Story & Script
So I can’t completely spoil the story/details yet but I would like to share the process we went through.
We got together with the producers and production executives as well as the director to discuss various ideas for the story. In the course of discussion, a heated debate broke out on how the bugs are able to travel. They can obviously walk; some can fly…but with wings…and thus not likely to be able to fly through space. The bugs in the novel had advanced technology, but the ones in the previous films were fairly unsophisticated. As we were already inclined to position this new film to be in line with the universe of the live action adaptation, we knew we couldn’t have the bugs build any sort of ship capable of interstellar travel. The first movie showed them sending the meteor to earth that destroyed New Buenos Aires, but the bugs were not on that meteor. I cannot reveal our direction yet but please feel free to use your imagination on how a bug can travel through space. In any case, we figured it out and the story developed organically from there.
Starship Troopers is based on the novel by Robert A Heinlein and it was then adapted to live action movies with Ed Neumeier’s scripts. This time out, we wanted to go fresh and not replicate either the novel or the previous live action films. We functionally asked ourselves who we were making the film for – who loves vast space battles, vicious hand-to-hand, dazzling CG, and a character-driven, military-based story arc? Basically anyone that’s playing the current popular console video games. To me, the battle scenes from the first Starship Troopers movie felt like a team death match from an FPS game and that vibe definitely carried forward to the development of this film. Lots of action, lots of collaboration between soldiers with specialized skill sets. We were discussing writers and Joseph suggested a great writer who has worked on some of the Sci-Fi action games, Mr. Flint Dille.
Flint looks like Thor: big dude with a thick reddish beard, hearty laugh, and very deep voice. But he talks like a kid who has been on the PS3 the whole day (in fact, he left early from a meeting with the excuse that he had to go pick up his son to try a new war-action FPS game that shall not be named here). We fell in love with his cool ways (not just as a screenwriter but all he does) and we started working together on the script. Joseph and I were driving the base story structure and Flint was formulating and injecting great sequences of human drama and camaraderie as well as the gritty action – all with the wit and sarcasm that made Starship Troopers so popular.
Now, maybe that’s enough of my B.S. and I should at least give you a sneak peek?
There is a Federation outpost named Fort Casey that will appear at the beginning of the movie on an asteroid near a planet being attacked by the bugs. The name of the fort is homage to our executive producer Ed Neumeier and his son. And, here is a preliminary sketch of the fort’s design. Enjoy !
Stay tuned for more fun back stories and sneak peeks to come!
After 3 movies by legendary creative minds, I wanted the Starship Troopers franchise to continue on but with a new direction. Luckily, the former movies did not fully decrypt the power suits from the original novel by Robert A Heinlein. When I realized this, it gave me a spark of idea. The gentleman I met at Comicon, Mr. Shinji Aramaki, is known for his realistic yet stylish mechanical designs, and he did design some power suits in his past works (e.g. Appleseed). He would be the perfect person to re-imagine the power suits for Starship Troopers! I eagerly proposed this idea to Joseph and Mr. Aramaki and I got a very positive response — with even a quick initial sketch by Mr. Aramaki (See picture below. Just to be clear, this is not the final version as it will be more badass). I was excited and happy with the idea but bringing that further to a movie that the fans would enjoy was not that simple, and it was even more difficult to convince the big bosses. I won’t bore you with the details of what happened during the process but it was a tough fight and I lost a few troopers on the way.
Once we got the greenlight, we started discussing what the fans would want to see. We asked many experts, the original filmmakers as well as the younger generations and the fans. The challenge was that everyone had different opinion and different likes and dislikes. Some loved the satire in the movie but some did not. Some thought it was too cheesy but some thought that was the best part. After extensive debate, it seemed like everyone wanted something with more action in space and with bugs, and more relationships decrypted in the first movie. We felt that we needed the camaraderie in the vein of war movies such as Black Hawk Down or in the vein of war games like Company of Heroes, but in space with a horror & thriller feel with the inspiration of classic alien movies. And, even though we would be toning down on the cheese, we need to keep some of the spirit of fun and comical satire. Even for a CGI-only production, we were somewhat daunted by the challenge of a well balanced story & dialogue, and the scope of the action sequences and vast bug battles. But we really wanted to get this right for the fans. So the struggles continued to the next stage to pull out a good script and cool designs. Will write about that in the next updates with some sneak peak of the new designs so, stay tuned!
Trooper’s blog #1 - Prologue
17:00 July 25th, 2009. I was swimming through the crowded floor of the San Diego convention center to find my next rendezvous. I finally found my friend and producer Joseph Chou escorting another gentleman. The gentleman (which is the perfect word for it) had a very calm demeanor but with a hint of charisma and he bowed to me in a casual yet formal Japanese style. After the formal greetings (the usual Japanese name cards exchange), he opened his laptop and showed me a sneak peek – which was way more than just sneak peek – of a space battle sequence and explained passionately about what he would be able to do. That’s how I met Mr. Shinji Aramaki. He’s one of the best anime directors and is known for the great action direction and futuristic mechanical designs seen in Appleseed, Ex-Machina, and Halo Legend.
For the first time, the dream of producing a CGI film of Starship Troopers started to feel like it could become a reality; still the road ahead was far from paved. You will soon hear about the bumpy journey to make this happen and I can’t wait to share this final, most exhilarating leg of the journey…but that will have to wait until my next blog!
To share a little fun right now, I am going to give you a quick glimpse behind the curtain. We had several ideas about the teaser poster design and the director sketched around 10 different ideas on his iPad. I personally witnessed him drawing one at lunch time during our motion-capture session right in front of me! It was amazing to see this master draw something so casually and so fast.
Although we felt this look of a starship pierced by bug claw in this photo was very iconic, we ultimately went in another direction. We really want this installment of the Starship Troopers franchise to be known for its action, grit, and mind-blowing space battles. So we then asked an elite illustrator to come in and create this haunting, for-the-fans poster. His name is Mr. Hidetaka Tenjin – check his work out at http://www.studio-tenjin.com/welcome.html . Hope you like the great artistic details and lighting.
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