[Interview] Finding Footage In Space With ‘Europa Report’ Director Sebastian Cordero

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Director Sebastian Cordero’s sci-fi horror film Europa Report is the rare found footage movie that justifies the conceit of people filming themselves in peril. It stars District 9‘s Sharlto Copley alongside Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Anamaria Marinca, Christian Camargo, and Karolina Wydra.

Penned by Philip Gelatt, the film tells of “a group of astronauts, handpicked from around the world, who make the arduous journey to Jupiter’s frigid, glacial moon Europa in search of extraterrestrial life. The only thing more intimidating and unpredictable than the trip itself is what the team will encounter upon arrival…

I recently spoke with Cordero about pulling off the concept, the film’s similarities to Sunshine and whether or not he’d consider revisiting the world. Head below to check it out. The film opens June 27th on VOD and in theaters Aug 2nd from Magnet Releasing.

The film makes good use of the found footage conceit, you’re not wondering why these people are filming.

Usually found footage is used very differently, usually what you see is hand held and very shaky and feels like home video – which has its power and that’s probably why it’s been done so much. When I first started working on this, one of the things that attracted me most to the material was that it would be a different visual language. The high tech approach and realistic conceit made me curious.

It was fun to start with the ship in its best possible state, and then chronicle the slow decay. And the cameras are affected by that and gain personalities of their own. The placement of each camera feels functional.

A lot of found footage movies have an improvisational element, is that the case here or was it tightly scripted?

A lot of it is very scripted, but there was room within scenes to play with the dialogue. For instance, in Sharlto’s spacewalk scene we had some room to play, we allowed for a lot of his dialogue there to be improvised and that definitely benefitted the film.

A lot of this reminded me of the first 2/3rds of Sunshine. Casting has to be pretty key to that.

I like that you’re mentioning that. I’m a big fan of those 2/3rds of Sunshine, there’s something that worked really well there. It’s tricky to find the balance between the scientific side of this mission vs. the human side. You want to have a nice palette of characters and colors, and we had the great opportunity to put together a fantastic international cast. Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) signed on and acted as a magnet to the other actors.

The film ends on an interesting note. Is this a world you’d want to revisit?

I think the film leaves a question there. It feels like that would be the logical step, that there would be another mission. I don’t know if I would be the person doing that. Who knows? If the story is right and it’s something that’s different and challenging enough, it could be an option.