Ender’s Game has been a classic science fiction novel for people of all ages ever since it was first published in the 1980s. While it seemed ripe for a big screen adaptation, the limitations of cinematic technology coupled with the heady and often controversial subject material have long delayed its debut on the silver screen. In a couple weeks, it finally makes the jump with an all-star cast including Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfield, Sir Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, and the iconic Harrison Ford.
I got the chance to sit in the Ender’s Game press day over the weekend, and learned a couple interesting tidbits from the director Gavin Hood.
Ender’s Game just wasn’t ideal for 3D.
While most films are getting the 3D treatment, either in filming or in post conversion, Gavin Hood spoke about his decision to keep it within just two dimensions. He believed that the battle room fights with the kids would have looked phenomenal in 3D, but the deep space battles against the Formics would have looked cheap and toy-like. 3D does best when there’s a foreground, middle ground, and back ground, but the deep space images just have too much depth that the 3D-ificiation of them in tests made the planets and ships look like toys instead of impressive space structures incredibly far away. Plus, Hood also pointed out that this is an intimate story about a boy that needed the longer lens filmmaking style that 3D converstion hates. We need to see his isolation through the long lens, but also have the ability to see the feelings portrayed in his eyes.
They shot the film in sequence.
Most films are shot completely out of order, to help with budgetary constraints, location needs, and/or actors’ schedules. Hood thought it was very important to shoot Ender’s Game in sequential order for a couple key reasons. The most practical is that because they were working with such young actors, they needed to make sure they looked the right age during the right scenes. Asa Butterfield grew two inches during filming, so it would have looked off if he looked taller in the opening scene than when he did on graduation day.
Another benefit of filming it this way was that it allowed the Asa Butterfield/Harrison Ford dynamic to play out within their characters Ender Wiggins and Colonel Graff. When they started film, there was a certain level of intimidation and awe in Asa’s behavior around Harrison Ford because he’s so well known and beloved for certain roles within his body of work. This dynamic played out well for a young commander in training and his supervising officer. Then, throughout the production Asa became more comfortable working with him, which lent a sense of believability when they have their confrontation closer to the end of the film.
Stay tuned for more from the Ender’s Game press day. The film flies in to theaters on November 1, 2013.