Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Erik Messerschmidt ASC: A Labor of Light

03/07/2021

Erik Messerschmidt ASC: A Labor of Light

Brie Clayton July 1, 2021

0 Comments

An interview with Eric Messerschmidt with Creative COW's Brie Clayton

Mank could have easily been a parody of old-school Hollywood, but Erik Messerschmidt and David Fincher weren't going to let that happen. They went for broke on thoroughly reproduced sets, meticulous lighting, smoke-filled offices, energetic conversations, and characters that breathe.

Once Mank opens its first scene, the scenery and intelligent dialogue make it hard to look away. As much as I thought I knew about San Simeon, having grown up ten minutes away from Hearst Castle, it was exciting to look into the bygone era when this California location was a lively hotbed of social chemistry, and parties, and movie creation, rather than just a stale museum where no one can touch the furniture.

When preparing to speak with Erik Messerschmidt, I would almost get lost working back through the layers of filmmakers contributing to this story. Mank pays homage to the legend Gregg Toland's game-changing eye for cinematography. The dynamism between Toland, Orson Welles and the writer Herman J. Mankiewicz would be recrafted 80 years later by this modern team of David Fincher and Erik Messerschmidt, with Jack Fincher writing the screenplay.

In mid April 2021 Erik Messerschmidt took the ASC Award for Outstanding Cinematography, and then in May, deservedly, the Best Achievement in Cinematography Oscar for his lensing of the period piece Mank.

Despite his youthful appearance, Erik's film career has already spanned decades, working his way up through the ranks as a grip, an electrician, and a number of years as a gaffer. Some of his gaffer work included Gone Girl, as well as DP on Mindhunter, with Fincher, further developing that relationship till the day when David asked Erik if he wanted to shoot this next project, Mank, and Erik said Of course I want to shoot the movie!

Mank, Erik's first cinematography role outside of television, his first movie as DP, has won multiple awards this year. What kind of heavenly dream must that be for any cinematographer? Who hits a grand slam at their first baseball game?

CC: I'd like to congratulate you, this is quite an accomplishment in a very short period of time. You must be blown away by the whole thing!

Erik Messerschmidt: Yeah it's been overwhelming. It's pretty special, and humbling for sure.

CC: I can tell you, honestly, I knew that you were going to win, but that's just between me and you.

Erik: (laughs)

CC: How did you make this step from television to film?

Erik: I've been going between feature films and and television and commercials as a crew member for a couple decades, and I never differentiated much between films and television, other than just what the realities of the storytelling was.

CC: If television is different from feature films, it's because of the length. I mean, I think particularly today we are somewhat living in the Golden Age of television. The step from television to feature film isn't always a step up as it is often, or certainly as it has been considered in the past. It is considered a side step in many ways.

But, do you see a difference in the setups that you do for your television shots compared to what you would do for Mank?

Erik: Well, we had more time to make the movie. And in terms of page count, that is for sure true. But, that that didn't lead to any more time for the cinematographer I can assure you! (laughs). I used every bit of the available time we had, and I would not say that we had, in terms of my part of the process, substantially more time than I did on, say, Mindhunter to set each shot up. The energy of the production, at least in the case of David Fincher, was toward maximizing his time with the actors. In the complexity of what we're doing, I suppose, you probably could say that there are instances of this. Mank is obviously a black and white film, and it's a period film, so there's other considerations to be made. It's not like I was suddenly given the opportunity to light for two and a half hours! That certainly was not happening, and it rarely does.

I think there is a propagated false narrative that directors of photography in big budget feature films have the world as their oyster, and they can light for hours and then hand a baton over to the director and actors. That's just not the case in my experience. We're still under enormous time pressure. We have to make our decisions and they have to be practical choices, first and foremost.

CC: So you started out as an electrician and a gaffer for many years, doing films and shows. What made you aim for DP?

