'Birdman' Cinematographer to Push the Envelope on 'The Revenant'

Emmanuel Lubezki won his fourth ASC Award for the appearance of a continuous take in 'Birdman,' and will be among the first to use ARRI’s new 6K Alexa.
Alison Rosa

Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki — who won an American Society of Cinematographers Award on Sunday for his work on Birdman — has earned a reputation for taking his art in new creative as well as technological directions on films such as Gravity and Birdman. And he's pushing the envelope again on his next project, Birdman director Alejandro G. Inarritu's The Revenant, using the hotly anticipated ARRI Alexa 65 6K camera.

On Sunday, Lubezki claimed his fourth ASC win, having previously received the honor for The Tree of LifeChildren of Men and last year's Gravity, for which he also received his first Oscar. He joins legendary cinematographer Conrad L. Hall with his record of four ASC feature wins.

Birdman was lensed to appear as if it is one continuous take. Accepting the ASC Award, Lubezki thanked the cast and crew, including Inarritu, for his “courage, insanity and genius,” and Steadicam operator Chris Haarhoff, who “was able to walk very fast backwards and I think he only fell once.” The director of photography is now heading into the Academy Awards with the ASC and BAFTA under his belt; a win Sunday would make him only the second cinematographer (in addition to John Toll) to receive back-to-back Oscars.

Meanwhile, Lubezki — who photographed Birdman with an ARRI Alexa camera — told The Hollywood Reporter that he's currently working on The Revenant and using one of the first models of the ARRI 6K Alexa 65, a new large format Alexa with a 65mm CMOS sensor and wider dynamic range from ARRI Rental. “It’s amazing. I think it’s going to change everything,” Lubezki said of the camera, adding that he’s “semi testing” it and will be using it on the film. “We’re shooting in the mountains and incredible landscapes.”

Test images produced with the camera were previewed last fall in Hollywood and received an enthusiastic reception from the pros. ARRI already has a long list of cinematographers who want to get their hands on one of the Alexa 65 cameras, which are just starting to roll out from the development headquarters in Munich.

Email: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA