Lord of Darkness

I might go on about Danny’s brilliance as a director and, yea, sure, I probably fawn over Alex and his brain a lot, but do you want to know who blows my mind? Alwin Kuchler the Director of Photography (DOP).

There are a very few films I’ve seen where I am awed by or even notice the DOP’s work. Every shot Alwin does, however, is a piece of art. I’ve been on set when after Danny calls ‘cut’ there is this murmur that spreads ‘how does he do that?!’ ‘that was remarkable!’ ‘Alwin is amazing’. Sometimes after watching a shot on the monitor I’ve actually been left speechless.


Apparently, the company who process the film got in contact to say there was a problem- the shot was all blurry and burnt-out or something – and were taken aback when they were told ‘no, there’s no problem, that’s how it’s supposed to look.’

There isn’t a single shot I’ve seen that can be called ‘normal’. He’s using and playing with light in such a way that it distorts the shots. He’s shining lights and lasers directly into the lens. He’s shooting through warped glass. He’s using reflective materials and shining extremely bright lights into it. There are flares and burn-out and over-saturated colours. Yet still… it’s dark…

Alwin Kuchler, the Lord of Darkness.

Icarus and the Gang

Today was the last time all the actors appear in a scene together. They only have about three scenes in which they all appear during the film and today’s was a really joyous and fun scene. The best one to end on.

After filming was finished, they all shouted ‘Icarus!’, the name of their spaceship in the film, and had a big, loud group hug. They’ve really become a bit of a gang over the past couple months. Before filming started, they did all kinds of different things in order to help them bond- scuba diving, flight training, stunt flying, they even lived together for a while. That was so successful that it’s now a bit sad that so early on in the filming they will no longer all be working together again.

Troy Garity

I bumped into Troy Garity wandering around the lot today. I’ve only seen him once before when he wasn’t on set, but this is the first time I got a chance to talk to him. He was with some other people on his way somewhere, but I had to take a moment to tell him that my husband, Dr. Brian Cox, thought Troy was very clever.

Brian came in before filming started to do a science talk for the actors. Troy asked a lot of questions, more than anyone else, and every one of his questions was exactly the right question to ask at exactly the right time. Troy would ask a question and Brian would say, ‘Actually, the answer to that is on the next slide’. Brian was very impressed as being able to ask the right questions is equally as important as knowing the answers.

Troy is a nice guy, a talented actor, has been in all kinds of films that everyone thinks are really fantastic and even a high-energy physicist from CERN is impressed with his intellect… But do you want to know the most amazing thing about Troy? His mother is Barbarella!

Update from 2014: The photo and videos were not in the original blogpost

Craft Services

Mike and Andy from Natural Addiction are the heart and soul of this shoot. Everyone from Andrew the Producer to Phil the Floor Runner has praised them. The other day I was talking to Benedict Wong who singled out Craft Services above everyone and everything else for their complete and utter brilliance.

Not only are they always ready with a joke, but they never seem too busy to make you that much needed cappuccino. They specialise in the dreamiest fresh fruit smoothies which is exactly what you need when your blood sugar starts to dip at about 4pm. People are always milling around their van, having a chat, drinking a coffee, answering their ridiculous daily questions. Last night they even had a barbeque right outside the Flight Deck set.

Everyone loves Andy and Mike.






Every single time I go on set I’m struck by the detail. The tiniest little things that surely won’t show up on camera are everywhere. Little inspection stickers on panels as if they had gone through stress tests before being sent up into space. Instructions on how to open the airlocks and who to ask for help. Warning labels in English and Chinese. It makes me feel like I’m actually on a spaceship.




The Oxygen Garden

Oxygen production is vital for manned long-term space flight. Machines can break down, as the crew of the International Space Station knows too well, which could be absolutely devastating to a mission lasting several years and travelling millions of kilometres away from Earth. Ideally, a long-term mission should have a natural, unmechanical way of replenishing its oxygen supplies.

NASA has already started doing research into space gardens and the Biosphere 2 experiment, conducted in the early 90s, sought to discover whether a completely closed environment could be created to sustain several people for many years.

In the film, the Icraus spaceship has the Oxygen Garden for their O2 replenishment. The set has only just been finished and they’ve done one day of filming on it. Michelle Yeoh will definitely be doing more filming there as her character, Corazon, is the biologist in charge of the Oxygen Garden.

It’s one of the most interesting sets here as the cold, clean ’spaceshipness’ is juxtaposed with the wild, dirty nature- this is the only set where there is anything ‘green’. All of the plants you see on the set are real, there’s not one plastic fern in there at all. When you walk in you are immediately struck by how the set smells.

It smells alive.