Sound + Image Lab: David Fincher and Ren Klyce Transport Us to The Golden Age of Hollywood in “Mank”

Glenn Kiser, Director of the Dolby Institute
February 9, 2021
The Dolby Institute

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”

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Mix Presents Award Season 2021: Mank

Tom Kenny
February 8th, 2021
Mix Magazine / SoundWorks Collection

Director David Fincher tasked the sound crew with reviving the feel of the Golden Age of Hollywood in the track. They came up with a process of combining old and new technologies to create a “patina” for playback.

Ren Klyce, Sound Designer
Drew Kunin, Production Sound Mixer
Jeremy Molod, Supervising Sound Editor
Nathan Nance, Re-Recording Mixer

Moderated by Tom Kenny, Editor of Mix

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The Golden Age Sound of ‘Mank’

Jennifer Walden
February 10, 2021
Mix Magazine

Sound Designer Ren Klyce Breaks Down The Elaborate, Multistep Process Of Crafting Monaural Palette For David Fincher’s ‘Mank’

Matt Grobar
February 8, 2021

On David Fincher’s Mank, sound designer Ren Klyce was tasked with crafting a monaural soundtrack, similar to those heard in films of the ’30s and ’40s, engaging in a laborious, experimental process, in order to round out the world of one of the year’s most distinctive films.

Scripted by Fincher’s late father Jack, the director’s longtime passion project follows Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman)—a washed up, alcoholic screenwriter from Hollywood’s Golden Age—as he endeavors to finish the screenplay for the iconic Citizen Kane.

The goal with Mank was to immerse viewers in its period world through the creation of visual and sonic ‘patinas,’ each working in concert with the other. While cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt shot the black-and-white film digitally, at extremely high resolution—allowing Fincher to degrade the image in post—Klyce would tinker with sonic degradation, tapping into all of the characteristics that gave early 20th century soundtracks their unique feel.

One of Fincher’s closest collaborators—who has worked with him on 10 features and two television series since 1995—Klyce had experimented only briefly with mono sound in the past, on a handful of Fincher films. “But we never did it with the conviction of, ‘This is the purpose,’” the sound designer notes, “‘because we want it to feel like it was made using the technology of the time.’”

Below, the seven-time Oscar nominee recalls his earliest conversations with Fincher about Mank, and the multifaceted process of fashioning its vintage sonic palette.

Read the full interview

How ‘Mank’ and ‘Soul’ Sound Designer Returned to Old Hollywood and Then Visited the Afterlife

For his two most recent films, Ren Klyce re-created how a 1940s movie would have sounded and then imagined the aural feel of life before birth and after death.

Carolyn Giardina
February 5, 2021
The Hollywood Reporter

Seven-time Oscar-nominated sound pro Ren Klyce, who was born in Japan and moved to Northern California at a young age with his parents, traveled all the way from 1940s Hollywood to an ethereal afterlife in the course of his work as supervising sound editor and rerecording mixer on his two most recent films, Netflix‘s Mank and Pixar‘s Soul. (He’s also credited as sound designer on Soul.)

Klyce has been friends with Mank director David Fincher since they were teenagers and has worked on all of Fincher’s features. The two met working on the George Lucas-produced Twice Upon a Time and, remembers Klyce: “We kind of clung to each other because we were the youngest people on the crew. David was doing visual effects. I was an art assistant back then.”

For the director’s latest effort, about the origins of 1941’s Citizen Kane, Klyce says, “David wanted to have the look and sound of something that was made in the early ’40s.”

Read the full profile

Mank: Behind the Sound

Glen Kiser, Director of the Dolby Institute
February 4, 2021
Netflix Film Club (YouTube) / Netflix Awards FYC

A conversation with Sound Designer Ren Klyce, Production Sound Mixer Drew Kunin, Supervising Sound Editor Jeremy Molod, Re-Recording Mixer Nathan Nance on behalf of MANK. Moderated by Glenn Kiser.

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

February 3, 2021

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

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

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

Press Release


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

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

Matt Hisamoto

Social Strategist
Irsis Cabral

Comms Director
Zack Green

Business Affairs
Daniella Vargas

Traffic Coordinator
Tina Wyatt

Production Company

Executive Producer
David Fincher

Managing Director/Executive Producer
Dave Morrison

Executive Producer
Deannie O’Neil

Vincent Landay

Assistant Producer
Grace Campos

Adam Hashemi

1sr Assistant Director
Bob Wagner

Directors of Photography
Eigil Bryld, Chayse Irvin

Production Designer
Donald Graham Burt

J.R. Hawbaker

Ren Klyce

Barking Owl

Atticus Ross

Musical Creative Director
Kelly Bayett

Editorial & Finishing

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

The Audio Design Hacks That Made Mank Sound Like Citizen Kane

Ren Klyce had to experiment with a lot of new ideas to make David Fincher’s movie sound old.

Angela Watercutter
February 2, 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic, very few cinephiles have seen the inside of a theater, let alone a grand old one like the Castro Theater in San Francisco or the Paramount in Austin, Texas. Yet those who have recently watched Mank, David Fincher’s biopic about Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, might’ve noticed—or, more specifically, heard—something that felt old, something that sounded like it was coming from a 1930s theater, even if they were streaming the movie on Netflix. It’s eerie—and completely intentional.

With Mank, Fincher wanted a movie that not only looked but also sounded like the films produced in Hollywood during Mankiewicz’s era in the 1930s and ’40s. To do that, he shot the film in black and white (of course), and also enlisted the help of sound designer Ren Klyce, who came up with a method to create an aural “patina” that made all the dialog, all the ambient noises, and the score sound as though they were created using the methods of Golden Age pictures. “We came up with the technique by analyzing the sound spectrum of old-fashioned movies,” Klyce says, “and of course Citizen Kane was one that we modeled, and we kind of realized that that film sounded the way it did because of the limitations of the technology.”

Read the full profile and watch a featurette

Mank, The Unmaking

January 28, 2021

Text by:

Nev Pierce

Photography by:

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

Tonebenders: Ren Klyce on Mank

Timothy Muirhead
January 26, 2021

We sit down with Ren Klyce to talk about his work as Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer on David Fincher’s latest film Mank. We go down a rabbit hole on how he created the ‘patina’ over the entire soundtrack to make it feel like it was made in the depression era. It was no easy task….

David Fincher and Ren Klyce working on the soundtrack for Mank

The reverb send fader moves sent with the film for foreign versions of Mank

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Tonebenders is part of The Audio Podcast Alliance.

The Next Best Picture Podcast: A Behind The Scenes Look At “Mank”

Will Mavity
January 26, 2021
Next Best Picture

Mank” is one of 2020’s most technically dazzling films. David Fincher‘s perfectionism transported us back to the Golden Age of Hollywood to tell us the story of Academy Award winning screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman) and the film has been hailed as one of the year’s best, most recently being rewarded as one of the Top 10 films of the year by the American Film Institute (AFI). Many members from the film’s production were kind enough to give us a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film including Academy Award-nominated sound designer Ren Klyce, Costume Designer Trish Summerville & Co-Producer/VFX Producer, Peter Mavromates.

The Next Best Picture Podcast is proud to be a part of the Evergreen Podcasts Network. Listen to the podcast:
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