E.LUBEZKI, A.G. IÑARRITU, BIRDMAN TOP OSCARS HONORS


It has been a good two consecutive years for cinematographer Enmmanuel Lubezki who has won every single major cinematography award of the motion picture industry in 2015 for the tenacious and imaginative making of the independent dark comedy Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Birdman won big this year at the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director-Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu-, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Prior Oscar night, Lubezki also bagged for himself, the most prestigious awards of the industry, a BAFTA, an ASC and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography.

Last year, Lubezki originated the same fete, winning almost every single cinematography award and sealing the recognition deal by winning a BAFTA award, an ASC award and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for the 3D science-fiction thriller "Gravity" under the helm of his friend and long time collaborator, Alfonso Cuaron.

On Gravity, the complexity of making us believe the actors were actually into deep space was challenging at best, so director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Lubezki utilized the latest on production and post-production techniques and equipment, some of it developed by themselves, to bring the award winning project to fruition. On Birdman,  the challenge was of a different nature and the requirements of the script by director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu was more visceral and immediate as Emmanuel Lubezki explains at the Academy Awards backstage interview:

"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  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 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".


Q: What was your first reaction when Alejandro showed you the script and what was the challenge you had with  Birdman?
"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 captivated me, and I truly wanted to do the movie.  And it was really, really complex, very hard.  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 artist.  We went through the process and made this movie happen."

"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 the  script, from the directors, from the locations 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 try something like this again.  It will depend on what the director wants and what the script needs".


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