Orson Scott Card Talks "Ender's Game" Movie

"The movie is supposed to come out a year from now, November 2013, but it's entirely shot already. All of the actors have been sent home, everything is recorded. It's done."

Earlier this month, Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card stopped by Barnes & Noble in Orem, Utah for a book signing and Q&A session, where he spoke quite extensively on the Ender's Game film. Lucky for us, someone recorded the entire discussion and uploaded it on YouTube. It's been split up into several parts, and please keep in mind that the audio continues in Part 3 long after the video has stopped playing:

Part 1 (3:47) | Part 2 (14:43) | Part 3 (2:16) | Part 4 (23:13) | Part 5 (3:35)

For those who have been following this project since the beginning, a lot of the information from the session won't be particularly surprising, though there's plenty of good stuff hidden in those videos if you make your way through them. Here are some of the best bits!

No scenes from the book in the movie?

Back when Card first released the report of his visit to the Ender's Game set, fans of the story were outraged after the author admitted that "very few of the scenes in this movie [come from the book]." During this Q&A session, he cleared up his statement and surprisingly admitted that his own version of the script was similar:
"There are no scenes from the book in the  movie and there are no scenes from the movie in the book. But that's actually not a surprise, that's pretty much how my scripts were, too, because Ender's Game is an un-filmable book; that's something we learned 20 years ago. Ender's Game is a novel in which everything depends on being inside Ender's head. And if you're not inside Ender's head and you just see what he does with no explanation, then he's just an incredibly violent little kid. [...] So we have to construct it in such a way so that you know why he's doing what he's doing."
It is, however, important to note that  Orson Scott Card himself has not read the script. When asked by an audience member if he's read Gavin Hood's version of the screenplay, he replied:
"No. I learned very early on that my life is better if I don't read the screenplays written by other people. What I do is I delegate it to people that I trust. My collaborator on Invasive Procedures and Earth Aware Aaron Johnston is a superb screenwriter [...]. He reads the scripts and my wife reads the scripts. And they aren't the author of Ender's Game, so they don't get as crazy as I do."
Battle Room

As in his original set visit report, Card spoke quite a bit about the Battle Room special effects and the training the kids went through to be able to make moving around in Zero-G look legitimate.
"They had a frame for the actors, a circle, it's used by gymnasts for training. What it is is a wheel within a wheel with ball bearings between it. The cables are attached  to the outside wheel then the inside wheel is attached to your body on a belt. So you can spin completely inside the cable. [...] Then you can also rotate in several directions."
What Card is talking about here is perhaps something similar to a spotting belt:



To prepare for the Battle Room, the young actors were put through hours and hours of grueling training to teach their bodies to move in ways they had never moved before, and Card believes the end result is utterly worth it. Though, how much of the end result we will actually be seeing in the film is unclear.
"One battle in the Battle Room is one too many. You gotta see it happening, but it's like watching Quidditch. How exciting was that? You already know how it's going to come out, you just wanna see them fly around a little bit, bingo, it's over. And that's kind of the way Battle Room is. It'll look great but we're not going to follow these battles closely. We're not going to try to make you figure out what the strategy and tactics are. We'll just assure you that Ender did real well. That's all you're gonna need."
When combining this information with some of Card's previous statements, it seems they'll probably spend less time in the Battle Room than most of us would like, but what they will show is going to be incredible.  And while fans would most likely be cool with watching an epic hour-long battle pitting Rat Army against Dragon, it's simply not possible that they've taken up that much time with it in the movie. Battle Room video game, anyone?

OSC Cameo

While Card himself will not be making an appearance in the film (only his voice), he was originally offered a walk-on role as a military man!  In this Q&A session, he laughed and joked that he was doing us all a favor and improving the aesthetics of the movie by turning them down, insisting he'd "make any uniform look dumpy."

How many of us would have been able to turn such an opportunity down?

His voice appears in the scene in which Graff (Harrison Ford) and Ender (Asa Butterfield) are "on their way to Fleet Headquarters," according to Card. In our interview with him at SDCC 2012, Card stated that they are "traveling to Eros after the whole Battle School thing is over." It seems that Fleet Headquarters is definitely situated on the bugger asteroid in the film.

Is Card voicing the irritated pilot who receives security clearance to fly Graff and Ender to Eros, only to be reassigned to permanent duty there afterward? Funny!

While he  was there on set recording his line, Card was lucky enough to be allowed to sit and watch the scene being filmed:
"They went through the scene, the scene was just very quiet, just the two of them sitting in chairs talking. There's one time when Harrison looks over at him, and one time when Asa looks over at Harrison. There's one time when Harrison reaches out and touches Asa's forearm, Asa looks at the forearm, Harrison pulls his hand back. That's the entire physical motion of the scene."
That sounds a bit familiar. From the Ender's Game novel when Graff and Ender are on the ship headed to Command School:
His eyes were closed, and he had not made any sound but breathing; still, Graff reached out and touched his hand across the aisle. Ender stiffened in surprise, and Graff soon withdrew, but for a moment Ender was struck with the startling thought that perhaps Graff felt some affection for him. But no, it was just another calculated gesture. Graff was creating a commander out of a little boy. No doubt Unit 17 in the course of studies included an affectionate gesture from the teacher. (Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card)

While, again, this is probably a different scene than the one in the novel, it seems very similar to what Card described and goes along with what producer Roberto Orci said about the characters' relationship in a post from the official production blog: "The relationship between Colonel Graff and Ender is key to the movie's success.  Graff would love nothing more than to be Ender's friend, yet Graff can't always show it." (Ender's Game Blog)

It would be great if a version of that scene makes it into the film!

Some parting thoughts from Orson Scott Card:

"Here's the thing about the movie. It's going to be different from the book. It has to be. It couldn't be filmed the way it was, the way the book is. And so, what I'm hoping is, it's brilliant. [..] Here's what I'm saying: Go once! Go, see it. If you love it, great, come back and bring your friends. If you hate it, come and bring your friends and tell them how terrible it was. If this film doesn't make money, I don't get to make any other movies. So please do give it a shot. I think it's going to be good, I really do. The cast is fantastic."

A super huge thanks to Ender News reader Donna for the heads-up!

336 days to go until Ender's Game hits U.S. theaters.

The Nets Report #5

Ender's Game Cast/Crew News and Gossip

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope all of you Americans had a lovely family and friends-filled day and didn't overdo it this morning with all of the post-turkey coma shopping.

Just popping in for a a quick update on what a couple of our favorite cast/crew members have been up to these past few weeks:

Traditional Thanksgiving Touch Football Game: Garrett Warren vs. Jimmy Jax Pinchak

Every year on Thanksgiving, Ender's Game stunt coordinator Garrett Warren and Peter Wiggin actor Jimmy Jax Pinchak get together with friends and family for a game of touch football.

When asked which team was going to win this year, Mr. Warren assured us that "the old timers will win as always!" (Twitter) but Jimmy disagreed:
Little bit of trivia. Garrett Warren (stunt coordinator on Ender's Game) and I have been playing touch football on Thanksgiving since 2004! I was thrilled to see him on the Ender's set ! Looking forward to our traditional game next Thursday! Watch out Garrett, all of those sit-ups and push-ups paid off! (Facebook)
And it seems he was right! A few of the younger crowd must have done some growing up this past year as, according to the old-timer himself, this was the first time the adults have lost to the kids. I wonder if the adults took it well!

They were both kind enough to share a couple photos of the event:

Instagram
Facebook

Thanks, guys!

Speaking of Garrett Warren, if you've ever wondered what's up with his eye patch and happened to miss his appearance on Dateline NBC, you can hear about his crazy story on last week's episode of the Jeff Probst Show: Kidnapped & Buried Alive: Real Crime Stories. Watch the full episode here!

