Birdman – Anatomy of a Scene with Alejandro González Iñárritu




Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was a surprise hit of 2014, at least as far as small, independently produced films are concerned. It went on to win multiple awards, including the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing for Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Best Original Screenplay for Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo.

The New York Times’ video series “Anatomy of a Scene” gives audiences an opportunity to hear directors of various films give insight into the mechanics and process of crafting a particular scene.

In one such “Anatomy of a Scene,” Birdman director and screenwriter Iñárritu discusses the sequence in which Michael Keaton’s character, Riggan, is first introduced to Edward Norton’s Mike. He notes the movement of the camera, saying that he wanted to avoid the scene becoming too static due to the long lines of dialogue. Remember, Birdman was filmed to appear as if the entire movie was shot in one long take, no small feat mind you. However, in order to maintain the illusion, long scenes of dialogue required camera movement rather than cuts to keep the scene dynamic and visually interesting for the audience.

Iñárritu also notes the symbolic nature of the fluid  movement, as if the camera were a snake, as representative of Mike’s manipulative character. He even notes an instance in which Norton showed an uncanny similarity to Mike while filming, in which Norton began to make suggestions to Iñárritu, just as Mike was to Riggan within the scene.

You can hear the rest of Iñárritu’s comments in the video below. Birdman is a visually stunning film and is certainly worth seeing, if you haven’t already.

You can also check out a BlueCat Exclusive Interview with Alexander Dinelaris, one of the Academy Award winning screenwriters of Birdman, here.



Founded in 1998, The BlueCat Screenplay Competition seeks to develop and discover unknown screenwriters. For 2016 BlueCat Screenplay Competition submission information, click here

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