By Aditya Savnal. Posted on April 25, 2016
Alfonso Cuaron and Emmanuel Lubezki have come a long way since they first collaborated for Cuaron's debut feature Solo Con Tu Pareja a.k.a Love in the Time of Hysteria and have individually established themselves as technicians of great repute and prominence. Cuaron and Lubezki's collaboration which has spanned for more than two decades has given us some awe-inspiring and genre defining films such as Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men and Gravity.
At the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival, Cuaron and Lubezki a.k.a Chivo participated in a freewheeling and fun banter about their creative collaboration and filmmaking journey.
Summarized below are some of the interesting excerpts shared by them during this conversation that was earlier published on Tribeca's site.
The duo knew each other since they were teenagers and had the same social circle. Cuaron enrolled into a film school and Lubezki followed his footsteps. Later on, Lubezki ended up assisting Cuaron and also remarked "Alfonso is the most important teacher in my life," to which Cuaron retorted, "It was clear he understood the whole thing better than me."
Thanks to their stint at film school, the duo remarked how they learnt to develop their working relationship that helped them to forge a memorable partnership.
One of the first collaborations of the duo was the Mexican television show Hora Marcada (for which Guillermo del Toro had also directed certain episodes). By their own admission, the experience of working on this show helped Cuaron and Chivo understand how a scene can be directed and pulled off convincingly. During this period, Cuaron had started getting comfortably ensconced in the routine of directing content for television, while films had become an afterthought for him.
Thanks to the timely intervention and hark-back by Lubezki, it helped Cuaron to write a screenplay and move on to directing his first feature film Solo Con Tu Pareja.
Cuaron's much acclaimed debut film also paved the way for his and Lubezki's foray into Hollywood which began with the TV series Fallen Angels. He had directed an episode for the mystery series, whose roster of directors included Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Steven Soderbergh. By Cuaron's own admission, it was an unnerving experience made worse by his lack of ability to speak English. But a peptalk by the late Alan Rickman who starred in the Cuaron directed episode made things easier for him.
Having shot most of Cuaron's features including the Oscar winning Gravity, the duo of Cuaron and Chivo unanimously agree that their transition from young individuals learning the intricacies of filmmaking to becoming technicians par repute, was a journey filled with several false starts and difficulties. And one such experience was the Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow starrer Great Expectations. The duo was not too pleased with the output of this adaptation of the classic Dickens tale.
Cuaron remarked that the film was a "complete failure," for him and Lubezki on several levels, including the green colour schemes, which in their opinion was an attempt to cover up a weak screenplay. But as they say, every experience of life teaches you a lesson or two. And a similar thing happened with Cuaron, who post this film reassessed his true intention of becoming a director. This introspection led to Cuaron directing the sleeper Indie hit Y Tu Mama Tambien, after which there was no looking back for him and Chivo.
It was also the first time they experimented with long takes and natural light - two filming techniques that have become synonymous with Cuaron and Lubezki respectively and as the latter proclaimed "It's the one I like the most".
Sadly time ran out before the duo proceeded to discuss the other highlights of their career including the long takes in Children Of Men and their Oscar winning space saga Gravity.
But before the discussion ended, Cuaron gave a valuable insight from his journey which every filmmaker must take note of. In his words, the overall filmmaking process is a mystery and its not about performances, editing, music or any individual aspect. But it's about what holds everything together that suddenly clicks and gives you that experience.
Coming from an accomplished director like him, this is a statement we can completely agree with. Especially, if it will help us make a film that is even half as accomplished as any Cuaron film.