Alfonso Cuaron warns of the dangers of too much film research

Alfonso Cuaron gives his trusted friends such as Guillermo del Toro his scripts for feedback.

Director Alfonso Cuaron has recalled how he derailed a project by focusing too much on the research.

The Gravity filmmaker has been on the film festival circuit promoting his latest release Roma, but during a recent chat at London's BAFTA headquarters, he revealed he had actually been working on a different project for a couple of years before the Roma idea came into his head.

The Oscar winner explained how he and his brother Carlos had been developing a screenplay for a film that would be set 200,000 years ago looking at early humans, and he became stuck in a research hole, meeting with experts at London's Natural History Museum and reading books about early language, fire and cooking, among others.

"Research is super dangerous. I've been lost in that triangle, it's terrible," the Mexican explained. "When we started writing the screenplay, when I felt that I had all this knowledge, what starts happening is that I was so obsessed with all of that information to be conveyed in the screenplay and at the end I got lost.

"There was the story more or less that we had set off to do except it was kind of dry, it was making a lot of sense but I didn't find the angle. I stopped finding the angle...That's the danger of it. Research should not be the one leading the game."

Now he's had time away from the story and "freed" himself from the research, Cuaron wants to go back and have another crack at the screenplay.

The Children of Men filmmaker usually shows his scripts to his trusted friends, such as Guillermo del Toro and Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, and he recalled how the Cold War helmer made it clear he wasn't into the project.

"There is no one meaner to me than Guillermo del Toro. He's fantastic, I'm so grateful," he explained. "Or Pawel. The film about the early humans, Pawel read it and this is how he killed me. (Adopts accent) 'I'm sure it's interesting but it's something I don't give a damn about.'"

Roma is showing in selected cinemas now ahead of a Netflix release on 14 December (18).

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