Every culture creates a counterculture. And, for Daniel Espinosa, the fight to push against the special effects tide is getting stronger. Taking the reigns for the horror science-fiction title Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, the 40-year old Swede made a point of filming in long, continuous shots that relied on the stunts and tension created by the real life set.
Speaking with /FILM following the March 24 opening, Espinosa outlined the challenges involved with zero gravity and pulling off a non-stop 8-minute sequence that had the audience on the edge of their seats. Described as a glorified B-movie by many critics who felt the fast-paced romp was enjoyable if not light on substance, the filmmaker gave his thoughts on the industry and what trends are hurting the craft in 2017.
Green Screens Don't Feel Reality: Director
Following in the same countertrend as Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve and George Miller for directors who fight the urge for CGI at every opportunity, Espinosa argued that a real life creation was the only way to feel it through the aesthetic and sound coming through his end.
"When I was going to do this movie, I thought I could not do this green screen," he remarked. "I can’t do this limited. I have to kind of build this space ship, so what I did was constructed this sort of console with sounds of the ship. I would get that feeling in my headphones, so I could pretend I was at least on a space ship. I would do my shots as I wanted. I think green screen is a great disease of our time."
Making quite the statement, why did he go so far to call it a "disease"? Is this hyperbole or what he really believes?
"It’s claiming our reality doesn’t affect us as characters," he responded. "You know, who we are as human beings, we are powered by what’s around, what we see around us. If you stand in a white room, you might be a different person from when you stand in a room filled with stuff. Those things can remind you of your past, who you want to be. That’s why I think we all love those movies from the ’70s. We feel the reality. They’re shot on the streets."
Inspired By The Genre, But With A Claustrophobic Twist
Given the obvious tropes Espinosa utilized for the movie, he does not shy away from the fact that many of the scenes are inspired by what has gone before. But rather than venture out into the open darkness, he wanted the flick to be confined to the four walls.
"Of course. You go to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you get the fear of loneliness. And then you go to Alien, with the great feeling you’re walking around in a cellar. And then you think The Thing, the fear of something coming inside of you. Then you go to great modern pieces like Gravity. I mean, it’s stellar. It’s some of the best zero gravity work that’s ever been done. Of course, it has the masterful oner's. That’s why I tried to reverse it, make an indoor oner inside the grandness of space."