04. Gravity with Katie Khan Transcript
[90 Mins or Less Film Fest Music]
SAM: 0:20 Hello, I'm Sam Clements and welcome to the 90 Minutes or Less Film Fest. This is a podcast that celebrates films with a 90 minute or less running time, and is entirely curated by guests on this podcast. Today, we're joined by Katie Khan, author of Hold Back The Stars and The Light Between Us. Hello, Katie.
KATIE: 0:39 Hello, Sam. Thank you for having me.
SAM: 0:41 Thank you for coming into the film festival and taking this curator job.
KATIE: 0:45 Yeah, it's exciting. It's a challenge I've never had to really think about before, but it's very close to my heart because as an author, I like 300 page novels and I like 90 minute films. So it was a rich pickings I think.
SAM: 0:59 Excellent. Well, that could be the next festival, the 300 pages or less literature festival. There we go.
KATIE: 1:06 A podcast I'll have to start.
SAM: 1:08 So I know you're a big cinema fan, we've been to the cinema together.
KATIE: 1:11 We have.
SAM: 1:12 How do you approach choosing a film to watch at the cinema?
KATIE: 1:15 I think firstly, I look for what will be an experience on the big screen rather than something that I can enjoy at home. I'm quite a fan of going see films in IMAX and I'll quite often prebook the big films whether it's you know a Star Wars or we were talking about First Man before we started recording this, that's a film I'd like to see in IMAX I think can really get that immersive experience. So that's the first thing I look for. And then I think the other aspect of how I pick a film to see at the cinema is about being social. Like my sister has been talking about A Star Is Born for, ever since the trailer came out. So that was an absolute must on my family's list to go you know with my mum, my sister, so that kind of social element of who wants to see the same film and and there's something really lovely I think about when you're not necessarily like talking during a film, but you just look over and you know that the person next to you is having the same emotional experience. I love that.
SAM: 2:05 Those are the two most unique aspects of cinema really. The spectacle, the big screen, and then the communal experience which people often forget it's about seeing it with people which your living room, unless you have a giant living room, and you're very friendly, is probably not going to be able to recreate.
KATIE: 2:19 Absolutely. And I think that there is something as well not only about knowing the people next to you, but knowing that however many people are in that screening room with you are also feeling the same. I remember when I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road and that first cut to black quite far in like, I can't even remember maybe 20 minutes in half an hour in, and and like there was this sort of collective like, oh! around and people started laughing because we were all in it together. Everybody was kind of using that moment to exhale. And that's what I love about going to the cinema.
SAM: 2:49 And how did you approach this particular task where you have to whittle through films you enjoy to find one that's 90 minutes or less and that you'd like to share with an audience, with paying customers?
KATIE: 2:59 I think when the question was first posed, a film popped into my head straight away, possibly because when I was writing my novel Hold Back The Stars which is about a couple falling in space, who have 90 minutes of air remaining. I was about a year into writing the novel when Warner Brothers released the trailer for this film, and gave me a mini heart attack because I had never seen or heard of a story like this about two people stranded in space. And and so I sort of, you know, endeavored to see it as many times as I could and work out if it was different enough that if I should carry on writing my novel, but because of because it, it is so exactly what I'd been imagining for a couple of years in my mind to suddenly see that transposed on screen, and also to be the perfect length of of 90 minutes or 89 or 91. It just was the first thing, the first film that I considered for this and that I knew that I wanted to talk about it more in depth.
SAM: 3:59 And people often say when they see a film they like, like this film really spoke to me but like you say with the trailer, you're writing a book, which has some similarities. I mean, this film literally spoke to you.
KATIE: 4:08 It really did and actually gave me a heart attack. I remember I was doing a writing course run by the publisher Faber and Faber at the time. And I went into the next class really down beat because I felt like I'd had this unique idea that a lot of people were getting excited by and it'd been done. And so I remember the film was showing at the London Film Festival and I sort of, anxiously bought tickets like that was the earliest date that I could see it and I sat there sort of half in awe at what I was seeing on screen and half in absolute fear that maybe I wasn't going to be able to write the novel that I've been working on after all. But I was really lucky in that it had elements which was similar but but the entire story and the shape of the narrative is entirely different. And actually I would say it's it's done me a huge favour this film because now when I talk about the novel, in reviews, in magazines and newspapers quite often my novel is compared to the film, which we've still not said the title of.
