Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012 by Germain Lussier
When writers visit film sets, they’re generally embargoed from discussing what they’ve seen. It’s just impossible to judge a film while it’s still in production, far from its final look and studios would ideally like impressions to come out closer to a film’s release date. Apparently that embargo doesn’t hold true if you are the person who created the property being put to film.
Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender’s Game, recently visited the set of the in-production film, written and directed by Gavin Hood, and took to the Internet to give his thoughts and reveal some new information. He talked about the chemistry between stars Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield as well as answered one of the biggest questions surrounding the movie: How is Hood going to handle the massive battles that take place in a zero gravity room? He also reveals he has a cameo in the 2013 release. Read his quotes and more after the jump.
All of the below quotes come from Card’s blog post at Rhino Times. These are just selections, head there for much more.
First up, Card said the following about his cameo:
Speaking of movies, I was on the set of Ender’s Game last week to record my one line in the movie – a voiceover of a pilot making an announcement to his passengers.
He then talks in detail about his thoughts concerning a scene with Harrison Ford, as General Graff, and Asa Butterfield, as Ender Wiggin himself:
The scene does not come from the book – very few of the scenes in this movie do – so it was amusing when others asked me how it felt to have my book brought to life. My book was already alive in the mind of every reader. This is writer-director Gavin Hood’s movie, so they were his words, and it was his scene.
He expand on that, discusses some of the sets, then talks about how traditional wires such as in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon rely too much on gravity to be used for his zero gravity battle school. That’s when he discusses how the filmmakers plan on pulling this off:
Stunt coordinator Garrett Warren took what he learned from the weightless work he did on Avatar built on it.
There is a mechanism used for training gymnasts – a wheel they wear around their waists that allows them to rotate in space while suspended from wires. Warren used this on Avatar, which allows a great deal of apparent freedom of movement in space – once the computer artists have erased the wheel rig, you can’t tell that there’s any way a wire could have been attached.
But this is only the beginning. The illusion of freefall depends on the actors’ moving correctly. Where gravity naturally draws their limbs downward, in zero-gravity the arms and legs and heads continue in the direction of the last movement, until something stops them.
For the most difficult stunts, Warren brought in dancers from Cirque de Soleil. Being gymnasts by training, they tend to be small – they can bring off the illusion of children’s bodies.
And they have the strength and training to do constant movements and poses that defy gravity, without ever looking as if they’re working hard.
But all the children playing these roles had to do wire work themselves. Fitted with the wheel rigs, they were being moved through space like puppets – and at every moment, they had to make sure their “nonvolitional” movements followed the rules of inertia-driven rather than gravity-driven motion.
It was agonizing. Human muscles aren’t meant to work like that. And Warren was watching everything, playing it back again and again, catching any false movements.
There’s more on the blog, but Card says the following about Warren’s work on the film:
If Garrett Warren doesn’t get a special technical Oscar for his achievement on this film, then there truly ain’t no justice. I’ve seen enough of the result to know that he has brought off the miracle of filming zero-gravity while still on planet Earth.
And almost everything you’ll see in that battle room, real people did. The computers didn’t animate it – they merely made the wires and rigs invisible.
We’ll have much (much) more on Ender’s Game, and specifically the zero gravity battles, in the months leading up to its November 1, 2013 release. What do you think about Card’s revelations?