Full Interview with Card and Johnston from the 2013 LA Times Festival of Books

IMG_0155-vert singleFull Audio – movie, new Enderverse material, a possible TV show and more!

On the weekend of April 20, 2013 we had the privilege to attend a conversation between Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston at the Los Angeles Festival of Books. When Card and Johnston entered the auditorium there was a loud excitement from the crowd of about 250. After Orson Scott Card took time to introduce Aaron Johnston, Johnston began to ask Card questions that the audience was previously asked to submit. Card spoke about the possibility of an ‘Ender’s Game’ movie sequel, what fans can expect of book to film changes, his time on the movie set, upcoming Enderverse stories, a possible Enderverse TV show, and what happens to the Enderverse when he dies.

Here are the highlights:

With regards to the possibility of ‘Ender’s Game’ movie sequels, Cards hates the idea of filming ‘Speaker for the Dead.’

“‘Speaker for the Dead’ is unfilmable. It consists of talking heads interrupted by moments of excruciating and unwatchable violence. […] I don’t want it to be filmed. I can’t imagine it being filmed. If they want to ‘Ender’s Game’ the movie, if it makes enough money, the sequel would have to be kids in space. You guys know! When you read ‘Ender’s Game’ and went to ‘Speaker for the Dead’ weren’t you thinking, ‘What is this?'”

He also described why the film has failed to be made so many times and what makes this time different.

“I realized that ‘Ender’s Game’ is a story about the relationship between Ender and the kids. That was an insight I needed. I always shaped everything between him and the adults. But you know what? That’s not the story. It’s the story of Ender as someone you would follow into battle and give your life for and if you don’t feel that way there’s no movie. […] ‘Ender’s Game’ is an unfilmable book, not because of too much violence, but because everything takes place in Ender’s head. That’s what no one understood. […] The biggest problem is that if you don’t know what is going on inside of Ender’s head then it’s just the story of an incredibly violent little kid. Why would you like it? Why would you care? Only when you know what he’s thinking does it become a story that matters and that’s the problem that we have always faced. It’s a dangerous film to make. It’s why it’s taken this long.”

Card gave high-praise to the ‘The Hunger Games’ book and film when he compared it ‘Ender’s Game.’

“How long did it take to get for ‘The Hunger Games’ to get made?20 minutes was it? You can just go scene from scene from the book. There’s very little left out, very little had to be changed. […] They were able to be really faithful to the book. It was a very respectful film and it was a good movie of a good book. Right? But if you took ‘Ender’s Game’ scene for scene, for one thing, it would be four and a half hours long. Who wants to watch that?”

He also blatantly told fans that there will be many book to film changes. He also calls the changes necessary. He really thinks fans will enjoy the movie despite the changes.

“I believe and believe that a good movie can be made of ‘Ender’s Game,’ but it won’t be the book. It won’t be identical to the book. So if you go there expecting that please don’t be angry that it’s not just like the book. It can’t be. I don’t want it to be. You don’t want it to be, ok? You want it to be a good movie which the book would not have been. So we’ll all find out whether they’re successful or not, but I know everyone involved in this movie is doing their very best they can to do this. I’ve talked to so many involved and they care about it. They love the book and they want this to give the same effect as the book. And so I can tell you this, if it doesn’t work for you it will not be because of any lack of good will or strong effort on the part of some very talented people. Not everything that you try works. […] This film will be the best good people could do with a story they really cared about and believed in. So I’m very hopeful.”

He also begged fans to see the ‘Ender’s Game’ movie so that other more filmable works of his might be made into movies.

“If you’d like to see some of the much more filmable works from me, go to ‘Ender’s Game’! Go often! Bring friends! Because if ‘Ender’s Game’ does not do well, you know how Hollywood works […] They’ll say Orson Scott Card books don’t work on film. […] Do us a favor, go to the movie even if you’re going to throw fruit! Just go! Pay your admission, don’t sneak in. I really have high hopes for this to be a good film. I think you’ll like it, so we’ll find out. You’ll let me know.”

Card talked about his visit to the movie set and his small voice over role.

“I didn’t want to be on screen because I have a mirror. So I didn’t want to be a distraction, but then they suggested that I could do a voice over part. So there’s a point where Asa and Harrison are flying in a spaceship heading to Eros and they have a dialogue and the pilot speaks over the intercom basically says make sure your seats are in the full and upright position. […] It’s a scene that doesn’t exist in the book.”

He went on to say how he got to say his cue from just off stage, rather than a sound studio. At this point he began to fangirl over Harrison Ford.

