One of the most buzzed about films of the year has got to be Gravity. After premiering to worldwide critical acclaim at several film festivals over the past few weeks, Alfonso Cuarón’s latest masterpiece is set to open for the general public this Friday and anticipation could not be higher.
The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts in space on a routine mission. When a piece of debris destroys their shuttle, they are left stranded in space with no way of communicating with planet Earth and only a limited air supply. It’s a thrilling, gripping and truly terrifying ride that is executed perfectly, thanks to some remarkable filmmaking.
Last week, Warner Bros. held a press conference for Gravity in Los Angeles and we were lucky enough to be in attendance. Speaking to journalists were Sandra Bullock, Alfonso Cuarón and his son Jonas. Throughout the interesting chat, they discussed making the film, how they put together such a challenging piece of work, why they made certain creative decisions and more.
Check it out below and enjoy.
Alfonso, in most depictions of space we have a sense of up, down, left and right, and your movie effectively does away with that. What kind of changes did you have to make in your way of thinking to convey the physics of space properly?
Alfonso Cuarón: That was the biggest challenge since early on. Even before getting into the technique of solutions when we were conceiving the choreography, our brain thinks from the standpoint of gravity, of horizon and weight. It was a whole learning curve because it’s completely counterintuitive, and we started choreographing with pre-vis, meaning animations. The problem is that graph people, people that draw or animators, they learn how to draw based upon horizon and weight. It was a big, big learning curve with experts coming to explain the physics of synergy and what would happen, and you would tell who was the new animator in the room because it was a guy who was completely stressed out and wanted to quit. Eventually it starts to get like a second nature, but it was tough for them.
Sandra, can you talk more about what you had to do training wise? It must’ve been a different type of training with the spinning. We’re also assuming that you acted opposite a green screen for the most part.
Sandra Bullock: Well if there had been a green screen it would’ve been nice. There was just blackness or bright white lights or metallic objects. Basically what Alfonso said was you had to retrain your body from the neck down to react and move as though it’s in zero g without the benefit of zero g moving your body, because everything that your body reacts to with a push or a pull on the ground is completely different than it is in zero g. So to make that second nature just took training and then weeks of repetition and then syncing it with Alfonso’s camera and the mechanics and mathematics of it all and then separating that from your head where you had to connect with the emotion and tell the emotional story. There were various contraptions that existed on the soundstage which that, when I first saw them, you just made them your friend as quickly and as physically as you could because if you didn’t, they were so confusing and complex. It was such a collaborative experience.
Alfonso Cuarón: Yeah but you were very involved from early on not only in the animations but with blocking and restaging because everything was going to be pre-programmed. We had conversations with those on the rigs and those doing the stunts and said, “Okay what is it exactly that you have to reinforce in your body to hold this thing?” It was very specific, the workout that you were doing.
Sandra Bullock: It’s just core strength. From a dancer’s perspective, it’s just making sure you weren’t going to hurt your body and you can be very agile and flexible to maintain your body in a rig that’s load bearing. The load is your weight for long hours at a time. There was going to be tweaks and things like that.
What was your reaction to the movie when you first saw it?
Sandra Bullock: The first time I saw it all put together was in Venice. I always say that an actor, when they see themselves for the first time, they spend all that time watching and hating themselves and picking apart their performance and wanting to quit. There was no time to pick apart one’s performance here though because you were inundated with the extreme beauty and emotion that he [Alfonso] created visually. It was turned into such an emotional and such a visceral, physical experience in this movie. I don’t how they did it with sound and coming here behind your head, and all of a sudden you found yourself affected in ways that you were not planning on being affected, so we had that same reaction. I think George and I both went, “Wow!” You can’t really speak after the film is over, so I think I was lucky enough in my career to finally be able to view a movie I was in as it was supposed to be viewed, as a newcomer.