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People in Film | Cary Fukunaga

Posted January 11, 2011 to photo album "People in Film | Cary Fukunaga"

Get to know Cary Fukunaga, the acclaimed director of Focus Features’ Jane Eyre and Sin Nombre.

Cary Fukunaga | Beginnings
Cary Fukunaga | The Sundance Labs
Cary Fukunaga | Sin Nombre
Cary Fukunaga | Commercials and Cinematography
Cary Fukunaga | Jane Eyre
Cary Fukunaga | The Sundance Labs

Cary Fukunaga | The Sundance Labs

For his first feature, Fukunaga revisited the themes of his successful short, Victoria Para Chino. After the short played Sundance, Fukunaga remembers, he received a call from the Sundance Institute’s Ilyse McKinney, who asked him if he had a script he’d like to submit to the Sundance Labs. “I put together very quickly a feature based on the third-person research I had done for the short film – newspaper articles that talked about what Central Americans go through to get across to the U.S.,” said Fukunaga. “I found the idea of immigrants riding on top of trains so fascinating; bandits and gangs that were tattooed – this whole world felt absolutely cinematic. It didn’t even feel part of North America. It was this old West thing, or like hobos in the 1930s, but it had this weird Mad Max kind of feel to it too.” Fukunaga was accepted, and went on to develop the screenplay at the Sundance Institute's Screenwriter's Lab as well as, later, in its Directors Lab. At the latter, he workshopped scenes with actors and a tiny crew in a location worlds away from tough landscape of his eventual film, shooting a rape scene in the living room of a luxury condo and a gang attack beside a beautiful mountainside brook. In a Filmmaker magazine interview shortly following the Labs, Fukunaga discussed what he got out of the intensive process. "The hardest stuff for me at the Labs was the emotional stuff because I'm still discovering how to convey human behavior," he said. “After the Labs I did a whole rewrite. Once the actors became my characters, I realized I had to rewrite and simplify things like the character arcs. For me, the Labs were a process of discovery… which is just a fancy word for practice.”