Wednesday, December 26, 2007

No Fear (but hand me that lorazepam)

With four days left until we lift off on our Zero-G journey there are a few thoughts going through my mind. (This is James speaking - co-director and producer of this flick - FYI)

My first thought is this: Very few directors have gotten to experience Zero-G before directing a picture that includes extended Zero-Gravity scenes. (I can only think of Ron Howard...and he actually directed scenes shot in Zero-G, depending on how things work we might too.) But hey, I'm ahead of Kubrick in at least this regard...and we'll see if it makes a difference in the end product.


To a darkened screening room, the light from the projector lamp above silhouettes the DIRECTOR and the PRODUCER. The producer is agitated, gesticulating wildly.

They ain't gonna buy it, Jimmy.

But this is how it really is in Zero-G,
I was there. It's an exact representation.

The public don't care...see. They know
it ain't real floatin' - and they won't buy it
even if you give each of 'em a certificate of
authenticity with their thee-aa-ter ticket.

I don't care if they "won't buy it." It's
the truth, and it will set the new standard
for what an audience expects a space picture
to be. I'm going to change what they'll buy.

The director storms out and leaves the producer shaking his head and lighting a cigar - the producer suddenly remembers that it's not 1957 but in fact 2007, and searches in vain for an ashtray in the non-smoking facility.


My second thought is the BIG QUESTION: "Will we be able to function in Zero-G as we imagine?"

Needless to say, neither Jeanne, Kathleen nor I have even experienced microgravity (in my case the closest experience would be the 12 foot drop into the local pool from the high board) - and though we have imagined what it might be like for as long as we can remember, we won't know until we're there whether we will react and move in the ways we are rehearsing in our heads.

Our fellow passengers will be at a distinct advantage, as they will NOT have our same concerns. They will be there for the experience only, to have fun and frolic. Our party will be both adapting to free-fall and, at the same time, trying to get things done. Even in Spider and Jeanne's Stardance series of novels (and scores of other speculative fiction stories that attempt to realistically depict space) parts of the plot center around the length of time it takes to adapt to this wonderful yet strange environment.

I'm not telling this to "manage your expectations", because I fully intend to focus on creating fantastic and inspiring footage of Jeanne's choreography and Kathleen's performance.

I'm just thinking...this isn't going to be any float in the park.

Brave souls, we are.


Allen Steele said...

When I learned a few days ago that this flight was imminent, I decided to re-read STARDANCE, Spider and Jeanne's novel which was the inspiration for this whole thing. Yesterday, I read the scene where cameraman Charlie Armstead expresses reservations about the difficulties of filming Shara Drummond's first dance in zero-g ... and now, this morning, I read James' dispatch about much the same thing.

Life imitates art, doesn't it?

I have no doubt that this will hard to do. I also have no doubt that the team will pull this off. As Charlie says in the novel about Shara's performance of the "Stardance" itself: "This is what it is to be human: to strive in the face of the certainty of failure ... This is what it is to be human: to persist."

Break a leg, people.

-- Allen Steele

Elliot said...

Brave indeed...remember, fortune favors the foolish ;) No matter what the initial outcome, you're on your way! Congratulations!

- Elliot

James Sposto said...

No kidding about life imitating art. Upon my own rereading there are so many coincidences it's almost spooky.

Spider said...

high praise indeed, considering the source: Allen M. Steele is one of the best hard science fiction writers alive!


steph said...

Amen Spider.

Godspeed the Film Crew upon ye vomit comet.

floaty said...

I recently did a microgravity flight for television purposes and here's my collected wisdom:

1. You will not believe how fast you will be propelled across the cabin at the slightest touch. Your "earth-perception" of how much force is needed to send you gently floating across the cabin is a gross overestimation. We only had three free-floating takes to get what we needed, and my attempt at softly pushing myself out of my seat to drift gently out of frame caused me to go hurtling uncontrollably into our soundman's crotch.

2. The first few parabolas will be useless - you probably won't get any good footage out of them, as everyone will still be getting the hang of moving in the environment. From the director's perspective, devote the first 3-4 parabolas to repeating the same set of actions. By 3 or 4 parabolas in, things shoudl be going much smoother and you'll have usable takes from thereon in.

3. The sickness isn't that bad, and it's mostly due to the high Gs as you enter the parabola (having been put in a human centrifuge too, I can speak from experience). If, during the 10-20 seconds of 1+ Gs, you move your head even the slightest bit to the side, you'll throw your inner ear out of whack and feel nauseous. Just look straight ahead and lie flat on your back or sit very, very still during the high G periods, and you should be alright.

I also found sleeping that night to be very odd - my body felt as if it were still experiencing odd shifts in gravity. It was not unlike the feeling you get after a good drunk, almost as if you're a swinging pendulum.

Also, mind you don't light the plane on fire. Our lights almost did.

Have a blast!!!!

James Sposto said...

Thanks Floaty,

That was all really good advice, and I intend to take it. Anything for an edge.