‘Love, Death & Robots’: Season 2 Anthology Offers Deeper Explorations into Adult Sci-Fi Animation

The Netflix animated anthology, which was awarded four juried prizes on Wednesday, stepped out of its comfort zone in Season 2.

Bill Desowitz
August 25, 2021
IndieWire

In Season 2 of Neflix’s “Love, Death & Robots,” the adult animated anthology from executive producers David Fincher and Tim Miller (“Deadpool”) continued its embrace of survival and immortality in strange dystopian environments. However, there were eight shorts instead of 18 and a greater emphasis on philosophizing, with some directors stepping out of their comfort zones.

Indeed, the sci-fi anthology, produced by Blur Studio for Netflix, so impressed the TV Academy that it was awarded four juried prizes on Wednesday: Robert Valley, production designer (“Ice”); Patricio Betteo, background artist (“Ice”); Dan Gill, stop-motion animator (“All Through the House”); and Laurent Nicholas, character designer (“Automated Customer Service”).

“We tried to elevate the stories further and to give deeper explorations of some of these adult themes,” said supervising director Jennifer Yuh Nelson (“The Darkest Minds” and the “Kung Fu Panda”sequels). “So it was very much like a curating process to go from finding these amazing stories and these amazing authors [including Harlan Ellison and J.G. Ballard] and then matchmaking really interesting and talented directors to let them do something [different].”

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Passion and Persistence: Bringing Mank From Script to Screen

SLM/Co-Producer Bill Doyle partners with director David Fincher to bring  Hollywood’s Golden Age to life

Shaun O’Banion
July 2021
LMGI Compass Magazine (Location Managers Guild)

Mank, director David Fincher’s much anticipated take on the behind-the-scenes drama that shaped the making of Citizen Kane, was released last November after a journey to get it made that began almost two decades ago.

Is there any reason to believe that a story about the making of a movie about the making of a movie is any less intriguing than that of its fabled subject?

In terms of finding classic locations in Los Angeles that have survived the moving hands of time, Fincher couldn’t have found a better guy for the job than LM William “Bill” Doyle/LMGI. L.A. is a classic example of a city in a near-constant state of reinvention, but despite the years, some amazing original sites still remain, and Doyle knows most of them.

“I’ve always loved reading about how cities develop,” Doyle says. “Understanding a city… How it was developed or why it was founded, how it was built and when it expanded… Knowing how these things happened can help you make sense of any city anywhere in the world when you’re looking for something specific.”

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Location Managers Guild
LMGI Compass Magazine

How ‘Mank’ Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt Illuminated a Monochrome Palette

We pull back the curtain on David Fincher’s nod to Citizen Kane.

Daron James
April 23, 2021
No Film School

Heading into Oscar weekend, Mank cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, a first-time nominee and ASC winner, is already deep into his next project. The Emerson College grad earned his chops as a best boy and gaffer before moving into cinematography full-time.

He spoke with No Film School via phone about working on one of this year’s biggest films.

It was the series Mindhunter where Messerschmidt teamed with director David Fincher, pushing the boundaries of digital workflows. With Mank, audiences are taken back in time to the 1930s as the story follows how Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) finishes the screenplay for Orson Welles in a gripping biographical drama.

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‘Mank’ writer-producer Eric Roth on working with Fincher, ’Dune’, Scorsese’s next project

Oscar-winning screenwriter Eric Roth served twin roles on Mank — punching up Jack Fincher’s screenplay and as producer. Mark Salisbury talks to him about his 50-year career, including upcoming films for Denis Villeneuve and Martin Scorsese

Mark Salisbury (Twitter)
April 14, 2021
Screen Daily

Back in the early 1990s, when David Fincher was still best known for his Madonna videos and had yet to direct a feature, he challenged his father Jack, who had recently retired as a Life magazine journalist, to write a screenplay. He even suggested a subject matter: Herman J Mankiewicz, who penned Citizen Kane for Orson Welles, but whose authorship had been controversially overlooked, not least by Welles, until an extended essay in 1971 by the late New Yorker critic Pauline Kael reclaimed it.

Fincher tried in vain to set Mank up for the best part of a decade, but his desire to shoot in black and white proved a sticking point with financiers. Until, that was, Netflix, for whom Fincher had produced House Of Cards and Mindhunters, asked what he wanted to do next. Did he, they wondered, have a passion project he had always wanted to direct? Fincher took down his father’s script from the shelf, and Netflix agreed.

