Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Go Behind-the-Scenes on Their Score

“We were intimidated, as usual, but I think any good project starts with a level of discomfort.”


For this writer, one of the strongest and most enticing aspects of David Fincher‘s Mank  is the soundtrack. There should be little surprise that Fincher has once again brought in Oscar-winning duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to compose the music for his latest project starring Gary Oldman as Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz. Reznor and Ross’s score for Mank is highly evocative of the 1930s and ’40s. From recreating the big band sound that was so popular back in the day to blending the sound of scores from movies of that era with their own original work, the Reznor and Ross Mank score takes every possible step to steep you in this moody period piece.

In a new Netflix behind-the-scenes video, Reznor and Ross revisit the process of making the Mank score a reality. The video kicks off with Reznor, who first described feelings on the task of creating a score for a movie like Mank as “[Ross and I] were intimidated, as usual, but I think any good project starts with a level of discomfort,” and went on to share that “we were looking for something that’s interesting and would feel, if it was in 1940, would be an experimental approach to how it would sound.”

Ross also shared his insights on the duo’s approach to crafting the score, telling Netflix, “Not sure if it’s a solo piano, not sure if it’s a big band, not sure if it’s a Herman-esque kind of orchestra; once we started, we just thought, ‘Let’s try a bit of all.'”

Image via Netflix

From there, the behind-the-scenes Netflix featurette sees Reznor and Ross narrating footage of the musicians who breathed life into the pair’s Mank score. The footage sees those musicians recording at home because, as Reznor reveals, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out around the same time the Mank score was ready to be recorded. The footage is astonishing as it shows the lengths to which each member of the orchestra went to record their sections for the Mank score. Despite the unusual recording process, Ross recalled that when you listened to the raw recordings of the Mank score in its earliest versions, “it sounded incredible.”

Reznor and Ross’s score for Mank remains incredible in its final version, too. The rich, warm, brassy sounds that score the story as we follow Mankiewicz through a decade’s worth of professional and personal highs, lows, and revelations only enriches the viewing experience. Combined with the movie’s sound design, which similarly evokes movies of the ’30s and ’40s, and simply listening to Mank becomes an unmissable experience.

Mank is now available to stream on Netflix. Watch Reznor and Ross discuss their Mank score for Netflix below. For more, check out our interview with Mank stars Amanda Seyfried with her thoughts on Marion Davies and Herman Mankiewicz’s relationship and Tom Pelphrey on his Zoom audition with Fincher.

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