As we’ve now reached the end of principal photography on ENDER’S GAME, it seems fitting to take a step back and acknowledge the two people responsible for giving such vivid life to the imaginary world in which we’ve spent the past many months immersed.
And when we say immersed, we truly mean it.
Ben Procter and Sean Haworth — our amazing Production Designer duo — were tasked with bringing a difficult piece of Science Fiction to life… and they were more than up to the challenge.
Together, they created a unique blend of technology and humanity that made the ENDER’S GAME sets eventually seem like home.
As a duo, they played to their strengths, mixing a strong Illustration and Visual Effects Art Direction background (Ben), with the application of a physical set build and Art Directing (Sean). It turned into a symbiotic “divide and conquer”, and the results speak volumes.
We recently got them to reflect on the process of creating this world.
As Ben described it, the most fun was creating the two contrasting cultures of Human and Formic technology and architecture.
“We tried to imbue the spaces and vehicles with a gritty, engineered realism that would help sell the seriousness of the training our hero kids are going through. The visual style of the Formics, on the other hand, needed to be both exotic and beautiful to represent a society not deserving of extinction.”
Ask them to describe the Formic world and you’ll get excited tales, imagining a Formic method of manufacture that was distinctly inhuman — a kind of biological 3D printer, with the drones building living spaces and spacecraft layer by layer.
Even in a short conversation, their excitement for the project is tangible. And it certainly helps that they were already fans of the novel.
For Ben, he read the founding short-story at age twelve, and has been a fan ever since. “Fans of the book will hopefully recognize what they’ve been imagining for years, but also be impressed with the level of detail. And as a fan, you have an actual emotional reaction finally seeing the Zero-G action you’ve always visualized.”
As for Sean, having read the book in his twenties, vividly remembers not only the science and technology, but the terrifying human elements behind it all.
“ I was torn between wanting to be Ender but never having to be faced with that kind of a future,” he said.
But the most amazing thing about talking to them, without question, is their eagerness to share the credit and sing the praises of the whole crew that brought ENDER’S GAME to life. Whether it be admiration for the beauty of Gavin’s adaptation, the “coolest art department ever assembled”, the ingenuity of construction coordinator Anthony Syracuse and Supervising Art Director Todd Holland, or even the fact that Orson Scott Card himself came to give their design and vision his seal of approval, this was a great crew in every sense.
…Oh, and filming on stages inside a rocket assembly facility — seeing real rocket parts that were destined for space flight — that certainly didn’t hurt ingenuity.
Farewell… for now.