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11.06.2014

SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Interstellar

InterstellarChristopher Nolan | 2014 | USA | Format: 35mm, 70mm & D-Cinema  | 169 min




Here's a supplement to the building a black hole video about how the animators for the movie actually helped physicists understand black holes better.
“Neither wormholes nor black holes have been depicted in any Hollywood movie in the way that they actually would appear,” Kip Thorne said in a promotional video from Warner Bros. U.K.
“This is the first time the depiction began with Einstein’s general relativity equations,” Thorne said.
Thorne is an American theoretical physicist who has written academic books on general relativity, collaborated with Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, and is one of the world’s leading experts on all things gravitational.
He is also the executive producer and scientific consultant for the film. It took Thorne’s intellect, 30 special effects experts, thousands of computers, and a year of hard work to produce the black hole audiences see in the film.
There's another reason why art and science should both be taught in schools.
When Nolan first called upon Thorne’s expertise for the film, he anticipated that the special effects team would have to tweak the scientifically-accurate image to make it more aesthetically appealing and understandable to audiences.
However, the shocking, gorgeous results that came from Thorne’s physics equations was more than Nolan or Thorne could have hoped for and what audiences will see in the film.
“What we found was … we could get some very understandable, tactile imagery from those equations,” Nolan said in the video. “[The equations] were constantly surprising and it spoke to the maxim that truth can be stranger than fiction.”
Thorne is planning on writing up the team’s efforts in two scientific papers: one for the astrophysics community and one for the computer science community.
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 A look into the making of Interstellar thanks to the folks at Wikipedia:

Development and financing

Steven Spielberg moved his production company DreamWorks in 2009 from Paramount to The Walt Disney Company, and Paramount needed a new director for Interstellar. Jonathan Nolan recommended his brother Christopher, who ultimately joined the project in 2012.  Christopher Nolan met with Kip Thorne, then attached as executive producer, to discuss the use of spacetime in the story.  In January 2013, Paramount and Warner Bros. announced that Christopher Nolan was in negotiations to directInterstellar.  Nolan said he wanted to encourage again the goal of human spaceflight.  He intended to write a screenplay based on his own idea that he would merge with his brother's screenplay. By the following March, Nolan was confirmed to directInterstellar, which would be produced under his label Syncopy and Lynda Obst Productions. The Hollywood Reporter said Nolan will earn a salary of $20 million against 20% of what Interstellar grosses. To research for the film, Nolan visited NASA as well as the private space program SpaceX. The premise for Interstellar was conceived by film producer Lynda Obst and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who collaborated on the 1997 film Contact.  Based on Thorne's work, the two conceived a scenario about "the most exotic events in the universe suddenly becoming accessible to humans" that would attract filmmaker Steven Spielberg's interest in directing. The film began development in June 2006 when Spielberg and Paramount Pictures announced plans for a science fiction film based on Thorne's treatment. Obst was attached to produce the film, which Variety said would "take several years to come together" before Spielberg directed it. By March 2007, Jonathan Nolan was hired to write a screenplay for Interstellar. 
Though Paramount and Warner Bros. are traditionally rival studios, Warner Bros., who released Nolan's Batman films and works with Nolan's Syncopy, sought a stake in Nolan's production of Interstellar for Paramount. Warner Bros. agreed to give Paramount its rights to co-finance the next film in the Friday the 13th horror franchise and to have a stake in a future film based on the TV series South Park. Warner Bros. also agreed to let Paramount co-finance "a to-be-determined A-list Warners property".  In August 2013, Legendary Pictures finalized an agreement with Warner Bros. to finance approximately 25 percent of the film's production. Although it failed to renew its eight-year production partnership with Warner Bros., Legendary reportedly agreed to forego financing for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in exchange for the stake in Interstellar. 

Writing

Screenwriter Jonathan Nolan was hired by director Steven Spielberg to write a script for Interstellar, and he worked on it for four years.  To learn the science, he studied relativity at the California Institute of Technology while writing the script.  Jonathan said he was pessimistic about the Space Shuttle program ending and how NASA lacked financing for a manned mission to Mars. The screenwriter found inspiration in science fiction films with apocalyptic themes, such as WALL-E (2008) and Avatar (2009). Entertainment Weekly said, "He set the story in a dystopian future ravaged by blight but populated with hardy folk who refuse to bow to despair."  Jonathan's brother, director Christopher Nolan, had worked on other science fiction scripts but decided to take the Interstellar script and rewrite it with new ideas. Christopher kept in place Jonathan's conception of the first hour, which is set on a resource-depleted Earth in the near future. The setting was inspired by the Dust Bowl that took place in the United States during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Christopher instead revised the rest of the script in which a team travels into space.

