Backstage Interview | 86th Academy Awards


CATEGORY: Cinematography
INTERVIEW WITH: Emmanuel Lubezki
FILM: "Gravity"


Q.    All right.  Congratulations to you all for your Oscar wins this evening.  Alfonso, at the Visual Effects Society awards, you mentioned the importance of capturing light in cinematography.  And since you're all standing together, can you talk a little bit about the quality of light and how that came together visually and in the cutting of the film?
A.    (Alfonso Cuarón)  Chivo. 
A.    (Emmanuel Lubezki)  Me? 
A.    (Alfonso Cuarón)  Quality of light. 
A.    (Emmanuel Lubezki)  Quality of light.  Okay.  We wanted the movie to look as naturalistic as possible within the limitations, because we couldn't go to space.  So we created a very large library of shots, mostly from NASA photography; and we based a lot of the lighting of the movie on these photographs.  And we would have big meetings with the visual effects' people, and Alfonso, and editing, and everybody; and we would try to define how which scene of the movie was going to look; and, of course, the last word was always his. 
A.    (Alfonso Cuarón)  Yeah.  But I think that the important thing was also the reverse engineering of the whole process, because as opposed to a conventional film in which post‑production ‑‑ visual effects are part of the post‑production, and cinematography has very little relationship with visual effects.  Here's a film in which editing, visual effects and cinematography started pretty much two years before we started shooting in order to be able to integrate all those elements. 

Q.    Would you like to say something to Mexico and the whole Hispanic world that is cheering now for you?
A.    (Emmanuel Lubezki)  Well, I'm Mexican, and I love Mexico, and in Español:  (Speaks in Spanish). 


Q.    It's congratulations to the three of you.  It's such an amazing movie, and it is not the first time that Chivo and Alfonso work together.  I mean, it's just the beginning of so many things that you have done together and being recognized with an Oscar.  I believe he means so much to you.  What does he mean?  I mean you guys are friends.  (Speaks in Spanish). 
A.    (Emmanuel Lubezki)  Well, what it means to me right now, and maybe I'll change my mind later, but right now what it means is that I've been working with Alfonso, and Alfonso has been ‑‑ really what I said in my speech, that he was a teacher.  He's been a teacher, and I've been following his steps, and I've been inspired by ‑‑ by his curiosity of exploration, and ‑‑ and it is true, you know, that I'm a fan of his ‑‑ his ‑‑ in Español.  (Speaks in Spanish).
A.    (Alfonso Cuarón)  What I feel for Chivo is exactly that.  So keep on saying, and it is the same. 
A.    (Emmanuel Lubezki)  (Speaks in Spanish). 

Q.    Congratulations, you guys.  We've been hearing everybody thanking you, but we couldn't get to hear your speech.  So, what would you say?  This is your first Oscars, so we want to hear what would you have to say up there? 
A.    (Alfonso Cuarón)  Pretty much I think that something was forgotten in the speech is that all of this is thanks to Sandra Bullock.  I mean everything that we were doing was honoring Sandra Bullock's performance, and even all the light and all the wizardry doesn't make any sense without that emotional part that was embodied by her.  And, also, you know, like thank my family. 

Q.    You guys had an environment where you had no up and down or left and right you kind of go any direction.  How did that affect, you know, with the editing and everything and altogether, because it's a unique film in that way.  So how do you think that contributed to being able to make it the special kind of film it was?
A.    (Mark Sanger)  Certainly, Alfonso created an environment in which all the conventional rules were thrown out, and that certainly presented a challenge editorially.  I think it presented a challenge cine‑ ‑‑ cinematographically.  I think it also presented a challenge for all of the crew.  What we did in the first 18 months was kind of reinvent those rules, and we had the time to do that.  And, certainly, I think, you know, the way that the audience engaged in it in the end, it meant that we certainly ‑‑ I think we succeeded in that. 
A.    (Emmanuel Lubezki)  I just want to say something.  Thank you very much, because thanks to all of you, the movie has been seen all around the world; and, you know, the people have gone to the theaters and so on.  So, thanks so much. 
A.    (Mark Sanger)  I agree.


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