How Territory Studio recreated 1930’s Hollywood for Fincher’s Mank

London-headquartered facility Territory Studio, has recreated the iconic LA street of Wilshire Boulevard for David Fincher’s 1930’s-set, Mank. The sequence using LED rear projection to evoke the traditional techniques used during the 1930s and 1940s which the movie pays homage to. Here’s how. 

Adrian Pennington
January 4, 2021
RedShark

Territory’s team led by VFX Supervisor Simon Carr and CG Supervisor Ashley Pay spent a considerable amount of time in LA in pre-production, working with Fincher and DP Erik Messerschmidt ASC. They used archival footage, maps and old photography coupled with their own research and black and white photographic references captured while driving on Wilshire Blvd to inform lighting and texture in the CG scene. They began to rebuild the famous street as it would have appeared when Herman J. Mankiewicz and Sara Mankiewicz drove down it in 1934. 

“We wanted to capture the imagery of a new city rising from the sand and dust, distinctly modern, yet with a sense of the Wild West,” Carr says.   

Territory was tasked with conveying the sense of lawlessness and neglect in a city without road markings or highway code. Scouting both on the ground in LA and via Google Maps, they drew out the ground plan: identifying shops, gas stations and cinemas from the archive footage along which to drive a virtual camera car.

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Territory Studio: The LED Rear Projection VFX for Mank

Territory Studio travels back to the golden era of 1930s Hollywood, delving into the development of ‘Citizen Kane’ in David Fincher’s ‘Mank‘.

December 9, 2020
Territory Studio

The brief was to recreate a section of 1930s Wilshire Boulevard to play on an LED rear projection behind Mank and his wife Sara. Authenticity was key, we wanted to ensure this recreation blended into the background seamlessly and convincingly. The final sequence feels very much as David described in our initial brief: “We’re making a 1930s style film with rear projection, but with the very latest digital technology we’ve been able to improve upon it and transport the audience back to Hollywood’s golden era.”

Simon Carr, VFX Supervisor at Territory Studio:

“It was a great privilege to work on such a visually stunning movie for an eminent director, and to be able to dive into recreating the period details of 1930’s Wilshire Boulevard. To see the sequence come together in-camera as a perfect blend of old style and new technique is the essence of how VFX should be used.”

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‘Mank’: Inside the World of a Synthetic LA and LED Screens

Ian Failes
December 10, 2020
befores & afters

Territory recreates Wilshire Boulevard for Mank

Jon Creamer
December 11, 2020
Televisual

A Drive Down Wilshire Blvd., ca. 1935

When Only the “Right” Kind of Microphone Will Do

This ‘Mindhunter’ promo needed something very, very specific. Territory studio delivered.

Ian Failes
December 3, 2019
befores & afters

If you’ve watched David Fincher’s Mindhunter series about the development of the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit from the late 1970’s through to 1980s, then you’ll already know there’s a certain kind of meticulousness to the Netflix show in each episode.

Well, that same kind of detail was added even to this promo for season 2 of series that got shown on social media. And it all revolved around…a microphone.

Tasked with creating a mic in between agents Ford and Tench in a police interrogation cell was Territory Studio, which also handled a few other clean-ups in the push-in shot.

Here’s the story, step-by-step, of how Territory – led by VFX Supervisor Simon Carr and VFX Producer Robin D’Arcy – researched the prop itself (even taking a used version apart), modeled it in CG and finished the shot.

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Mindhunter Season 2 VFX Breakdown by Territory Studio

November 1, 2019
Territory Studio

Charting the development of the FBI’s behavioural science unit in late 1970’s USA, and based on the true-crime book ‘Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit‘, Netflix‘s TV series required an effortless recreation of time and place.

We worked with the production team behind Netflix’s second season of Mindhunter, initially to produce a promo shot which was published across their social media channels, and then to create some stand-alone VFX shots. The scene shots ranged from creating CG backdrops, torches and microphones, to recreating authentic vehicles and helicopters for search scenes. This fascinating series allowed us to become part of legendary Director, David Fincher’s world.

From promo shots…

With microphones providing a pivotal accessory throughout both seasons, we were asked to create a teaser recreating their iconic first microphone, which also features in the opening credits, in CG. The teaser was used across their official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels before the launch of season 2, garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

… to final scene shots…

Providing final shots in 6K meant working in the finest of detail, at the highest quality. Working closely with Fincher, and the producer, Peter Mavromates, feedback was precise and invaluable, making for a smooth and speedy process. From researching types of trees for the woodland car scene, to playing with atmospheric lighting and weather conditions, we enjoyed this project from start to finish.

Watch the VFX Breakdown reel videos