Set Visit

Ender

Unadaptable. It’s a scary word for filmmakers with a passion project, and an even scarier word for major studios with their eyes locked on the bottom line. With the trend in Hollywood ever leaning toward the edict of brand recognition, a great many books (mostly the ones filled with panels, capes, and conversation bubbles) are being translated for the big screen. And why not? If the audience is built-in, and the production demands aren’t too unreasonable, it would seem like a slam dunk. Yet there are written works that, for one reason or another, studios feel aren’t viable. These become earmarked as unadaptable, typically from a purely financial standpoint; shackled by the cost of logistics. Then there are occasions in which the content or themes of a written piece are deemed too edgy or risky for a studio to want to touch. Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” has the rare and unfortunate distinction of facing both hurdles. It’s the story of a young boy ripped from his home and trained by the military to kill an alien species in spectacular zero gravity simulators. These hurdles proved to be insurmountable for many major studios, which explains the project’s long gestation. But as we all know, limitations have a habit of becoming the footnotes of monumental achievement. The obvious science-fiction-to-actual-science parallel comes to mind. At one time it seemed impossible that people could communicate via a wire with folks across the country, then across the planet. For generations, the idea of actually […]

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009′s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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I’m standing on the edge of the The Detroit River which is also the edge of the set for Real Steel – the forthcoming robot boxing movie with a heart of gold. Twenty or so feet away from the Cobo Arena, the wind is picking up, and the view looks out over the glass of the water toward Ontario. This might not seem like a dramatic moment for anyone who lives there, but there’s something poetically jarring about looking out at a different country (and looking southward to see Canada). Right across the water is another world. It’s a world separate from Detroit that hasn’t been beaten down by a lagging economy and the failure of major auto manufacturing. It’s not that Detroit isn’t as impressive, it’s that Windsor seems newer, fresher, and more alive. A precipice with a view to another world seems like the perfect place for the Shawn Levy-directed, Hugh Jackman-starring film to shoot as it promises to tell a story both embedded in the seedy underground and the glittering, life-filled stadiums of the near future. To hear Levy talk, the movie sets out to feature a man living in one world, testing his limits to live in the other.

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I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press. Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of Anton Yelchin and director Craig Gillespie! [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.

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I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press. Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of Colin Farrell and Imogen Poots! [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.

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I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote (perhaps a bit too honestly) about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press. Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of screenwriter Marti Noxon and producer Michael De Luca. [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.

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I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote (perhaps a bit too honestly) about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press. Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of special effects guru Howard Berger and producer Alison Rosenzweig. [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.

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It’s September of last year and I’m standing in a hallway at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, cursing at the door to my room. It’s one of those ubiquitous card key locks, and I’m in no mood for a third trek down the long hall, down the glass elevator, and back to the front desk to admit once again that I’m apparently an idiot who can’t open a door. It’s a brilliant start to my Fright Night press visit that I’m only a part of due to a scheduling conflict elsewhere on the FSR team, and when combined with my already cynical view of the whole set visit concept it hardly bodes well for the next few days. I just don’t see the appeal of it all for anyone aside from the studio and the writer. The studio gets some relatively cheap marketing, the writer gets a free trip, free hotel, and a chance to hobnob with the talent, and the readers get… what? Interview quotes that will be repeated on a dozen different web sites? A puff piece about how awesome the final movie is going to be? Clearly, I’m the wrong person for this particular assignment.

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Last year, I had the honor of traveling down to New Orleans, piling in a van, heading to a secluded warehouse and talking to an alien. I also spoke with the first human member of an elite group of interstellar heroes, a director who has more energy than anyone at his age has a right to, and I got a glimpse into a world beyond our own. So before comic book purists protest the insanely small number listed in the headline, these are the Green Lanterns hanging up on a wall somewhere in New Orleans – character design sketches to fill out the alien landscape of those who bravely, selflessly, and fearlessly patrol the universe. Some were born from the comic books, others from the minds of the production team. Some will be featured heavily, others will be hanging out (valiantly) in the background. We’ll be bringing Green Lantern set visit coverage to you all week, but to get things started, we figured it would be a good idea to do a round of introductions. Some you already know, and some you haven’t yet had the pleasure, so we wanted to make it official. Green Lanterns, meet the world. The world, meet the Green Lanterns.