The Cab's "Endlessly" video featuring Hailee Steinfeld

No explanation necessary. Check it out!



Lucky for us: Hailee, Teen Vogue, and a handy iPhone teamed together to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the video, which you can find here. Make sure you scroll through the slideshow -- there is a fun back story behind Hailee's involvement with The Cab and how she came to star in the Endlessly video!

By the way, is this Buggers and Astronauts band ever going to get off the ground? You guys wouldn't have a hard time finding a star for your first shoot! ;)

342 days to go.

SDCC 2012: Interview with Orson Scott Card Pt. 2: His thoughts on the movie, the cast, and the Battle Room

Hey guys! With the release of the official synopsis yesterday, we thought it'd be a good time to release Part 2 of our San Diego Comic Con interview with Orson Scott Card. Before you start reading, you might want to check out Part 1 in which he talks about his new novel Earth Unaware!

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During the 15 minutes I had with Orson Scott Card, I heard a lot of great and promising things from the author about next year's Ender's Game movie. While he did warn me in advance that there wasn't too much he could say about the film (he was only on the set once), while talking to him, I could definitely tell he was enthusiastic about the project and things to come.

Behind the Scenes: Cast

After we finished discussing Earth Unaware, the conversation quickly shifted to the movie, namely the story's characters and the actors portraying them.

OSC with Leah and Heather from Smart Pop Books
For starters, Card had nothing but great things to say about the cast, specifically Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield, the two actors he had the chance to view in-character during his visit to the set. And Ender News readers may remember that Card visited the set for more than just a behind-the-scenes look at the movie based on his book: he also had a small cameo to record!

I asked Card if he was allowed to talk about his role or his line in the film:

"I was on the set one time, I was there to record one line. It's a scene between Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield. They're traveling to Eros after the whole Battle School thing is over. I'm just the voice of the pilot saying we're approaching the [dock], we're coming in. But it's fun to have my voice there. The nice thing is that I was given a chance to sit in on the set with them in the same room, just off frame, and say my line while they were doing it [the scene]," he said, adding that he also did a separate recording in a sound room multiple times, so it's hard to be sure which version will actually make it into the movie.

Card spent some time telling me about watching Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield interact on set, explaining that the pair would work out different ways to approach each take so that by the end of the day, the editors had a variety of options when cutting scenes.

"I had no idea this was one of the ways to work," Card said, continuing, "I've seen other scenes shooting and it wasn't like that. Ford is a wonderful - he's a generous actor with other actors."

There is something about Harrison Ford, isn't there? Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Blade Runner: he's in so many iconic movies. Speaking for myself, learning that Ford had signed onto the Ender's Game franchise somehow solidified the thing, made it real: They're actually making this into a movie and taking it seriously, because Harrison Ford is in it.

It's easy to see that Card also holds Ford in considerable respect.

"I got to sit there and watch how Harrison Ford works with other actors and the director," Card said, elaborating almost immediately, "You know, we look at him as a personality and people say 'Well he's not really acting, he's just being himself.' First of all, he's not being himself. Himself is a very quiet and reserved man. So that charm - that's Harrison Ford's persona, he's acting. But he's so believable that you think it's him. Now, when you look at actors and you think, 'Wow what a great actor!' chances are he's a terrible actor because you saw him acting. But when you see somebody and you go, 'Well, he wasn't even acting,' that's a good actor. And that's Harrison Ford. So he's wonderful and he's doing a great job."

Not to worry, we didn't talk exclusively about Harrison Ford! Eventually, we got down to the nitty gritty questions, the kind of questions that have been floating around the internet since it first got wind of an Ender's Game movie. Does Card care about the movie coming out? Will it still be any good even if Card was only on set once? What are his hopes for the movie?

Card summed up his feelings pretty well in one sentence: "What we have a chance for is a really great movie based on Ender's Game."