Casting

Director Christopher Nolan said he became interested in casting Matthew McConaughey after seeing him in an early cut of the 2012 film Mud, which he had an opportunity to see since he was friends with one of its producers, Aaron Ryder.  While McConaughey was in New Orleans, Louisiana filming for the TV series True Detective, Nolan invited the actor to visit him at his home. Anne Hathaway was also invited to Nolan's home, where she read the script for Interstellar. Paramount announced in April 2013 that both actors were cast in the film's starring roles. Nolan called McConaughey's character an everyman with whom "the audience could experience the story".  Jessica Chastain was contacted while she was filming Miss Julie in Northern Ireland, and a script was delivered to her. 
Other well-known actors eventually joined what would become "an all-star cast".  Actor Irrfan Khan said he declined a role since he wanted to be in India for the releases of The Lunchbox and D-Day. Actor Matt Damon was cast in late August 2013 in a small role and filmed his scenes in Iceland. 

Filming

Nolan filmed Interstellar with anamorphic 35mm and IMAX film photography.  Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema was hired for Interstellar, as Wally Pfister, Nolan's cinematographer on all of his past films, was working on his directorial debut, Transcendence.  IMAX cameras were used for Interstellar more than any of Nolan's previous films. To minimize the use of computer-generated imagery, the director had practical locations built, such as the interior of a space shuttle.  Van Hoytema retooled an IMAX camera to be handheld for shooting interior scenes. Some of the film's sequences were shot with an IMAX camera installed in the nosecone of a Learjet. 
Nolan, who is known to keep details of his productions secret, strove to ensure secrecy for InterstellarThe Wall Street Journal reported, "The famously secretive filmmaker has gone to extreme lengths to guard the script to ... Interstellar, just as he did with the blockbuster Dark Knight trilogy."  As one security measure,Interstellar was filmed under the name Flora's Letter,  Flora being one of Nolan's four children with producer Emma Thomas. 
The film's principal photography was scheduled to last for four months. It began on August 6, 2013 in the province ofAlberta, Canada. Towns in Alberta where filming took place included NantonLongviewLethbridge, and Okotoks. In Okotoks, filming took place at the Seaman Stadium and the Olde Town Plaza. For a cornfield scene, Nolan sought to grow corn, which he learned was feasible from his involvement as producer on Man of Steel (2013). Production designerNathan Crowley planted 500 acres of corn that would be destroyed in an apocalyptic dust storm scene, intended to be similar to storms experienced during the Dust Bowl in 1930s United States.  Additional scenes involving the dust storm and McConaughey's character were also filmed in Fort Macleod, where the giant dust clouds were created on location using large fans to blow cellulose-based synthetic dust through the air. Filming in the province lasted until September 9, 2013 and involved hundreds of extras as well as approximately 130 crew members, most of them local. 
Filming also took place in Iceland, where Nolan had previously filmed scenes for his 2005 film Batman Begins. The crew transported mock spaceships weighing approximately 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) to the country, which was chosen to represent two extraterrestrial planets: one covered in ice, and one covered in water. A two-week Iceland shoot was scheduled and a crew of approximately350 people, including 130 locals, worked on it. Locations included the Svínafellsjökull glacier and the town of Klaustur.  While filming in Iceland, actor Anne Hathaway almost suffered hypothermia since her dry suit in a water scene was not secure. 
After the Iceland shoot, the crew moved to Los Angeles to film for 54 days. Filming in California was relatively unusual since California's tax credit was not available for films with a budget greater than $75 million. Filming locations included the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites, the Los Angeles Convention Center, a Sony Pictures soundstage in Culver City, and a private residence in Altadena.  Filming concluded in December 2013, and Nolan started editing the film for its release in 2014.  Production completed with a budget of $165 million$10 million under what was allotted by Paramount, Warner Bros., and Legendary Pictures.

Production design

The film also features two robots, CASE and TARS. Nolan wanted to avoid making the robots anthropomorphic and chose a five-foot quadrilateral design. The director said, "It has a very complicated design philosophy. It's based on mathematics. You've got four main blocks and they can be joined in three ways. So you have three combinations you follow. But then within that, it subdivides into a further three joints. And all the places we see lines—those can subdivide further. So you can unfold a finger, essentially, but it's all proportional." Actor Bill Irwin voiced and physically controlled both robots, but his image was digitally removed from the film and his voicing for CASE was replaced.Interstellar features three spacecraft: the Ranger, the Endurance, and the Lander. The Ranger's function is similar to the space shuttle's, being able to enter and exit planetary atmospheres. The Endurance, the crew's mother ship, has a circular structure formed by 12 capsules: four with planetary colonization equipment, four with engines, and four with the permanent functions of cockpit, medical labs and habitation. Production designer Nathan Crowley said the Endurance was based on the International Space Station: "It's a real mish-mash of different kinds of technology. You need analogue stuff as well as digital stuff, you need back-up systems and tangible switches. It's really like a submarine in space. Every inch of space is used, everything has a purpose." Lastly, the Lander transports the capsules with colonization equipment to planetary surfaces. Crowley compared it to "a heavy Russian helicopter".

