Looking Back at the Future: Filmmakers Discuss GRAVITY at San Diego Comic Con

With the recent success of the film Gravity, I thought it would be interesting for readers of Beyond the Marquee to read some of the highlights from the Warner Bros. press junket I attended at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con. The junket included a lively discussion with director Alfonso Cuarón and Sandra Bullock. At the time of the press junket, the film was almost two months away from it’s theatrical release.

Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as surviving astronauts who work together to get back to Earth after an accident leaves them adrift in space. After hearing the logline for the first time at Comic Con, the premise sounded genuinely scary.

Alfonso Cuarón gave a few thoughts on making a film that he was passionate to create. “I wanted to give the film a sense of reality so that the action in space would be believable,” stated Cuarón. “I didn’t want to create a new world in this film, but rather I wanted to treat the story as a piece of fiction set in the real world of space.”


Sandra Bullock having a tough day in space.

One of the questions from the floor was about the 3D process and if the film was shot in 3D. After filming was completed, Alfonso stated the 3D conversion began around 3 and a half weeks before Comic Con began (which would have been sometime in June 2013). Although Gravity was created digitally, it was being converted to 3D in post-production. In my opinion, films that are shot in 3D have a different look and feel than those that are converted into 3D. An example: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was converted to 3D during post production, where Avatar was shot in 3D which gave the film an incredible depth. That being said, here’s one item to note: the majority of Gravity was rendered in a computer, which included Earth, the spaceships, the astronaut uniforms, and all floating objects. In fact, beyond a couple of practical sets the only real objects in the film are the faces of Clooney and Bullock.

With the majority of principal photography taking place after the effects were created, acting in an imagined environment Bullock had never been in made the film a unique experience.

“The role was interesting because her character was in the great unknown of space,” stated Bullock. “My character Ryan Stone had to be very human in a science fiction world so that the circumstances felt and seemed real.”

One person asked her if she consulted with any astronauts while filming. Her answer was “yes” but didn’t reveal which astronauts she spoke with when she was researching the role (I’m sure this has been revealed since the film’s release). Bullock wanted to know what it was like being in space. “What I took away from the conversations was how much the astronauts admired our planet and how much they appreciated the little things on Earth,” stated Bullock. “Being in space put things in perspective for them.”

When asked about her co-star George Clooney, “George is the same person she knew a long time ago. I was friends with him and ‘discovered’ him long before anyone else did.” She says George is one of the sweetest people she knows. I’m sure a lot of the ladies will like reading that.


George Clooney’s first time in space since “Solaris”

What was interesting was how the press junket ended. Bullock shared a personal story that had a profound affect on her that happened around 6 years ago. She felt that for the first time she was running into walls in Hollywood because she’s a woman. She never experienced that before, perhaps because of the situations she was in. She found it difficult to handle the new barriers because of the way she was raised. “It was a difficult time for me to handle the situation.” (she didn’t elaborate what the wall was so I didn’t have a point of reference to understand her frustrations. However, whatever it was it did have a profound effect on her).

Gravity was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also wrote the screenplay with his son. It stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone and George Clooney as Matt Kowalsky.

You can follow David Derks on Twitter at @dderks

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