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We’ve taken you behind the scenes, into director Jon Favreau’s mind, shared the movies that inspired the sci-fi western, and now we continue our set visit of Cowboys & Aliens with a look at its stars. Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Daniel Craig, and Paul Dano all took time out of a busy shoot to talk about the film and get our hands dirty. All professionalism goes out the window when talking to Harrison Ford. He was standing 20 yards away the entire afternoon of the set visit, posted up like a western specter on the top of an outcropping in his cowboy hat against the blazing sun. Now he’s standing toe-to-toe with me, and I’m not embarrassed to admit now that I lose my cool. I find myself shaking hands with a living legend and looking around to make sure that the other journalists lose their composure, too. There’s a one-sided giddiness that suddenly finds its way permeating the steel cool of those used to meeting the famous, and the latent buzz is pretty heavy in the air with Ford standing there. I imagine this is what God must feel like when he’s shaking Harrison Ford’s hand. The man of so many iconic roles doesn’t say much, but he smiles a wry smile when he does speak, leading me to believe that even he can tell that the group is seriously considering losing critical credibility in order to give him a great big hug and ask Indiana Jones to autograph […]

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We’ve taken you behind the scenes of Cowboys & Aliens and into the mind of director Jon Favreau, and today we dig deeper into the films that the filmmakers talked most about during the set visit. Cowboys & Aliens may be the only Steven Spielberg film that Steven Spielberg isn’t directing. From the conversations I shared with Jon Favreau and co-screenwriter Bob Orci on the set of the film, a select group of movies kept returning to the fold as titles that had a lot to do with the shaping of tone and storytelling. A theme quickly emerged. While Executive Producer Steven Spielberg was busy inviting the filmmakers to private screenings of new prints of The Searchers, the filmmakers were drawing on their childhood love of Amblin and the films of Spielberg himself. Still, even though it lacks diversity in the directorial column, this is one seriously formidable list of inspirational films.

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Yesterday we took you out into the middle of New Mexico and behind the scenes of Cowboys & Aliens. Today, we continue our week-long set visit report by talking with director Jon Favreau. I’m standing in the middle of the desert, and Jon Favreau is holding an alien arm up toward my face. There’s this look in his eyes that reads as a mix of sheer excitement and a hopefulness that the group surrounding him approves of his alien arm. From the amount of questions buzzing him like airplanes taking a pass at a giant ape on the top of a tall building, it seems like they do. Favreau has navigated a jungle-like career (which started in earnest when he met Vince Vaughn on the set of Rudy) in order to stand in front of some sun-stroked journalists with a piece of painted plastic in his hand. That career has taken him from the college of PCU to the fighting style of Friends and through indie acclaim, Comic Con domination, and into the metal suit of Iron Man which, of course, led him to New Mexico in more ways than one.

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“So anything you’re seeing is really spoiler stuff here, right?” That’s how Jon Favreau greets us as he takes refuge inside a pop up tent that is struggling to keep the New Mexican heat and dust out. He’s a force as he enters, a commanding man whose voice is a mix of sarcasm and sweet. Still, he’s about as unimposing as a man over six feet tall can be, and with his breathable pants and bandana he seems more likely to be taking a group of scouts camping than directing a science fiction western starring Daniel Craig. Plus, he’s right about the spoilers. Cowboys & Aliens doesn’t hit theaters until July of 2011, but FSR was invited to the set in the middle of August to watch the crew film a scene and to see who could avoid heat exhaustion the longest (it was Harrison Ford). We won’t be revealing any spoilers from the film, but we will be spending the entire week exploring what the set was like, discovering the movies that inspired the shoot, and talking with Favreau, co-writer Bob Orci, and the cast. Plus, hot off the old dusty trail, we’ve got two behind-the-scenes pictures to share with you after we take you into the canyon where the film was made.

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In August, I was fortunate enough to trade the heat of Arizona for the heat and humidity of Louisiana in order to visit the set of The Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds, a ring that makes him powerful, Mark Strong, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard. I can’t say much about the visit yet (because of the court order), and I wasn’t the only one there (which is why they added “conspiracy” to the charges), but the set visit did yield a ton of really cool information about the film, and FSR will be delivering it straight to your brain like no other site can. While you wait on pins and needles awaiting all that comic book goodness, check out these two pieces of concept art that you’ll only see here (and several other websites). They both feature the design of Oa – the planet where the Green Lantern Corps makes its headquarters – and they’re both worthy of hanging up on your wall next to your poster for The Last Starfighter: The Musical. Don’t let evil or these concept pieces escape your sight, and remember to click to make the images much, much bigger:

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published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+

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