On Friday I went to see one of the masterclass talks of the London Film Festival. It was an interview with Alfonso Cuaron and Tim Webber, respectively the director and VFX supervisor of this:
I am pant-wettingly excited to see that. It has 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and just broke the October opening record in America.
So Alfonso and Tim went through the processes by which they made this incredible epic, and I thought I’d share their wisdom with you:
1. It took four-and-a-half years to make. I love that. In this disposable, forgettable, surface world some things take time. Producing work of real quality takes time. Completely reinventing the field of special effects takes time. And that’s OK. Greatness takes as long as it takes. Perhaps gun control will also take time. Actually, maybe four-and-a-half years is quick for something like that. As someone who spends at least a year on a novel, if not two, I’m comfortable with starting a project whose end is too distant to see. Maybe I should spend longer and aim higher…
2. Alfonso has no problem killing his babies. When asked if he left anything great on the cutting room floor he replied that he found it funny that Tim and the cinematographer were gutted to see their best shot fall by the wayside, but Alfonso has no problem shedding excess baggage. He was then asked if it would resurface on the DVD. He didn’t seem keen on the idea.
3. I asked him a question (that was quite exciting, by the way. If any of you go to a talk with someone who is truly brilliant at something you love, ask them a question). I wanted to know if, after such a long process, where they could not have been sure if such groundbreaking techniques would work, are they happy at the rapturous reception Gravity has enjoyed, or are they just relieved. Alfonso said, ‘After a fox has been chased by a pack of hounds for four-and-a-half years, when the chase finally ends, is he happy? No. he’s happy when he can relax or paint or whatever. I just felt massive relief’. Tim agreed.
4. Tim revealed that Alfonso has an eye for everything, which made everyone do their job better because they knew Alfonso would spot any mistake. Then Alfonso said that whenever he pointed something out to Tim he would reply ‘I know,’ as in ‘I’ve got it covered’. He said that was fine. What he couldn’t stand would be to point something out to someone on his crew and have them go, ‘Oh! Yeah, I didn’t see that’. He said he absolutely trusts everyone in his crew and deliberately hires people better than him. That way he never has to spot mistakes. I think that’s interesting: if you know you’ve done something shit, don’t wait for it to be pointed out to you or hope you’ll get away with it; sort it out.
They were both very nice, charming, funny guys.
Roll on November 8th.