“People do not realize what an excellent actor he is. This is not just because I’m starstuck, this is the opinion I had before I went there. […] He is in absolute control of the timing. He and Asa would work through the scene and Harrison would just say to Asa, ‘I’ll just put my hand on your shoulder this time, forearm this time, I’ll do it after you say that, I’ll do it before you say that, let’s give it a beat before.’ […] What Harrison said was, ‘The editor will have so many different ways to play this scene, because the timing is everything.'”

He went on to explain how Harrison Ford mentored Asa.

“It was fun to see Asa responding, getting into Harrison’s groove, acting with him. Asa’s a very talented young man, but what I was seeing on set with those six lines of scene was Asa Butterfield doing better work than he did for Scorsese. […] With ‘Ender’s Game’ Asa Butterfield was giving a Harrison-Ford-level-low-key-naturally-totally-believable-performance. I think you’re going to love it, what this kid does, I really do.”

Aaron Johnston also spoke about his role as an officer in the movie.

“I’m in the film as well. In the scene I’m in it’s me, Admiral Chamrajnagar, Sir Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, and other officers. I say nothing, I just look distraught. It wasn’t that good. It was too much, actually. […] When the cinematographer came to set up the shot inside, I’m at the end here and they see me, they look a little distraught themselves, and they ‘Oh, hmm, there’s too much light on him and him. Can we darken that area?'”

Apart from the movie chatter, there were three very importance pieces of information revealed with regard to the Enderverse.

Firstly, Card reveals that there are new Enderverse material in the works that will feature the Second Formic War. He says,

“That takes care of the First Formic War and then we’re going to go ahead and do the Second Formic War which is the one that really stars Mazer Rackham. It gives us that final battle that sets everything up for ‘Ender’s Game.'”

Edit: Aaron Johnston has told us that even though he and Card have developed most of the story for the Second Formic War, there is not yet an official contract for more novels and/or comics. More information to come at a later date.

Secondly, Card noted that they’re trying to develop a television series or movie based on the Formic Wars. He said that he sold the rights to Mazer Rackham, so Mazer Rackham’s character would have to undergo a name change.

“For me to have complete control of the Formic Wars, I can’t use any of the characters from ‘Ender’s Game.’ So, if there a Formic Wars movie or TV series, which we’re working on trying to develop, […] Mazer will be replaced by an unnamed half-Maori.”

Finally, Card shared that in the event that he dies, Aaron Johnston will finish writing any books remaining under contract to relieve Card’s wife of any debt from unwritten books.

“So we also made a deal with Tor that any books I have under contract when I die, if Aaron completes it the contract is fulfilled. […] Aaron addressed the same things I would address in the books. He talks about the same things I would talk about. He handles point of view the way I would handle it. […] We could keep my death secret for quite some time, no one would know.”

Later in the interview Card said that he doesn’t care what happens to the rest of his books after he dies.

“The only thing I cared about after my stroke was how are my kids going to do, how is my wife going to do after I’m gone, how are they doing to handle things. I really didn’t care about the books. I just have to say, no offense to you as readers, but I don’t give a rat’s ass after I’m dead, to any of the characters. I’m done.”

To this Aaron Johnston replies,

“I’ll give the rat his ass.”

Listen to the entire hilarious conversation between Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston below. Please “like” us on Facebook if you enjoyed this article so we can share more book and movie news with you.

Audio Table of Contents
Please do not use this audio without permission.

Part A 

[A 00:00] – OSC introduces Aaron Johnston
[A 06:45] – Ender’s Game Movie (sequels, changes to the plot, and failed attempts)
[A 12:45] – We accidently stopped recording so less than 10 seconds of audio is missing here, sorry!

Part B 

[B 00:00] – Ender’s Game Movie Cont. (Card’s time on the movie set, Harrison and Asa)
[B 07:50] – Aaron Johnston’s role in the movie
[B 09:30] – Was the ‘Ender’s Game’ novel intended for young adults?
[B 13:20] – What is your writing process?
[B 20:30] – How do you determine when you’re ready to write?

Part C 

[C 00:00] – What authors have influenced you?
[C 04:20] – How did you get the idea to write ‘Ender’s Game’?
[C 08:50] – What about Bean and the Shadow Series?
[C 10:30] – Why ‘Shadows in Flight’ is one of the most personal books he’s written
[C 14:00] – How do you balance all the other responsibilities in your life?
[C 16:05] – What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Click here to see ‘Ender’s Game’ pictures from the LA Festival of Books.

The ‘Ender’s Game’ film will be released in U.S. theaters on November 1, 2013.