May 7 2013 5:23pm

We Should ALL Go to Space Camp. Highlights From the Ender’s Game Movie Hangout

Ender's Game movie highlights

The reveal of the first trailer to the Ender’s Game movie came bundled with a Google+ Hangout and live chat with the movie’s director and screenwriter Gavin Hood, sci-fi screenwriter Roberto Orci, and Ender himself Asa Butterfield. During the half hour the trio revealed a few things about the making of the movie, including what we have all long suspected, that NASA Space Camp prepares you for anything.

  • Most important element to preserve for the movie: The spirit of the character of Ender. According to Gavin, the director, Ender has an incredible journey, from being an outsider to becoming a leader of real integrity that the director felt was important to convey. He also has two kids and wanted to make a movie that would sufficiently convey the moral complexity of the book along with stunning visuals.
  • Asa Butterfield wanted to play Ender because he always wanted to play a “bad guy.” (Emphasis his.) Ender has his darker moments and Asa and Gavin had a lot of fun teasing them out.
  • Also he was a little wooed by the opportunity to  fly in zero-G and fire laser guns.
  • It was amazing to the director how many people on the crew had already read the book, and amazing still how many rushed out to read it after the crew was assembled and work began. “There was no one working on this who didn’t care about making this movie the best possible story.”
  • In Orci and Hood’s opinion, to be a success the movie has to succeed at dramatizing and translating the internal nature of Ender’s journey without sacrificing its potency.
  • The fight between Asa and Ben Kingsley’s character Mazer Rackham was one of Asa’s favorite scenes to film.
  • Some of the look of the Battle School in the movie was inspired by the NASA Space Camp training (with actual zero-G AND military training!) that they had the kid actors go through. The rehearsal and research accomplished there made the zero-G scenes in the movie look more realistic since the kids knew how to move in them instinctually.
  • Asa got to keep his “futuristic Space Camp grooming kit.” But he wanted to keep one of the flash guns.
  • Gavin “owns up” to being the one to change the black box Battle Room in the book to an open orb, as he wanted the scene to be more visual. Although the director stressed that placing the kids in a mostly transparent orb would technically give them the same disorientation that the black box would have provided, as it’s difficult to give your body a sense of up or down when there’s no obvious gravitational pull to tell you that. So they would still move as if they were in the black box from the book.
  • Did Orci have a favorite set from Ender’s Game? The Battle Room gate, the thing that leads into zero-G.
  • Asa on working with Harrison Ford: The two actors worked on their scenes a lot since it’s such a key relationship. “He’s very method. Not only that, but he keeps the feeling of the scene going after the director says cut.” That treatment helped Asa and the other actors stay in character more easily.
  • The Battle School was built as one continuous set so everyone could basically walk around the place as if it were real. (Combine this with the military training they received in pre-production and one gets a sense of how authentic they were trying to get when making the movie.)
  • Orci had something interesting to note, not only for Ender’s Game but also in regards to his work on Star Trek, Transformers, and other science fiction films. The litmus test the writer uses in regards to identifying a strong sci-fi story is if he can describe that story without using sci-fi elements at all. (Then, of course, adding those elements back in can then make that story more exciting.)
Mordicai Knode
1. mordicai
Were you guys able to make the Hangout work? I've only done it with friends, never as part of a big event, & I couldn't figure it out.
Petar Belic
2. Petar Belic
The litmus test the writer uses in regards to identifying a strong sci-fi story is if he can describe that story without using sci-fi elements at all.
What? I was taught a long time ago - and it stays with me today - that the litmus test of a good science fiction story, is that if you can describe the story without using science fiction elements, then it's not really a science fiction story. Why make it a science fiction story at all then?
3. Freelancer
There is an alien enemy. There is a space-born training facility for children. There are full-scale 3-D holographic simulators. And there are other items, absolutely key to the story, which do not exist in the world today. I'd say it is emminentely qualified to be called science fiction, whether or not it is possible to describe the story without those elements.

