Oscar winner behind 'Birdman' filming daunted by one long shot

Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:07am EST
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki was finishing the complex filming of "Gravity" when director Alejandro G. Inarritu approached him with a daunting proposal: To film "Birdman" in a way that makes the movie appear to be one continuous shot.

In an interview with Reuters, Lubezki said his first thought was: "'I hope I don't get to do this' because it was such a big challenge and I didn't want it to be gimmicky."

Known popularly as "Chivo" ('goat' in Spanish), Lubezki is a favorite to win the Academy Award on Feb. 22 for best cinematography, a year after the Mexican earned his first for space thriller "Gravity."

"Birdman" is also a front-runner for best picture.

A seven-time Oscar nominee, the 50-year-old Lubezki has what Inarritu describes as "beautiful talent and exquisite taste," and together they have created a "terrific process." They are now making their second film.

When Inarritu won the Directors Guild award last weekend, he joked with "Gravity" director and fellow Mexican Alfonso Cuaron about their "shared secret weapon."

Still, Lubezki gives Inarritu full credit for the idea of the long, unbroken shot: From the beginning, the director wanted to immerse the audience in Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, and the collapse of his life as the former superhero actor attempting a comeback in his own Broadway play.

"He wanted this one shot not to be completely objective, so that made it very hard," Lubezki said. "The shot is sometimes very subjective, so you are feeling what he is feeling and you are watching what he is watching, and then goes back to reveal the environment."   Continued...

Emmanuel Lubezki poses with his award for best cinematography for his film "Gravity" at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014  REUTERS/ Mario Anzuoni