Quint chats up Alfonso Cuaron about the CHILDREN OF MEN DVD!!!
Published at: March 23, 2007, 1:04 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a little chat I had with Alfonso Cuaron regarding the release of his brilliant film, CHILDREN OF MEN, on DVD.
The interview wasn’t conducted under the best circumstances. As it were, the only time I could get on the phone with Cuaron was right smack dab in the middle of my miserable ShoWest experience. So, I took a break from a good run at the Bally’s poker room (I think there was just some popcorn machine talk going on at the time) to hit the press room and conduct this short 10-15 minute interview over my cell phone.
If you don’t know, the cell phone signal can interfere with electronics, causing a hum and buzz… I’ve had to do this one other time, with an interview with Daniel Radcliffe (to be released soon) and that was a lot of fun to transcribe, with that god-awful electronic hum covering up the audio every few seconds… This one wasn’t as bad, but it’s still not the ideal way to record an interview.
I’m a gonzo giant fan of CHILDREN OF MEN and it was a pleasure talking to Cuaron at all. I wish the circumstances could have been better and I could have had more time, but we do get to talk a lot about the DVD they put together. Without any further ado, here’s the chat!
QUINT: I’m in Vegas right now, so I’m going to have to do this over the speakerphone on my cell. Hopefully everything works… okay… Can you hear me?
ALFONSO CUARON: Yeah.
QUINT: Cool. So how’ve you been? Have you enjoyed the release of CHILDREN OF MEN and the strong response it has gotten?
ALFONSO CUARON: Yeah, it’s been very good. It’s been a really good journey. It’s one of those that I’ve been very pleased to see people connecting to what I wanted to communicate. And particularly in America.
Yeah, you can see the film as a chase movie, but there was all of this other thematic element that I’m so happy that the audiences understood what the movie was about.
QUINT: That’s the thing. It’s such an entertaining movie from start to finish, but there’s a depth to it and I think people really respond to that. I really appreciate that you’re out there making those kinds of movies.
ALFONSO CUARON: Well, thank you, man.
QUINT: Well, the DVD is coming out soon. Did you do anything special with the it?
ALFONSO CUARON: I’m very excited about the DVD because… you know, I’m not a big fan of director’s comments or behind the scenes. What I proposed for this one was a documentary. What I did is put together a social frame that we were going to deal with.
When I set out to do CHILDREN OF MEN it was because I wanted to make an exploration to the state of things, to the things that are shaping the first decade of the 21st Century. In other words, shaping our future.
So, we did a lot of research and then with this documentary we got to interview some of the thinkers that were so influential in creating the scenario for the film. A documentary version of what’s in the film.
We interview people like Naomi Klein and James Lubbock… they talk not about the film, but about the themes that are involved in the film. I think it’s a very relevant documentary. I’m very proud of it because I get to share, through the documentary, the thoughts of these amazing minds. And it’s almost like a post-apocalyptic movie!
Have you seen the documentary?
QUINT: No, I haven’t seen the DVD yet. I’ll be picking it up on the 27th at the local store… when Vegas and ShoWest are far behind me.
ALFONSO CUARON: I was there on Monday.
QUINT: Oh yeah?
ALFONSO CUARON: I was there on Monday because they gave me an award over there. Are you gambling a lot?
QUINT: I’ve been at the poker tables quite a bit, yeah.
ALFONSO CUARON: (laughs)
QUINT: Now, this documentary… did you direct it yourself?
ALFONSO CUARON: Yeah. I was doing post-production, so Ricardo (sorry, couldn’t discern the last name through the electronic buzz), the scientific journalist, did the interviews. I was working with Ricardo setting up the questions, the structure of the questions, then pretty much I wrote the thing and put it together. Yeah, you can say I directed it.
QUINT: Are there going to be any other bonus features on the disc?
ALFONSO CUARON: For me, the documentary is… is something that is really relevant and important. There is some of the other stuff. We have a version… we don’t have a making of, but we have sections, like one section is called Man Under Attack. When we did the film, Emmanuel Lubezki, my cinematographer, he asked me not to reveal how we did the shots.
But then there’s been so much speculation on the internet of how the shots were done… so that scene, Under Attack, that’s how the scene in the car, the ambush of the car, was shot. There’s one that is how (we did) the birth of the baby.
There’s a section that is how we came up with the design for the future. Together with that, we have some deleted scenes. I haven’t got many, but there are some of them. Then there’s something with Julianne Moore and Clive Owen in which they talk about the characters.
