Roberto Orci Talks About Producing ‘Enders Game’, Changing Over The Years And Gives Advice For Young Writers
Sanders | On 28, Oct 2013
Dos Live got to talk with Roberto Orci about his new film ‘Enders Game’.
The film is an adaptation of the novel which was released in 1984 by Orson Scott Card. It was directed and written by Gavin Hood, The cast also includes Asa Butterfield as Ender, and Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff who wants Ender to join an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future alien invasion. The film also stars Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin.
Check out the full interview below:
What was it about the book that made you want to turn it into a film?
Look, I read it (the book) when I was 12 year old. I was amazed that it didn’t talk down to me as a young person; I was amazed it celebrated intelligence; I was amazed that scenes were complicated. Things of preempted war and when is the right time to fight. Forget about the Internet and touchscreen tablet like the iPad, which I couldn’t have imagined at the time for get it. But at the time that I read it I had no idea, I thought I was going to be a lawyer I didn’t know I would be in the movie business. So cut to years later I managed to get in to this business and I checked into the project, I looked and a studio had it and there working on it. So I thought, I’ll never get it. Then another 10 years go by and I get a call from Odd/Lot Entertainment from Gigi Pritzker. They heard I was a fan of the book and suddenly I found out they have all the rights and not only that they want to do it the right way and be true to it, so I was like sign me up. It ended up being a childhood dream that would never imagine would be true.
Were there any changes that had to be made, or anything you wanted to keep the same from the book to the movie being that they are two different things and that we are in a different time now?
One of the things about turning a beloved thing to a movie is that changes have to be made. However all of the changes we made weren’t as drastic to what the other studios were doing. The reason I teamed up with these people Gavin Hood and Odd/Lot is that it had to be true to the book. So we knew the attempts to adapt a book to a movie has changed the ending a little bit and made it into a Hollywood ending. It’s a complicated book and has adult themes and it’s something to talk about. The other studio did not take the track that we took which was to be true to the book and true to the themes of the book. However, we had to make some changes when Peter and Valentine (Ender’s sister and brother) became the first bloggers and took over the internet. We were unable to do that. That’s one of the biggest regrets that I have. But at the time that was super novel and no one will ever imagine that, but today we now know blogging and less of an impressive thing today and it’s super predictive. We wanted to keep it in line with Ender. So for the most part we got to keep everything I wanted in the book but that was one of the few things that I miss but we did it for good reason.
So this is the 8th film you produced. Has your process changed over time on how you produce a film or is it “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it”?
Hopefully, I get smarter every time and learn a little bit more. Now when I see something going wrong I speak up earlier, when I see something going right I support it earlier. This is one of the handfuls of things I produced but didn’t write. As a fan it was great to read Gavin’s scripts and go “Man, I’m glad I didn’t have to write this. How is he going to do this?” I get to read it just as a fan and not have a conflict of interest. Sometimes when you’re writing and producing you can be a little bit defensive about your work. On this movie to be a producer and just read the script without my ego getting involved in any way say “oh that’s good, that’s a big deal.” That true producing and it was such an honor to have my name on this thing.
I get a lot of questions asking me how you decide to choose Harrison Ford and Sir Ben Kingsley? I always joke “you don’t choose them they choose you.” When you’re interviewing them they are deciding if they are going to work with you. Harrison Ford told me, “It’s rare that I see sci-fi offered to me that it’s so emotional and so worthy of decisions.” In terms of chemistry with the cast, Gavin Hood (director and writer) from the beginning advised Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield to not hang around each other too much. He wanted to keep some distance between them because we wanted the dynamic on screen to mirror the dynamic off screen. He didn’t want Harrison to get too friendly with Asa and Asa getting all friendly with Harrison. You see that dynamic. The film was shot in sequence, and that’s a good thing too because Asa grew two inches when filming. So the relationship that you see between Asa and Harrison is pretty much the relationship you see off screen. Which is a young talented protagonist coming up against a legend and getting to know him and getting to learn how to stand up to him. I think that was a smart thing for Harrison and Asa to do.
Is there one message you want the audience to walk out knowing?
One thing I learned as a producer is to not dictate what a message might be. I think the book and the movie raise great question, and that’s what I realized as my role as a producer is to raise great questions. This is a big action movie, what I’m proud about the movie is that it’s something to talk about afterwards, but I don’t want to be the guy to tell you what to talk about afterwards, I just want to be the guy who produced the movie and raised the questions. I hope that you will be talking about it in some way or another. Just hope that people take that bait and discuss it.
Is there any talk about a second film?
It’s always bad luck to talk about to talk about a second film before the first one hatches. However I want to see what the audience says, when something has a fan base, it’s our responsibility to find out what you all thought about it and see what they respond to and take that into account and not just assume we know everything and work on a sequel already and you haven’t seen the movie. But until then we will see. Plus we only finished this film 3 weeks ago.
Do you have any advice for young adults that want to get into writing and producing and have no idea where to start?
I have a lot of advice. Don’t be afraid to mimic. Read the stuff you like. If there is a movie out there you like go out and find a book that is like that movie and go read them. Find out what you can about them. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. The Beatles started out by covering songs. Don’t think you have to start with something totally original. Learn what other people that you love did and mimic that. Learn it, read it, and then you will start to have your own ideas.
‘Enders Game’ is set to release on November 1st.Tell us what you think in the comments below or on: