Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are no strangers when it comes to collaborating with David Fincher. The Nine Inch Nails musicians have worked on the scores for “Gone Girl” and “The Social Network,” so it seemed fitting Fincher would seek out Reznor and Ross to collaborate on his latest project.
“Mank,” now streaming on Netflix, tells the story of Herman J. Mankiewicz as he pens the script to “Citizen Kane.” Reznor says when he first heard the details, both he and Ross were intimidated as usual. “But, I think any good project starts with a level of discomfort.” He adds, “We were looking for something interesting and would feel if it were in 1940, would be an experimental approach to how it would sound.”
The “Mank” score features over 52 cues with over 90 minutes of music. With a selection of instruments ranging from woods and strings, the music takes listeners back to Hollywood’s golden age.
In finding the score’s unique style and sound, Ross says they weren’t sure if the sound of “Mank” would be a solo piano, a big band or an orchestra.”
However, when they started, the coronavirus pandemic had forced a global lockdown which meant the undertaking suddenly became radically complicated. Ross remembers, “I thought, ‘how in God’s name?'”
Reznor explains mic kits were sterilized and safely distributed to the performers. The recordings were returned. “We put them into a state where everyone was in time and tune – some of those were hundreds of tracks,” Ross explains. “When those sessions were presented to us, and we hit the spacebar, and we just heard the raw piece play, it sounded incredible. I thought I couldn’t believe it,” he adds of the remote sessions coming together despite the challenge COVID posed.
And just to help, Reznor admits “Citizen Kane” played in the studio for inspiration. “Just to be reminded of what music did in there.”
Watch Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross talk about the scoring of “Mank” as part of the Netflix Playlist Series