.
Below, you can hear my conversation with Messerschmidt. I was fascinated to hear about working with Fincher, how Mank came together, and basically everything Messerschmidt had to say. He’s clearly a big cinephile, and that comes across in the discussion. He’s also very quick to express humility when praised, though he’s about to become an Academy Award nominee, so he should prepare for more kudos. Right before he gets cited by Oscar (and potentially wins the Best Cinematography category), take a listen to my chat with Messerschmidt. It’s a good one, especially for Mank fans, as he has some really interesting details to share.
“Mank” has been a personal passion project for David Fincher for several decades now. His own father wrote the script, about the famously self-destructive writer of “Citizen Kane,” and Fincher was determined to make the film feel as authentic as possible. Almost like it was an undiscovered artifact from Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” insisting for years to film it in black & white, 1:33, and in mono. He once again joined forces with his longtime collaborator, sound designer Ren Klyce, to do exactly that. But building this time capsule turned out to be a surprisingly challenging process.
“It’s beyond production value. Sound is a portal into a stranger’s mind that is incredibly influential. And if we don’t avail ourselves of this access, um… then we’re stupid and we should die (laughs).” – David Fincher, director of “Mank”
Listen to the Sound + Image Lab: The Dolby Institute Podcast: