Filming a Movie aboard the ISS

While there have been documentaries filmed in space, there has never been a scripted movie filmed there. This recent article (Out Of This World! Tom Cruise Plots Movie To Shoot In Space With Elon Musk’s SpaceX) doesn’t reveal much detail other than it seems that Tom Cruise will have help from SpaceX and support from NASA to film a movie aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

I find the every piece of this idea fascinating.

First there needs to be a script, right? A compelling story that we haven’t seen before. It’s not like you can send an entire cast and crew us to the ISS to film this. So, I imagine this story will be similar to Cast Away (2000) or The Martian (2015) where you have a character alone for much of the film and you may or may not have them communicate with characters on Earth (that of course you don’t have to film in space).

I was also trying to think about a story set in space that I haven’t see before. An astronaut with nothing to lose or who wants to get away from their life on Earth and then something happens that changes that (Their ex really loves them or they find a message from their deceased loved one that encourages them to live their life and to be happy.) and if you add in a complication with the ISS or getting back to Earth and now you have a story.

Or

I like the idea of opposites. One astronaut has nothing weighing her/him down while another one has everything tying her/him to Earth. How would they work, live, and handle challenges together as an “odd couple” on the ISS?

Or

What if the ISS lost communication with Earth? Did you know that there are times when the ISS is visible (Spot the Station) and can be seen with the naked eye in the sky? I imagine young kids saying “good night” to mom or dad by spotting the ISS as it zooms past.

This also made me think of an article highlighted in a previous blog (Space Crimes) where an astronaut was accused of improperly accessing her estranged wife’s bank account while on a six-month mission aboard the ISS. I’m sure NASA and the ISS will want to show astronauts in a positive light but there is no drama/conflict/intrigue without a villain, right?

Another thing that I though about is the idea that it is difficult enough to try to mimic weightlessness while filming on Earth. Movies like Gravity (2013) dealt with this issue (Movie tech: How ‘Gravity’ threw Sandra Bullock into zero gravity) but without gravity how do you keep things consistent? I’m sure there are a million and one things that have to be considered when trying to film in space. Things that I haven’t even thought of. I wouldn’t want to be the script supervisor on that film!

The other thing that that Tom Cruise and the film crew will need to work around is the fact that the astronauts aboard the ISS are there to work and conduct experiments everyday. They are in tight quarters with a regimented schedule. How are the astronauts going to share their space (pun intended) with a film crew trying to film at all hours of the day and night? I doubt the ISS has a VIP area.

Are you looking for someone to bounce ideas off of or are you already working on a script and want to know how to make your story stand out compared to all the other ones? Contact me below.

[Credit: flickr/NASA on the Commons]
E-mail emilie@real2reelscience.com Hours M-F: 5-10pm EDT, EST Weekends: 12-5pm and other times by appointment.
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