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Perth-based director Grant Sputore stopped by Supanova last month to unpack his sci-fi blockbuster I Am Mother, a Netflix film starring Hilary Swank, Clara Rugaard and Rose Byrne that was shot in Adelaide and has put the Aussie filmmaker on the map.
Since its release, and during his stint at Supanova Sydney and Perth, Sputore was announced as the director of sci-fi thriller Augmented, starring Margot Robbie. You can expect big things to come, but while you wait, here’s a recap of the path to I Am Mother, as told during Sputore’s Sydney panel.
“[Writer Michael Lloyd Green] and I were really fascinated with artificial intelligence and the ramification of that. At the same time, we were dealing with the question of whether or not we were ready to be parents… I didn’t feel ready for that at all, because you’re so responsible for this other entity and have to teach it to be a good person, and I’ve got no idea. Everyone’s trying to work that out, how do you imperially know what’s right and what’s wrong, and that question is central to I Am Mother.”
“Michael and I have a creepy kind of hive mind, so we were pretty much on the same page about where the thing would go. But we’d butt heads a lot – we developed this movie entirely over Skype because Michael was living in the US and I was living in Perth, and my wife would hear these late night arguments between Michael and I and was like, ‘These guys are never going to talk to each other again – the film’s over.’ And then 10 minutes later we’d be like, ‘Dude! You’re a genius, you totally cracked it!’ Basically, when we wouldn’t agree on something, we would come to a new solution that was better than what either of us was pitching to start with.”
“Definitely the sci-fi I grew up on, which is like Alien, Predator, Terminator, RobotCop, that sort of stuff, and sometimes that’s down to the simplicity of the fact we were gonna have real in-camera effects.”
“We always planned to do it practically. So when we were designing it on paper – where anything is possible – we were really limiting ourselves to the reality of the fact that we’ve got to put a person in this thing and they’ve got to look good.”
“We only had one of these suits, it was really expensive to make and there was no backup, so even though Luke wanted to go sprinting down corridors and stuff like that, we couldn’t let him, because if he tripped and fell on his face the film could have been over. Basically, when we couldn’t risk the suit being damaged – that’s when it’s CG, the rest of the time it’s real.”
“Adam Savage from Tested and MythBusters has got a great video online talking about the creation of the suit. It’s weird for me as a fan of MythBusters to see him freaking out over this thing that we created together.”
Lead image: Grant Sputore at Supanova Sydney. Pic by Steven Yee.