Erik: I always felt that way. I always felt like that's where I wanted the land. I was never someone that wanted to direct, what I really wanted to do is shoot. And I I was doing that throughout my early career, shooting little documentaries and short films for friends and actor friends of mine that wanted to direct. I'd spec commercials and all sorts of small projects and art films. As things went on, maybe there was a small commercial that someone would actually pay me to shoot, or something I could do on on the weekend, or to fill in some time with the director I knew, or a cinematographer I was working with was directing or something. Those sorts of things came up, so I was always kind of shooting. I knew I wanted to do it from a from a young age, before I went to college I was like, that's what I want to do with my life .

CC: Starting out as the gaffer and the electrician surely developed your intuition for the lighting and shots. Has it influence the way you work with the gaffers that are on your sets now? Did it build an understanding and rapport with your crew on Mank?

Erik: I think so. To do yo
LINK: https://creativecow.net/creative-cow-with-erik-messerschmidt-a-labor-o...
See more stories from creativecow

More from Creative COW

14/07/2021

Design Visionaries Erin Sarofsky and Austin Shaw Launch Between the Keyframes Vidcast Covering the Craft and Culture of Motion Design

Design Visionaries Erin Sarofsky and Austin Shaw Launch Between the Keyframes ...

14/07/2021

Black Widow Cinematography with Gabriel Beristain

Black Widow Cinematography with Gabriel Beristain Brie Clayton July 13, 2021 0 Comments BLACK WIDOW marks the return of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. ...

14/07/2021

Dejero Live Streams Heroic Sportsman's Ascent to Remote Spanish Summit

Dejero Live Streams Heroic Sportsman's Ascent to Remote Spanish Summit Brie Clayton July 13, 2021 0 Comments Dejero solutions provide uninterrupted...

14/07/2021

Gravity Media makes significant summer of sport investment in Sony equipment

Gravity Media makes significant summer of sport investment in Sony equipment Brie Clayton July 13, 2021 0 Comments New cameras and monitors have been a...

14/07/2021

PianoGroove Finds its Rhythm with ScreenFlow

PianoGroove Finds its Rhythm with ScreenFlow Brie Clayton July 13, 2021 0 Comments PianoGroove founder, Hayden Hill, has created an online jazz piano s...

13/07/2021

OptiTrack Launches Motive 3.0 Software

OptiTrack Launches Motive 3.0 Software Brie Clayton July 13, 2021 0 Comments The re-engineered release features a new solver for faster, more accurate ...

13/07/2021

The mobile-friendly Creative COW Newsletter: 100% COW, 0% bull!

The mobile-friendly Creative COW Newsletter: 100% COW, 0% bull! Brie Clayton July 9, 2021 0 Comments Sign Up for the Creative COW Newsletter! Stay on t...

13/07/2021

LEE Filters Expands its Global Presence with Opening of LEE Filters Canada

LEE Filters Expands its Global Presence with Opening of LEE Filters Canada Brie Clayton July 12, 2021 0 Comments Colin Sangster appointed Country Manag...

13/07/2021

See what you've been missing! Sign up for the Creative COW Newsletter!

See what you've been missing! Sign up for the Creative COW Newsletter! Brie Clayton July 13, 2021 0 Comments Stay on top of current trends! Get wee...

12/07/2021

Lights, Camera, Action! Haivision Makito X1 Rugged Takes to the Skies with Team5 Aerial Systems

Lights, Camera, Action! Haivision Makito X1 Rugged Takes to the Skies with Team5...

12/07/2021

SIRT Powers New Virtual Production Innovation Hub with URSA Mini Pro 12K

SIRT Powers New Virtual Production Innovation Hub with URSA Mini Pro 12K Brie Clayton July 12, 2021 0 Comments Blackmagic Design today announced that S...

10/07/2021

Extended Reality Group Optimizes Content and Unreal Engine Workflow for Historic Resorts World Las Vegas Campaign

Extended Reality Group Optimizes Content and Unreal Engine Workflow for Historic...

10/07/2021

How to Film a Car Commercial with a $50 Budget

How to Film a Car Commercial with a $50 Budget Sean Alami July 9, 2021 0 Comments Covering the latest gossip and techniques about filmmaking and photog...

09/07/2021

New York Film Academy Relies on DaVinci Resolve's Fairlight for Audio Post Courses

New York Film Academy Relies on DaVinci Resolve's Fairlight for Audio Post C...

09/07/2021

Chaos Launches New Updates of V-Ray 5 for Maya and Houdini

Chaos Launches New Updates of V-Ray 5 for Maya and Houdini Brie Clayton July 8, 2021 0 Comments Production renderers will gain initial USD support in M...

09/07/2021

Industry Vets to Compare Career Prospects-Freelance vs Facility Jobs-in Next PNYA Post Break

Industry Vets to Compare Career Prospects-Freelance vs Facility Jobs-in Next PNY...

09/07/2021

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway Mixed at Sony Pictures

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway Mixed at Sony Pictures Brie Clayton July 8, 2021 0 Comments The award-winning sound team reunites for more mischief. Curr...

09/07/2021

Telestream Announces Vantage Integration within BroadView OnDemand Platform

Telestream Announces Vantage Integration within BroadView OnDemand Platform Brie Clayton July 8, 2021 0 Comments The new workflow automation streamline...

09/07/2021

OWC Announces U2 ShuttleOne Build Your Own Affordable High-Performance U.2 SSD

OWC Announces U2 ShuttleOne Build Your Own Affordable High-Performance U.2 SSD Brie Clayton July 8, 2021 0 Comments U.2 flexibility from the U.2 leader...

09/07/2021

Don't Fall Behind! Stay Current with the Creative COW Newsletter!

Don't Fall Behind! Stay Current with the Creative COW Newsletter! Brie Clayton July 8, 2021 0 Comments Sign Up for the Creative COW Newsletter! Sta...

08/07/2021

Director Azsa West Joins The Where The Buffalo Roam Team

Director Azsa West Joins The Where The Buffalo Roam Team Brie Clayton July 7, 2021 0 Comments Full-service creative production company Where The Buffal...

08/07/2021

AJA Announces New openGear Fiber to 12G-SDI Converters

AJA Announces New openGear Fiber to 12G-SDI Converters Brie Clayton July 7, 2021 0 Comments The pair of OG-FiDO 12G receivers support conversion from L...

07/07/2021

Heiko Schlter adds extensive market experience to ELEMENTS

Heiko Schl ter adds extensive market experience to ELEMENTS Brie Clayton July 7, 2021 0 Comments The media storage expert joins ELEMENTS as European sa...

07/07/2021

New FOR-A Switcher Helps The Journey Upgrade Online, In-Person Experiences for Weekend Services

New FOR-A Switcher Helps The Journey Upgrade Online, In-Person Experiences for W...

07/07/2021

Blackbird partners with Univision to drive large-scale streaming video production efficiencies

Blackbird partners with Univision to drive large-scale streaming video productio...

07/07/2021

Entire 700km Summer Games Torch Journey by Extreme Athletes Live Streamed Over Twitch Using TVU Solutions

Entire 700km Summer Games Torch Journey by Extreme Athletes Live Streamed Over T...

07/07/2021

Long-time PlayBox Neo Customer, Seattle Channel, Makes Expansive Use of Playout System

Long-time PlayBox Neo Customer, Seattle Channel, Makes Expansive Use of Playout ...

07/07/2021

Amber Navarrete joins MAKE's Creative Team

Amber Navarrete joins MAKE's Creative Team Brie Clayton July 6, 2021 0 Comments Creative studio MAKE is pleased to welcome Amber Navarrete to their...

07/07/2021

Spanish National Sports Streaming Powered by Blackmagic Design

Spanish National Sports Streaming Powered by Blackmagic Design Brie Clayton July 6, 2021 0 Comments Blackmagic Design today announced that Terrible Pro...

07/07/2021

Turn Day to Night in After Effects

Turn Day to Night in After Effects Brie Clayton July 6, 2021 0 Comments Why day for night? Filming in the pitch black, it can be difficult to pick up ...

06/07/2021

The Mosquito Coast Cinematography with Alex Disenhof

The Mosquito Coast Cinematography with Alex Disenhof Brie Clayton July 6, 2021 0 Comments THE MOSQUITO COAST on Apple TV+ is a gripping drama with a sp...

06/07/2021

Behind the Scenes: How ALL RISE Shot an Entire Season Under Social Distance Conditions, Forging an Effective New Filming Style

Behind the Scenes: How ALL RISE Shot an Entire Season Under Social Distance Cond...

