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Interview: Oscar Winner Kirk Baxter Talks Working with David Fincher and Editing ‘Mank’

You don’t win two Academy Awards without being pretty great at your job. So, it’s not a stretch to call Kirk Baxter an ace editor. His work, not just alongside Angus Wall, but with director David Fincher, has produced some impeccably edited films. The Social Network, along with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, won Baxter and Wall Oscars, while they also received a nomination for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Throw in Gone Girl, as well as now Mank (which is a solo editing job, without Wall), and you have someone who is truly at the top of their craft. So, getting the chance to pick Baxter’s brain was a chance I had no intention of passing up.

Below, you can hear my conversation with Baxter. Mank is at the center of our chat, but I was just fascinated by editing in general and wanted to hear as much as I could from him. So, we move in a few different directions, thought the Fincher flick is never far from our minds. Baxter is well on his way to another citation from the Academy, so it’s a perfect time to revisit the film over on Netflix. As I wrote in my review (found here), the tech work in the movie, including Baxter’s, is beyond reproach:

Surprising nobody, this is a technical wonder. It goes beyond achieving a look and sound that apes the old days. Not just content to have the sound be in mono and the digital production simulate film changeovers with cigarette burns on the screen, Fincher makes it “feel” like an archive. At the same time, there’s a modern aspect here too, not in a nostalgic way, but as a critical eye. Especially with the fake news subplot, that shines through. It goes without saying that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross contribute a perfect score for a Fincher flick, but this is really above and beyond. From top to bottom, the tech work is flawless, including the cinematography from Erik Messerschmidt, the costume design by Trish Summerville, and the editing by Kirk Baxter. Messerschmidt deserves a ton of credit for the look of the film, especially, while Baxter allows perfect pacing, a hallmark of Fincher’s oeuvre.

Here now is my interview with Mank editor Kirk Baxter. Enjoy:

Mank is currently streaming on Netflix!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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