He's definitely excited about it. He seems almost like all other fans of the book - very curious to see how Gavin Hood takes a story rich in characters and plot and creates a visual world to represent it. That he happens to also be the creator of the story doesn't seem to change anything for him:

"What we all have to be prepared for is... Gavin read the book, loved the book, and then wrote the script. [...] What you're getting here is like somebody going 'Let's reboot Ironman!' or 'Let's do a Batman reboot!' Think of this as an Ender's Game reboot. And that'll be fine. It could be really wonderful. What I hope is, I hope people will come with an open mind and will accept Gavin's version of the story. I hope they're excited about it. I hope they enjoy it. I hope it's a great film. It certainly has the cast to be a fantastic movie."

The Battle Room

Card was most excited to talk to me about the Battle Room scenes. We had to make it quick as we were running out of time, but the way he described the room and the kids' maneuvering around it made me really excited too, especially when he explained how all the kids were actually up on wires and had to learn how to work within null gravity - something completely new and foreign to all of them!

"What they [the battle school kids] bonded over was the agony of learning how to fly in the battle room," Card told me, clearly amused. "That was - they were all equals. Nobody got to be the star who didn't have to do it. Everybody was up there doing the wire work. They were all equal there."

As we were wrapping up and beginning to head our separate ways, Card called out to add some comments about the Battle Room and the remarkable way the professionals working on the sets and effects worked within the room, raving:

"I've got to say, the people who are doing the wire work, who are doing all of the 3D stuff, the special effects flying and null gravity, brilliant. They have really - I've seen the results. I've seen the results and it's way better than computer animation. Hitting the walls would have been terrible. These guys have found a way and I've seen it... and It. Looks. Perfect."

It was perhaps the last thing Card said as I was walking away that will give even the biggest skeptics an inkling of hope:

"So many things will be absolutely wonderful about this movie!"

And I think he may be right.

Full "Ender's Game" Movie Synopsis

Last night, Collider reported that Summit Entertainment has released the full synopsis of the upcoming Ender's Game movie, though it's going to look very familiar to those of you who have been following film news since the start of principal photography.

Though all of the changes appear to be stylistic and there is nothing we didn't already learn in the synopsis taken from the news release back in February, we've highlighted all minor edits to give you an idea of how little has been altered (click to compare):
In the near future, a hostile alien race (called the Formics) have attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander, Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and the International Military are training only the best young children to find the future Mazer. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a shy, but strategically brilliant boy is pulled out of his school to join the elite.

Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult war games, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham, himself, to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.
Pretty straight-forward, though the end is admittedly a little bit more spoiler-y than fans of the book would probably like. An epic battle at the end of a sci-fi movie pretty much goes without saying and seems unnecessary to mention, especially if they intend to include in the film the twist we all love from the novel.

What do you guys think? Are you pleased with the synopsis? Do you think Summit intends to retain the secrets of Ender's Command School training? If so, how will they keep from ruining the surprise while promoting the movie?

Looking forward to finding out!

Ender's Game is set to hit US theaters November 1, 2013.

Aramis Knight and Andrea Powell at the Premiere of "Breaking Dawn: Part 2"

Getting in a little bit of practice for next year, Aramis Knight is headed to the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles tonight to promote Ender's Game at the premiere of Breaking Dawn: Part 2. If you're interested in watching a live stream of the red carpet event, you can check it out over at Yahoo! Movies.

As a Breaking Dawn cast member, Andrea Powell (Theresa Wiggin) will also be attending the premiere. We're hoping the two of them will meet up at some point in the evening for a picture!

We've definitely been promised some photos so we'll be updating this post as they come in!

Twitter
Twitter


Twitter

It's so crazy that less than a year from now we'll be covering the Ender's Game premiere. Can't wait!