05/07/2021

Imagine Media Network delivers 4K with PlayBox Technology

Imagine Media Network delivers 4K with PlayBox Technology Brie Clayton July 5, 2021 0 Comments PlayBox Technology UK, the leading channel in a box prov...

05/07/2021

Ross Launches Interstellar Streaming Gateway - Explore Remote!

Ross Launches Interstellar Streaming Gateway - Explore Remote! Brie Clayton July 5, 2021 0 Comments One of the key trends in broadcast in recent times ...

05/07/2021

How to Light a Film Studio with Novas: Stage Lighting Explained

How to Light a Film Studio with Novas: Stage Lighting Explained Brie Clayton July 5, 2021 0 Comments Valentina and the Aputure team visit EVS Studios i...

03/07/2021

Erik Messerschmidt ASC: A Labor of Light

Erik Messerschmidt ASC: A Labor of Light Brie Clayton July 1, 2021 0 Comments An interview with Eric Messerschmidt with Creative COW's Brie Clayton...

03/07/2021

The Impact of Remote Working on Content Creation

The Impact of Remote Working on Content Creation Tim Burton July 2, 2021 0 Comments Over the past year, content creators, along with everyone else, hav...

03/07/2021

Young Guru Keynote Announced for AES Modern Music Production Symposium, July 7 - 8

Young Guru Keynote Announced for AES Modern Music Production Symposium, July 7 -...

03/07/2021

Ross Supports Bally's & Golden Boy Promotions for Innovative Fight Night

Ross Supports Bally's & Golden Boy Promotions for Innovative Fight Night Brie Clayton July 2, 2021 0 Comments Boxing is one of the world's most...

03/07/2021

Canon Introduces New RF14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens, Broadening Imaginative Possibilities for Still and Video

Canon Introduces New RF14-35mm F4 L IS USM Lens, Broadening Imaginative Possibil...

03/07/2021

PlayBox celebrates scoring with leading sports channels

PlayBox celebrates scoring with leading sports channels Brie Clayton July 2, 2021 0 Comments PlayBox Technology UK, the leading channel in a box provid...

03/07/2021

How ALL RISE Shot an Entire Season Under Social Distance Conditions, Forging a Effective New Filming Style

How ALL RISE Shot an Entire Season Under Social Distance Conditions, Forging a E...

03/07/2021

Behind the Scenes: How ALL RISE Shot an Entire Season Under Social Distance Conditions, Forging a Effective New Filming Style

Behind the Scenes: How ALL RISE Shot an Entire Season Under Social Distance Cond...

02/07/2021

Strike Back Studios In Association with Realization Films to Release Action Thriller OVERRUN

Strike Back Studios In Association with Realization Films to Release Action Thri...

01/07/2021

Tiger Buy Now' Online Event Offers Surplus Professional Gear From Keslow Camera

Tiger Buy Now' Online Event Offers Surplus Professional Gear From Keslow Ca...

01/07/2021

ARRI's ground-breaking UK facility first to use Mo-Sys VP Pro XR

ARRI's ground-breaking UK facility first to use Mo-Sys VP Pro XR Brie Clayton June 30, 2021 0 Comments The LED volume stage delivers cinematic qual...

01/07/2021

Visual Effects Society Announces Special 2021 Honorees

Visual Effects Society Announces Special 2021 Honorees Brie Clayton June 30, 2021 0 Comments The distinguished VFX practitioners are to be recognized t...

01/07/2021

Avocados and Coconuts Adds Michael Grant As Creative Director; Promotes Amani King to ECD

Avocados and Coconuts Adds Michael Grant As Creative Director; Promotes Amani Ki...

01/07/2021

Behind the scenes of Disney Launchpad's six short films

Behind the scenes of Disney Launchpad's six short films Brie Clayton June 30, 2021 0 Comments The inaugural season of Launchpad is now streaming on...

01/07/2021

Athne Franais Culture Center Uses Cintel Scanner for Film Archiving and Restoration

Ath n e Fran ais Culture Center Uses Cintel Scanner for Film Archiving and Resto...