In the meantime, I am appreciative of the authenticity which the production is aiming to achieve, and the efforts taken to accomplish that. Here's hoping it succeeds marvelously.
Petar Belic
4. Kasiki
A science fiction story is fiction first. The science portion is a means to an end. If you can describe the basic story without using the science, then it is relatable to everyone.

Ender's game- A coming of age story about a boy (ender), who is believed to be destined to lead the military against its greatest foe, and save his civilization( in this case Earth) from destruction. Along the way he gets tested by his peers as well as by those in the military that need Ender to succeed.

The science fiction stuff is what draws many people in, but it is only a means to an end for telling the story.
Marc Gioglio
5. Fuzzix
Ummm....The Ender's Game story that I remember is about Ender's journey from being the physical manifestation of all the problems of an entire country to the physical manifestation of all the solutions to an entire planet. At no point in the story I read did Ender become a leader. Commander, maybe; excellent strategist/tactician, definitely; symbol of the unfailing determination of the human spirit, you betcha; but leader no. The entire struggle of the book is that Ender has not been allowed to experience any significant human interactions (except from his siblings) from before we meet him all the way up until he fires the MD. He was born to be a weapon, was treated as a weapon, was effectively used as a weapon, and only after that do the emotional consequences come crashing down. Ender does not get to experience any true growth as a person until the next book.
Petar Belic
6. Kasiki
In what way is a commander not a leader?
Marc Gioglio
7. Fuzzix
A commander issues orders. A leader takes responsibility. All of the (mis)leading was done behind the scenes. It was pivotal that Ender not be a leader. It was pivotal that he think of everyone and everything as a game or pieces to be used, or else we would not be able to win against the buggers. As commander, he gave orders and used people up all the way to the end. Ender's big regret (at least to me) is that he didn't lead, he just won. He regrets not being a leader, not seeing through the ruse and not doing things differently.
8. Freelancer
Fuzzix, I don't know what book you read, but it wasn't Ender's Game. The boy took others who didn't effectively have a leader over them, brought them together and trained them. When he identified deficient tactics to those who were supposedly leaders, he was met with derision and scorn. In response, he took an army full of what everyone else thought were rejects, explained to them what he was going to do and how, treated them with respect and expectations of excellence. He gave subordinate authority to those he had determined were most capable of using it properly, and permitted them the freedom to act autonomously if they saw a valid occasion to do so.

Then he used that team to exploit the deficiencies against their authors, and defeat every enemy he faced.

Please explain how that isn't leadership, and how it isn't human interaction.

What Ender was not given, was any sense that there was someone ready to rescue him if he found himself in trouble. It was considered essential by those in command for him to believe that he had to depend upon himself only in order to decide how to win.

What Ender didn't get to experience was friendship. Part of that, he brought on himself. After he began to recognize that the Battle School superiors had planned to isolate him, he internalized the concept and maintained a disciplined isolation of his own. Even so, there were four comrades in Battle School who were absolutely his friends from beginning to end, and he knew that, even if the separation of authority forced a distance between them.
Marc Gioglio
9. Fuzzix
Different interpretations. Fair points.
I (personally) don’t think he can be a leader if he is not allowed to know humans. That is my opinion. IMO, it is not human interaction because any time he is close to understanding their HUMAN capacities (as opposed to their playing piece capacities) the rules change. IMO, he does not seek out to lead anyone through most of the book because of this, but that doesn’t stop others from learning from him. I perceive Ender’s self-assessment as a robot leading robot s. Robots follow orders because of their programming. IMO, the first real experience of character development occurs when his “friend” should have been better. He is a great warrior, but I (and Peter Wiggin, and the rest of the living battle school grads) do not think that being the greatest warriot has anything to do with leadership.
I stand by my original opinion that his journey (in Ender’s Game) is one from being the physical manifestation of all the problems of an entire country to the physical manifestation of all the solutions to an entire planet. (PS, what am I doing wrong that I can't use a carraige return in the posting box?)
Eddy Morris
10. incredibly_ordinary
Have you guys ever thought about what it would be like (and I mean really be like) to go to Battle School? I drew up a little comic on that thought, check it out at incrediblyordinarythoughts.blogspot.com!

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