Director David Fincher asked Trish Summerville, his regular collaborator, to help him with his movie “Mank”. It was a biopic about the screenwriter behind “Citizen Kane”, which she knew would be the most difficult assignment she had ever faced.
Summerville, who worked previously with Fincher on the crime thrillers “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” from 2011, and “Gone Girl” from 2014, was given the task of recreating the glamour of 1930s Hollywood, including its backlot meetings and lavish soirees without using a single drop of color.
Erik Messerschmidt, Fincher’s cinematographer, tried to capture the authenticity of the era. They even shot “Mank” in black and white or “Finchervision” as Summerville called it.
It’s not going to be black-and-white. She said that it was her vision of black-and white. The film takes on rich noir tones and unfolds in stunning continuous shots.
“Mank”, which was released in limited theaters in November, and is now available on Netflix today is just as buzzy as Summerville or Fincher’s other collaborations. “Citizen Kane”, one of the most iconic movies ever made, focuses on the people and events Herman J. Mankiewicz, played by Gary Oldman, drew inspiration for the script. “Mank” stars some of Hollywood’s most prominent stars, including Orson Welles (Tom Burke), and Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried).
Vibrancy without color
“Mank”, a Hollywood actor, is being considered an early favorite to win the Oscars next year. Summerville’s costumes are partly responsible for some of the praise.
Not only did she have to make sure that the costumes reflected the stunning gowns worn by Bette Davis and Davies, but also that the costumes looked great in black-and white. Summerville was forced to think about color more than ever.
She explained that even if the screen is black-and white, it’s not possible to use only black and white. It goes so flat on the screen and everything looks identical. It was all about finding the right colors and tones that would read well on screen.
Summerville said she tried to remain “authentic to the color palette of then”, choosing muted and jewel tones. She said that this resulted in a “variance white to off-white, gray to black-andwhites that would read different.”
when it came time to party scenes at Hearst Castle, San Simeon in California?
There was a lively range of colors on set, especially when it came time to party scenes at Hearst Castle, San Simeon in California. This is where Davies and William Randolph Hearst, her newspaper tycoon husband (played here by Charles Dance), hosted famous parties for Hollywood’s most prominent stars.
Summerville stated that many of the gowns and dresses are intense colors such as chartreuse, salmon, and acidy greens like mangos.
Bold colors were a challenge in and of themselves. Summerville had to ensure that bright colors didn’t distract actors and Fincher. Summerville stated that Dave is not a fan of color. Summerville said that there are certain colors that he doesn’t like, as they can draw your attention away from the scene. She said that the director does not like red. However, red can make a black scene look richer, and pinks can substitute for gray.
She said that another challenge was to avoid loud patterns and patterns that look “confetti-like”, onscreen. We didn’t want all the prints to be uniform because of the amount of printing that was happening in men’s and women’s clothing at the time. So we tried to find black-and-white tones that were complementary.