Alfonso Cuaron Explains Wanting 'Roma' to Have a "Digital Quality" in 'Behind the Screen' Podcast

The director shared that during pre-production, his usual cinematographer Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, who wasn't available for the shoot, told him, "You have to do it."
Courtesy of Netflix

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron discussed the cinematography and editing of his moving drama Roma in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter's Behind the Screen podcast series.

The multi-hyphenate wrote, produced and directed the film — a deeply personal story about his upbringing in Mexico City and the housekeeper who helped raise him. Cuaron, who's well versed in all aspects of production, also served as director of photography and edited the Netflix movie with Adam Gough.

"I wrote it thinking of Chivo [Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki]," Cuaron says, adding that when the schedule was extended and his longtime cinematographer was no longer available, Chivo himself urged the director to take on the role.

Cuaron shares the look he wanted to achieve by selecting the ARRI Alexa 65 digital large-format camera. "I didn't want this to a be a vintage black-and-white — a black-and-white that would look like something done in the '60s or the '50s," he says. "I wanted a digital black-and-white that would embrace digital, not try to hide the digital quality of it, with amazing resolution and amazing dynamic range and amazing definition."

The visionary filmmaker also talks about how moviemaking and the way we think of movies is changing. For instance, he says, "I think very soon cinema is going to start reclaiming its right of different lengths. Amazing films — not short films — that are three minutes long coexisting with films that are 12 hours long.”

Roma has already won a slew of awards, including best picture and best cinematography from the LA Film Critics Association, and the film earned three Golden Globe nominations, including best director.

Hosted by THR tech editor Carolyn Giardina, this new Behind the Screen podcast series features conversations with editors, cinematographers, composers and other artists who create the magic of motion pictures.

Hear it all on Behind the Screen — and subscribe to the podcast to never miss an episode.