Backstage Interview Transcript: Cinematography

CATEGORY: Cinematography
SPEECH BY: Emmanuel Lubezki 


A.    Hi.  How are you? 


Q.    Over here for Carlos.  [Speaks in Spanish] 

A.    Very, very good.


Q.    Okay.  And first of all, if you can give a little message to the young ‑‑ young Mexican guys, working people that are working on cinematics over there in Mexico.  And then I will ask you to give ‑‑ you are the perfect person to give a message to ‑‑ to ever ‑‑ to always keep innovating and never settle with what you are doing. 

A.    That is your message.  My message is to work really hard.  And if you're a cinematographer, I would say try to collaborate with the director and always think and believe the director is the author of the movie, and that's the way you are going to be able to do a better job.


Q.    Two in a row.  You know, talking about hard work, how hard was it keeping all of those shots going constantly and what kind of pressure did it put on the actors?

A.    You know, this was probably the hardest movie I've ever worked on.  And it was really hard because exactly what you mentioned, the shots were very, very long.  And we were not doing coverage so everybody had to do their best every time and not mess it up.  And I think that brought an energy to the movie that otherwise the movie would not have.  And ‑‑ and I think that stress and that a need for concentration made the acting so powerful and the camera and everything in the movie.  So, to my humble opinion, it's so powerful because of that.  And that's something that Alejandro wanted to do since he wrote the script.  He was very ‑‑ he really wanted the movie to be in one shot or appear to be in one shot, and he didn't want to do any coverage because he knew that that was a way to immerse the audience in the movie, in the story, much deeper than ‑‑ than any other, you know, any other way we could have shot the movie.  And also it would make the actors do their best every time because they are used to ‑‑ usually, we shoot movies with coverage, and we do a wide shot, and the actors give only 70 percent.  And then when they do their close‑ups, they do 100 percent, but this time, they knew the shots were going to be in the movie, so they had to go for the whole thing, but you should talk to them, you know.  That's what I think.


Q.    [Speaks in Spanish] 

A.    [Speaks in Spanish]


Q.    [Speaks in Spanish] 

A.    [Speaks in Spanish]


Q.    Now I have to say in English:  What do you think ‑‑ what was your first reaction when Alexander [inaudible] to show you the script and the challenge you had with BIRDMAN?

A.    Well, the first time he talked about the movie, he said he wanted to do a movie in one shot before I read the script.  And at that moment, I truly, honestly thought I hope he doesn't offer me this movie; I'm not interested.  It sounds like a nightmare.  And then when he brought the script and talked about the characters and why it had to be one shot, he ‑‑ you know, he captivated me, and I truly wanted to do the movie.  And it was really, really complex, very hard.  We had ‑‑ to ‑‑ you know, there's no book that says how do it.  It was like an experiment.  And I have to say that is because he's a very strong, very curious, very, very ‑‑ yeah, very curious artist.  We went through the process and made this movie happen. 


Q.    So we are talking all about the challenges of doing this movie but actually, with [inaudible] very like long, very long takes and everything. 

A.    Yes.


Q.    This is like an extension of that kind of experiment.  So, it's just like you mentioned that you work for the director, but you have a certain like ‑‑ the question is ‑‑ what's ‑‑ of course it was a challenge of prolonging that.  It didn't save time.  What's next?  I mean you ‑‑ probably you need to find other ways to just, like, explore in visual terms to challenge you, right?

A.    No, no, you are right.  I mean every movie has to be told in a different way, whatever is good for the script, whatever is good for the story, whatever is good for the director.  And this just happened to be what Alejandro wanted to do and the way he wanted to tell the story and the way he wanted to immerse the people into this emotional journey of Riggan Thomson and I went for it.  But usually the style doesn't come from me, it comes from ‑‑ from the script, from the directors, from, you know, the locations where you ‑‑ where you shoot, etcetera, but mostly from what the directors need to tell their story.  The cinematographer's job is really to help them translate their ideas into images, and that's what I tried to do.  So I don't know if I will ever ‑‑ you know, if I will ever try something like this again.  It will depend on ‑‑ on what the director wants and what the script needs.


Q.    [Speaks in Spanish] 

A.    [Speaks in Spanish]


Q.    [Speaks in Spanish] 

A.    [Speaks in Spanish]


Q.    Alejandro was saying on the red carpet that he was hoping ‑‑ he was hoping that some ‑‑ that Mexicans win today because Mexico is in need of good news because it's going through violent times right now.  How do you feel about bringing so much joy to Mexico?

A.    If I give joy to Mexico, I will be very honored.  I don't know if I really give joy to a whole country.  The situation in Mexico is very dire, and that will ‑‑ we would need to go to another place to talk about that, but if I can ‑‑ if this movie can give any joy to any audience, that would be the best achievement.  




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