This Friday, August 2nd, indie sci-fi thriller Europa Report arrives in limited theaters courtesy of Magnet Releasing (it’s also currently available on VOD); and in anticipation of its release, Dread Central recently chatted with director Sebastian Cordero about the film.
Based on a screenplay by Philip Gelatt, Europa Report stars Sharlto Copley, Embeth Davidtz, Christian Camargo, Michael Nyqvist and Karolina Wydra and is being heralded for its stunningly realistic portrayal of space exploration. The story follows a space mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa that goes awry, and from the footage left behind we piece together the puzzle of the story.
During our interview with Cordero, we heard more about his involvement with the film, his thoughts on working with the talented cast for Europa Report and much more.
Dread Central: Can you start off by talking about how you became involved with Europa Report? What was it about the story that appealed to you?
Sebastian Cordero: The producers were looking for a director for this project and somehow they found out about me. I’ve been making films in Ecuador but those were more gritty realism; I didn’t have any sort of sci-fi experience at all. I think what they saw in me was my ability to tell a story but keep the tension throughout, and I think that’s something they wanted for Europa Report.
And as a teenager, I was a huge sci-fi fan and read all kinds of stories by Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick so I thought that I could use some of what I loved about those stories in making this movie. I just thought it was a great opportunity for me to tell a completely different kind of story; when I talked with the producers, they really liked my take on the story and gave me the job.
Dread Central: The shooting style for Europa Report was very scientific; yet, you somehow were able to keep things feeling “bigger”- how challenging was it for you to shoot everything POV-style?
Sebastian Cordero: The only way this film was going to work is if each of the layers worked together so in this case it was a great challenge for me to keep the visual language of the film interesting because we did have to use static camera shots so you risk losing the audience if everything ‘looks’ the same. So we approached the shooting style very scientifically so that everything felt genuine to the story. Enrique (Chediak), our DP, was really smart in the camera choices he made and deciding on where everything went in terms of its functionality; somehow it all started to pay off in some interesting ways because we got some really brilliant shots in Europa Report that I didn’t even think were going to be possible when we started working on it.
Dread Central: I thought you had a really fantastic cast in this- can you discuss your approach to working with them and balancing out the human elements of the story versus the sci-fi ones?
Sebastian Cordero: Well, I’m very much an actor’s director so I’m very concerned about characters and performances and seeing what we can do to add to the complexity of the story as well. My job as the director is to make sure the actors get exactly where they need to for their role so I gave them all some room to find their characters and how they’d react to each other. I don’t think I had ever worked with a cast quite like this before so that was another challenge for me.
One thing that was kind of important to us was that we didn’t have the biggest Hollywood names in Europa Report; we just wanted the best people for the role. We were really lucky to have the cast that we did and especially Sharlto (Copley), who really rose our cache when he came on board. We were really fortunate that this great script attracted all of these fantastic actors from all over the world- I don’t think you get much luckier than we did here.
Dread Central: What’s coming up next for you? Would you like to return to the sci-fi genre again soon?
Sebastian Cordero: My next project is going to be in Ecuador and it’s going to be another gritty film. I definitely want to do more films here though, and I hope Europa Report opens some doors for me. I definitely would love to do sci-fi again but I’m definitely not a one-genre kind of person; I just want to tell good stories so whatever genre that ends up being, I’ll be happy. I just think we were really lucky on this project overall because this isn’t your typical sci-fi movie at all. I hope that the fans like that we took some risks.
Penned by Philip Gelatt and directed by Sebastian Cordero, Europa Report stars District 9‘s Sharlto Copley alongside Michael Nyqvist, Christian Camargo, Embeth Davidtz, Dan Fogler, Anamaria Marinca, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Karolina Wydra, and Daniel Wu.
A unique blend of documentary, alternative history, and science fiction thriller, EUROPA REPORT follows a contemporary mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system. When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa’s icy surface and may contain single-celled life, Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to confirm the data and explore the revolutionary discoveries that may lie in the Europan ocean.
After a near-catastrophic technical failure that leads to loss of communication with Earth and the tragic death of a crew member, the surviving astronauts must overcome the psychological and physical toll of deep space travel and survive a discovery on Europa more profound than they had ever imagined.
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