‘Mank’ producer Eric Roth on his 1st time as a Best Picture nominee and his BIG upcoming 2021 films

Eric Roth with co-producer Douglas Urbanski and cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt on the set of Mank (Gisele Schmidt-Oldman / Netflix)

Riley Chow
April 6, 2021
Gold Derby

“It’s going to be a short entrance and probably exit, not that I didn’t enjoy it,” laughs Eric Roth in his exclusive interview with Gold Derby about his foray into film producing with “Mank” for Netflix. Roth is such an industry veteran that he won the Writers Guild of America’s lifetime achievement award back in 2012. With screenplay credits going back five decades, including his Oscar-winning screenplay for 1994’s “Forrest Gump” and 2018’s “A Star is Born” earning him his fifth Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, “Mank” represents 76-year-old Roth’s debut as a film producer. He now has his first Oscar in the Best Picture category for his first time in contention.

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Netflix Presents a Women in Film Conversation

Jazz Tangcay, Senior Artisans Editor at Variety
March 24, 2021
Netflix Film Club (YouTube)

Join a who’s who of behind-the-scenes talent for a Women in Film discussion about their work on Netflix‘s Oscar®-nominated slate this year, including:

  • Animated Short Producer Maryann Garger (If Anything Happens I Love You)
  • Costume Designer Trish Summerville (Mank)
  • Hair-and-Makeup Artisans Mia Neal, Matiki Anoff and Jamika Wilson (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
  • Songwriter Diane Warren (“Io Sí” from The Life Ahead)
  • Supervising Sound Editor Renée Tondelli (The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Roundtable with the 2021 Nominees for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Picture. PGA Awards

March 22, 2021
Producers Guild of America

This illuminating roundtable features the 2021 nominees for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures.

Participants include: Monica Levinson (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Charles D. King (Judas and the Black Messiah), Todd Black (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Ceán Chaffin (Mank), Christina Oh (Minari), Dan Janvey (Nomadland), Jess Wu Calder (One Night in Miami…), Ashley Fox (Promising Young Woman), Sacha Ben Harroche (Sound of Metal) and Marc Platt (The Trial of the Chicago 7).

Moderated by PGA President Lucy Fisher.

Our nominated producers discuss how their films, whether long in development or securing financing on the cusp of production, were driven by a sense of authenticity to their subjects and in some cases, an urgency to reflect the current cultural and political climate.

Recorded live on Saturday, March 20, 2021 during ‘A Day with the PGA Awards Nominees.’

Presented by The Hollywood Reporter. Additional sponsors include: General Motors, Greenslate, Honolulu Film Office, Panavision, Light Iron and Produce Iowa.

The Producers Guild of America is a non-profit trade organization that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media. The Guild invests in its core values that benefit the industry at large. These values are rooted in facilitating employment of its members, advocating for sustainable practices in production that minimize human and environmental harm, ensuring a set culture that advances safety and creates viable pathways into the guild for the next generation of producers, particularly those from populations under-represented in the industry. Year-round it hosts a number of educational, mentoring and professional networking programs.

Follow the PGA: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIN, Twitter, YouTube.

Director Aaron Sorkin discusses The Trial of the Chicago 7 with David Fincher

A DGA Virtual Q&A

January 23, 2021
The Director’s Cut. A DGA (Directors Guild of America) Podcast

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.

Sorkin has been a DGA member since 2016.

Listen to the podcast:

DGA.org
Apple Podcasts
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The Hollywood Reporter: Producers Roundtable

Tatiana Siegel
January 22, 2021
The Hollywood Reporter

Andy Samberg, Dede Gardner, Charles D. King, Ashley Levinson, Marc Platt and Eric Roth on the Streaming Rise Amid COVID and Their Awards Contenders. They also discuss adapting to a year of seismic changes in the film industry: “We started rethinking everything.”

Shepherding a film from a nebulous idea to a locked print is fraught with interruptions and surprises. As such, no profession in Hollywood requires greater dexterity than that of a producer. And unlike any other time in cinematic history, 2020 was a year of overnight transformation amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, leaving producers with no choice but to adapt fast.

Two producers from this year’s roundtable — Judas and the Black Messiah‘s Charles D. King and The Trial of the Chicago 7‘s Marc Platt — saw their theater-bound films take a detour to a streaming platform (HBO Max and Netflix, respectively). Although Eric Roth, who produced David Fincher‘s Mank, was always poised for a streamer release via Netflix for that film, he also experienced the great sweep to HBO Max with the upcoming tentpole Dune, which he wrote. Ashley Levinson, whose Pieces of a Woman and Malcolm & Marie are both in the awards season conversation, oversaw the writing and production of the latter during the COVID-19 lockdown. Minari‘s Dede Gardner, the only female producer with two best picture Oscar wins (for 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight), and Palm SpringsAndy Samberg were the lone two of the group lucky enough to see their films premiere in a packed, mask-less theater (both films made their debuts at Sundance in January 2020).

On Jan. 8, at The Hollywood Reporter‘s invitation, Gardner, King, Levinson, Platt, Roth and Samberg converged via Zoom to discuss the great cinematic reset, this year’s awards season controversies and what they’d fix about Hollywood.

Read the full roundtable

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

Making of ‘Mank’: How David Fincher Pulled Off a Modern Movie Invoking Old Hollywood

The director had to employ digital advances to achieve a vintage aesthetic in telling the tale of ‘Citizen Kane’ screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz: “If we had done it 30  years ago, it might’ve been truly a bloodletting.”

Rebecca Keegan
January 11, 2021
The Hollywood Reporter

Screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz never sought credit for conceiving one of the all-time great ideas in the history of cinema — the notion that the Kansas scenes in The Wizard of Oz should be shot in black and white and the Oz scenes in color. In fact, for much of his career in Hollywood from the late 1920s to the early ’50s, Mankiewicz seemed to view his scripts with about as much a sense of ownership as a good zinger he had landed at a cocktail party.

But what fascinated David Fincher was that when it came time to assign credit on the screenplay for Citizen Kane, which Mankiewicz wrote with Orson Welles in 1940 (or without, depending on your perspective), the journeyman screenwriter suddenly and inexplicably began to care. Precisely why that happened is the subject of Fincher’s 11th feature film, Mank.

“I wasn’t interested in a posthumous guild arbitration,” Fincher says of Mank, which takes up the Citizen Kane authorship question reinvigorated by a 1971 Pauline Kael essay in The New Yorker. “What was of interest to me was, here’s a guy who had seemingly nothing but contempt for what he did for a living. And, on almost his way out the door, having burned most of the bridges that he could … something changed.”

Shot in black and white and in the style of a 1930s movie, Mank toggles between Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) writing the first draft of Citizen Kane from a remote house in the desert and flashback sequences of his life in Hollywood in the ’30s, including his friendship with newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), who inspired Citizen Kane, and Hearst’s mistress, actress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried).

A filmmaker known for his compulsive attention to detail, Fincher had even more reason than usual to treat every decision with care on Mank, as he was working from a screenplay written by his father, journalist Jack Fincher, who died in 2003. Jack had taken up the subject in retirement in 1990, just as David was on the eve of directing his first feature, Alien 3, and the two would try throughout the 1990s to get the film made, with potential financiers put off by their insistence on shooting in black and white.

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Awardsline: The Big Picture

David Fincher brings the big screen to us for his latest picture. With a cast led by Gary Oldman & Amanda Seyfried, is Mank a love letter to cinema’s golden age or an indictment of the shadier side of the movie biz?⁠

Joe Utichi
January 6, 2021
Awardsline (Deadline)

Read the full issue of Deadline Presents Awardsline

The Burning Question That Drove David Fincher’s Decades-Long Journey To Make ‘Man

Joe Utichi
January 6, 2021
Deadline

David Fincher turns Netflix homes into 1940s movie houses with his latest opus, Mank, which explores the life and frustrations of Citizen Kane’s screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, as he works his way through the draft of what will become Orson Welles’ seminal directorial debut. With its title role imbued with Mankiewicz’s world-weary wit by Gary Oldman, and from a script first drafted more than 20 years ago by Fincher’s father Jack, who passed away in 2003, the film reignites the debate about the authorship of a film Welles might nearly have taken sole credit for. But it is about more than that besides; a love and hate letter to the machinations of the movie business, a remarkably timely examination of the façade of truth in the news media, and an intimate study of tortured souls beaten down by the world around them and their own insecurities. Joe Utichi meets Fincher, Oldman and Amanda Seyfried—who rehabilitates the image of actress and socialite Marion Davies—for a closer look.

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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.

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Lensing Creativity Goes Remote

The pandemic has accelerated many technical trends that were already underway

David Heuring
November 11, 2020
Variety

Necessity is the mother of invention, and nothing proves this proverb more true than the evolution of film and television production technology in the age of COVID-19. While the field has always changed rapidly even in normal times, the pace of change and adaptation has accelerated over the past six months.

This adjustment has posed many questions. Beyond personal protective equipment, mandatory testing, on-set safety monitors, walking lunches and corona contingency fees, will the pandemic have enduring effects in the creative, collaborative endeavor that is filmmaking? The technology to work remotely has essentially been in place for some time, but will the pandemic finally push us over into a new normal?

Numerous existing technology trends are being suddenly supercharged by the necessities imposed by the coronavirus. Shooting close to home has never been more appealing, and that impulse aligns neatly with ongoing advancements in LED backings and virtual production. In the world of image processing, connectivity solutions such as those offered by Moxion, Frame.io and Sohonet were already bringing immediacy and super-high resolution to a wide variety of devices without regard to location — and now those virtues are suddenly in much higher demand. And remote collaboration solutions including PIX are looking positively prescient.

Director David Fincher’s team found that the PIX production backbone, a tool they’ve helped develop over the years, facilitated safe group creativity but also enhanced efficiency on the forthcoming Mank.

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