"Children of Men" [2005]

[In blue t-shirt] - 1993

                

 EMMANUEL LUBEZKI   AMC/ASC

Born: 1964, Mexico City, Mexico, as Emmanuel Lubezki Morgenstern, son of actor Muni Lubezki; a.k.a. Emmanuel 'Chivo' Lubezki.

Education: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México [Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos] [UNAM], Mexico City.

Career: 'I was born and raised in Mexico City. My grandmother, my father's mother, was born in Russia. Her family escaped to China during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. She lived in Shanghai for a while, but wanted a career as an actress in Hollywood, and convinced her family to move there. They had to stop in Mexico, because the quota restriction for immigrants in the U.S. was closed. She lived in Mexico City where she met and married my grandfather. […] I was in high school. All the people in one class spent a full year working together on the production of a documentary. We went to the state of Vera Cruz and made a documentary about workers in the sugarcane fields. For me, the magic moment happened when I was looking through the viewfinder on a Super 8 camera and shooting the film. […] I started out studying history at the University of Mexico. There was a still photography department at the Mexican School of Cinema at the university. I started shooting short films and abandoned studying history. There were maybe three kids at the school who wanted to be cinematographers. We shot most of the films for different directors. I met Alfonso Cuarón, Xavier Pérez Grobet, Rodrigo Prieto, Luis Estrada, who directed my first couple of movies, and other friends. At that time, it was practically impossible for a young person to find work on movies. The industry was very small and the unions were completely closed to new people. There was a rule that only allowed seven cinematographers in the union, so you had to wait for somebody to die or retire before you became an operator, and then you waited for another cinematographer to die or retire. A group of maybe 10 friends decided that if we wanted to be professionals, we would have to make our own movies. We put all our money together and produced our first feature film. I think it was something like $7,000. I was one of the producers. Guillermo Navarro let us use his Éclair camera for free. Our idea was to make a movie for the Hispanic speaking market in the United States. The picture was called 'El camino largo a Tijuana'. We were going to distribute it on VHS and use the money to make more films. We used that money to produce our second film, 'Bandidos'. That was the first film I shot. Luis Estrada was the director. We didn't make our money back, but 'Bandidos' was relatively successful. Afterwards, I started getting calls. […] What happened was that after I finished shooting a little movie called 'The Harvest', both 'Sólo con tu pareja/Love in the Time of Hysteria' and 'Como agua para chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate' were invited to screen at the Toronto Film Festival. After that, agents started calling me. I didn't even know you needed an agent, and I could barely speak English, but I came to Los Angeles to meet some agents and started getting scripts. Jeanne Tripplehorn saw and liked 'Como agua para chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate'. She was going to perform in a little movie called 'Reality Bites' that was directed by Ben Stiller. She recommended me to him. At that point, my English wasn't good enough to understand the script or the humor, but I liked Ben and Jeanne, and he wanted me to do the movie. Around the time that I started shooting films in Los Angeles, the money from the government for producing movies in Mexico was drying up. I moved to San Francisco for 3½ years, but during that time, I only shot one commercial there. I spent a lot of days flying to and from Los Angeles. When an airline stewardess recognized me, I decided that it was time to move back to Los Angeles. I still shoot commercials in-between movies. I find that that's the best workshop to keep you from rusting, and for trying new equipment and experimenting.' [From interview by Bob Fisher on the KODAK OnFilm website.]

Ph commercials dir by David Fincher [for Nike], Alejandro González Iñárritu, Dante Ariola [for Jim Beam], Tom Kuntz [for DirecTV], Chris Palmer [for Volkswagen], a.o. Directed commercials, e.g. for Samsung.

Awards: 'Ariel' Silver Award 'Best Cinematography' nom [1992] for 'Sólo con tu pareja'; 'Ariel' Silver Award 'Best Cinematography' [1992] & Tokyo IFF 'Best Artistic Contribution Award' [1992; shared] for 'Como agua para chocolate'; 'Ariel' Silver Award 'Best Cinematography' [1993] & Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, Havana, 'Premio Coral' [1993] for 'Miroslava'; Cable ACE Award [1993] for 'Murder, Obliquely'; 'Ariel' Silver Award 'Best Cinematography' [1994] for 'Ámbar'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1996] for 'A Little Princess'; BSFC Award [1999], CFCA Award nom [2000], ASC Award nom [2000] & 'Oscar' AA nom [2000] for 'Sleepy Hollow'; 'Oscar' AA nom [2005] & CFCA Award nom [2005] for 'The New World'; Venice FF 'Osella d'oro' Award for Best Technical Contribution [2006], ASC Film Award [2006], BAFTA Film Award [2006], CFCA Award [2006], 'Oscar' AA nom [2006], NSFC Award [2007] & ACS 'International Cinematographer of the Year' [2007] for 'Children of Men'; ASC Film Award [2011] for 'The Tree of Life'; ASC Film Award [2013], BAFTA Film Award [2013] & 'Oscar' AA [2013] for 'Gravity'.


'The New World': "When Terry Malick and I talked about shooting the life of Che Guevara last year, we wrote down a set of rules - our dogma - to follow," says cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. "The idea was to capture the reality of this man's life with natural light, no cranes, no big rigs. It would be subjective - from the man's point-of-view.

"A little while later, Terry called to say 'we're not doing Che but doing a story based on the foundation of this country,'" Lubezki adds. "The code of belief, the dogma, would be the same.

"I was naturally interested in this new project. No light. Handheld. And, one of the most important tools, the Steadicam [manned by Jörg Widmer and James McConkey]. We, in the camera department, would think of ourselves as the 5 o'clock news team, capturing the reality in front of us. It would just happen to be the reality of a different century."

Their dogma was natural back light. "We chose back light, not because it is pretty but because it helps the evenness of the light," Lubezki explains. "Terry shoots out of sequence. A close-up in October might be used on a scene later in December somewhere else. By shooting back light, keeping softer light on the faces of the actors, and keeping the sky white [Terry doesn't like blue skies], we were able to serve the story and keep the continuity."

The team was always looking for locations that would be versatile, not only to serve the story but also to serve Malick's need for moving story elements from place to place. "We would shoot inside the forest and trees when the light was toppy and use the canopy of trees as a big silk," Lubezki explains. "When the light disappeared, we would go to the fields, using the direction of light that would serve us best. Sometimes, Terry would shoot a scene in the forest and then re-shoot it in the fields, deciding later which played best."

To capture the earthy look as naturally as possible, Lubezki chose Kodak 5218 for most of the picture. It gave him the flexibility to work at a deeper stop. "We shot everything anamorphic with a depth-of-field between f/16 and f/11," he says. "By shooting at that depth-of-field, we could really make the audience feel as if they were in this world with these characters.

"Sometimes, lack of depth-of-field becomes a barrier and we wanted to take that barrier away. To help the lenses as much as possible, Panavision created a new lens for us to use on the XL cameras. They combined the E-series lens that is heavy with the C-series lens. This allowed us to have close focus, keeping with our 'dogma' of being in the action and solve the anamorphic contradiction between resolution [which it gives us] and depth-of-field [which is not always possible].

"I wanted to use only the 35mm and 40mm most of the time," he adds. "We added the 50mm for telephoto, when we needed to get close to the actors, but still give them some room to move."

Following the philosophy and ideas of photojournalists, Lubezki and team were constantly thinking of themselves as still photographers, moving fast with a camera hanging around their necks, creating images of life and reality in the places where they landed.

"Terry plans everything in his head," says Lubezki, "but he is always looking for those moments that are unplanned - those happy accidents that breathe reality into a story. For him, the behavior of people, nature, even where the wind blows are all moments to capture. These are 'happy accidents' that can't happen on the stage because you are always restricted to walls or props. And, to artificial light. Artificial light is simple. It is a specific color temperature and feel. But, natural light is complex and sometimes chaotic. A bounce from the floor or a reflection from the sky can do so much.

"Terry's desire to free the actor also freed us from the artificial. The many elements and feelings that the natural environment and light evoked contributed to our desire to capture this story in a different way." [From article by Pauline Rogers on the International Cinematographers Guild website.]



 FILMS AT THE UNAM [see also FILMS AS DIRECTOR]

1983

Vengeance Is Mine [Alfonso Cuarón & Carlos Marcovich] c; short/30m; according to UNAM data the film was dir by Luis Estrada in 1985 and ph by Alfonso Cuarón

1985

Sera por eso que la quiero tanto [Carlos Marcovich] 16mm/c; short/10m

1986

Para prolongar el tiempo [Ciro Cabello Guevara] 16mm/c; short/19m

1987

Fragmentos de un cuerpo [Ramón Cervantes Audelo] 16mm/c; short/57m; cph: Adan Zamarripa, Jorge Garcia & Igor Jadue-Lillo

1987

Los buzos diamantistas [Marcela Couturier Banuelos] 16mm/c; short/37m


 FILMS

1990

La muchacha [Dorotea Guerra] c; short/27m; prod Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía

1990

Bandidos/Bandits [Luis Estrada] c

1990

Sólo con tu pareja/Love in the Time of Hysteria [Alfonso Cuarón] c; 2uc: Rodrigo Prieto

1991

Como agua para chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate [Alfonso Arau] c; cph: Steven Bernstein; 2uc: Claudio Rocha

1991

The Harvest [David Marconi] c; 2uc: Xavier Pérez Grobet

1992

Miroslava [Alejandro Pelayo Rangel] b&w-c

1992

Twenty Bucks [Keva Rosenfeld] c; addph: Scott Erlander, Nate Goodman, Rodrigo Prieto & Jürg Viktor Walther (as Jurg Viktor Walthers)

1992

Ámbar/Amber [Luis Estrada] c

1993

Reality Bites [Ben Stiller] c

1994

A Little Princess [Alfonso Cuarón] c; 2uc: Charles Minsky

1994

A Walk in the Clouds [Alfonso Arau] c; optical ph: David S. Williams Jr.

1995

The Birdcage/Birds of a Feather [Mike Nichols] c

1996

Great Expectations [Alfonso Cuarón] p/c

1997

Meet Joe Black [Martin Brest] c; aph: Dylan Gross

1998

Sleepy Hollow [Tim Burton] c; 2uc: Peter Hannan; ph New York: Conrad L. Hall; 2uc New York: Conrad W. Hall

1999

Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her [Rodrigo García] c; 5 seg ('This Is Dr. Keener', 'Fantasies About Rebecca', 'Someone For Rose', 'Good Night Lilly, Good Night Christine' & 'Love Waits For Kathy')

2000

Y tu mamá también/And Your Mother Too [Alfonso Cuarón] c

2000

Hearts in Atlantis [Scott Hicks] s35/c; uncred cph with Allen Daviau; ph: Piotr Sobocinski

2001

Ali [Michael Mann] HD (Sony F900)+s35-to-35mm scope/c

2001

Frida [Julie Taymor] announced as doph, but replaced by Rodrigo Prieto

2001

De Mesmer, con amor o Té para dos/From Mesmer, with Love or Tea for Two [Salvador Aguirre & Alejandro Lubezki] c; short/9m

2002

Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat [Bo Welch] s35-to-35mm/c

2003

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [Alfonso Cuarón] announced as doph, but replaced by Michael Seresin

2003

The Assassination of Richard Nixon [Niels Mueller] s35-to-35mm/c; 2uc: Jerzy Zielinski; + co-assoc prod

2003

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events [Brad Silberling (replaced Barry Sonnenfeld)] s35-to-35mm/c; 2uc: Amy Vincent; addph: Carolyn Chen & Robert Yeoman (Lubezki had to leave for another commitment in the final weeks of filming and asked Yeoman to finish for him); uwph: Pete Romano; vfx ph: Martin Rosenberg

2004

The New World [Terrence Malick] p+65mm-to-35mm scope/c; 2uc: Jörg Widmer; addph: Bunt Young; uwph: Pete Romano

[Left] with dir Alfonso Cuarón - "Children of Men"

2005

Children of Men [Alfonso Cuarón] s35-to-35mm/c; 2uc: Peter Hannan

2006

Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s'éteint et que le film commence/To Each His Cinema [seg 'Anna' dir by Alejandro González Iñárritu] c; 33 seg; other ph: Zhao Xiaoding, Francis Grumman, Andreas Sinanos, a.o.

2007

Burn After Reading [Joel & Ethan Coen] 35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c; uncred addph: Bob Yeoman

2008

The Tree of Life [Terrence Malick] 35mm+65mm+RED+HD (Phantom HD)-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c; ph Italy: Jörg Widmer; ph New York: Ellen Kuras; ph Versailles: Benoît Delhomme; 2uc: Paul Atkins, Peter Simonite & Nathanael Vorce; vfx ph: Tom Debenham; uwph: Pete Romano

2008

The History of Love [Alfonso Cuarón] in development since 2005

2008

A Boy and His Shoe/Any Old Shoe [Alfonso Cuarón] pre-production; casting in 2009

2010

To the Wonder/The Burial [Terrence Malick] s35+65mm+RED-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Paul Atkins; addph: Peter Simonite; ph Paris: Jörg Widmer; ph Versailles: Benoît Delhomme; filmed 2010 & 2011

2011

Gravity [Alfonso Cuarón] HD (ARRI ALEXA & ARRI ALEXA M)+65mm-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema [also 3-D version])/c; addph (finished film): Michael Seresin; ph 65mm: Robert Eberlein

2012

Knight of Cups [Terrence Malick] s35+65mm+HD (ARRI ALEXA M)-to-?/c; 2uc: Paul Atkins

2012

Lawless [Terrence Malick] HD (ARRI ALEXA M)+35mm/c; addph: Peter Simonite

2013

Birdman [Alejandro González Iñárritu] HD (ARRI ALEXA XT)/c; 2uc: Lukasz Jogalla


 TELEVISION

1988

Hora marcada [ep 'A veces regresa' dir by Alfonso Cuarón] series, 1986-90; other ph: Carlos Marcovich

1989

Hora marcada [ep 'No estoy jugando' dir by Alfonso Cuarón & 'El motel' dir by Luis Estrada] see 1988

1990

Hora marcada [ep 'No retornable' dir by Alfonso Cuarón (AC), 'Ángel Pérez' dir by AC, 'De Ogros' dir by AC, 'El taxi' dir by Juan Mora Catlett & 'Zangamanga' dir by AC] see 1988

1990

El motel de la muerte [Jorge Prior] tvm; cph: Alfonso Cuarón, Antonio Ruiz & Guillermo Granillo

1993

Fallen Angels [ep #3 'The Quiet Room' dir by Steven Soderbergh & #5 'Murder, Obliquely' dir by Alfonso Cuarón] 15-part series, 1993 & 1995; 1st season, 1993; other ph: Declan Quinn (2 ep) & Peter Suschitzky (2 ep)

2010

Write the Future [Alejandro González Iñárritu] RED (scope)/c; commercial/3m03s; Kobe Bryant scene dir/ph by Rodrigo Prieto; guest cinematographer: Janusz Kaminski; 2uc: Sergio Delgado; for Nike (premiered during the FIFA World Cup 2010)


 FILMS AS DIRECTOR

1985

Ejercicio de 20 año [+ co-scrpl/ed; short/10m/16mm] ph: Carlos Marcovich; prod UNAM

1986

Marlena en la pared [co-d: Salvador de la Fuente; + co-scrpl/co-ed; short/40m/16mm] ph: Carlos Marcovich; prod UNAM

1990

Caifanes[+ prod/ed; doc/?m/v] ph: Carlos Marcovich

1990

Fobia y Santa Sabina[co-d: Miguel Mora; + co-scrpl; doc/?m/v] ph: ?


 MISCELLANEOUS

1986

Gaby - A True Story[Luis Mandoki] co-asst dir; ph: Lajos Koltai

1988

El camino largo a Tijuana/A Long Way to Tijuana [Luis Estrada] co-prod; ph: Carlos Marcovich

2006

Shine a Light [Martin Scorsese; mus doc] co-c.op; ph: Robert Richardson

2007

Lección relámpago [Alejandro Lubezki; short] co-prod; ph: Norman Christianson