On The Set Of Ender's Game: Alien Worlds, Mind Games And Bringing Ender Wiggin To Life
Once we'd exhausted ourselves eying the artwork on the walls, we served ourselves breakfast and sat at the table where producer Linda McDonough walked us through a slide show of concept art for the film, discussing some of the goals they had for bringing Card's story to to the big screen. As McDonough put it, "The filmmakers involved, we all sat around and thought, 'it probably took people who read this book as a kid to grow up and get enough success in Hollywood to get it made'." Fans have indeed waited decades for this movie to happen, and it's encouraging to hear that it was producer Roberto Orci's favorite book growing up, as I like to think that would have made him extra passionate about doing it justice. Orci, unfortunately, wasn't on set when we were, so we didn't get to speak with him. But listening to McDonough speak about the plans for the movie, it's evident that there was a lot of enthusiasm and optimism that went into the movie, not only in an effort to deliver a great film, but to deliver an adaptation worthy of its source material.
While a big part of Ender's Game is set in space, Earth also plays its part, and one of the things we learned about the futuristic setting on Earth is that the planet is in a "post-oil economy." Concept art revealed pictures of the Wiggin home, which might be described as both modern and earthy, with plants, wood and greenery worked into a home design that seemed natural but very modern. Later during the tour, when we spoke with production designers Sean Haworth and Ben Procter, they spoke a bit about Gavin Hood's vision of the future as it relates to Earth, and as they put it, Gavin believed that "Earth would be a place worth saving." They went on to say that, "It would be a reason for everybody to make these kinds of commitments in leaving family behind and going off and sacrificing your life to save this beautiful place. Otherwise what's the point?"
It makes sense, when you consider the alternative, which might be a more dystopian future where earth is on its last legs. As the production designers put it, the kids need something to be homesick about and they need a reason to fight. A dystopian vision of the future probably wouldn't do that, but a planet that's healthy and thriving might. They also mentioned working with Audi on the design for a futuristic vehicle.
The art we saw of the Formic worlds had its own kind of beauty in a strange way. In the book, the Formics are nicknamed "Buggers," which might be a derogatory term for the enemy, but looking at the designs for some of the Formic settings, the term "bug" seems fitting, as there are peaky looking ant-hill-like structures and dark, webby backdrops that set the scene for humanity's enemy. What we saw of the alien worlds was definitely alien in its strangeness, but there's an organic look to it, as though everything in their world comes from natural resources. I think Linda mentioned that their ships were designed to look like they were made from from resin and saliva. There's definitely beauty to it all, in its own alien way, and that was intentional, as it helps us understand the bigger picture in this story. As the production designers put it, "War is the tragic part of the whole thing. It's not just a simplistic enemy against us." It sounds like we're meant to see that the Formics have their own way of life, their own culture and maybe even their own artwork. All of that was kept in mind when designing the Formic settings.
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