New information surrounding the set and filming of Ender’s Game is beginning to paint a very promising picture for fans of the books who are hopeful for a faithful movie adaptation. In May, 2012, a number of bloggers and reporters were invited to the film’s New Orleans set at Big Easy Studios, as filming was drawing to a close. The visitors were allowed to tour the sets, interview the cast and crew, and watch filming as it happened.
Thanks to ComingSoon.net and SlashFilm, we have a great look at behind the scenes information for the film, including filming of the infamous Battle Room scene, why Ender and the others were not cast as their actual age in the books, having to consolidate story, and how Bean’s role was expanded to encompass his spinoff novel, Ender’s Shadow.
The writers at SlashFilm had nothing but good things to say about the film, clearly impressed by the passion and dedication that went into the creation of Ender’s Game. Speaking on director Gavin Hood and his work developing the tools needed to create such an ambitious project, SlashFilm had this to say:
What I found out on May 17, 2012 – the 59th day of a 70 day shoot – was that Hood not only pulled off these sequences, he’s pulled them off with the actual actors and practical effects. A whole new way of basically puppeteering actors to look like they’re in zero gravity had to be invented to do this, but with the polish of digital effects Hood and his team have realized the dreams of every single Ender’s Game out there.
The writers also commented on why the stars were not cast as their true age — six years old — for the film. The crew apparently looked into the option, auditioning kids of every age, but realized that the younger kids would have a more difficult time acting out dramatic scenes. Rather, they chose to go with child actor Asa Butterfield, who was 14 when filming started (and has noticeably aged since!).
Like with any book to film adaptation, content and faithfulness to the book is — or should be, anyway — paramount to the film’s production. One of the largest changes is that the story will take place over the course of a year, rather than the seven years spanned in the book.
Bean, a fan favorite and major character in the Ender series, is expanded upon in the film, perhaps setting the character up for a future film or… television show? Bean received his own spinoff novel in Orson Scott Card’s Ender world, Ender’s Shadow, which took place at the same time as Ender’s Game but through the eyes of Bean. Here’s what SlashFilm had to say:
Bean is given more to do – The character of Bean, played by Aramis Knight, is so important, Card wrote a companion piece to Ender’s Game called Ender’s Shadow, which takes place at the same time though his eyes. This movie is Ender’s, though, so we won’t see those events. Because the character is so important later in the series, however, his role was slightly bolstered to draw attention to the character.
There was briefly talk of doing two movies simultaneously – Bean’s story is so good, producers thought about shooting it alongside Ender’s Game. The money just wasn’t there.
If movie is a success, they’d love to do Ender’s Shadow as a TV show. – This is according to producer Linda McDonough.
ComingSoon, meanwhile, had a great take on the Battle Room scene, filmed while the press were on set:
The fan favorite sequence from the book is the Battle Room, and we witness a reel of anti-gravity animatics set to obligatory “Dark Knight” temp music, mixed with actual rehearsal footage of stunt coordinator/second unit director Garrett Warren putting the kids through the wringer on elaborate wire rigs to simulate Zero G. During training, students fire lasers that don’t injure you but freeze part of your suit, forcing you to move through floating star-shaped/triangular objects that serve as obstacles. Suit colors correspond to teams, i.e. red = Dragons.
These set reports are incredibly encouraging and should remind fans weary of YA book to movie adaptations that when the right people get together and combine their passion for the book and skill for developing films, good things can happen. Card was extremely involved in the making of the film, and the producer’s passion to get the film made should be a great sign that the proper love and care needed to make Ender’s Game a success is there.
Ender’s Game will hit theaters on November 1st, 2013!