I knew early on that I was a nerd and that films were my refuge. Those first few minutes before the lights went off, and you’re alone in the theater waiting, were really pleasurable.
I guess I have a short attention span! I’m interested in new worlds, new universes, new challenges.
‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’ is one of the first unrated movies to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. But many video stores won’t take a movie that’s not rated, so I had to make the movie an R.
I believe that human beings are born first and given passports later. I’m really thankful for my journey. And it’s a journey I didn’t design.
When you’re doing a film, narrative is your most important tool, but it’s a tool to create a cinematographic experience, to create those moments that are beyond narrative, that are almost an abstraction of that moment that hits your psyche.
Most people just half-watch TV. They watch TV while they are doing many other things in the environment of their home. So, what they are doing goes through their ears as much as through their eyes. In television, the narrative and characters are in the foreground of everything, because you are watching TV as you do other stuff.
It’s seldom that you find great moments in television. Usually you remember – in ‘Breaking Bad’ or any of these other great shows – you remember situations or characters. Not moments. But I have to say, I can make the same argument for mainstream movies, which have bad narratives and also no memorable moments.
In ‘Gravity,’ nearly everything is a metaphor for the main character. The way I tend to approach a film is that character and background are equally important; one informs the other. Here, Sandra Bullock is caught between Earth and the void of the universe, just floating there in between. We use the debris as a metaphor for adversity.
I’m interested in new worlds, new universes, new challenges. I always said the only reason to make a film is not for the result but for what you learn for the next one.
When you work with kids, people tell you to be very delicate, but that’s the last thing you should do with kids. They feel patronized if you’re like that. They just want you to be normal.
I was not aware of how much I loved ‘Canoa’ until I saw it after doing ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’ and realized that my voice – over about the story’s historical context – that narrator – came from ‘Canoa’.
When you strip hope from people, it leaves a void, and that void needs to be filled. And very likely, that void is going to be filled by an ideology… Hope and faith are so connected. Now, when ideology connects with faith, the ideology becomes an item of faith, not a point of discussion.
Experiencing this film in 2-D is only getting about 20 percent of the experience of ‘Gravity.’
A lot of the films I like are more than fantasies – they’re movies fascinated by the technology of space exploration, and they try to honor the laws of physics. I watched the Gregory Peck movie ‘Marooned’ over and over when I was a kid.
Once I finish a film, I don’t ever see it again. Never ever. I have never seen any of my films since I finished them.
If I would rescue one of my movies, it would be ‘A Little Princess.’
I think it is something that is so important, to be very aware of the direction in which the 21st century is going with all this blind faith in democracy. And by the way, I am not against democracy – I am against the blind faith that is being put in democracy.
It’s a cliche, but Americans are puritanical. In their movies, they are scared of sex, but they overindulge in violence. I could have cut a G-rated version of ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’ that would have pleased the American ratings board, but it would have been five minutes long.
If you want to keep on being relevant as a director, I think you have to embrace the times. And with the times come technologies and formats.
For me, my films are not like my children. They are like my ex-wife. They gave me so much; I gave them so much; I loved them so much; we part ways, and it’s OK, we part ways.
What’s the point of being an Australian guy traveling through India if you are going to go to India to meet other Australians?
The only reason you make a movie is not to make or set out to do a good or a bad movie, it’s just to see what you learn for the next one.
I have this thing that, once I finish a movie, I never see it again.
I produce the way I would love to be produced: In ways to create the best conditions to make your movie, but also to create a space in which the director calls the shots.
I learned there’s an amazing unexplored territory in terms of narrative. Before, I thought the unexplored territory was the form, the way you shoot a movie. Now, I’m learning about the beautiful marriage between form and narrative.
Cautionary tales were fantastic in the ’70s.
The amazing thing is that the more money it takes for a movie to get made, the more you feel like everybody wants you to fail.
This is the thing I have with awards: If awards would make your movie more pretty, I would really get super excited about it. But your movie’s done. You get awards, you don’t get awards… They don’t make your movie more ugly or pretty.
I have to say, ‘Gravity’ is better in 3-D, even though in 2-D the quality of the picture is better. But the 3-D is better.
Dramatically, the moment in ‘Gravity’ that was hardest to nail down is when Ryan is in the Soyuz capsule and she realizes that she’s out of fuel. That’s when the character’s arc gets defined.
I have to confess that I don’t read much of what is written about me.
I used to be very controlling with visuals and editing, and I would pretty much craft the performances; now I have learned to trust the material and the actors.
I left Mexico for artistic survival. If I had stayed, I would have been forced by the government, who control the movie business, to direct TV shows or commercials or infomercials for the government.
The two real leads in ‘Children of Men’ are Clive Owen and the social environment. You know, this same movie without the social environment maybe is just like a generic chase movie.
There are fewer established rules in the way you tell a story for commercials than in features. It’s a great little short story you get to play with.
Space fascinated me because I’m from the generation that saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon live on TV. I was 7 at the time. Also, ‘Lost in Space’ was one of my favorite shows on TV back then.
I understand the bad rap that 3-D is getting because the conversions are crappy and because the films aren’t designed for 3-D. It’s a completely different medium.
I love L.A. I always have such a great time in L.A. The way I kind of define me and L.A. is the noise of the factory doesn’t let me sleep well.
I have my misgivings about 3-D. I don’t like the lack of blacks and whites, how it dulls the image, how the color gets corrupted. I don’t necessarily like the experience of having heavy glasses in front of me.
I was 8 when we landed on the moon. I was so into the space program as a kid. Eventually, I realized it was very unlikely that a Mexican kid in the early ’70s was going to be an astronaut.