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Oscar winner for best cinematography Erik Messerschmidt for Mank

Mank is a 2020 American biographical drama film about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his development of the screenplay for Citizen Kane (1941).

Directed by David Fincher, based on a screenplay by his late father Jack Fincher, the film was produced by Ceán Chaffin, Douglas Urbanski, and Eric Roth.

Q. What was the greatest challenge for you? I think, as a cinematographer, when you envision or have an idea in mind, but then to actually execute it, what is that main thing that sort of drives you through that entire process?

A. Thank you. You know, I think it was really just trying to figure out what the movie was and what we wanted it to be and how much homage to use, in which we wanted to reference classic cinema and how much of it we wanted to bring into the movie. And, you know, that was the bulk of our conversations leading up to the film was really ‑‑ really just how pragmatic we wanted to be with classic cinema and trying to pay as much respect to the movie we are discussing as we could while still making our own film.


Q. Hey. Congratulations on your win. So, of course, this movie is very much inspired by the films like Citizen Kane, you know. So, of course, now that you have one, how ‑‑ how much of this movie, I mean, is ‑‑ uhm, how does it feel, like, in the presence of greatness?

A. It's incredibly humbling. I don't know how to describe it really. Citizen Kane is one of the movies that made me want to make movies. And Gregg Toland is a cinematographer, who is someone who taught the movie business how to take risks to some degree, I think, and made it acceptable to take creative risks and push the medium forward. And so, you know, he has been incredibly inspiring to me as a cinematographer and to have the opportunity to make a movie that just references just a little bit of what he did is ‑‑ has been a really special thing for me. And it was wonderful to look at that film and then ‑‑ but through a bit of a modern lens and bring something of our own to it.

Clip Courtesy A.M.P.A.S.© 2021


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The Annual Academy Awards presentation has been held every year since 1929.

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