Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action - The Making of 2010

The Odyssey continues in Peter Hyams' sequel to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey - 2010: The Year We Make Contact.

The monumental task of bringing 2010 to the screen began in May 1983, when writer/director Peter Hyams started work on the screenplay.

PETER HYAMS: "This is a story by Arthur C. Clarke, which is – I am feeling – a healthy cushion to sit on, you know? Ultimately that's what we do, we tell someone's story, and this is a story conceived by an extraordinary mind."

During the script writing process Hyams and Clarke exchanged ideas via computer link-up between Hyams' office in Los Angeles and Clarke's home in Sri Lanka.

ARTHUR C. CLARKE: "I was, of course, very interested to see what the screenplay would be like, as compared to the novel. When indeed he had done one or two things which I told him at the time I would have probably incorporated into the novel. Maybe the best way of collaboration is for the two people to be on the opposite sides of the world, not to see each other until it's all over!"

PETER HYAMS: "The charter is, I think, when anybody makes a film – especially from a book you hold in high regard – is to fulfill the intent of the man who wrote the book."

Syd Mead, who originated the title 'Visual Futurist' to describe his work on Blade Runner, Tron, and Star Trek: The Movie, brought his unique design talents to 2010.

SYD MEAD: "The hardware, the interior of the Leonov, the general technical look, very much the complex in space; minimal cost for the maximum utilitarian value. And the fact that in space you don't need any ... it doesn't have to look nice, particularly, but it does have to work, absolutely. If it doesn't, it's a disaster. If I could describe in one word, the look of the hardware that I designed for 2010 it would be the word functional."

Production designer Albert Brenner worked with Mead to combine form and function at the visuals of the film.

ALBERT BRENNER: "So you're gonna see a lot of pipes and you're gonna see a lot of dripping oil, and you're gonna see a lot of hydraulic fluids and you're gonna see all the things that make if go. If we are going to be honest to our audience, and truthful to what happens, for the most part we want to convince you that what you're seeing is actually happening or can actually happen. It's literally much like the Columbia. It's designed by engineers, not by designers, interior designers. Wherever you can find a space to put a bunk and a person in, that's where you'll put them. So, what we're doing is basing everything we do on known research today. What we're doing today and what the research tell us is probable tomorrow."

The credits of visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund includes the Star Wars trilogy, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Poltergeist, and Ghostbusters.

RICHARD EDLUND: "2010 is not gonna necessarily look like 2001. In fact, it won't look like 2001. Certain things that were in 2001, like the Discovery, will re-appear. It's been spinning in orbit over Io since the end of 2001. And Jupiter is going to look like you've never seen it before because we're gonna have it moving, and we're gonna have a very ... it's a very expensive, complex way of getting there. But at the same time we have to take licenses to make it an interesting film, so therefore there will be poetic license taken. But it won't be ... there won't be absurd license taken."

Model shop supervisor Mark Statson.

MARK STATSON: "We have two projects that we are working on simultaneously: the construction of the Discovery model from the first film, and the construction of the Leonov model, which is new to this film, 2010. Records of the Discovery were all destroyed, along the Discovery miniature from 2001. Mr. Kubrick was concerned about the Discovery appearing in later science fiction films, so he had the models destroyed, and all the plans and drawings were destroyed. But our main source of information is a print of 2001 itself. Peter Hyams is most interested in the Leonov model, because most of the action in the film occurs within the hull of the Leonov. It will be represented in the film primarily by our miniature, so he is intensely interested in the development of the surface of it, the texture and the overall look of the ship."

The Starchild in 2010.

After spending nine months on pre-production, Peter Hyams and a seasoned crew began principal photography on 2010 in February, 1984.

Hyams cast the film with a distinguished group of actors, including Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren, John Lithgow, and Bob Balaban. With a 71 day shooting schedule 2010 emerged as one of the largest scale productions of the year.

PETER HYAMS: "The films that excite me the most are the films that are a show of the vastness of film, the actual, sheer majesty and beauty and size of it, and I love those films that take you some place that you never get a chance to see in your daily life."

"And this particular film is the marriage of what is feasible, what is actually possible, and what is also wonderful. I mean, it's about something that not only could happen, but we would love to actually happen, because it's so hopeful."

KEIR DULLEA: "Being asked to be in 2010 was like completing a circle. And yet is was just different enough from the original to make it interesting. The quality of the character in 2010 is slightly different, because the plane of existence is different. The character I play is no longer embodied, he is in a very strange state, so his concerns are quite different. The other most unique experience for me on this film was walking on to the reconstructed bridge and the reconstructed pod bay from the original Discovery. It was like walking back in time, it was like a space warp."

Mike Westmore is a member of Hollywood's famous Westmore family of make-up artists.

MIKE WESTMORE: "After leaving Universal I worked with Stallone in Rocky 1, 2, 3, First Blood, and did a lot of the effects in Blade Runner. The research ... of course, first we talked about having to duplicate thing that have been done in 2001, so I took a cast of my mothers face, who is 82, and my next door neighbor is 91, I went over with my camera and photographed rolls of film on him. Like it's a combination, my mothers neck, my next door neighbors eyes, and things like that."