SAM: 5:00 No, we haven't! We should reveal the title. Katie, what film are you programming into the 90 Minutes or Less Film Fest?
KATIE: 5:10 I have picked Gravity.
[90 Mins or Less Film Fest Jingle]
SAM: 5:15 On the back of the DVD for Alfonso Cuarón's 2013 release Gravity - Dr. Ryan Stone (Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock) is a brilliant engineer on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Oscar-winner George Clooney). On a seemingly routine spacewalk disaster strikes, the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone, tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling into the darkness. As fear turns to panic every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen they have left. The only way home is to go further into the terrifying expanse of space. That's a very good synopsis!
KATIE: 5:57 Really good!
SAM: 5:57 Well done copywriter on the back DVD.
KATIE: 6:00 I was thinking whoever writes those DVDs should really get into writing the blurbs on the back of books.
SAM: 6:04 So you mentioned it a little bit, you know, in terms of like seeing similarities in your book, but when you actually watched that film at the London Film Festival for the very first time, what what spoke to you, what elements stayed with you?
KATIE: 6:14 What I love about this film is that I would say that, especially the first 40 minutes of the film, are probably the most accurate filmic representation of space that I've ever seen. I think that a lot of science fiction epics well, a) they tend to be epics. So usually, you know, two and a half or three hours long, but also they're often set in the future you know, you have kind of fantastical spaceships that spin or can travel to Mars, all these things that we haven't done yet but there's something so awesome about using the Hubble telescope and the International Space Station and kind of grounding it in the now. And those special effects you know that I think those are so breathtaking, to be able to see two people wearing you know white EVA suits but constantly with that background of Earth you know, that's something that I personally long to see. It's clearly why I wrote a novel about two people falling in space because imagine being able to see the sunrise over different countries and you know that the light and shade over Earth, and I think it's really really beautifully done by Framestore in, in this film in particular.
SAM: 7:17 During the press for this release, they were saying, you know, Framestore, the visual effects company based in London did 80% of the like, the film is 80% visual effects, which is more than Avatar, James Cameron's famously very CGI, heavy sci fi film, which was like 60% of the film. So in this it really is the two live action actors, some immediate props, and everything else has been beautifully rendered by the artists at Framestore.
KATIE: 7:39 That's absolutely incredible. And I think as well, I remember reading at the time, you know that they had to build a special rig for Sandra Bullock, so that you know, to be able to add those visual effects behind and have that kind of sense of spinning. And I'm always really impressed, I think from a technical standpoint, when films create a form of technology that kind of, you know, evolves the way that films are shot for the films that follow if that makes sense.
SAM: 8:02 It's amazing looking at the production of this film, so it's co-written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, he actually co-wrote it with his son. And he had this script for such a long time. Like I think they wrote it in 2007. And it's just taken to 2013 for the technology to be there. And apparently Avatar did do a lot of the sort of groundwork for getting the technology to a point where you believe that these two people are in space and you can tell quite a complicated story in these amazingly realistic, amazingly realistic setting.
FILM CLIP from Gravity 8:30
Mission Control: Hubble telescope engaged. Upgrade fully functional.
[APPLAUSE OVER RADIO]
That applause you hear is for you, Shariff. Congratulations. Kick back, take the rest of the day off.
[SHARIFF LAUGHING] [SHARIFF SINGING IN HINDI]
Mission Control: Matt, do you have a visual on just what Mission Specialist Shariff is doing up there?
Matt Kowalski: He appears to be doing some form of the Macarena or that would be just a best guess scenario on my part.
Mission Control: Dr. Stone, Houston. Medical now have you with a temperature drop to 35.9 and a heart-rate rise to 70. How are you feeling?
Ryan Stone: Houston, I'm fine. It's just keeping your lunch down in zero-G is harder than it looks.
SAM: 9:11 The beginning of the film, as you mentioned, is one of the most cinematic openings to a film I think I've ever seen. Not because of like explosions or you know, like this amazing music. It's silent, to the point where you actually think the sound is broken in the cinema. Every time I saw it in a cinema, I always looked around going, guys, it's not on!
