Discussing 'Europa Report' & Sci-Fi with Director Sebastián Cordero
by Alex Billington
August 15, 2013
"All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there." There is a sci-fi film playing now that's one of the best in a long time. Similar to the upcoming Gravity, it's a film that might not even deserve the science fiction classification because it's much more science reality. The film is titled Europa Report, directed by Ecuadorian filmmaker Sebastián Cordero, and it involves a two-year long manned mission to Europa, Jupiter's sixth moon where many have theorized life might exist underneath miles of ice covering the surface. It's an excellent film that I've already seen multiple times and can't wait to watch again. Luckily, I was able to meet with Sebastián Cordero in person for a 17 minute chat about sci-fi and making this film.
From a screenplay by Philip Gelatt, Europa Report features Christian Camargo, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Karolina Wydra & Sharlto Copley as a six-man crew traveling on a space ship to Europa. The found footage film handles the intricate and meticulous realities of space travel perfectly, with a phenomenal set that allowed the actors to go from zero gravity to artificial gravity by simply walking up a ladder. I had to ask Sebastián about that set, how they built it, and how they pulled off many of the perfect moments so seamlessly. There are some minor spoilers in this interview, so I suggest watching the film on iTunes before diving in, but there isn't anything major revealed in our in-depth conversation.
Timeline of my questions: 0:30 - how did this originate/where did the idea come from?; 5:50 - this film is all about being realistic; 8:50 - how did you build the set/how did you do zero gravity?; 12:10 - how did you do the falling stunt shot?; 13:10 - what advice would you give to sci-fi filmmakers?; 15:52 - so what's next?
Watch my interview with Europa Report director Sebastián Cordero, recorded in New York City:
As a fan of NASA's achievements and space exploration, it's great to hear Sebastián say things like this: "The main thing in space travel is redundancy - you need two of everything." I'm so glad we were able to cover a number of fascinating sci-fi and sci-realism topics regarding Europa Report and filmmaking in general. I had to ask him about advice for other filmmakers at the end, because he got everything right with Europa Report and many filmmakers should be able to learn from this. If anything, it will show others what can be achieved when actually paying attention to details. Finally, I love this quote he gave me regarding other sci-fi movies (think Prometheus) and how they decided to go a different route in designing their space ship:
"The moment you look at all the sci-fi films that deal with space travel… they're showing you technology that is really cool looking, that is really slick, that is amazing. And that's very valid. But then you start doing real research… very often you have technology that feels a little clunky, that doesn't feel so slick, because the main objective of that technology is not to look cool but to be functional."
Thank you to Sebastián Cordero (@SCordero23) for his time talking with me. Also, thank you to Magnolia & Falco Ink for arranging. I was dying to speak with Sebastián because I loved the film so damn much, and I wanted to talk with him about every last aspect of it, from the science
fiction angle to the amazing sets and visual effects, to the cast and found footage storytelling tricks he uses. I'm so glad I got to talk with him and hopefully he covered many of the fascinating topics regarding Europa Report. For another great interview discussing details about the end spoiler moment, check out Cordero's chat with Perri Nemiroff on ShockYa.
Sebastián Cordero's Europa Report is now playing in select theaters and is also available on iTunes & VOD. I highly recommend catching the film as soon as possible. More details and updates on the film's Facebook.