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‘Gravity’ director Alfonso Cuarón says ‘If you need it, create it’

Lapacazo Sandoval | 10/10/2013, 2 p.m.
Some of the tools needed to make the new thriller “Gravity,” written by Alfonso Cuarón and his son, Jonás Cuarón, ...
"Gravity"

Some of the tools needed to make the new thriller “Gravity,” written by Alfonso Cuarón and his son, Jonás Cuarón, and starring Academy Award winners Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) and George Clooney (“Syriana”), visually exciting didn’t exist when the team began their journey. Those visual innovations were born from creative necessity, and those brave innovators should stand tall and proud.

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Alfonso Cuarón

The stellar behind-the-scene team include producers Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman (the “Harry Potter” series), Oscar-nominated director of photography Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki (“Children of Men”), production designer Andy Nicholson and Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Tim Webber (“The Dark Knight”).

Here are few interesting details that I discovered about the four-year journey to transform “Gravity” from a concept to a big-screen blockbuster.

Amsterdam News: Is it true that you co-wrote the screenplay with your son, Jonás Cuarón?

Alfonso Cuarón: Yes. It was inspired by Jonás’ idea because I was very intrigued by his sense of pace for a life-or-death situation. Placing the story in space immediately made it more expansive and offered metaphorical possibilities.

AmNews: In creating the story, was 3-D an afterthought?

Jonás Cuarón: The concept was always to do the movie in 3-D, because we wanted people to be truly immersed in the imagery as well as the narrative.

AmNews: Visually, your team pushed the boundaries in crafting an adventure that took place in zero-gravity space. The work of director of photography Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki should garner another Oscar nomination, if not a win, this year.

AC: From the get-go, Chivo, Tim and I decided we wanted everything to look like we took our cameras into space. That would have been my dream, but, of course, that’s not feasible.

This is where the accomplishments of the team really impress. Webber invented the “lightbox” after Chivo was inspired by the lighting design at a Peter Gabriel concert. Webber’s team created a 20-foot-tall, 10-foot-wide cube filled with LED lights (in segmented panels) that act as projection screens lining the walls, ceiling and floor. Standing in a “tilt-a-rig,” Bullock and Clooney were pushed forward, thrown backward and spun in various ways, creating the illusion of tumbling head over heels and adrift among the stars. The camera, which was mounted on a giant robotic arm, was capable of swooping in and out and shooting from above and below, thus adding to the effect of untethered movement.

AmNews: Jonás, what’s the meaning of this film to you?

JC: The meaning of “Gravity” isn’t just what keeps your feet in the ground; it’s the force that is constantly pulling you back home.

For more information, visit gravitymovie.com.