When director David Fincher enlisted his frequent collaborator, costume designer Trish Summerville, for his new film “Mank”– a biopic on the screenwriter behind the long-lasting 1941 movie “Citizen Kane” — she knew it was going to be her most difficult task for him so far.
Summerville, who beforehand labored with Fincher on the crime thrillers “The Lady With the Dragon Tattoo” from 2011 and “Gone Lady” from 2014, was tasked with recreating the glamor of Nineteen Thirties Hollywood, from its backlot conferences to its lavish soirees, with out utilizing a drop of coloration.
Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman journey again to the Golden Age of cinema for “Mank.” Credit score: Netflix
Fincher and cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt strove for authenticity of the period by carefully replicating the feel and appear of Outdated Hollywood speaking photos — proper all the way down to capturing “Mank” fully in black and white, or “Fincher-vision,” as Summerville described it over the telephone.
“It is by no means going to be simply black-and-white. It is his imaginative and prescient of what black-and-white is,” she mentioned of the movie, which takes on luxurious noir tones and unfolds in arresting steady photographs.
“Mank,” which opened to a restricted run in theaters in November and is out on Netflix at the moment, is equally as buzzy a venture as Summerville and Fincher’s earlier collaborations. “Citizen Kane” is taken into account one of many biggest motion pictures of all time, and the movie delves into the occasions and other people screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (performed by Gary Oldman) supposedly drew inspiration from whereas writing the script. “Mank” options a few of the largest stars of the period together with “Kane” director Orson Welles (Tom Burke) and Hollywood starlet Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried).
Vibrancy with out coloration
As Hollywood enters awards season, “Mank” is being tipped as an early favourite for subsequent 12 months’s Oscars. A number of the reward is all the way down to Summerville’s costumes.
She not solely had to make sure that the entire costumes precisely mirrored the show-stopping robes worn by the likes of Davies and actress Bette Davis, however that they dazzled even in black-and-white. Satirically, Summerville needed to suppose extra about coloration than ever earlier than.
“Even whether it is black-and-white, you’ll be able to’t simply use simply black and simply white as a result of it goes actually flat (on display) and all the pieces seems the identical,” she defined. “It was about determining which colours and ranging tones learn very well on display.”
Although the movie was shot fully in black-and-white, coloration was essential to the costume design, as totally different hues translate to totally different black and grey tones. Credit score: Netflix
Summerville tried to remain “genuine to what the colour palette was then,” she mentioned, choosing each muted tones and jewel tones, which she mentioned achieved a “variance of white to off-white to grey to black-and-whites that will learn otherwise.”
On set, there was a vibrant vary of hues, notably when it got here to celebration scenes at Hearst Citadel in San Simeon, California, the place Davies and her newspaper tycoon paramour William Randolph Hearst (performed by Charles Dance) held well-known soirees for Hollywood’s largest stars.
“Plenty of the attire and robes are actually intense colours like chartreuse, salmon and acidy greens and mangos,” mentioned Summerville.
Trish Summerville was tasked with emulating the seems of Outdated Hollywood stars like Marion Davies. Credit score: Hulton Archive/Archive Pictures/Getty Photographs
The usage of daring colours offered a conundrum in itself. Summerville needed to be aware that the colours used did not distract the actors on set and appeased Fincher’s sensibilities, too. “Dave is not a giant fan of coloration,” Summerville mentioned. “There’s sure colours he would not like as a result of they will draw your eye (away from the scene).” The director would not like pink, as an example, she mentioned, however pink can create a wealthy black on digicam, whereas pinks can sub in for grey.
One other problem, she mentioned, was avoiding loud prints and patterns that may look “confetti-like” on display. “We did not need all the pieces to be strong as a result of there was quite a lot of printing taking place in ladies’s clothes and males’s ties on the time, so we tried to search out tonally what was complimentary in black-and-white.”
Outdated Hollywood particulars
Befitting a film star of Davies’ fame and wealth, Seyfried wears a few of the most elaborate costumes in “Mank.” “She’s one of many few ladies that repeats all through (the film) and is in these large celebration scenes holding her personal in political conversations,” mentioned Summerville. “I wished your eye to be drawn to her as a result of it is such a male-heavy movie.”
In a single scene Seyfried wears a shocking gold, metallic lamé costume — a preferred materials for girls’s robes and night on the time — and later she is seen in a circus-inspired costume with palazzo-style pants at an annual celebration held at Hearst Citadel. Summerville replicated the outfit Davies really wore to the A-list soiree she and Hearst threw in 1937, primarily based on pictures of the actress there on a carousel horse.
Summerville mentioned she wished viewers to be drawn to Seyfriend as she navigates the “male-heavy” world of “Mank.” Credit score: Netflix
“We simply made slight enhancements on it, like including extra rhinestones and Swarovski crystals down the entrance,” mentioned Summerville. “I actually wished her to put on the pants … There’s different photos the place Marion did put on pants very often, which was uncommon for a lady of her age and in that point interval, and since she was round William Hearst, who was very conventional and old style.”
Differentiating the assorted males within the movie was tougher. Mank and his cohorts wore very conventional tailoring for the time, so Summerville infused just a little bit of every character into their model. Within the movie, Oldman, for instance, seems fairly matted and displaying indicators of a paunchy abdomen from extreme consuming.
Summerville gave authenticity to her designs by wanting on the particulars of Nineteen Thirties types and the totally different strategies used to make the clothes. Credit score: Netflix
“His shirts weren’t completely pressed — they most likely began off pressed within the morning, however as his day progressed he turned extra matted,” defined Summerville. “He wears his tie loosened so much, which wasn’t quite common then, and we had his pants beneath his stomach to indicate his weight achieve.”
Summerville’s foray into Nineteen Thirties style gave the costume designer a way of the workmanship that went into dressmaking and tailoring on the time. “I actually cherished outdated, genuine interval clothes — the sleeves on quite a lot of ladies’s clothes have been actually intricate,” she mentioned. “And the way pockets and waistbands have been sewn into males’s trousers used totally different strategies that are not achieved now in any respect. Clothes then was made with quite a lot of satisfaction and high quality put into it.”
The costume designer additionally took away from “Mank” a deeper appreciation for the laborious work her costume division friends would have achieved in Nineteen Thirties Hollywood.
“The(re’s) intricacy within the materials and the stoning that went into issues,” she mentioned. “And it was made head to toe, from milliners to cobblers.”