It seems like a long way from the slums of Mexico City to the moors of 19th-century England but, for director Cary Fukunaga, it's not that great a stretch.
When asked how hard it was to jump from his first film, Sin Nombre, to his second, a new adaptation of Jane Eyre, Fukunaga, 33, says, "It's kind of the same story. They're both about girls who are overcoming adversity while looking for love."
In fact, Fukunaga decided to make a film from Charlotte Bronte's classic novel because it also took him so far away from the world of 2009's Sin Nombre. Not that everyone else didn't want to keep him there.
"I didn't want to do a gang movie or a cartel movie or a border movie," the filmmaker says in a telephone interview. "I didn't want to touch that. But that's what I was being sent. For me, the main reason I did Jane Eyre was to be as different as possible."
After Sin Nombre, which had its premiere at Sundance, Fukunaga was working on other projects that weren't quite coming together when Jane Eyre dropped in his lap: "It just fit into the schedule and the cast I wanted was available," he says. "It was really special."
Jane Eyre, which opened in limited release last week, took the California-born Fukunaga from a story about Mexican gangs and put him on the British heath in the 19th century. Fukunaga was interested in the period and the place because "it was a great period of change. You're getting to the modern era - it was the dawn of the modern era."
The modernity of the present time, however, proved challenging. Even in the most remote British locations, Fukunaga found that he couldn't escape signs and symbols of the real world in recreating the period of his story.
"In Derbyshire, there was a big coal-burning electric plant that we had to erase digitally from some shots - along with cell towers and airplanes all over the place," he says. "Even the parts of Yorkshire and the moors that were more expansive had things we had to erase in post-production. Those were our special effects."
The other challenges of shooting a period film were more concrete: "The wardrobe was tough," he says. "Just to change a costume took an hour and a half. When you're on a tight schedule, that makes it extremely difficult to balance the time demands."
There was also the matter of a difference in the cast. In Sin Nombre, he was working with nonactors; in Jane Eyre, he had Dame Judy Dench, along with such well-trained performers as Michael Fassbender, Sally Hawkins and Mia Wasikowska.
"So that was a different kind of directing challenge - a big shift in my approach as a director," he says.
One aspect he did enjoy: using horses in his film.
"I wish more people used horses for transportation," he says, adding with a chuckle, "I'm looking for a film that I can direct from horseback. That would be a little galling for the crew, probably. Carrying a sword might be too much. Maybe just a riding crop."
At this point, Fukunaga has three or four other scripts in various stages of development, including a musical and a science-fiction story.
"I'll get to them as soon as I feel rested," he says. "I feel like my head has been in the 19th century for the last year and a half."
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