KATIE: 9:29 I had exactly the same experience watching it yesterday, on my laptop with, you know, huge headphones on my ears, which is I think almost the first time that I've watched it on a small screen as opposed to in the cinema. And I did keep checking have I turned the audio up loud enough. And what I love as well, is you have this black vista of like the vacuum of space, and then the small white dot that increasingly comes into focus. And in the beginning, I thought I was like, oh, is there a pixel gone on my screen! And I love that that comes in and that fade up of the audio, you know that we kind of know from Apollo 13 and you know, George Clooney is very sarcastic ‘I've got a bad feeling about this mission’ and that kind of chatter. I love how that that sort of fades in as the Hubble telescope and Sandra Bullock and George Clooney come into focus. I think that that is really cool. And I am also quite partial, I think probably having grown up on a diet of Star Wars solidly, I'm always partial to, you know, like big text on screen setting the scene. So I like the fact that it opens you know, saying 'life in space is impossible'.
SAM: 10:30 It's quite like a, just like another day in the, well, not in the office but in the space shuttle. And you just happen to find these, it's almost like the camera could have missed these and it would have found another space mission, maybe around the corner.
KATIE: 10:40 Yeah, absolutely. In terms of modern storytelling, like certainly with novel writing, more and more now we're told to get to that inciting incident as soon as possible. You know, quite often if you read older books that inciting incident might happen in chapter seven. And now really, it's got to be on the page by chapter three at the latest and a lot of authors put it in chapter one. And I think in terms of you know, those rules of modern storytelling the fact that it opens they're already in the middle of their EVA, you know, they've been out of the Explorer for a while doing these repairs on the Hubble telescope when this cloud of debris appears I love that it kind of cuts right to it. You don't spend time with them getting into their suits like in the in the spaceship, they're just they're just right there. I think your brain can mentally fill in everything that's happened to get them to where they are. And instead you just get this this breathtaking freedom that kind of turns into horror, really.
SAM: 11:32 It's that opening shot is a 12 minute long sort of like, single take although probably stitched together very eloquently by the people at Framestore but it's sort of lulls you in because it is they're just joking around. They've done something successful. One of their colleagues is dancing in the background. You can hear Ed Harris's voice over the phone. We've heard him from space films in the past. And it is, it lulls you and in five minutes. You fell like you know everything about these guys because they they've done their biggest personality traits. George Clooney has been a bit cheeky, Sandra Bullock has been very serious and is being methodical getting the job done. Their colleague Shariff is dancing. Okay, and they're joking with Mission Control. So what could possibly go wrong? And then still in that same take, everything goes wrong. And 12 minutes in, remarkable.
KATIE: 12:18 Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think the minute that the threat is introduced of this, this cloud of debris of satellites being shot down by the Russians and, you know, causes sort of chain reaction, I felt watching it like you, you have a very visceral reaction, like I started to sort of cover my face and be like, Oh no, oh no. And in fact, actually, you know, Sandra Bullock's dialogue lines, quite a lot of the time she's saying, Oh no, oh no, oh no! Because that that is exactly what you feel, as a viewer to this moment where you're like, oh no, it's getting worse and worse, and worse and worse, you know. I think as well, the music deserves a mention, I think the music, the score is incredible in Gravity, but it's so ominous. There's a sort of metallic noise that, you know, just really adds to the sense of tension, and the kind of unbearable in this way, you're like, I need to look away, but I kind of can't and then suddenly, the worst has happened and Sandra Bullock is, is spinning away from everybody else.
SAM: 13:14 It's amazing how they introduce that threat, as they mention it over the radio, like the Russians have shot down a spy satellite, don't worry about it. And then a few minutes later, oh, it's changed trajectory. And then all of a sudden, go go go go go! And it does get your heart racing.
KATIE: 13:29 Yeah, it really does really does. I certainly had a quite a visceral reaction where I felt my heart speed up and you kind of I think that even last night, I might have just paused it for that second be like, I'm just gonna go get a drink because, and in a way, that's what I love more about the cinematic experiences because you can't pause it like, you're sitting there and you're like, I'm gonna have to live through these 90 minutes with her to see if she survives.