Jack died in 2003 so Fincher called on Eric Roth, with whom he had collaborated on The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and House Of Cards, to help him finesse the script. “David and I are very close,” says Roth, “and I’ve lent my eye, a point of view, on a few of his other movies. He has a group of us, including Bob Towne, Steven Soderbergh and Spike Jonze, that looks at all of his movies at some point in a cut and you’re allowed to tell him whatever you feel about it. So I’ve been involved in a number of those. He came to me a couple of years ago and asked if I would like to get involved with this.”

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Starring as a Starlet, Amanda Seyfried Shines as Marion Davies in ‘Mank’

Mandalit Del Barco
April 13, 2021
All Things Considered (npr)

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.”

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The “Fine Line Between Romance and Reality” in Creating the World of ‘Mank’

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.

Nikki Baughan
April 12, 2021
Screen Daily

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.

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Erik Messerschmidt ASC / Mank : Masterclass in Monochrome

Black-and-white biopic Mank sees another successful collaboration between cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt ASC and director David Fincher as they craft an authentic portrayal of Hollywood’s golden age and explore the turbulent development of the script for Citizen Kane.

Zoe Mutter
April 12, 2021
British Cinematographer

“This was not an offer I had to consider; the answer was an immediate yes,” says cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt ASC when thinking back to the moment he was asked to film director David Fincher’s Mank which depicts the life of screenwriter Herman J. ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he develops the script for director Orson Welles’ 1941 classic Citizen Kane.

“I was thrilled when David called me,” he says. “I was nervous too of course as I felt a tremendous responsibility to be considerate and respectful to the film, but it’s a cinematographer’s dream to get the opportunity to make a movie like this.”

As Citizen Kane is widely regarded as one of cinema’s masterpieces, the pressure was on to capture the essence of Gregg Toland ASC’s cinematography and to faithfully encapsulate the distinctive mood, lighting and composition reminiscent of a golden era of filmmaking.

Mank, which received a limited theatrical release before streaming on Netflix, is based on a script written by Fincher’s late father, the journalist and writer, Howard “Jack” Fincher which focuses on the controversy surrounding who had creative ownership of Citizen Kane – Welles or Mankiewicz.

The film uses flashback sequences to explore the prolific talent of Mank as well as his alcoholism and tumultuous relationships with Hollywood executives such as film producer and MGM Studios co-founder Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard) and Irving G. Thalberg (Ferdinand Kingsley) and publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), who is widely claimed to be the inspiration for Citizen Kane’s protagonist.

Fincher was clear from the beginning that the film would be shot in black-and-white. “We never even considered what the movie would look like in colour,” says Messerchmidt. “Part of David’s intent was to transport the audience back to the classic ‘30s and ‘40s Hollywood era. Black-and-white was an excellent way to do that.”

Ensuring black-and-white was used as a homage or a pastiche rather than a parody was a priority. “When they approach black-and-white, cinematographers can tend to reach for noir as they are excited by its gestured, stylised lighting which you don’t get to use very often when shooting in colour,” adds Messerschmidt.

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Why Recreating Hearst Castle Should Earn ‘Mank’ the Oscar for Production Design

Don Burt could win the Oscar for his recreation of the opulent Hearst settings for David Fincher’s monochromatic deconstruction of classic moviemaking.

Bill Desowitz
April 23, 2021
IndieWire

David Fincher’s “Mank” leads all Oscar craft nominations with six. And yet its greatest chance of a win rests with Don Burt’s meticulous production design of the iconic Hearst Castle and San Simeon compound. However, since he was working in black-and-white with set decorator Jan Pascale — his co-nominee — it was more advantageous to capture the spirit of William Randolph Hearst’s opulent retreat than trying to replicate it. For one thing, the colors would get lost, and, for another, they’d still be struggling to recreate all of the detail.

“Hearst Castle felt like something Hearst [Charles Dance] built as his Xanadu [from ‘Citizen Kane’], and now it’s maintained more like a theme park,” said Burt, who actually didn’t visit the landmark since they couldn’t shoot there. But he referenced plenty of images and studied its architecture and interior design along with the beautiful landscaping of San Simeon. “Hearst saw this as his own little castle in the world and his accumulation of art from Europe was representational of this extravagance and indulgence that he had.”

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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’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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