Around 60% of "Ender's Game" Will Include Visual Effects

Ivy Zhong, vice-chairperson of Galloping Horse, the company now responsible for the VFX in Ender's Game, confirmed today in an article with China Daily that, despite Digital Domain's recent troubles, the studio is in fact currently working on the film. The article also revealed a new and rather interesting tidbit: as much as 60 percent of next year's movie will contain special effects.

That might be more than many of us have expected for a movie which, while set in a futuristic world, mostly revolves around characters holed up in a space station. But think about the possibilities: we're already counting on the Battle Room being epic, but there's also the mind game (we hope), war flashbacks, and the advanced technology and gadgets we love to see in all of our favorite sci-fi movies.

It will also be rather interesting to see how they've incorporated special effects into Ender's final exam. Not to give too much away, but if the filmmakers would subject the audience to 20 minutes of Ender sitting in front of the the flashing dots of the simulator with his headset on, they'd put us all to sleep. How will they conceal the twist in the plotline yet still keep the viewers on the edge of their seats? Will there be an epic space battle? Will the simulator bring his challenge to life or will the exam appear to Ender as a super complicated version of Pac Man?

It feels really great to say this: we have less than a year until we find out.

Additionally, Lionsgate held a conference call with financial analysts today where Ender's Game was briefly mentioned - and a comment was made that might be a bit exciting for the fandom:
Like on Twilight, Hunger Games – and by the way, our very exciting franchise Ender’s Game as well – we constantly are focused on working with our book sales around the world. Fan engagement is always a critical part of the way we market these franchises. We’re constantly in communication with our fan base and we do that on a worldwide basis on an ongoing basis.
Even though it is pretty quiet around here now, we will take Mr. Friedman at his word and expect great and exciting things to come for the Ender's Game community as the release date draws a bit closer!

Anyone else loving the word "franchise" these days? :)

Bracelet Giveaway Update: Now Includes SDCC 2012 Pin

Okay, so, it seems I received some incorrect information regarding the amount of postage it would take to mail these bracelets and that some of you were asked to pay extra upon arrival -- I'm really sorry about this!

Here are the correct postage rates:

USA: $1.95
International: $3.00

In order to make it up to everyone, I'd like to send out a bunch of Ender's Game Comic Con 2012 pins. If you were asked to pay upon the arrival of your bracelet, please shoot me an email (endernews@gmail.com) with your name and address and I will get you a pin in the mail ASAP. 

And to keep it fair, I'd like to also offer a pin to everyone else who's still wanting a bracelet -- until I run out!



Send me a self-addressed stamped envelope with the correct postage listed above ($1.95 if you are in the US) to the following address:

Ender News
c/o Kelly Severs
202 Highland Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143
and I will send you not only a fan-made bracelet but also an Ender's Game Comic Con pinRead more about how to send a SASE here.

And please note: These bracelets are 100% fan made, not for sale, and are in no way affiliated with anything officially Ender's Game. They are just for fun, and hopefully something you can wear that will help attract friends and family members to the project!

Don't miss out!

Countdown: 364 Days! The Story So Far...



Hey guys! In celebration of us now being exactly one year away from the release of Ender's Game, I thought I would put together a timeline to cover some of the most important events in the fandom and on this site since the beginning of filming back in February.

Hang on to your flash suits, it's pretty long!

February 2012: It begins! The young cast met together in New Orleans with director Gavin Hood for the first time at an Ender's Game cast party. It was a great opportunity to show off their new military haircuts:

Aramis Knight
Asa Butterfield


Also in February, many members of the cast attended Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. They went through the "Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs to inspire some quality team-building before they [started] filming."

February 27th, 2012: Principal photography began at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The Ender's Game production team issued a press release with the film's synopsis, as well as listing a a new actor for the role of Stilson -- Caleb J. Thaggard as opposed to the original Brendan Meyer.