SAM: 13:50 I think living with her is a really good way to describe it. I think Alfonso Cuarón himself described it as a shipwreck movie, less than a sci-fi movie, it's someone trying to survive. How do you remember feeling when she is floating alone in space for that first time?
KATIE: 14:03 I think it raises a question for me. I was once told that I'm a catastrophic fantasist, because I always imagine like, what would I do if aliens invaded or zombies appear? And I always kind of come up with a little mini scenario of it, you know, and especially like writing a similar novel about a couple falling in space, I have always wondered what I would be like whether I would struggle to survive and fight to stay alive, or whether I would give up. And what I really like about this film is that like Sandra Bullock does both. And she lacks the self belief to think that she can make it. But she finds that in herself, and I'd love to hope that I would be similar, but really, I think I'd probably, you know, I'd probably be the first person to, to die in a zombie movie in the first five minutes.
SAM: 14:47 I do love that what-if? fantasy.
KATIE: 14:51 Oh, yeah. I love it. I love it. But I think as well, if you're going to be a storyteller, like you know, the avenues that you can open up in your mind by going well, what would happen if that's, you know, that's how you come up with with unique ideas for novels. So hopefully, I'll keep being a catastrophic fantasist.
SAM: 15:08 What's remarkable about this film is we don't often see a big Hollywood film with such a little cast.
KATIE: 15:12 Yeah. And so little dialogue as well.
SAM: 15:14 And you've cast two of the most famous actors working and yeah, you've, they're isolated from each other. They don't have a lot of dialogue to do and their faces are obscured it's all the things they say you shouldn't do they do in this film. How do you think they, do you buy Sandra Bullock? Do you buy George Clooney? Is this the best casting for the film?
KATIE: 15:32 Yeah, I mean, I love Sandra Bullock and I love the fact that you know, she's a slightly older women when it comes to Hollywood, but she's still finding unique roles. And you know, even in Ocean’s Eight recently, I've just can't think of better casting because I feel like she can do it anything. You know, I still love Miss Congeniality and films where she's in, she has a huge personality. And it's certainly, you know, for a film that, you know, however many minutes 80 plus minutes, she's on her own, you need someone who can fill the screen and that way. I found it really interesting how occasionally, like the point of view of the camera goes inside her helmet, and you see the kind of condensation and hear like her loud breathing and the kind of sense of hearing the audio you know, like through headphones, almost that kind of, you know, tinny noise. I really love how it dipped in and out of her point of view as well as you know, that sort of third person angle on on her and George in space. But certainly I think she's incredible in the role. And I think George Clooney is that kind of comic light relief, which is much needed, especially like you say, because the contrast with them, what happens is more shocking, because he's saying ‘I've got a bad feeling about this mission’, which ultimately is entirely correct. He, he's right to have it but he uses that as a joke that kind of Houston, we have a problem. In the beginning, I think I read on IMDb, that he's an uncredited script collaborator, so he probably came up with a lot of those anecdotes about Mardi Gras and stuff himself, which I also really liked because it feels authentically George.
SAM: 16:56 Yes. No, absolutely. He's a bit like a real life Buzz Lightyear which is a compliment, because you need that person, the person who's been in space before he's absolutely confident. And don't worry about it, just like a Sunday drive, you know, and you he can sell those lines and you believe it. I did want to ask you about they do have those moments of respite between action set pieces where they get to talk about their life on Earth. And how do you feel as a storyteller about using that those gaps to fill in the characters backstory?
KATIE: 17:24 I think it's really needed. I think that if you had a 90 minute film which was constantly action, you almost become numb to it as a as a viewer, it can feel really overwhelming. So a bit like I mentioned that sort of exhale, when it fades to black in Mad Max, if the whole film was relentless it can start to feel maybe inauthentic. The down moments I think are really well handled and very necessary in Gravity. And I think that is a good moment to learn more about the characters, because you also have to have a sense of why you care if they survive or not. And I don't think that can come from saying, well, she's very studious and good at her job and he's a joker. Like that's not quite enough to care whether they live or die.
SAM: 18:06 Sandra Bullock's character Dr. Ryan Stone does go on this sort of journey, is of what people have said, you know, Alfonso Cuarón said himself is her rebirth. And again, I really like a film that tells these big character moments through action. And for a lot of her big moments, there is nobody around with her and she just has to show it to the audience.
KATIE: 18:26 Yeah, I do agree, I found it interesting, you know, watching Gravity recently, like I said, on this on the small screen, for the first time in a long time, I did find that some of the symbolism and that sort of thematic rebirth almost almost too on the nose ever so slightly, with some of the visuals, perhaps, you know, I don't think you could miss that that's the theme. But I found it interesting, thinking about the relationship with with the daughter, and what's mentioned. And if this doesn't sound too crude, it's almost like the little girl fell and hit her head and, and died. Which is gravity. And then gravity at the end of the film is really what saves Sandra Bullock. And I think that there's something really interesting there, which I hadn't maybe noticed before, whereas, you know, as a viewer, and especially if you watch a lot of science fiction, you can't really miss Sandra Bullock, you know, floating with, with the cord where you know, which looks like an umbilical cord in the womb, or if there's not too much of a spoiler to say, when she lands back on Earth, at the end of the film. You know, literally in a 20 second shot, you have her crawling out of the water like an amphibian, then on to all fours, and then standing, which is, you know, essentially the evolution of mankind, and sort of maybe a nod to 2001's Star Child, for example, you know, I feel like those are the really obvious messages. But I like the parts of the story, they're a little bit more embedded and subtle, perhaps.
SAM: 19:20 On the DVD for this film, there is a special feature about coming out of the lake. And they actually overlay a lizard, and then a monkey, and then thing and it's like we get it guys!
KATIE: 19:57 Oh wow! Really on the nose!
SAM: 20:00 I think the film sort of needs to have, you know, because this film was a big film, it's big studio film, and it's for a mass audience. And I think it has to sort of tow the line between being quite accessible to maybe people who aren't hugely cine-literate, but also having those layers for those people who will love this film and will watch it again and again and again. And I think that's what Alfonso Cuarón and his team bring to it. They make a great roller coaster ride, but you'd like to ride this again.
KATIE: 20:23 I agree. And I think I also think that that might be why the length is so perfect, because it doesn't outstay its welcome. You know, she literally returns to Earth in the 90th minute, and then it's roll credits we're done. And that, and that really speaks to me. And I do like, and I think you're certainly right, that there are you know, there are some strands of the audience who maybe wouldn't notice those, those references. If you look at a lot of the science fiction classics, that, you know, a lot of them were written by science fiction authors, you know, Arthur C Clarke and so on, whereas this film wasn't. So I think that that might also be why some of the imagery isn't as embedded in the plot. It is almost a visual addition by by the director.
SAM: 21:05 I think it's important to, because this is a film sort of set in, sort of present day, and it could happen, but you do you need to tell the story. And you can't be a complete slave to technology if it gets in the way of telling your story. And I think I think the film feels authentic to me as someone who knows nothing about space, but I have heard people online sort of criticize, you know, maybe what they're wearing or where some things are in the spaceship. What do you think about that sort of element?
KATIE: 21:30 As somebody who's also written a book set in space, which can really anger certain people who read it. Like, I think that's a natural reaction to anything. I remember taking part in a Q&A with Andy Weir who wrote The Martian, and he said, like the number one thing that he is pulled up all the time is about the science of the potatoes, you know, the botany is slightly wrong. And he's like you, but nobody has ever planted potatoes on Mars, like, give me a bit of fictional leeway here! I think the most interesting choice made in Gravity is the idea that the Hubble telescope, the Explorer, the ISS, and a Chinese space station, which doesn't exist, would all be on the same orbit. And I think that that is a really linear view of space, that you would be able to move from one to the other, like, in a sort of horizontal line, you know, the same height above Earth, rather than thinking about if you ball your fist and think of that as the Earth and then sort of move your hands away. And think of that 3D sense of space, I think that that, you know, this film is, is lacking that, but it didn't hamper my enjoyment. And I think that that's also another thing where, when the film came out in the cinema, or when you see it on the big screen, you wouldn't necessarily be worrying about that you're worrying about what is she gonna make it or not, and you know, and that's the real driving force. And I think that five years since the film came out, that's where there's really room for people on the internet to start talking about orbital mechanics and like the astrophysics of space, so in a way, that's, that's the afterthought now where people want to over-analyse, and also they want to prove that they're clever.