Sound

Sound engineers Gregg Landaker and Gary Rizzo mixed the sound for Interstellar, supervised by sound editor Richard King. Christopher Nolan said he sought to mix the film's sound to take maximum advantage of current sound equipment in theaters.[42] Nolan paid close attention to designing the sound mix, for instance focusing on what buttons being pressed with astronaut-suit gloves would sound like. The studio's website said, "The sound on Interstellar has been specially mixed to maximize the power of the low end frequencies in the main channels as well as in the subwoofer channel."

Music

Composer Hans Zimmer, who scored Nolan's Batman film trilogy, also scored Interstellar. Zimmer and Nolan plan to move away from the trilogy's scores and to come up with a unique one. Zimmer said, "The textures, the music, and the sounds, and the thing we sort of created has sort of seeped into other people's movies a bit, so it's time to reinvent. The endless string (ostinatos) need to go by the wayside, the big drums are probably in the bin." Zimmer also said that Nolan did not provide him a script or any plot details for writing music for the film and instead gave the composer "one page of text" that "had more to do with [Zimmer's] story than the plot of the movie". Nolan said he told Zimmer, "I said, 'I am going to give you an envelope with a letter in it. One page. It's going to tell you the fable at the center of the story. You work for one day, then play me what you have written," and he embraced what Zimmer composed. Zimmer conducted 45 scoring sessions for Interstellar, which was three times more than for Inception. The soundtrack is scheduled to release on the 18th of November 2014. 

Visual effects

The visual effects company Double Negative, which developed effects for Nolan's 2010 film Inception, worked on Interstellar. Visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin said the number of effects in the film was not much greater than in Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises or Inception, but that for Interstellar, they created the effects first, so digital projectors could be used to display them behind the actors, rather than having the actors perform in front of green screens.
The Ranger, Endurance, and Lander spacecraft were created using miniature effects by production designer Nathan Crowley in collaboration with effects company New Deal Studios, as opposed to using computer generated imagery, as Nolan felt they offered the best way to give the ships a tangible presence in space. Created though a combination of 3D printing and hand sculpting, the scale models earned the nickname "maxatures" by the crew due to their immense size; the 1/15th scale miniature of the Endurance module spanned 25 feet, while a pyrotechnic model of a portion of the craft was built at 1/5th scale. The Ranger and Lander miniatures spanned 46 and 50 feet, respectively. The miniatures were large enough for Hoyte van Hoytema to mount IMAX cameras directly onto the spacecraft, thus mimicking the look of NASA IMAX documentaries. The models were then attached to a six-axis gimbal on a motion control system that allowed an operator to manipulate their movements, which were filmed against background plates of space using VistaVision cameras on a smaller motion control rig.

Marketing

Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey made their first appearances at Comic-Con in July 2014 to promote InterstellarThe Hollywood Reporter said that prior to Nolan's appearance, he had "not spoken about his new movie at all".  The pair participated in a brief discussion and screened a new trailer of the film.  In the same month, Paramount Pictures launched a complex interactive Interstellar website in July 2014.  The Hollywood Reporter said the website was "both cryptic and, just maybe, filled with hidden meaning". It reported that online users uncovered a star chart related to the Apollo 11 moon landing. The teaser trailer for Interstellar debuted December 14, 2013 and featured clips related to space exploration, accommodated by a voiceover by Matthew McConaughey's character of Cooper. The theatrical trailer debuted May 5, 2014 at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  It was made available online later that month, and for the week ending May 19 it was the most-viewed movie trailer, with over 19.5 million views on YouTube.  The studio began airing TV spots for the film at the end of September 2014, expanding on the early focus on McConaughey, who the Los Angeles Timessaid had high visibility to the public after winning an Academy Award for Dallas Buyers Club and for an acclaimed performance on the TV series True Detective. A TV spot aired during Sunday Night Football to appeal to a broad audience. 
By October 2014, Paramount partnered with Google to promote Interstellar across multiple platforms. The film's website was relaunched to be a digital hub hosted on a Google domain. The website debuted the film's final trailer, and allowed visitors navigate theater locations and schedules to help them plan to see Interstellar in certain formats. It also provided navigation of film-related content across Google platforms, collected feedback from film audiences, and linked to a mobile app. The app, initially released by Paramount Digital Entertainment in September 2014, featured a game in which players could build solar systemmodels and use a flight simulator for space travel. The Paramount-Google partnership also included a virtual time capsule compiled with user-generated content to be available in 2015. Through the partnership, the cast of Interstellar will also talk about the film through the video chat platform Google Hangouts. The initiative Google for Education will also use the film as a basis for promoting lesson plans for math science in schools around the United States.
Paramount is providing a virtual reality walkthrough of the Endurance spacecraft using Oculus Rift technology. It is hosting the walkthrough sequentially in four theaters, in New York City, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, from October 6, 2014 through November 19, 2014. The publisher Running Press will release Interstellar: Beyond Time and Space, a book by Mark Cotta Vaz about the making of the film, on November 11, 2014. On November 7, 2014, W. W. Norton & Company will release The Science of Interstellar, a book by Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist who was a scientific adviser and executive producer for the film.
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Visit the official website to see an interesting use of interactivity and ties to education to market the film: https://interstellar.withgoogle.com/



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