Here is the synopsis from the press release:
In the near future, a hostile alien race (Formics) have attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and the International Fleet (IF) Military are training only the best young children to find the future Mazer. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a shy, but strategically brilliant boy is pulled out of his school to join the elite. Ender easily masters increasingly difficult war games, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers at Battle School. Ordained by Graff as the IF's next great hope, Ender is promoted to Command School. Once there, he's trained by Rackham himself to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and humankind.
March 07, 2012: Brendan Meyer announced via his Facebook page that he unfortunately had to step down from the role of Stilson due to a scheduling conflict. Actor Caleb J. Thaggard took his place.

March 21, 2012: The official Ender's Game production blog launched the first of what would be a series of 12 posts which gave fans a look behind-the-scenes of principal photography. The first picture:

Official Blog


March 22, 2012: Fans everywhere gasped in horror as they found out that the Battle School students are wearing socks under their uniforms in the film. However, as soon as the trailers start coming out and everyone sees the flash suits, I'm 100% certain costume designer Christine Bieselin Clark will be utterly forgiven. ;)

April, 2012: Producer Alex Kurtzman spoke to MTV.com about Ender's Game, praising the cast and claiming the film captures the book's "essence."

April 09, 2012: The Ender's Game release date was pushed from March 15 to November 01, 2013

April 18, 2012: We had our first super exciting glimpse at Ender's monitor:

Official Blog

April 26, 2012: The official production blog gave us a cool behind-the-scenes look at Gavin Hood making edits to a storyboard on the set of Ender's Game. Plus, we received a dare from producer Roberto Orci:



How much WERE we able to make out?

May, 2012: Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card visited the set and recorded a voice-over roll. Read his full report at RhinoTimes.com.

May 17, 2012: Part one of the official production blog's Q&A session was released. Topics included the film's visual influences, Graff/Ender's relationship, and Roberto Orci's favorite scene.

May 22, 2012: Representatives of many fan sites (including myself!) visited the Ender's Game set, where we received a day-long tour and were allowed to talk to the people who were working so hard on this amazing project.

Coming Soon
May 25, 2012: The official production blog revealed the insignia of the International Fleet and their second Q&A session with producer Roberto Orci.

May 31, 2012: Smart Pop Books announced that their Ender anthology, Ender's World, would include various Q&As with Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card and invited fans of the book to ask questions.

June 02, 2012: The remaining cast and crew of Ender's Game attended the wrap party at the House of Blues in New Orleans.

June 09, 2012: Principal photography wrapped on the film. TomKats catering created some fun ice sculptures (one shaped like a dragon!) for the cast and crew in New Orleans.

June 13, 2012:  We received a peak of an Ender's Game promotional poster used at the 2012 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas

June 24, 2012: Ender News released its Ender's Game cover art gallery.

July 14, 2012: Aidan from Ender News attended San Diego Comic Con and interviewed Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card. She also stopped by to visit Smart Pop Books and the Summit Booth where the super cool Mike Pierce Mireles gave us some t-shirts and a boatload of pins to give away on the site!

August 10, 2012: We found out that Ender's Game will definitely bit hitting IMAX theaters and that Lionsgate is eyeing sequels. This is the first time that the studio referred to the project as a "franchise."

September 16, 2012: Ender News introduced a new part of the site: a comprehensive book and movie directory, The I.F. Files!

October 07, 2012: Jimmy Jax Pinchak announced his holiday contest: designing a greeting card! There's still 9 days left to participate in this... and I've heard there are some pretty cool prizes!

November 01, 2012:  We reach the one-year mark - and what a ride it's been! The past 9 months have been filled with exciting events, announcements and revelations -- who knows what the next year will bring!

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Oh and guys: our friend Darian Robbins has created an Ender's Game countdown calendar to celebrate the day -- and it's free to download!

As well as featuring some of his latest artwork, it has also included birthdays of many of the cast/crew members and links to many fandom websites. We are super happy to be included!

Make sure you head over to Darian's blog and thank him for such a cool gift!

364 days to go, you guys. We've officially passed the one year mark!