PRODUCTION | MANK
ABOVE DOP Erik Messerschmidt lit the bungalow scenes through windows to keep the look naturalistic
A FINE BALANCE Unfortunately, advancements to filmmaking technology and techniques can’t eradicate the age-old issue of creating depth to costume and makeup when it comes to black & white photography – and heaven forbid, the actor wears rouge. Messerschmidt says: “We were very lucky to work with Trish Summerville [costume designer] and a great team of makeup artists, who all turned out to be incredibly collaborative people.” In the early stages of prep, Summerville sent fabrics to test and the pair used the black & white camera mode on their iPhones to see how the colours would render. They also spent plenty of time in Fincher’s office, looking at different colours of tile and paint chips, because one shade of green could look completely different
Like on Mindhunter , Messerschmidt employed HDR monitoring on set. “I started doing it for Season 2 of the show and it’s marked a profound change in the way that I work. The beautiful thing about it is, with images so close to the dynamic range of the sensor’s capabilities, I am better able to place exposure balances. That way, when it comes to do the HDR grade, I feel like I’m looking at the fidelity of a digital negative,” he says. Although they experimented with creating frame lines for the retro 1.37:1 aspect ratio, neither Fincher nor Messerschmidt liked composing in the boxy format and, instead, opted for a 2.2:1:1, which is somewhere between a 16:9 and a CinemaScope 2:39:1. “We had to go for a window that we were comfortable with and we also shot Mindhunter in that aspect ratio,” says Messerschmidt.
to another shade of green through a monochrome lens. The process was mirrored when it came to the makeup used on set. “At one point, Seyfried’s makeup artist put 50 different shades of lipstick on her arm and held it in front of the camera. It’s a very fine balance with lipstick, because it can look almost black really quickly,” outlines Messerschmidt. The meticulous details of this film place it as a clear frontrunner in several key categories at this year’s Oscars, including in the category for Best Cinematography. If Messerschmidt wins, he would also make history as the first person to win an Oscar for Best Cinematography for his first film. “It’s crazy, so I’m trying not to think about it. I just hope people enjoy the film,” he says. That would echo the enjoyment he experienced making the film, particularly the election night party scene at the Trocadero. Though, he concludes: “I hope the movie exists as a complete unit.” MANK IS AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX WORLDWIDE
LEFT Director David Fincher and actor Gary Oldman during the filming of Mank
06 DEF I N I T ION | FEBRUARY 202 1
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