JOHN LITHGOW: "There's this guy, Bob Harmon, this English flying wizard, who has worked out this amazing system: takes three men to fly one. One to move you this way, one to move you this way, and one to move you this way. Then you move yourself every other way just by shifting your weight. You're spun around, and twisted and turned. Just loved it, traveling about twenty miles an hour across the soundstage."

BOB HARMON: "Basically, what we're trying to achieve here is a weightless situation, obviously. So, it's different in respect, before, we've done speed flying, and now we're on to controlled zero gravity flying. And we have got to make everything look effortless. Since we have to like the wires, doing on wires, doing on a pole arm, also on a rig for walking up the wall. Just generally best as we can really. Peter is quite a demanding guy to work with."

"The person who controls the wires is this end, the operator. The artist on the wires is just a puppet, really. He can only act on the wires, but his total movements, raising, lowering, and traveling, is down to us. He is up there to act."

JOHN LITHGOW: "Yes, they kept telling me, 'John, just calm down up there! Astronauts in space don't clown around!' [laughs]"

BOB BALABAN: "In this movie I play a character called doctor Chandra, who basically invented HAL about 12 years ago, and has been worrying about what's been going on ever since. And finally gets a chance in this movie to go to Jupiter, where HAL is right now, and find out what's going on. I don't want to tell the whole thing, but HAL did have a problem, and it wasn't exactly his fault. He didn't become a terrible person, he had some problems."

BOB BALABAN: "If you're an actor, you occasionally grow up and find yourself flying on wires and pretending it's Jupiter down there! Doing all this stuff that we're doing in this movie. So it should be great fun, to escape into something like this. I mean, I always wanted to fly! I wish I could have called myself when I was 6 or 7, I wish I could have said 'hey, it's really interesting, because you get to be a grown-up, you might actually get to do some of these things!' [laughs]"

PETER HYAMS: "Every shot requires the kind of technology and the kind of attention and the kind of manpower that the burning of Atlanta required, and that's just to have two people sit down and have a normal conversation.

JOHN LITHGOW: "Acting in the film was really being a small part of an enormous technological wonder. I mean, just look at all these sets and all this machinery around us! I've never been a part of anything like this in movie making. It sorta dwarfs the day-by-day challenge of acting in it, you know? [laughs] Of course, when you come down to it, you have to be there, you have to provide a character. The characters and the story is what it's all about. But you do feel slightly dwarfed by the magnitude of the project."

HELEN MIRREN: "Just the very quality of the sets, I think - for me, the minute I walk on to these sets, like the one we have here - I think it helps us more than we we know as actors. I think we're given, you know, a lot of our performances simply from being in the set."

Among the many challenges facing the 2010 crew, was creating the illusion of weightlessness. In this scene Hyams and Scheider attempt to show ordinary objects afloat in zero gravity.

ROY SCHEIDER: "If you remember from 2001, he was the coordinator of the program that went up to investigate the monolith. He's an engineer and a scientist, he's not exactly an adventuresome character. He's a, you can say he was a civilian suddenly thrown into being out in space, and having to do what astronauts do."

BOB BALABAN: "The fact that this movie has as a, you know, it's underlying theme the fact that we got to get along together, is – I think – an immediate concern to all of us."

JOHN LITHGOW: "Well, the plot of the film, involving a Russian-American voyage; Peter has gone and geared up these marvellous Russian actors. This guy who plays Max, the person who becomes and instant friend of Curnow's, we've become instant friends! Elya and I, we sit around, he teaches me how to say 'cow', and 'horse', and 'cat' in Russian."

ELYA BASKIN: "I take advantage of the situation, I never teach him dirty words."

JOHN LITHGOW: "You see, the two of us represent detente in this movie."

The cosmonauts and astronauts on board the Leonov.

Bringing 2010 to the screen involved a massive team effort both in front of and behind the cameras. Ninety percent of the film was shot at MGM's two largest soundstages in Hollywood, with a week of location shooting in New Mexico and Washington D.C. The scope of the production involved and the attention to detail in all areas, from the largest set to the smallest miniature, and while the finished film will boast new highs in technical achievement, the promise of 2010 lies in Arthur C. Clarke's exciting story.

ROY SCHEIDER: "Most of the material in 2010 is highly conceivable, in other words if I were the audience watching it, I'd say 'yes, in the year 2010 that sort of thing could happen'."

PETER HYAMS: "It's about something that not only could happen, it's about something that we would love to actually happen, because it's so hopeful. And I don't think that there's anything more primal, at least in me, than the fascination with making contact."

KEIR DULLEA: "To me, the monolith is some kind of expression of that unbelievably advanced intelligence, that's expressed in both films."

ROY SCHEIDER: "The monolith is never really defined, and because it's not defined it allows you to imagine it to be anything you want it to be."

ARTHUR C. CLARKE: "People ask me what the monoliths means, I have a simple answer. I say, 'you must see the film, read the book, and repeat the dose as often as necessary!' [smiles]"

(This is a transcript of the short HBO featurette The Odyssey Continues)

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