Video Interview: 'Birdman' Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu Discusses Life
by Alex Billington
October 17, 2014
"A journey should always be mysterious…" One of the best films of 2014 is Birdman, the fifth feature from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, following up Biutiful four years ago. Birdman premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festivals, and will also play at the New York Film Festival before landing in theaters this October. After catching the premiere up in the mountains in Telluride (my review), I met up with Iñárritu for a 15 minute chat about all things: from life to filmmaking to laughter to turning 50 and the lessons he has learned. It happens to be one of the best chats I've had with a filmmaker, and it's rejuvenating to listen to him talk. "If you don't do something that does not terrify you, why do it?"
One of the first films I remember screening as a film critic was Iñárritu's Babel, and it made an impression that will last in my mind forever. There's something very unique about the films that Iñárritu makes, and he has always told such invigorating, challenging stories. With Birdman he ventures down a totally new path, changing course from his past work yet maintaining the incredibly unique sensibilities that make him such a talented filmmaker. I was excited to sit down with Alejandro to talk about how he ended up on this path, what motivates him and his choices, and how much of himself is really in Birdman. One of my favorite talks.
My interview with Birdman co-writer & director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, shot on Flipcam in Telluride:
Two notes: Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, and DP Emmanuel Lubezki is also known as "Chivo".
Timeline of questions: 0:28 - Was this a result of analyzing yourself after turning 50? 1:36 - Was it always set around a Broadway show? Why not Hollywood? 2:18 - When did Michael Keaton get involved? 3:08 - What was he like on set? Was he always in character? 4:44 - It's a meta film… 5:17 - When did the idea of presenting this as one long take come about, part of the script? 7:10 - Does cinematographer Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki have complete freedom handling the camera? 9:20 - Did it all just flow together on set? 10:12 - How much humor was there on set? 11:10 - Laughter is an important part of happiness… 12:40 - What are the greatest lessons learned on this film? 14:20 - You're already shooting again, will you continue to differentiate yourself? 15:20 - What recent film would you recommend? (He chose Le Quattro Volte).
From my review published at Telluride: "The best films are the ones that are not only entertaining, but as much about ourselves as the characters… With Birdman, Iñárritu has created a masterpiece of a film that touches upon all of these ideas, exploring the ego and identity, while giving us something to laugh at and smile at for 120 minutes." Thank you to Fox Searchlight and Alejandro for the chance to talk about the film.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman opens in limited theaters on October 17th and will expand throughout the fall. Read my review from Telluride 2014 and visit the film's official website for more info & theater listings.