SAM: 23:03 I think that's the sign of a good film, though, if people are looking at it still five years after release, and they are analyzing it, and it does sound to me a little bit over the top to sort of map out that maybe the geography of the space sort of alignment to everything, but actually, I love that people are doing that.
KATIE: 23:16 Yeah, I think it's really interesting. And it's also you know, they made a choice by using, you know, as we said, at the beginning, it's, it's, it feels very much set in the now because you have the International Space Station, and you have the Hubble telescope. And, you know, these are kind of real, like the iconic beacons of NASA now, but if they fictionalized it, and they had, you know, space stations where people are living orbiting above Earth, and if they'd set it 200 years in the future, then nobody would be able to criticise the science of all of these things being at the same orbit. So you know, they made a choice there for the story. And I think it's really up to the viewer, whether you want to then start tearing it down in your mind by saying, well, that's not accurate, because they would never be 100 kilometers apart.
SAM: 23:56 It's only enjoyable really for, for that person not enjoyable for everybody else. The thing that got me last night, which I never really thought about before, was there's a scene towards the end of the film where Sandra Bullock's character's life is saved by fire extinguisher reminds me a little bit from Wall-E where he goes sort of cruising around space on a fire extinguisher. And I was bit like, could you do this? and then I was thinking doesn't really matter, cause they're doing it. And they're showing that it's really hard. And she still does the things she's doing with the fire extinguisher. So I just sort of let it go.
KATIE: 24:25 I know what you mean. I think there's also the moment in The Martian towards the end of The Martian where he's like, Can I have my Iron Man moment? I think that's really similar. Funnily enough, I thought about Wall-E last night when I was watching the film yesterday. And it's quite sweet if you think about it, that one of the most iconic space films is sort of love story about a lonely robot.
SAM: 24:45 Absolutely. Sadly, not 90 minutes or less.
FILM CLIP from Gravity 24:48
Ryan Stone: Is that a lullaby you're singing? That's so sweet. I used to sing to my baby. I hope I see her soon.
SAM: 25:11 What I love about this film is it was such a huge phenomenon at the time, and it got people watching, maybe if the director doesn't think it's a sci-fi film, I certainly think it's a sci-fi film, and it got people watching science fiction, who maybe wouldn't normally watch science fiction. The sort of barometer for this is my mum, my mum was talking about Gravity, she doesn't care about sci-fi, she tunes out, she leaves the room if Doctor Who's on. And this because it's the human story, I think must have got to her. But it went on to be nominated for the most Academy Awards that year, it won the most Academy Awards that year, it picked up over 170 awards from all of the many awards circuits round, like it seems to have audience appeal, it made money at the box office, and it had the critical and industry reception. Like why was this such a huge film at that time?
KATIE: 25:55 I can only really relate this to my own experience of writing a novel about people falling in space, which is that when I started writing in 2012, space hadn't been that popular for a while. I think, you know, we grew up on such a diet of space and I remember, you know, going see Apollo 13 for my birthday with my group of friends, you know, we had these big space movies growing up, and then there was a bit of a dearth. And I think suddenly Chris Hadfield with his amazing social media policy that like, you know, his son literally said, right, Dad, this is what you need to do when you're on the ISS and like record songs, and suddenly made it popular. You know, NASA joined every social network going, and sort of space came back into the mainstream, I think, exactly around this era, in a way where it hadn't, you know, I think we've had a small break from from that, possibly. And then the other thing I think, exactly like you said, which is that it is a survival story. And the question is, can she can she survive, can she get back to where she needs to be, and that that could easily have been her lost at sea, you know, and treading water for being alone in that vacuum, you know, could symbolically almost be the same although then you probably have to deal with sharks, which is not a story that I want to get on board with. But, you know, if Sandra Bullock was lost at sea, and then finally made it back to shore, you could essentially almost give her the same arc and it wouldn't be a sci-fi film at all. So I think that that's why maybe it worked for a wider audience. And then also I think just the you know, the the effects that took three years to do I think whenever there is a groundbreaking visual where people say, wow, you have to see what they've done, like Avatar, you know, I remember everybody going see Avatar when it came out. I think I think that that is also another draw for audiences. Certainly for me in the aftermath of Gravity coming out and then my book being published in 2017 is that people could immediately imagine what two people falling in space would look like. You know that combined with a love story and most of my novel is set on Earth interestingly, but at the minute I would describe my book as well it's kind of like Gravity meets One Day people will be like, oh, I know what that looks like. Not least because it took you know 700 million at the global box office. So it was incredibly helpful to me personally that so many people went to see it and also that it was so well respected and lauded.
