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

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.)


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