QUINT: Sounds like a well-rounded DVD, with the movie-centered pieces and the big documentary.
ALFONSO CUARON: I’m very pleased with the whole thing. I think they did a wonderful job with it. A good thing, also, with DVD… with this format you can slow down a frame. There’s a lot detail. Actually, it’s so much fun to explore the detail. You see the opening shot outside the streets of London… go through the detail of the billboards all around. I think it’s pretty cool.
QUINT: Can we talk a little bit about the process of the script coming together? You had quite a few screenwriters on the movie. Can you talk about how that evolved?
ALFONSO CUARON: There’s a tradition in the Academy Awards to have a lot of extras fill the seats. I think that they thought it was cheaper to just have writers.
I don’t want to say anything else about all this amount of writers… whoever has read a book by PD James has a credit as a writer here. This screenplay was written by Tim Sexton and myself. If I would credit another writer, it would be Clive Owen.
QUINT: Oh yeah?
ALFONSO CUARON: Oh yeah, totally.
QUINT: He must have had a lot of input, then.
ALFONSO CUARON: From the moment that he got involved. Tim and I we worked with Clive a couple of weeks in a hotel room in New York, focusing his character. His instincts were so great that then we asked, “Can we pester you with the rest of the script?” He (worked with us) with that and he was amazing.
I have read the original book by PD James and I respect it quite a lot, but I didn’t see a movie you could do out of it. Her concepts, the concept of the fertility of humanity kept on humping me. There was a moment where I had to discover what was humping me and then I realized it was because that concept could serve as a metaphor for the failing sense of hope of humanity. Then, that could be a springboard for an exploration of the state of things.
That was the point of departure and I’m very thankful for PD James because she triggered this great process.
The first part of the process was to do an exploration of which themes are the themes of the future. You don’t go very far before hitting immigration and environment. Then we started writing the script.
But everything was based upon very specific theoretical elements because everything had to mirror the reality of today. We were not interested in speculating about the future, we wanted to comment about the present.
The spooky thing is we had to create a timeline between 2002, when we started writing the script, to 2027 and we wrote a series of events, based upon our research. It was scary. I mean, we had stuff, like a bombing in London, that was supposed to happen 2012, I think. Then suddenly that happened last year.
That was the scary thing. Even with all this research, the future… this scenario is getting closer and closer at an amazing speed.
QUINT: Wow… as much as I like the film, I really hope we don’t end up in your movie!
ALFONSO CUARON: The problem is that actually a big part of humanity they live like in my movie. It’s not the way we live in our comfort zones, but a big chunk of humanity lives in a reality that is similar to what is portrayed in the film.
QUINT: Can I ask what you’re doing next?
ALFONSO CUARON: I’m going to do a film in Mexico.
QUINT: Cool. What’s it called?
ALFONSO CUARON: I don’t have a name yet.
QUINT: It’s an original movie?
ALFONSO CUARON: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
QUINT: What’s your favorite dirty joke… and I know you know Guillermo (del Toro), so you gotta have some filth in your mind!
ALFONSO CUARON: Yes, but the thing is… man, it’s a long one!
QUINT: That’s fine. I have plenty of time.
ALFONSO CUARON: Yeah, but they are pushing me here to go into the next phoner, but let me think of a short one. (laughs) Which was Guillermo’s?
QUINT: You know, I’ve never interviewed Guillermo. I’ve talked with him a lot off and on for years, but we’ve never done an interview.
ALFONSO CUARON: My favorite dirty joke… Quint, the thing is the one’s that I’m thinking about are kind of long. I have to call you back with a dirty joke. Okay?
QUINT: Okay, sure. No worries. It was a pleasure talking to you.
ALFONSO CUARON: Okay, thanks so much, man.
Sadly, I never did get that long dirty joke. Maybe he’ll pop up with it soon or I’ll get a chance to dig it out of him at some further date, but oh well… I think the interview went very well despite the lack of joke.
I can’t wait to pick up my copy next week. That’ll be one that gets a lot of time in my DVD player.
Thanks for reading the chat. I hope you dug it. If you want to chat with Cuaron yourself, check out This Amazon Page where Cuaron will be participating in a live chat Monday, the 26th at 6pm (PST). He'll be talking about the politics in the film and answer submitted questions. All the details are at the link above.
I have a ton of interviews that are about to hit, everybody from Jigsaw to Leonard Shelby. Be back soon with those!