Lubezki Talks One-Shot Illusion of Birdman

How did Chivo do it? The Oscar-winning cinematographer walks us through Birdman.

The funny thing about  Birdman is that Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki initially resisted shooting the one-shot wonder proposed by director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu. The Oscar winner for Gravity, of course, is known for tackling long takes, but this movie — and a comedy, no less — seemed like a stunt and an uncomfortably difficult one at that.

But as a result of his remarkable achievement, Lubezki has become the frontrunner for his second Oscar in a row after taking awards from the LA Film Critics, New York Film Critics online, an Indie Spirit nomination, among others.

“I didn’t want to make a gimmicky film for no reason or just to do it in one take to show off,” explains Lubezki. “But Alejandro’s script had the seed of the idea in it and was perfectly written, it reads like one continuous take, where you go into the madness of Riggan Thomson [Michael Keaton] and the collapse of his life. So it did make sense. I think it works.”

But we have questions about how they pulled it off.  How many cuts are there and how long are they? The cinematographer doesn’t recall, only that they lasted between 10 and 20 minutes. However, whenever we’re in the theater and the surrounding hallways, that’s one take; whenever we’re in Thomson’s dressing room and the surrounding hallways, that’s another; and whenever we’re outside the theater in Times Square, that’s usually a single take except, obviously, the imaginary action sequence with lots of VFX or when he’s flying, according to Lubezki.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.


Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Movies, Oscar, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

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