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?
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.