SAM: 26:16 I mean it won so many awards. I remember I sometimes I am hot on the Oscars, sometimes I'm a bit cold. This year it was a really good year, it was one of the years where all of the best pictures are amazing. And I was really quite invested because I loved Gravity and I think, I always do a poll at the end of the year of my favourite films and Gravity was number one because I just hadn't really seen anything like it.
KATIE: 28:04 Now I'm really glad I picked it!
SAM: 28:25 It won a lot but it did not win Best Picture which is...
KATIE: 28:25 What did?
SAM: 28:29 ..is a shame. 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture so it's really hard you know that you had to pick but Gravity did win all of the technical awards. It won Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón. I feel like the the thing, I don't think I would maybe change Best Picture from 12 Years A Slave that was very important and so well done. But Sandra Bullock not winning Best Actress. Sandra Bullock, someone who's been working for like 30 years, this is her big role, the film is all her and she's doing stuff we've not seen before. Physical sort of things. And she didn't win and I just feel like that if I could go back in time and change one thing at the Academy Awards, this would be my my golden ticket.
KATIE: 29:07 I agree. I think that that's a really interesting point that if if a film if a director, you know, film can win Best Director, and it's carried by one person that gives such an authentic performance that you you care that she survives, and it gets to the end with that soaring music and you're like 'thank god' then that's a performance worth rewarding, I think.
SAM: 29:28 Absolutely. I feel like the, Steven Price won for best score, it's an amazing score it does a lot of work. The visual effects do amazing work. But she's the reason we're there. It feels like they're missing like one of the key linchpins of the whole film by not rewarding her. Maybe this festival can correct that.
[90 Mins or Less Film Fest Jingle]
SAM: 29:50 So Gravity is in the 90 Minutes or Less Film Festival. We're bringing this back to the cinemas in a special screening. How do you think this film has impacted culture? How do you think people will respond to seeing this film again in the cinema at this festival?
KATIE: 30:03 That's a really interesting one. What's amazing is that five years have passed and technology has moved on and yet it doesn't look dated, not yet. And I think it probably arguably, it maybe kickstarted the new trend for coming back to space, you know, like Star Wars is back now and Interstellar and all these films that followed, I think it's you know, they're they're following in the footsteps of Gravity that really led the way. Otherwise it it's quite hard to say. I think what would be nice about programming this in the festival is again, putting it on the big screen, where people can't pause it and get up and a cup of tea when it becomes a little bit stressful. And I'd like to see a whole audience kind of react to the worst moments, the moments where she's absolutely not going to make it and you kind of lose all hope. And you know, like the stress of when she's spinning away, still attached to the structure, or when her her legs get caught up in the parachute strings. Like, I'd like to feel that group intake of breath and the stress that I certainly feel when I watch it on my own, I think would be magnified a lot by having that as a shared audience.
SAM: 31:06 So you've got a blank canvas at this festival, you can present the film however you see fit, you can add any event element you'd like to it. What would be your one ideal event element?
KATIE: 31:15 So I, I think, you know, there are quite a lot of immersive like stunt cinema, like Secret Cinema and stuff now where they build the world around the film. But I think because microgravity is pretty hard to achieve, unless you get everybody to float underwater, I guess, I think what would probably be a really cool way to screen this film would be to do like a symul-broadcast live on the ISS, maybe dress all the astronauts up in tuxedos like they're attending the red carpet, or, I mean, this would never ever be able to happen, because spacewalks are so dangerous that they really limit them to when astronauts have to do it. You know, whether it's life or death, fixing the solar panels on the ISS, or whatever it is, you know, they don't they don't go out there for fun. But imagine if you had the astronauts floating around in space watching this movie live, while the festival's taking place.
SAM: 32:10 The budget for this festival is ever growing. And I think you know, we can pull some strings, maybe we can make that one happen.
KATIE: 32:16 And we need to make some friends at NASA.
SAM: 32:19 And back down on Earth, if you could have one special guest at the screening, it doesn't have to be someone involved in the film but it could be, who would you invite to be on stage maybe to do a Q&A or to introduce the film?
KATIE: 32:29 Oh, I think it would be really interesting to maybe end the screening with a chat with somebody who's actually been into space. So having mentioned Chris Hadfield, I think he would be really awesome. And I noticed in 2013, when the film came out quite a few people were asking him questions on Twitter, about Gravity. So for example, a few people tweeted him asking him why Sandra Bullock and George Clooney say 'Houston in the blind'. And he came back with an answer that said, it's because when you're transmitting, but you might not be able to receive the response just to let them know that you may not hear what they're telling you. And I thought that was really cool to get that real world input. I think it'd be really interesting to talk to Chris Hadfield about what it's really like to be up in space, not to undermine the film, but maybe to talk about something called the overview effect, which is the idea that when you go up into space, and you see the whole world sort of laid out beneath you that it changes your worldview, and you realize that maybe we're all in it together, that sense that like borders between countries are imaginary and made by men. And they say that it kind of changes your viewpoint forever and I think I'd really love to hear a little bit about that from someone who's been.
SAM: 33:35 That sounds amazing. I want to go, I'll buy a ticket to my own festival. My small piece of input for as someone who will collaborate with you on the screening is maybe have like a small bottle of vodka concealed in everybody's seat and at the right point in the film where George cracks it open everybody could also join in.
KATIE: 33:50 And maybe do a toast to Anatoly.
SAM: 33:53 So there's gonna be people who've listened to this whole episode going this all sounds great guys, but I saw Gravity at the cinema and it was 90 minutes and 57 seconds long. And I think we should address that. So you when you chose this I had the same feeling, like Katie you're slightly over but then I looked into it right, and on DVD it's 89 minutes long due how frame rates are compressed. And also a lot of that end bit is credits and we're usually quite strict on that. But the credits are so brief in Gravity, because I think Alfonso Cuarón is like the film is over, everybody can just leave now. I feel like we should let this pass. So we'd have to screen the DVD version of this at the festival for it to be eligible. I hope that's okay.
KATIE: 34:32 I apologise. Choosing a title ever so slightly over but that's fascinating that the film would be a different different length on home entertainment.
SAM: 34:40 Absolutely. It's it's our new thing that we should check on when taking submissions for the festival. But I think Gravity is such an amazing film we have to screen and it'll be so good on a big screen with a huge audience.
KATIE: 34:49 Love it.
[90 Mins or Less Outro Bed]
SAM: 34:57 Thank you so much Katie for selecting Gravity for the 90 Minutes or Less Film Fest.
KATIE: 35:02 Thank you for having me.
SAM: 35:03 How can people get in touch or keep up to date with what you're doing?
SAM: 35:14 Do you have an audiobook?
KATIE: 35:16 I do!
SAM: 35:17 I love audiobooks.
KATIE: 35:17 I do. So my book Hold Back The Stars is read by Gemma Whelan from Game of Thrones, she plays Yara Greyjoy, she did an amazing job. So if you want to listen to the world of space and the vacuum of space as you drive to work or sit on the Tube that is available on Audible and Amazon.
SAM: 35:32 As someone who might be listening to a podcast an audio book is only, it's in the same, on the same sort of road, isn't it? Just change lane, a slightly longer format one. Thank you so much, Katie for joining us. Thank you listeners for listening to this podcast. The show today was produced by Louise Owen and me Sam Clements. You can follow the show on Twitter and Instagram @90minfilmfest. Our music was by Martin Austwick, the show is edited by Luke Smith and artwork is by Sam Gilbey. We'll be back in a couple of weeks. Goodbye!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai