Golden Globes Nominations Analysis: ‘Vice’ and ‘Green Book’ Emerge as Curious Front Runners

Well, that didn’t bring much clarity to the awards race. Thanks, Golden Globes.

In a year whose awards contenders come in all shapes and sizes, Globes voters took a few blockbusters, a bunch of midlevel indies and not much in the way of the small films that have enlivened some early critics’ awards.

So lots of “A Star Is Born” and “Black Panther” but no “First Reformed” or “The Rider,” not that we ever really expected the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to embrace those edgy little dramas.

Also Read: Golden Globes 2019: The Complete List of Nominees

The nominations were a little messy and sort of scattered, and they left us with a couple of curious frontrunners in Adam McKay’s “Vice” and Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” the only two films to be nominated in one of the Globes’ two best picture categories as well as for director, screenplay and acting.

And although “Vice” got six nominations to five for “Green Book,” the difference between the two is negligible: The former film landed the most noms on the strength of three acting nominations rather than two, which you can’t hold against “Green Book” since it’s essentially a two-hander between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, both of whom were nominated.

Nobody else hit the picture/directing/screenwriting/acting grand slam: “A Star Is Born” and “BlacKkKlansman” didn’t get screenplay nominations, “The Favourite” was left out of the directing category and “Roma” didn’t get an acting nom and wasn’t eligible in the Motion Picture – Drama category because it’s in a foreign language.

(It did land a nomination in the Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language category, where it should win handily in the absence of the film that was thought to be its main competitor, “Cold War.”)

Also Read: Golden Globes Nominations by the Numbers

The results made “A Star Is Born” the de facto frontrunner in the drama category, which everybody figured it was before the nominations were announced. And they turned the comedy/musical race into a tight one between “Vice,” “Green Book,” “The Favourite” and maybe even “Mary Poppins Returns.”

They also showed what the National Board of Review and AFI Top 10 lists already suggested – that Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong story, “First Man,” which opened to rave reviews and seemed like a ready-made awards contender at the Venice Film Festival, just isn’t registering with awards voters.

And they’re not good news for Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule,” the last movie to screen for the HFPA and one that got shut out despite Eastwood’s star power and status as a Globes favorite.

Also missing in action: “Mary Queen of Scots” and “Widows,” the makers of which can join Damien, Clint, Sam Elliott, Yorgos Lanthimos and a few others in counting on the fact that the 7,000-plus Oscar voters never completely agree with the eight dozen Globes voters.

Since the Academy expanded its Best Picture category beyond five nominees in 2009, the Globes have never predicted all of their nominees. The closest came in 2013, when eight of the nine Best Picture nominees were first singled out by the Globes; the furthest away was in 2009, when only five of the 10 Oscar noms went to Globe nominees. (This year, expect them to get six to eight, depending on what the Academy thinks about “Vice” and “Mary Poppins.”)

Also Read: ‘Vice,’ ‘Assassination of Gianni Versace’ Lead 2019 Golden Globes Nominations

Of course we can complain about some of the Globes’ choices and point out that the likes and dislikes of 90-odd foreign journalists don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but what’s the point? These days, every awards show, definitely including the Academy Awards, is scrambling for ratings and star power — and if they have to sacrifice a little credibility in the process, so be it.

So it seems churlish to gripe about the respectability of the Globes after a year in which the Academy announced (and then withdrew) a new Oscar for “popular films,” and voted to move what will likely be a number of the below-the-line categories off the air. (Granted, the Globes moved those categories so far off the air that they don’t even give them out, but at this point that seems more like a matter of degree than a difference in philosophy.)

Is “Bohemian Rhapsody” a better dramatic film than, say, “First Reformed” or “First Man” or “22 July” or “Wildlife” or “Leave No Trace” or “The Front Runner” or “The Rider?” Is anything on the list a better comedy than the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs?” I would say no, but it doesn’t matter what I say because I’m not a voter.

Also Read: Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh to Host 2019 Golden Globes

And I’m sure that when the Critics’ Choice Awards nominations (in which I am a voter) are announced next Monday, I’ll disagree with some of those just as strongly, and then again when Oscar nominations are announced a little less than seven weeks from now.

Different groups of people, different tastes, different priorities. And as the Academy scrambles to attract viewers and stave off irrelevancy, maybe they’re making a pretty good case that one award isn’t purer or holier than another – maybe they’re all just a matter of those tastes and those priorities, and we shouldn’t get so worked up about what they mean or the ways in which they fail to live up to our own particular tastes and priorities.

So there you go, HFPA: Good job showing us what you like. We don’t always agree, but we’ll see you on Jan. 6.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Golden Globes Announce New Honorary Award for TV

Golden Globes’ 9 Most Ludicrous Comedy or Musical Picks, From ‘The Martian’ to ‘Get Out’ (Photos)

Golden Globes Unveil New Supersize Statuette for 2019 Ceremony

Well, that didn’t bring much clarity to the awards race. Thanks, Golden Globes.

In a year whose awards contenders come in all shapes and sizes, Globes voters took a few blockbusters, a bunch of midlevel indies and not much in the way of the small films that have enlivened some early critics’ awards.

So lots of “A Star Is Born” and “Black Panther” but no “First Reformed” or “The Rider,” not that we ever really expected the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to embrace those edgy little dramas.

The nominations were a little messy and sort of scattered, and they left us with a couple of curious frontrunners in Adam McKay’s “Vice” and Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” the only two films to be nominated in one of the Globes’ two best picture categories as well as for director, screenplay and acting.

And although “Vice” got six nominations to five for “Green Book,” the difference between the two is negligible: The former film landed the most noms on the strength of three acting nominations rather than two, which you can’t hold against “Green Book” since it’s essentially a two-hander between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, both of whom were nominated.

Nobody else hit the picture/directing/screenwriting/acting grand slam: “A Star Is Born” and “BlacKkKlansman” didn’t get screenplay nominations, “The Favourite” was left out of the directing category and “Roma” didn’t get an acting nom and wasn’t eligible in the Motion Picture – Drama category because it’s in a foreign language.

(It did land a nomination in the Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language category, where it should win handily in the absence of the film that was thought to be its main competitor, “Cold War.”)

The results made “A Star Is Born” the de facto frontrunner in the drama category, which everybody figured it was before the nominations were announced. And they turned the comedy/musical race into a tight one between “Vice,” “Green Book,” “The Favourite” and maybe even “Mary Poppins Returns.”

They also showed what the National Board of Review and AFI Top 10 lists already suggested – that Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong story, “First Man,” which opened to rave reviews and seemed like a ready-made awards contender at the Venice Film Festival, just isn’t registering with awards voters.

And they’re not good news for Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule,” the last movie to screen for the HFPA and one that got shut out despite Eastwood’s star power and status as a Globes favorite.

Also missing in action: “Mary Queen of Scots” and “Widows,” the makers of which can join Damien, Clint, Sam Elliott, Yorgos Lanthimos and a few others in counting on the fact that the 7,000-plus Oscar voters never completely agree with the eight dozen Globes voters.

Since the Academy expanded its Best Picture category beyond five nominees in 2009, the Globes have never predicted all of their nominees. The closest came in 2013, when eight of the nine Best Picture nominees were first singled out by the Globes; the furthest away was in 2009, when only five of the 10 Oscar noms went to Globe nominees. (This year, expect them to get six to eight, depending on what the Academy thinks about “Vice” and “Mary Poppins.”)

Of course we can complain about some of the Globes’ choices and point out that the likes and dislikes of 90-odd foreign journalists don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but what’s the point? These days, every awards show, definitely including the Academy Awards, is scrambling for ratings and star power — and if they have to sacrifice a little credibility in the process, so be it.

So it seems churlish to gripe about the respectability of the Globes after a year in which the Academy announced (and then withdrew) a new Oscar for “popular films,” and voted to move what will likely be a number of the below-the-line categories off the air. (Granted, the Globes moved those categories so far off the air that they don’t even give them out, but at this point that seems more like a matter of degree than a difference in philosophy.)

Is “Bohemian Rhapsody” a better dramatic film than, say, “First Reformed” or “First Man” or “22 July” or “Wildlife” or “Leave No Trace” or “The Front Runner” or “The Rider?” Is anything on the list a better comedy than the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs?” I would say no, but it doesn’t matter what I say because I’m not a voter.

And I’m sure that when the Critics’ Choice Awards nominations (in which I am a voter) are announced next Monday, I’ll disagree with some of those just as strongly, and then again when Oscar nominations are announced a little less than seven weeks from now.

Different groups of people, different tastes, different priorities. And as the Academy scrambles to attract viewers and stave off irrelevancy, maybe they’re making a pretty good case that one award isn’t purer or holier than another – maybe they’re all just a matter of those tastes and those priorities, and we shouldn’t get so worked up about what they mean or the ways in which they fail to live up to our own particular tastes and priorities.

So there you go, HFPA: Good job showing us what you like. We don’t always agree, but we’ll see you on Jan. 6.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Golden Globes Announce New Honorary Award for TV

Golden Globes' 9 Most Ludicrous Comedy or Musical Picks, From 'The Martian' to 'Get Out' (Photos)

Golden Globes Unveil New Supersize Statuette for 2019 Ceremony

‘First Man’ Editor Tom Cross On The Sequence That Would Make Or Break The Film

Damien Chazelle’s go-to editor since the time when Whiplash was just a short, Oscar winner Tom Cross threw out the musical playbook for First Man, tapping into a documentary approach he honed early in his career and had long since left behind. Cr…

Damien Chazelle’s go-to editor since the time when Whiplash was just a short, Oscar winner Tom Cross threw out the musical playbook for First Man, tapping into a documentary approach he honed early in his career and had long since left behind. Crafting a brutally immersive, subjective experience, which would document Neil Armstrong’s efforts to get to the moon—and the many intense experiences he went through to set foot on that soil—Chazelle employed a range of filmic…

In Concert With Luminys’ David Pringle, ‘First Man’ DP Linus Sandgren Develops The Strongest Film Light In The World

With Damien Chazelle’s First Man—a radical departure from his work with the director on La La Land, which earned both their first Oscars—cinematographer Linus Sandgren boldly went where no no man has gone before, developing the strong…

With Damien Chazelle’s First Man—a radical departure from his work with the director on La La Land, which earned both their first Oscars—cinematographer Linus Sandgren boldly went where no no man has gone before, developing the strongest filmic light source the world has ever known to bring realism to Neil Armstrong’s experience on the moon. Devised in concert with David Pringle of Luminys Systems Corp.—a manufacturer of high-intensity lighting systems—this 200,000 watt…

Netflix Teams With Atlantique Productions on Damien Chazelle’s ‘The Eddy’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Netflix has joined forces with Lagardere Studios’ Atlantique Productions on “The Eddy,” the upcoming Paris-set musical drama series which will be directed by Oscar-winning helmer Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), Variety has…

Netflix has joined forces with Lagardere Studios’ Atlantique Productions on “The Eddy,” the upcoming Paris-set musical drama series which will be directed by Oscar-winning helmer Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), Variety has learned. Atlantique Productions has been tapped to executive produce the series, which will start shooting during the first half of next year on […]

PTA, Cuaron, Streisand, Del Toro, Edgar Wright, Inarritu, DiCaprio, Chazelle, Nolan Among Directors Appealing To Warner Bros To Save FilmStruck

An elite group of film directors have appealed directly to Warner Bros Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich to try and save FilmStruck, the subscription streaming service that offers indie and prestige titles that are part of the Criterion Collection. …

An elite group of film directors have appealed directly to Warner Bros Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich to try and save FilmStruck, the subscription streaming service that offers indie and prestige titles that are part of the Criterion Collection. This after WarnerMedia said it would shutter the service at the end of this month. All content arms are being evaluated after the AT&T acquisition of the studio as it makes its entry into the OTT streaming game. It looks…

How Damien Chazelle’s ‘First Man’ Crew Got Ryan Gosling to the Moon

After winning the director Oscar for “La La Land” in 2017, Damien Chazelle did a thematic 180-degree turn for his follow-up. “First Man” centers on Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling), the first person to walk on the moon, and the personal story th…

After winning the director Oscar for “La La Land” in 2017, Damien Chazelle did a thematic 180-degree turn for his follow-up. “First Man” centers on Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling), the first person to walk on the moon, and the personal story that took him to that momentous event in 1969. Chazelle credits his […]

‘First Man’ Composer Justin Hurwitz Is the Real Obsessive Musician at the Heart of Damien Chazelle’s Films

Composer Justin Hurwitz won two Oscars for “La La Land,” and he’s devoted every day since to writing the majestic score for “First Man.”

ConsiderThis

Damien Chazelle has never made a film without his go-to composer (and former college roommate) Justin Hurwitz. Moreover, one could argue that Chazelle has never made a film that wasn’t in some way about Justin Hurwitz.

That idea continues to hold true with his solemn but starry-eyed historical Neil Armstrong biopic, an intimate epic that can hardly be contained by the IMAX screens on which it debuted last week. Another visceral story about a man who’s caught in the grip of his own ambition, “First Man” may not focus on an obsessive musician — which, at this point, is enough to qualify it as a major departure for its director — but Armstrong’s tortuous journey from the depths of grief to the surface of the Moon nevertheless underscores Chazelle’s signature affinity for characters who are consumed by a single idea, often at the expense of their own well-being. And while it’s natural to see these movies as the exaggerated self-portraits of a young auteur, cinema is a collaborative medium, and Chazelle’s most important collaborator — himself an obsessive musician — might be an even clearer embodiment of the filmmaker’s heroes.

Only 33 years old, and already with two Oscars to his name (Best Original Score and Best Original Song for “La La Land”), Hurwitz has fast established himself as one of the most brilliant and exciting composers in the movies today. At this rate, we could be talking about the next Hans Zimmer or Alexandre Desplat — the kind of generational virtuoso who could make a fortune writing music for the next Batman saga and/or leave his mark by forging bonds with several of the era’s most famous auteurs.

We that’s not Hurwitz, who’s not big on multitasking. His work is uncompromising and all-consuming. In much the same way as Andrew Neiman struggled to balance his drumming with his love life, “La La Land” protagonist Sebastian Wilder (“Seb” to his friends) couldn’t reconcile the purity of jazz with the commercialism of pop music, and Neil Armstrong had to walk on the Moon before he could stand the thought of doing anything else, Hurwitz is all about the mission at hand.

There’s a good reason why he and Chazelle were such fast friends, and why the two of them both felt they had to completely drop out of their college band in order to work on movies full-time. Likewise, there’s a good reason why “La La Land” was the first score that Hurwitz wrote after “Whiplash,” and why “First Man” is the only score he’s written since. That output is almost unheard of among Hollywood’s top composers (Zimmer works on roughly three films a year, while Desplat juggles far more), but it works for him.

“That’s just the way I am,” Hurwitz said in an interview during a rare moment of quiet at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. “I’m very, very obsessive, and whatever I do I just give all of myself to it, even at the detriment of all the other things in my life.” When asked if he could wrap his head around the prolificacy of his peers, Hurwitz leaned back into the hotel lobby sofa and took a deep breath. “I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I admire how productive some people are. With my way of working, and how much time I think that I need, I don’t like feeling like there’s a deadline. That’s why I start on a movie when it’s in development or pre-production. I literally need months at the beginning of the process when I can just sit at the piano and search for the melodies.”

Hurwitz started thinking about “First Man” before he even began work on “La La Land” in 2014 — he finished the final mix on the film less than 72 hours before its world premiere at the 2018 Venice Film Festival. Even after all that time, he still only made it by the skin of his teeth. “There was no margin of error,” Hurwitz said, his eyes still bleary from those long nights in the studio and the festival travel that followed. “At one point, there was even talk of screening an unfinished mix and then going back after Venice and Telluride to get it right, but we ended up getting it done.”

The result, as audiences are now discovering, is one of the most complex, majestic, and emotionally lucid movie scores in recent memory. It’s also confirmation that “La La Land” was no flash in the pan, and that — going forward — Hurwitz’s music should be as much of an event as the Chazelle movies for which he composes them.

Of course, those two things are largely inextricable. While a number of filmmakers think of music as a garnish to be layered on top of the picture during post-production, Chazelle bakes sound directly into the bedrock of his stories, as though score and screenplay are conjoined twins that live or die on the strength of a single heartbeat. “That’s one of the reasons why I love working with Damien,” Hurwitz said, “because he wants music to be a voice in his movies, and that allows me to feel like I’m a storyteller, too.”

Armed with the mutual assumption that he and Chazelle are going to collaborate on each film, Hurwitz knew that he would have to rev up the engines as soon as “First Man” started to take shape. He began working on the movie full-time in March of 2017, just days after winning his first Oscar. From the start, the project was a bold new challenge. “Damien told me right off the bat that it had to sound totally different than anything we’d done before,” he said, and grinned. “Obviously, there was no jazz. The whole time the team was in Atlanta for prep and then shooting, I was back home just trying to compose the themes. We started like we always do, which is just me composing at a piano, and sending tons and tons and tons of demos to Damien. ‘How about this? How about this? Okay, how about this?’ And from Damien it’s ‘no, no, no, maybe, no, no, no…’ and so on until it’s ‘oh my God, I love that!’”

Of course, the director didn’t leave his right-hand man to just grope around in the dark. Well, not entirely. Chazelle and Hurwitz would talk at length, but only about the emotion of the story, and the insight the music would need to provide into the film’s taciturn protagonist. It was Hurwitz’s daunting task to find a sonic articulation of Armstrong’s humanity; to build a two-way bridge between Armstrong as a pioneering symbol of American exceptionalism, and Armstrong as a grieving friend and father who had to reach the stars in order to make peace with the loved ones he’d lost to the heavens. Music had always been used to convey their characters’ innermost feelings, but this story presented them with their most wounded and withdrawn hero to date — a historical figure, no less — and their first leading man who didn’t naturally express himself through song.

Hurwitz, who knew that Chazelle couldn’t start shooting until he had a main theme and a secondary riff, was guided by a single principle: “Armstrong’s grief needed to feel like something that transcended his earthly life.” That’s when Chazelle suggested the theremin. “We wanted to use some of the spacier elements, even in the more intimate earthbound cues,” Hurwitz said, “and the theremin is just a great intersection between technology and humanity.”

After hammering out the basic skeleton of the theme on piano (a sad but transcendent waltz that was later assigned to the harp), it was off to the races on the theremin. Hurwitz watched a lot of YouTube tutorials. “I studied a lot of videos about modular synths,” the composer remembered, “and how it works to patch together all the different cables. I got a bunch of metal delivered to my apartment and just started recording them. I also recorded other elements like water and fire, and then composited them into sound that I turned into an instrument and used it throughout the film. Damien probably had the Moon sequence in mind when he told me to check out the theremin, but you can hear it in almost every cue.”

The instrument’s aching warble is front and center in the moments following Armstrong’s one giant leap for mankind, but it also sobs in the background of the track that first establishes Armstrong’s marriage with his wife Janet, like an echo from deep within the hole in their hearts. “It sounds like the human voice, so you can really almost cry with it and wail with it,” Hurwitz said. “Everything is so flexible on the theremin, so you’re always sliding and bending into the notes. It’s human and not at the same time, so it’s no wonder the instrument has become emblematic of old sci-fi films.” But the theremin didn’t just help Hurwitz connect to the space odysseys of yore; it also allowed him to move away from them. “There were definitely certain tropes we wanted to avoid, a choir of angelic voices being chief among them,” he said. “The vocal element of the theremin allowed us to achieve a similar effect in a different way.”

If much of “First Man” consistently sounds different than what audiences might expect from a movie about the triumphs and tragedies of the space race, that’s not because Chazelle and Hurwitz were just trying to show off or mark their territory. On the contrary, both collaborators felt it essential that the music defy genre and narrative expectations in order to maintain focus on Armstrong’s emotional state in the midst of his spectacular journey.

“In many films,” Hurwitz said, “launching sequences and space sequences are triumphant and glorious, as they reflect on the accomplishment of it all. Damien wanted to acknowledge that feeling of achievement, but also to use it as a window into the grief beneath the surface.” When the Apollo 11 rocket takes off, it’s carried along by a huge orchestra, “but it’s resting on top of 100 tracks of synth,” Hurwitz said. “There’s so much angst and pain in the music because of everything Neil has gone through to that point, and because of everything he’s leaving behind and the fact that he may never see his family again. He’s doing this thing for the whole world, but he’s so alone in many ways.”

At times, it feels as though Hurwitz is Armstrong’s only companion. Nowhere in the film is his score more present than in the Moon-landing sequence, a breathless crescendo that epitomizes Chazelle’s synesthesia-like approach to cinematic sound; the score is so completely bonded with the image that it almost feels as if you’re watching the music. “Damien really wanted to drive that sequence with music,” Hurwitz said, “and that’s such a bold choice to let the score operate that way because a lot of filmmakers would probably favor sound design, or have the score be felt but not heard.” In a Chazelle/Hurwitz collaboration, the score is never felt but not heard.

“That cue is from a mock-up I did over a year ago,” Hurwitz said. “It was something Damien wanted crafted before he shot the movie. Maybe it’s because we came from making musicals, but he loves knowing what the music is going to be in advance.” The director storyboarded the sequence, and the music was played on the set. “Obviously, I tweaked the music over time, but Damien and [editor Tom Cross] cut the sequence around that cue,” Hurwitz said. “And then, as I went from a mock-up to proper orchestration, I had to move things around based on what they did with the picture. We tailor our parts of the film to each other’s, and that symbiosis is what I love about our process.”

However tired he might have been, Hurwitz seemed revitalized by discussing the holistic nature of the film’s post-production, and how it allowed for everyone to work together under one roof. Hurwitz’s office on the Universal lot shared a door with Chazelle’s editing suit. “They give me a scene, and I give them back music,” Hurwitz said. “We could really see everyone’s work and make sure that the whole team was in sync.” Case in point: Hurwitz’s close proximity to sound designer Lee Ai-ling allowed him to note the specific frequencies used in the Apollo 11 launch sequence, and make sure that his low-end sounds weren’t negated by those percussive noises.

Needless to say, that was a challenge that Hurwitz hadn’t encountered on smaller movies like “Whiplash”; the $60,000 budget for “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,” Chazelle’s 2009 debut, might not even cover an afternoon with the 90-piece “First Man” orchestra who Hurwitz conducted himself. It was just another part of the process for someone who, in his own words, wants to “give myself totally, totally to the movie. I want to be there for the whole thing. Damien wants me to be there.”

If working exclusively with Chazelle means that Hurwitz will only get to deliver a new score every two years, that’s fine by him. “I like the pace,” he said. “It would be so hard for me to find the type of connection that I have with Damien, so I’m very apprehensive.” He’s not opposed to slowing down — in the right context. “Maybe I could try to get it down to once a year if I found another filmmaker, but ‘First Man’ took a year-and-a-half of full-time work and I wouldn’t want to give anything less effort than that,” he said. “The important thing for me is that I want to look back and feel like I gave it everything I have.”

Beyond Christopher Nolan: ‘First Man’ Redefines In-Camera VFX

Damien Chazelle’s space epic benefited from 90 minutes of rendered footage on a spherical LED screen while shooting in-camera with full-scale practical crafts.

With inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” Damien Chazelle set out to redefine shooting in camera for “First Man,” dramatizing NASA’s mission to the moon, with Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong. “We had to create a gentle balance using a diverse mixture of visual effects, special effects, archival footage, and scaled models to help create the 1960’s documentary style film that was Damien’s vision,” said production VFX supervisor Paul Lambert of DNEG (this year’s Oscar winner for “Blade Runner 2049”).

The biggest challenge was how to shoot the space and in-flight elements with DNEG’s CG content to fit within the boundaries of a movie being shot 16mm and 35mm (the climactic lunar sequence was shot with IMAX cameras by cinematographer Linus Sandgren for a surreal “Wizard of Oz” effect).

“First Man”

Read More:‘First Man’: Shooting the Moon in IMAX to Heighten Neil Armstrong’s Death-Defying Journey

“The effects had to be subtle and shot in a particular way to make it feel like footage from the day,” Lambert said. “Anything that felt like heavy VFX would have completely taken you out of the story and be glaring out at you. It was decided that shooting our spacecrafts against an LED screen was the best option to capture as much in camera as possible. With the various crafts in the movie we tried to stick to a simple philosophy. Depending on the size of the craft in frame is when we would design the shot to either use the full-scale practical, miniatures, or the full CG version.”

For the crucial X-15, Gemini 8, and Apollo 11 sequences, they shot full-scale practical crafts from production designer Nathan Crowley (“Dunkirk,” “Interstellar”) and the art department, putting the actors on 6 axis gimbals in front of the curved 60-foot diameter and 35-foot tall LED screen.

“First Man”

“Using 90 minutes of content that was created at DNEG, we were able to create a pseudo full three-dimensional world in-camera,” added Lambert. “We rendered full 360-degree spherical images that gave us the greatest flexibility on the day. The playback system allowed for interactive rotation and color grading as we filmed.”

Read More:‘With ‘First Man,’ Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling Found Big Drama in a Repressed Hero

Additionally, DNEG came across Apollo launch footage shot by NASA on obsolete 70mm military stock that had never been seen before. Some of the visuals for the Apollo 11 launch in the movie had to be recreated with CG, but others were augmented to fit within the 16mm parameters.

“At the core of those scenes, we retained the original material but we reframed it, cleaned it up, and extended them on each side with matte paintings and CG,” Lambert said. “A 58-day shoot using 16mm, 35mm and 70mm IMAX formats culminated in 615 effects shots added in post. In the end, we were able to shoot this movie without using one greenscreen or bluescreen for live-action shots.”

“First Man”

However, Lambert and the DNEG team were unprepared for Chazelle’s unconventional desire for greater and more flexible virtual production capabilities. “Normally, in my world, you work in small segments, like the X-15 coming through a cloud, but what Damien wanted was to see entire sequences,” he said. “So, for example, on the X-15, we combined the helicopter plates and CG as one sequence. This enabled Damien to work with Ryan without being constrained by shots and to select his edit [for the content provided].

“We did the entire X-15 run and the entire launch of the Gemini for when the CG gantry gets pulled away and you see through the window and in the reflection on his visor and in his eyes, and go up into the clouds and into blue and black and first see the earth.  And we rendered thousands of frames of sun rises to sunsets over the earth and the clouds, and on the day we could pick a progression and the playback system allowed us to do interactive moves. We rendered entire 360 VR images and that provided great flexibility for [the] takes Damien wanted during filming.”

“First Man”

For its CG content, DNEG used Terragen, a scenery generator program from Planetside Software. This allowed animation from ground level up into space, creating clouds and traveling through all of the correct paths through the atmosphere. For the lunar sequence, meanwhile, they provided CG sand and footprints, removed the rest of the set built around the Vulcan quarry in Atlanta, set up a calibrated bungee system to emulate 1/6th gravity for the astronauts walking on the surface, and removed unnecessary elements from the visor reflections.

“Because we made the effort from the beginning, we got a lot of subtleties in reflections, but it did turn our world upside down to produce this content,” added Lambert.

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‘First Man’: How Damien Chazelle Made That Terrifying Opening Scene

Millions of children say they want to be an astronaut when they grow up — but at what cost?

“First Man” shows just what fulfilling that dream entails, as it opens by recounting the first of many instances in which Neil Armstrong cheated death en route to set foot on the moon.

The film starts with a jolt, as we join Armstrong in the cockpit of an X-15 rocket plane, soaring to the highest layers of the Earth’s stratosphere as the plane’s metal rattles and the rushing air roars around him. The camera shakes violently, and the seats in the movie theater shake with it as the noise rumbles through the room. But then, suddenly, a moment of peace, as Armstrong reaches the point where he can se the vastness of space and the curvature of the Earth.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

But that moment of peace is short-lived as Armstrong realizes something that will make your stomach drop. The engine’s off … and the altimeter says he’s still going up. He’s bouncing off the atmosphere, and he’s seconds away from falling out of gravity and into space. Yet, a few minutes later, Armstrong somehow finds a way to make it back to the ground, calmly walking away from the beaten-up aircraft while leaving everyone else shaken.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Fact Check: Was the Moon Landing Really That Close to Disaster?

When speaking to TheWrap, director Damien Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer both said that they knew they needed to get the opening scene absolutely right to send the message of what this film was about: the risks taken and the price paid by Armstrong to make history. Singer says that in addition to taking info from the James R. Hansen biography the film was adapting, he also looked into simulations and other records from NASA of the X-15 flight Armstrong did in 1962.

“In some respects, that X-15 flight is just as remarkable an achievement as the moon landing was. The plane still holds speed and altitude records for piloted flights 50 years later, and Neil’s flight was the longest of all the test flights done with that craft,” Singer said.

“We talked with people who worked on the test flights with Neil at Edwards Air Force Base, and they showed us diagrams and records from the test flight. I got to try out a simulator that really felt like a fancy video game but gave me a great idea of what it was like to try to land one of these planes,” he added.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Launches With $1.1 Million at Thursday Box Office

Once they had the information, Singer and Chazelle agreed that the best way to show the tension of the scene was to keep it entirely in the cockpit, an approach that also helped keep the film under its $60 million budget as it avoided having to depict the X-15’s flight with costly effects.

But keeping that tension also meant compressing a 12-minute test flight into a five-minute sequence that would put the audience practically inside Armstrong’s head as he flies the plane. To that end, Singer rewrote the scene four times before reaching the final draft used by Chazelle, with the drafts checked by Joe Engle, the last living pilot that took part in the X-15 program.

“Joe helped us make sure that we got the first-person perspective right, and it was more than the script,” Singer said. “He helped us when Damien was doing his prep with the storyboards and animatics. He guided us step-by-step through the process Neil would have done when flying the plane so we’d know what the cameras would focus on in the cockpit.”

Engle’s guidance and Singer’s research also helped production Nathan Crowley faithfully recreate the cockpits of the X-15 and NASA spacecrafts that Armstrong pilots in the film, with Mary Zophres designed the flight and space suits based off of archive photographs and footage from NASA and Edwards Air Force Base.

From there, Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren filmed the scene in 16mm camera to give it a feel similar to NASA test footage from the 1960s.

“We were able to devise a very efficient way to get everything we wanted for the test flight and for the space scenes as well,” said Chazelle.

“I remember the first time I saw some of the actual capsules and cockpits [Neil] used and thinking about how rickety they looked and how I wouldn’t feel the least bit assured if I flew up into space in one of them, so we all worked together from the production design to the sound team to create that sense of instability, and then we put LED screens in the windows to let the light playing off of Ryan’s face tell the story of how he was flying up into space.”

Armstrong’s 12-minute flight saw him ascend to 207,000 feet above Los Angeles and travel 350 miles, the farthest and longest flight recorded by the X-15 program. Of course, as we all know, he ended up traveling much farther than that a few years later.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘First Man’ Fact Check: Was the Moon Landing Really That Close to Disaster?

‘First Man’ Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

‘First Man’ Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

Millions of children say they want to be an astronaut when they grow up — but at what cost?

“First Man” shows just what fulfilling that dream entails, as it opens by recounting the first of many instances in which Neil Armstrong cheated death en route to set foot on the moon.

The film starts with a jolt, as we join Armstrong in the cockpit of an X-15 rocket plane, soaring to the highest layers of the Earth’s stratosphere as the plane’s metal rattles and the rushing air roars around him. The camera shakes violently, and the seats in the movie theater shake with it as the noise rumbles through the room. But then, suddenly, a moment of peace, as Armstrong reaches the point where he can se the vastness of space and the curvature of the Earth.

But that moment of peace is short-lived as Armstrong realizes something that will make your stomach drop. The engine’s off … and the altimeter says he’s still going up. He’s bouncing off the atmosphere, and he’s seconds away from falling out of gravity and into space. Yet, a few minutes later, Armstrong somehow finds a way to make it back to the ground, calmly walking away from the beaten-up aircraft while leaving everyone else shaken.

When speaking to TheWrap, director Damien Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer both said that they knew they needed to get the opening scene absolutely right to send the message of what this film was about: the risks taken and the price paid by Armstrong to make history. Singer says that in addition to taking info from the James R. Hansen biography the film was adapting, he also looked into simulations and other records from NASA of the X-15 flight Armstrong did in 1962.

“In some respects, that X-15 flight is just as remarkable an achievement as the moon landing was. The plane still holds speed and altitude records for piloted flights 50 years later, and Neil’s flight was the longest of all the test flights done with that craft,” Singer said.

“We talked with people who worked on the test flights with Neil at Edwards Air Force Base, and they showed us diagrams and records from the test flight. I got to try out a simulator that really felt like a fancy video game but gave me a great idea of what it was like to try to land one of these planes,” he added.

Once they had the information, Singer and Chazelle agreed that the best way to show the tension of the scene was to keep it entirely in the cockpit, an approach that also helped keep the film under its $60 million budget as it avoided having to depict the X-15’s flight with costly effects.

But keeping that tension also meant compressing a 12-minute test flight into a five-minute sequence that would put the audience practically inside Armstrong’s head as he flies the plane. To that end, Singer rewrote the scene four times before reaching the final draft used by Chazelle, with the drafts checked by Joe Engle, the last living pilot that took part in the X-15 program.

“Joe helped us make sure that we got the first-person perspective right, and it was more than the script,” Singer said. “He helped us when Damien was doing his prep with the storyboards and animatics. He guided us step-by-step through the process Neil would have done when flying the plane so we’d know what the cameras would focus on in the cockpit.”

Engle’s guidance and Singer’s research also helped production Nathan Crowley faithfully recreate the cockpits of the X-15 and NASA spacecrafts that Armstrong pilots in the film, with Mary Zophres designed the flight and space suits based off of archive photographs and footage from NASA and Edwards Air Force Base.

From there, Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren filmed the scene in 16mm camera to give it a feel similar to NASA test footage from the 1960s.

“We were able to devise a very efficient way to get everything we wanted for the test flight and for the space scenes as well,” said Chazelle.

“I remember the first time I saw some of the actual capsules and cockpits [Neil] used and thinking about how rickety they looked and how I wouldn’t feel the least bit assured if I flew up into space in one of them, so we all worked together from the production design to the sound team to create that sense of instability, and then we put LED screens in the windows to let the light playing off of Ryan’s face tell the story of how he was flying up into space.”

Armstrong’s 12-minute flight saw him ascend to 207,000 feet above Los Angeles and travel 350 miles, the farthest and longest flight recorded by the X-15 program. Of course, as we all know, he ended up traveling much farther than that a few years later.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'First Man' Fact Check: Was the Moon Landing Really That Close to Disaster?

'First Man' Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

'First Man' Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

‘First Man’ Blues: How 40 Years of ‘Star Wars’ Killed the Mystery of the Moon Shot

“First Man,” Damien Chazelle’s turbulent and transporting drama about Neil Armstrong and his journey through the space program, was assailed within a day of its premiere at the Venice Film Festival last August. Voices from the right, who at…

“First Man,” Damien Chazelle’s turbulent and transporting drama about Neil Armstrong and his journey through the space program, was assailed within a day of its premiere at the Venice Film Festival last August. Voices from the right, who attacked Chazelle for having made a film about the moon landing that left out the astronauts planting […]

‘First Man’ Is One Giant Leap for IMAX’s Plans Beyond Blockbusters

For most moviegoers, IMAX is probably associated with two kinds of films: the nature documentaries that you see at museums, or the biggest movies of the year like “Avengers: Infinity War” or “Jurassic World.” But with “First Man,” IMAX is taking another step beyond the tentpole fare that drives much of their annual box office revenue.

Only a small number of films a year get the full promotional support of IMAX and extended engagement on the company’s 400-plus domestic screens. Those spots are reserved for what the company calls DNA films — movies that use IMAX technology. Last year, IMAX partnered with Warner Bros. and longtime collaborator Christopher Nolan to make the Oscar-winning film “Dunkirk” into one of those DNA films.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Gets Bigger and Bolder in Toronto IMAX Premiere

For a WWII film that caters to older audiences, to be one of those DNA films was a departure from the popcorn flicks that usually serve as IMAX’s main moneymakers. But the move paid off as IMAX accounted for 15 percent of the film’s $527 million global gross.

Now IMAX is taking a similar approach with “First Man,” another non-tentpole directed by Damien Chazelle, with the film’s climactic sequence on the moon filmed with IMAX cameras in 4K. IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster said that their interest in helping make “First Man” and “Dunkirk” into DNA films wasn’t about their Oscar potential. It was about working with filmmakers.

“We are about building relationships with people who are in it for the craft. Directors, cinematographers, producers, all of them,” Foster told TheWrap. “We met with Damien and his D.P., Linus Sandgren, and they were very enthusiastic about using the IMAX format and digging into the nuts and bolts of it.”

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Lifts Off This Weekend to Steep Box Office Competition

Though only a few minutes of the film actually used IMAX cameras and are presented in the format, Chazelle and his team used IMAX technology throughout the film. The scenes with NASA missions and tests had their sound design tailored for IMAX sound systems, making the audience feel as if they are right there with Neil Armstrong as the roar of the rocket lifting off rattles their seats. Post-production was also done with IMAX technology to give the film a grainy visual quality akin to old NASA test footage.

But it was the chance to give the moon a larger-than-life feel that starkly contrasts with Armstrong’s life on Earth that interested Chazelle most.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

“We were always very conscious that the film opens up when you get to the moon, so we wanted it to feel like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when Dorothy arrives in Oz,” Chazelle said.

“But it also made us mindful in the rest of the movie of what’s going to hold up in the format. I was really surprised with how a lot of the 60mm photography was also able to hold up well in IMAX. With their technology, we were able to reduce the grain so it wouldn’t be distracting at important moments but also lean into it when it felt appropriate, and with the sound we could range from the really intimate moments to these bombastic moments with the launch.”

Beyond top directors like Nolan and Chazelle, IMAX also wants to form the same sort of relationship with filmmakers across the Pacific, holding symposiums with directors from China and India. It is also making plans to create DNA films out of projects being filmed in and for Asian countries.

“We want to show them that our skills are available to them to create any kind of movie, whether it’s a tentpole movie or something more intimate,” Foster said.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

And back in the States, it won’t just be biopics and war films that get the IMAX treatment. While the format is often used for awe-inspiring vistas, enormous beasts, and larger-than-life heroes, its immersive quality can also be used to draw a viewer into a terrifying, claustrophobic nightmare. And because of that, Foster believes that horror will soon become a fertile ground for DNA films as well.

“Five years ago, or even three years ago, I probably wouldn’t have said that,” Foster said. “But it’s clear that there is so much interest from moviegoers and filmmakers alike in horror. Next year, we will have ‘It: Chapter Two’ on our screens, and I think that as more directors start to really experiment with what can be done with horror films, there will be lots of opportunities for IMAX to be a part of that creative process.”

It’s an intriguing frontier for IMAX to step into. But one small step for the studio could be a giant leap for directors looking to blow their audiences’ minds.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘First Man’ Fact Check: Was the Moon Landing Really That Close to Disaster?

‘First Man’ Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

‘First Man’ Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

For most moviegoers, IMAX is probably associated with two kinds of films: the nature documentaries that you see at museums, or the biggest movies of the year like “Avengers: Infinity War” or “Jurassic World.” But with “First Man,” IMAX is taking another step beyond the tentpole fare that drives much of their annual box office revenue.

Only a small number of films a year get the full promotional support of IMAX and extended engagement on the company’s 400-plus domestic screens. Those spots are reserved for what the company calls DNA films — movies that use IMAX technology. Last year, IMAX partnered with Warner Bros. and longtime collaborator Christopher Nolan to make the Oscar-winning film “Dunkirk” into one of those DNA films.

For a WWII film that caters to older audiences, to be one of those DNA films was a departure from the popcorn flicks that usually serve as IMAX’s main moneymakers. But the move paid off as IMAX accounted for 15 percent of the film’s $527 million global gross.

Now IMAX is taking a similar approach with “First Man,” another non-tentpole directed by Damien Chazelle, with the film’s climactic sequence on the moon filmed with IMAX cameras in 4K. IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster said that their interest in helping make “First Man” and “Dunkirk” into DNA films wasn’t about their Oscar potential. It was about working with filmmakers.

“We are about building relationships with people who are in it for the craft. Directors, cinematographers, producers, all of them,” Foster told TheWrap. “We met with Damien and his D.P., Linus Sandgren, and they were very enthusiastic about using the IMAX format and digging into the nuts and bolts of it.”

Though only a few minutes of the film actually used IMAX cameras and are presented in the format, Chazelle and his team used IMAX technology throughout the film. The scenes with NASA missions and tests had their sound design tailored for IMAX sound systems, making the audience feel as if they are right there with Neil Armstrong as the roar of the rocket lifting off rattles their seats. Post-production was also done with IMAX technology to give the film a grainy visual quality akin to old NASA test footage.

But it was the chance to give the moon a larger-than-life feel that starkly contrasts with Armstrong’s life on Earth that interested Chazelle most.

“We were always very conscious that the film opens up when you get to the moon, so we wanted it to feel like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when Dorothy arrives in Oz,” Chazelle said.

“But it also made us mindful in the rest of the movie of what’s going to hold up in the format. I was really surprised with how a lot of the 60mm photography was also able to hold up well in IMAX. With their technology, we were able to reduce the grain so it wouldn’t be distracting at important moments but also lean into it when it felt appropriate, and with the sound we could range from the really intimate moments to these bombastic moments with the launch.”

Beyond top directors like Nolan and Chazelle, IMAX also wants to form the same sort of relationship with filmmakers across the Pacific, holding symposiums with directors from China and India. It is also making plans to create DNA films out of projects being filmed in and for Asian countries.

“We want to show them that our skills are available to them to create any kind of movie, whether it’s a tentpole movie or something more intimate,” Foster said.

And back in the States, it won’t just be biopics and war films that get the IMAX treatment. While the format is often used for awe-inspiring vistas, enormous beasts, and larger-than-life heroes, its immersive quality can also be used to draw a viewer into a terrifying, claustrophobic nightmare. And because of that, Foster believes that horror will soon become a fertile ground for DNA films as well.

“Five years ago, or even three years ago, I probably wouldn’t have said that,” Foster said. “But it’s clear that there is so much interest from moviegoers and filmmakers alike in horror. Next year, we will have ‘It: Chapter Two’ on our screens, and I think that as more directors start to really experiment with what can be done with horror films, there will be lots of opportunities for IMAX to be a part of that creative process.”

It’s an intriguing frontier for IMAX to step into. But one small step for the studio could be a giant leap for directors looking to blow their audiences’ minds.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'First Man' Fact Check: Was the Moon Landing Really That Close to Disaster?

'First Man' Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

'First Man' Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

With ‘First Man,’ Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling Found Big Drama in a Repressed Hero

Gosling looked within to play Neil Armstrong, while Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer immersed the audience in the moon mission.

Audiences don’t grade movies on degree of difficulty. Academy voters do, and they will recognize that “First Man” is a cinematic feat. Back in 2014, after he made “Whiplash,” Chazelle collaborated with screenwriter Josh Singer, impressed by his work on Julian Assange film “The Fifth Estate” (his Oscar for “Spotlight” came later). Chazelle wanted to show on film what it took for astronaut Neil Armstrong to land on the moon.

The filmmaker was not a space junkie growing up. The spark for him was how other movies like “Apollo 13” and “The Right Stuff” never quite conveyed “how fragile and precarious and dangerous this was,” he said. “I imagined putting myself on top of a missile waiting for launch. I wanted to try to capture that.”

From the beginning, Chazelle wanted to “marry the big and the small with this movie,” he said. “This is a story of extremes: going to the moon, as far as any human has gone from Earth, the biggest cosmic journey in history, and then they’re making breakfast for their kids, figuring out how to make dinner for their friends, doing jigsaw puzzles, little family details that I found poignant. They tried to balance normalcy with most unnormal things ever. They didn’t think of themselves as walking around making history. In a way it became routine in this little bubble of Houston. For me at least, it’s unfathomable almost how that could become routine. I wanted the launches to be as a scary as they could be, and wanted the family life to be micro and textured.”

What Singer discovered in NASA-wonk James Hansen’s tech-heavy biography blew his mind. After filling his brain with details about test pilots and NASA’s technological race with the Soviets to the lunar surface, Singer identified four dramatic pillars of Armstrong’s life: his young daughter Karen’s death; his family anchor, wife Janet (“The Crown” Emmy-winner Claire Foy); the Gemini docking mission; and the moon landing. Chazelle and Singer took their pitch to Universal, and as Chazelle made “La La Land,” Singer got to work.

First Man

“First Man”

Singer dug into the details of exactly what happened on Armstrong’s flights. The movie opens with his teeth-rattling X-15 escapade above the atmosphere, shot from inside the cockpit — for 8 pages — instead of going outside with wide exteriors. The filmmakers had to understand what he was doing as the windows went from blue to black and Armstrong frantically moved the stick and the aerodynamic and reaction controls as the altitude gauge went haywire. Chazelle shot these ’60s flights in 16 mm. “The more you learn, the more you really know what you don’t know,” said Chazelle. “It’s a never-ending abyss.”

For the Gemini docking mission, shot in 35 mm, the aviators interacted with the on-ground flight crew who get anxious when they lose touch with the astronauts. And when the flight director (Kyle Chandler) protectively shuts off Janet’s squawk box, she charges angrily over to Mission Control to face off against  him. When he tries to reassure her that NASA has everything under control, she yells at him: “You are a bunch of boys making models out of Balsa wood!”

Chazelle didn’t just want to get close to Armstrong. He wanted the audience to experience and feel what he went through: the tragedy and loss of not only his daughter, but of several close friends. “We wanted to push you into his shoes, wanted you to know how serious it was for these folks,” said Singer. “People have forgotten, or maybe they didn’t know, how challenging it was. NASA had reasons to hide and soften things. They didn’t want you too know how much danger and sacrifice there was.”

Armstrong was a straight-arrow engineer and pilot, private and taciturn, a contained man of few words and little emotion, and Gosling plays him that way. So the filmmakers start out with a reenactment of an intense X-15 flight — one of three in which Armstrong faced serious flight issues while his daughter was dying. His bosses did not recommend him to become a Gemini astronaut. He volunteered after her death and threw himself back into work. At his daughter’s wake, Armstrong shutters himself in his study for a private cry.

“The death of his daughter in some ways shapes him,” said Singer. “Neil would push things down and compartmentalize. You see that from the onset.  That’s what wreaks havoc, the sacrifice is at home.”

Ryan Gosling’s upcoming film First Man about Neil Armstrong

“First Man”

Universal Pictures

Adds Chazelle, “Neil had that all-American innocence, grew up on a cornfield in Iowa, learned to fly before he learned to drive. He had this boyish innocence, but there’s this sadness, as we interpreted it, hiding underneath. He’s smiling through sadness, which he compartmentalizes, kept it closed and spent his whole life outrunning it and never outran it. That was Ryan’s key into him, without betraying the fact that he was an introverted quiet and contained person who did not emote a ton.”

In his research, Gosling came up with a few colorful things to enliven his character, including an inspiring speech Armstrong gives at his NASA job interview about the rationale for space exploration: to get a shift in perspective on our planet. He also found one of the few laughs in the movie, when his chums find out about Armstrong’s entertaining college rewrite of Gilbert & Sullivan.

“First Man”

Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

The filmmakers decided that the key to Neil was Janet. “She was going to be his emotional center,” said Singer. “It’s the story of marriage that suffers blow after and blow and still the marriage manages to survive.” (While their two sons were helpful to the film, both Armstrong and his wife, who finally divorced him in 1994, have passed away.) Chazelle shoots the daringly quiet and domestic life in suburban Houston in claustrophobic close-up. He gave the actors two weeks of rehearsal and shot some of their improvisation on the fully built home sets. “At home, you had the press around you and death nipping at your heels,” said Singer.

Outspoken Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) was a gift. “Buzz has been known to speak his mind. He’s mostly telling an uncomfortable truth nobody wants to hear,” said Singer. “It’s a great character to have, the truth-teller.”

“In a community where everybody else doesn’t say what they’re thinking,” said Chazelle, “Buzz is the icebreaker.”

Of course, the last third of the movie takes us to the moon, and Chazelle opens up the screen with an extraordinary evocation of the Apollo 11 moon flight and landing — shot in stunning high-def IMAX. Again, he sticks with the POV of the astronauts as they pilot the spacecraft into orbit (we hear their conversations with mission control) and then take the lunar landing module down to the surface. “We’re with Neil,” said Singer. “We wanted to convey that tension, if we do it right, and stay close to the guys.”

Chazelle mimics some of the archive footage of the moon landing. “I approach a lot of it, so that it’s as much about what you don’t see as what you see. You only see the shadow and the dust, and then when the dust settles, everything is still. That’s more interesting than sticks on soil.”

The filmmakers were so driven to be accurate and true to history that Singer has published an annotated screenplay with their facts and fiction laid bare. We all know that Armstrong made it to the moon and back in 1969. Among those of us who are old enough, we remember where we were that night. But we don’t know if he left the particular memento behind that the movie suggests. Other moonwalkers left photos and personal objects. Armstrong did spend 10 minutes alone on the moon. The contents of his personal property kit are sealed until 2020. “We were so consumed with getting it right and getting Neil right,” said Singer, “that we would have never entirely made it up. It would have been a stretch too far.”

“First Man”

screencap

The filmmakers had experts check the film for accuracy and errors, which wreaked havoc on the post-production. In the editing room, Chazelle juggled mounds of documentary-like improvisations of family life in Houston, Justin Hurwitz’s varied score, and a complex sound design, as well as mammoth VFX. “We were aware of the risks through shooting and into post,” said Chazelle. “It was a tough one to find the balance between the epic space movie and the family documentary.”

Since the film debuted at Venice and played other fall festivals, both sides of the political divide read what they want into “First Man.” For their part, the filmmakers tried to root the narrative firmly in its time, when white men drove the political conversation and the moon mission was far from popular, as protestors challenged NASA’s use of taxpayer dollars.

“What we kept trying to go for is history and accuracy that’s revelatory, not conservative or liberal,” said Singer. “What this movie is about, as we face climate change, is what does it take to achieve, to drive the civilization forward?”

‘First Man’ Launches With $1.1 Million at Thursday Box Office

Universal Pictures’ “First Man” grossed $1.1 million in previews on Thursday from 2,850 theaters.

The studio is projecting an opening weekend of $15-18 million, with independent trackers pushing their expectations up to $20 million. In comparison, Tom Hanks’ “Bridge of Spies” took in $600,000 before it grossed $15.4 million its opening weekend. “Deepwater Horizon” earned $860,000 and finished with $20.2 million. “Arrival” grossed $1.4 million in previews before earning $24 million its opening weekend.

“First Man” is the followup for director Damien Chazelle after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “La La Land” last year, with Ryan Gosling from his “La La Land” team joining him.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

Based on James R. Hansen’s detailed recounting of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, “First Man” stars Gosling as Neil Armstrong and delves into the personal life and inner mind of the famous yet very reserved astronaut, particularly how the death of his infant daughter impacted him. Claire Foy also stars as Armstrong’s wife, Janet. Josh Singer, who co-wrote “Spotlight” and “The Post,” penned the screenplay.

Produced for $60 million, “First Man” holds a “fresh” score of 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“First Man” will face off against Fox’s “Bad Times at the El Royale” and “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” this weekend. The former is set to open in the low-to-mid teens, while the latter is looking at a $14 million opening after taking in $750,000 from 2,993 locations.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Fact Check: Was the Moon Landing Really That Close to Disaster?

“El Royale” features an ensemble cast including Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, and Nick Offerman as a group of individuals who check in to the seedy El Royale hotel on the border of California and Nevada. Soon, secrets are revealed and bullets fly as everything goes horribly wrong.

Drew Goddard wrote and directed the film. It is rated 75 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Goosebumps 2” has Jack Black return to reprise his role as a fictionalized version of Stine, with “It” star Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris and Ken Jeong also starring. Produced for $35 million, “Goosebumps 2” was directed by Ari Sandel and holds a score of 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘First Man’ Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

‘First Man’ Lifts Off This Weekend to Steep Box Office Competition

Ryan Gosling Explains His ‘Mild’ Concussion Shooting ‘First Man’ Action Scenes

Universal Pictures’ “First Man” grossed $1.1 million in previews on Thursday from 2,850 theaters.

The studio is projecting an opening weekend of $15-18 million, with independent trackers pushing their expectations up to $20 million. In comparison, Tom Hanks’ “Bridge of Spies” took in $600,000 before it grossed $15.4 million its opening weekend. “Deepwater Horizon” earned $860,000 and finished with $20.2 million. “Arrival” grossed $1.4 million in previews before earning $24 million its opening weekend.

“First Man” is the followup for director Damien Chazelle after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “La La Land” last year, with Ryan Gosling from his “La La Land” team joining him.

Based on James R. Hansen’s detailed recounting of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, “First Man” stars Gosling as Neil Armstrong and delves into the personal life and inner mind of the famous yet very reserved astronaut, particularly how the death of his infant daughter impacted him. Claire Foy also stars as Armstrong’s wife, Janet. Josh Singer, who co-wrote “Spotlight” and “The Post,” penned the screenplay.

Produced for $60 million, “First Man” holds a “fresh” score of 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“First Man” will face off against Fox’s “Bad Times at the El Royale” and “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” this weekend. The former is set to open in the low-to-mid teens, while the latter is looking at a $14 million opening after taking in $750,000 from 2,993 locations.

“El Royale” features an ensemble cast including Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, and Nick Offerman as a group of individuals who check in to the seedy El Royale hotel on the border of California and Nevada. Soon, secrets are revealed and bullets fly as everything goes horribly wrong.

Drew Goddard wrote and directed the film. It is rated 75 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Goosebumps 2” has Jack Black return to reprise his role as a fictionalized version of Stine, with “It” star Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris and Ken Jeong also starring. Produced for $35 million, “Goosebumps 2” was directed by Ari Sandel and holds a score of 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'First Man' Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

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‘First Man’ Fact Check: Did Neil Armstrong Really Leave That Bracelet on the Moon?

(Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you haven’t seen “First Man.”)

“First Man” is a retelling of one of the biggest moments in history, as well as a portrait of the reclusive man who became the first to walk on the moon.

Damien Chazelle’s drama starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong focuses more on the home life of the astronaut as he prepared for his dangerous missions into space.

That includes delving into the 1962 death of his daughter, Karen, of a malignant brain tumor at age 2. Throughout the movie, Armstrong is seen holding his daughter’s bracelet — and even takes it to the moon and throws it into a giant crater there before returning home.

But how factual is that part? Did Armstrong really throw his daughter’s bracelet into the crater?

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Lifts Off This Weekend to Steep Box Office Competition

Long story short, no one really knows. According to an individual with knowledge of the project, Armstrong never talked about it but his sister feels that he might have done so, given that he had 11 minutes alone on the moon — mostly exploring what is known as the East Crater — where no one knows exactly what he did.

Screenwriter Josh Singer told TheWrap that he included the scene based on a conjecture formed by James R. Hansen, who wrote the biography, “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong,” on which the movie is based.

“For Jim, after spending two years pursuing Armstrong and spending hours interviewing him and Janet [his wife] and his sister and everybody else, Jim started to get the idea that maybe Neil left something personal on the moon,” Singer said.

“Leaving tokens on the moon for loved ones or lost ones was something that was regularly done. So Jim started to wonder if Neil left anything that belonged to Karen behind and started looking through the manifest for Neil’s personal property kit and Neil said he had lost it,” Singer said. “That didn’t sound like Neil, and in fact he hadn’t lost it. It’s in the Purdue archives and it’s in fact being kept under seal until 2022 or something. But perhaps he had misplaced, and it still felt odd.”

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

“Did he take something of Karen with him to the Moon?” Armstrong’s sister June asked Hansen rhetorically in the book. “Oh, I dearly hope so.”

While he did take his wife Janet’s olive branch pin to the moon, there’s also no evidence he brought anything for his two sons.

“I assumed he had taken things to give to the boys later, but I don’t believe he has ever given them anything,” Janet told Hansen. “Neil can be thoughtful, but he does not give much time to being thoughtful, or at least to expressing it.”

Buzz Aldrin and Armstrong did take personal kits to the moon, although Armstrong “never released any information about the contents of his PPK.”

“More concerned about getting every necessary object inside the LM, the astronauts almost forgot to leave a small packet of memorial items on the lunar surface,” the book reads. “Aldrin recalls the near oversight: ‘We were so busy that I was halfway up the ladder before Neil asked me if I had remembered to leave the mementos we had brought along. I had completely forgotten. What we had hoped to make into a brief ceremony, had there been time, ended almost as an afterthought. I reached into my shoulder pocket, pulled the packet out and tossed it onto the surface.’ The packet contained two Soviet-made medals, in honor of deceases cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit the Earth, who died in a MiG-15 accident in March 1967; and Vladimir Komarov, killed a month after Gagarin at the conclusion of his Soyuz 1 flight when his spacecraft’s descent parachute failed to open. Also in the packet was an Apollo 1 patch commemorating Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. Also inside was a small gold olive-branch pin, symbolic of the peaceful nature of the American Moon landing program. The token was identical to the pins that the three Apollo 11 astronauts were carrying as gifts from their wives.”

“I didn’t bring anything else for myself,” Armstrong said. “At least not that I can remember.” Janet Armstrong said her husband “didn’t ask” if she wanted to send anything.

Also Read: The Evolution of Ryan Gosling: From ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ to ‘First Man’ (Photos)

“I don’t think we really wanted to talk totally open about what it was,” Aldrin said in the book. “So it was sort of guarded.” He then said Armstrong straightened out the packet that had some dust on it after landing to Armstrong’s right.

Hansen noted that Armstrong said he would reveal the contents of his package for the biography, but was “unable to find the manifest among his many papers.” All he said was, “in my PPK I had some Apollo 11 medallions, some jewelry for my wife and mother [simply the gold olive branch pin for each], and some things for other people.”

What’s most clear, however, is that Armstrong took pieces of the Wright brothers’ historic flyer with him that he arranged with the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The book also noted he took along his college fraternity pin from Purdue, which he later donated to the Phi Delta Theta headquarters in Oxford, Ohio.

Also Read: Ryan Gosling Explains His ‘Mild’ Concussion Shooting ‘First Man’ Action Scenes

Singer said that given Hansen’s conjecture and accounts from Janet Armstrong and Armstrong’s sister, they felt they could take the license to include Karen’s bracelet.

“We felt this responsibility to him and to the accuracy of the story to do this right because some of the things we put in the script were quite provocative,” he explained. “I never would have taken license and made up the bracelet from whole cloth.”

Armstrong died in 2012 due to complications after heart bypass surgery.

“First Man” also stars Claire Foy, Pablo Schreiber, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler and Christopher Abbott, and hits theaters on Friday.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Ryan Gosling’s ‘First Man’ Lands Early Raves: ‘Nobody Has Taken Us to Space This Way Before’

‘First Man’ Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

Ryan Gosling Blasts Off as Neil Armstrong in ‘First Man’ Trailer (Video)

(Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you haven’t seen “First Man.”)

“First Man” is a retelling of one of the biggest moments in history, as well as a portrait of the reclusive man who became the first to walk on the moon.

Damien Chazelle’s drama starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong focuses more on the home life of the astronaut as he prepared for his dangerous missions into space.

That includes delving into the 1962 death of his daughter, Karen, of a malignant brain tumor at age 2. Throughout the movie, Armstrong is seen holding his daughter’s bracelet — and even takes it to the moon and throws it into a giant crater there before returning home.

But how factual is that part? Did Armstrong really throw his daughter’s bracelet into the crater?

Long story short, no one really knows. According to an individual with knowledge of the project, Armstrong never talked about it but his sister feels that he might have done so, given that he had 11 minutes alone on the moon — mostly exploring what is known as the East Crater — where no one knows exactly what he did.

Screenwriter Josh Singer told TheWrap that he included the scene based on a conjecture formed by James R. Hansen, who wrote the biography, “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong,” on which the movie is based.

“For Jim, after spending two years pursuing Armstrong and spending hours interviewing him and Janet [his wife] and his sister and everybody else, Jim started to get the idea that maybe Neil left something personal on the moon,” Singer said.

“Leaving tokens on the moon for loved ones or lost ones was something that was regularly done. So Jim started to wonder if Neil left anything that belonged to Karen behind and started looking through the manifest for Neil’s personal property kit and Neil said he had lost it,” Singer said. “That didn’t sound like Neil, and in fact he hadn’t lost it. It’s in the Purdue archives and it’s in fact being kept under seal until 2022 or something. But perhaps he had misplaced, and it still felt odd.”

“Did he take something of Karen with him to the Moon?” Armstrong’s sister June asked Hansen rhetorically in the book. “Oh, I dearly hope so.”

While he did take his wife Janet’s olive branch pin to the moon, there’s also no evidence he brought anything for his two sons.

“I assumed he had taken things to give to the boys later, but I don’t believe he has ever given them anything,” Janet told Hansen. “Neil can be thoughtful, but he does not give much time to being thoughtful, or at least to expressing it.”

Buzz Aldrin and Armstrong did take personal kits to the moon, although Armstrong “never released any information about the contents of his PPK.”

“More concerned about getting every necessary object inside the LM, the astronauts almost forgot to leave a small packet of memorial items on the lunar surface,” the book reads. “Aldrin recalls the near oversight: ‘We were so busy that I was halfway up the ladder before Neil asked me if I had remembered to leave the mementos we had brought along. I had completely forgotten. What we had hoped to make into a brief ceremony, had there been time, ended almost as an afterthought. I reached into my shoulder pocket, pulled the packet out and tossed it onto the surface.’ The packet contained two Soviet-made medals, in honor of deceases cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit the Earth, who died in a MiG-15 accident in March 1967; and Vladimir Komarov, killed a month after Gagarin at the conclusion of his Soyuz 1 flight when his spacecraft’s descent parachute failed to open. Also in the packet was an Apollo 1 patch commemorating Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. Also inside was a small gold olive-branch pin, symbolic of the peaceful nature of the American Moon landing program. The token was identical to the pins that the three Apollo 11 astronauts were carrying as gifts from their wives.”

“I didn’t bring anything else for myself,” Armstrong said. “At least not that I can remember.” Janet Armstrong said her husband “didn’t ask” if she wanted to send anything.

“I don’t think we really wanted to talk totally open about what it was,” Aldrin said in the book. “So it was sort of guarded.” He then said Armstrong straightened out the packet that had some dust on it after landing to Armstrong’s right.

Hansen noted that Armstrong said he would reveal the contents of his package for the biography, but was “unable to find the manifest among his many papers.” All he said was, “in my PPK I had some Apollo 11 medallions, some jewelry for my wife and mother [simply the gold olive branch pin for each], and some things for other people.”

What’s most clear, however, is that Armstrong took pieces of the Wright brothers’ historic flyer with him that he arranged with the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The book also noted he took along his college fraternity pin from Purdue, which he later donated to the Phi Delta Theta headquarters in Oxford, Ohio.

Singer said that given Hansen’s conjecture and accounts from Janet Armstrong and Armstrong’s sister, they felt they could take the license to include Karen’s bracelet.

“We felt this responsibility to him and to the accuracy of the story to do this right because some of the things we put in the script were quite provocative,” he explained. “I never would have taken license and made up the bracelet from whole cloth.”

Armstrong died in 2012 due to complications after heart bypass surgery.

“First Man” also stars Claire Foy, Pablo Schreiber, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler and Christopher Abbott, and hits theaters on Friday.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Ryan Gosling's 'First Man' Lands Early Raves: 'Nobody Has Taken Us to Space This Way Before'

'First Man' Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

Ryan Gosling Blasts Off as Neil Armstrong in 'First Man' Trailer (Video)

‘First Man’: Shooting the Moon in IMAX to Heighten Neil Armstrong’s Death-Defying Journey

Damien Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren experimented with IMAX for Neil Armstrong’s historic moon landing as surreal poetry.

The challenge for Damien Chazelle in dramatizing the historic moon landing was taking us where we had never been before — inside Neil Armstrong’s (Ryan Gosling) mind as he walked along the alien surface in a state of serenity. The decision, therefore, to shoot the climactic sequence in IMAX  (see the video below) was a no brainer, since the large-format brand has long been associated with the documentary space movie.

However, the director and his Oscar-winning cinematographer Linus Sandgren (“La La Land”) had a new twist: make it a subjective, ghostly experience so that we’re one with Armstrong on the moon. “Damien wanted to travel to the planet of the dead so he could say goodbye to his daughter,” said Sandgren. “It was an opportunity to reflect on life…a story of the humanity that matters most, and the loss and cost to get there.”

Read More:First Man’: Ryan Gosling Recreated Neil Armstrong’s ‘One Small Step’ Line So Perfectly That Viewers Can’t Tell Difference

First Man

Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

NASA’s mission to the moon in the ’60s is given an authentic, in-camera, doc-like treatment by Chazelle and Sandgren. Viewed through the eyes of the taciturn, grief-stricken Armstrong, it’s like watching a personal home movie, warm or cold-looking, alternating between Kodak 16mm and 35mm film. To convey Armstrong’s troubled state of mind, the dizzying hand-held camera takes on the instability of NASA’s dreaded spinning machine.

But when Armstrong gets on the moon, everything stabilizes and he becomes serene. That’s where IMAX kicks in. They even planned it like “The Wizard of Oz.” As they opened the door from the lunar module to get out, it transitions from 16mm to IMAX with the help of a VFX plate. Production designer Nathan Crowley (“Dunkirk,” “Interstellar”) built a massive set out of the Vulcan gray rock quarry in Atlanta to serve as the lunar surface and Sandgren shot the sequence at night.

“First Man”

Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

“It’s a beautiful format,” Sandgren said of his first IMAX experience. “The moon surface is monochromatic yet you view it on the crispest format. You see colors in the sand, reflections of the crystals. What’s fun for us is that it’s totally surreal. You’re out of this world and the image is much [bigger]. You’re on a crane now and you’re floating. And it’s not Neil, it’s more like you.”

But the biggest challenge was lighting it with a single source, 500 feet away and 150-foot high. Sandgren tested two 100K SoftSun lamps, but the double shadows were a bother and too fuzzy. “I asked the inventor. David Pringle, if he could make a couple of 200K lamps. His company made two bulbs. It made us able to shoot that moon surface in that big, wide environment with these prototypes.”

“First Man”

Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

The other great attribute about IMAX was capturing the 180-degree reflections on Armstgrong’s visor. It was eerie, almost alien-looking and complemented by Justin Hurwitz’s use of the otherworldly theramin in his score. “It looked very lonely. We shot that with all those practical elements there,” Sandgren said. “The crew had to hide.”

The visual poetry of the IMAX moon sequence was the culmination of Armstrong’s personal journey: expanding his horizon to deal with death. “With the metaphors in the film for these kinds of things, it was a huge part of our visual language as well,” said Sandgren.”

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Ryan Gosling Explains His ‘Mild’ Concussion Shooting ‘First Man’ Action Scenes

Dancing in “La La Land” clearly didn’t prepare Ryan Gosling for what he would have to do upon working with Damien Chazelle again for “First Man.”

In June, it was reported that Gosling had sustained a concussion while filming action scenes for the Neil Armstrong biopic, but in a new GQ cover story profile of the actor and Chazelle, Gosling said the injuries he sustained were only “mild.”

The piece describes Gosling shooting a sequence inside a “multi-axis trainer” made to simulate pitch, roll and yaw, causing the real gravitational effects you see on Gosling’s face in the film. It also said that in another moment, the on-set crew pushed the capsule Gosling was filming inside too far, causing it to shake so violently that in dailies for “First Man,” you can hear crew members audibly yelling “Stop!”

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Expected to Launch to $20 Million Box Office Opening

“Yeah, I don’t remember much from that entire time,” Gosling said. “You start making sounds that no person should hear themselves make.”

Gosling filmed scenes strapped into several devices used by astronauts during training designed to simulate g-forces and space travel — and he did so all in the same week.

The article also addresses the American flag controversy that has dogged the film since even before its release, with Chazelle weighing in on the conspiracy theory that the moon landing might’ve actually been faked by Stanley Kubrick.

Also Read: Ryan Gosling’s ‘First Man’ Lands Early Raves: ‘Nobody Has Taken Us to Space This Way Before’

“If it’s this hard to literally re-create, like, a five-minute version of this event 50 years later… To re-create a live stream, basically, of hours of this event in 1969? I’m of the mind-set it would’ve been harder to fake this than to actually do it,” Chazelle said. “At that point, you might as well send people off in a rocket.”

Gosling covers the November issue of GQ, which hits newsstands Oct. 23. “First Man” opens in theaters October 12. Read the full profile here.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Damien Chazelle Aims to Show Neil Armstrong’s ‘Normalcy and Quotidian Reality’ in ‘First Man’ (Video)

‘First Man’ Gets Bigger and Bolder in Toronto IMAX Premiere

Neil Armstrong’s Sons, ‘First Man’ Author on Flag Omission: ‘We Do Not Feel This Movie Is Anti-American’

Dancing in “La La Land” clearly didn’t prepare Ryan Gosling for what he would have to do upon working with Damien Chazelle again for “First Man.”

In June, it was reported that Gosling had sustained a concussion while filming action scenes for the Neil Armstrong biopic, but in a new GQ cover story profile of the actor and Chazelle, Gosling said the injuries he sustained were only “mild.”

The piece describes Gosling shooting a sequence inside a “multi-axis trainer” made to simulate pitch, roll and yaw, causing the real gravitational effects you see on Gosling’s face in the film. It also said that in another moment, the on-set crew pushed the capsule Gosling was filming inside too far, causing it to shake so violently that in dailies for “First Man,” you can hear crew members audibly yelling “Stop!”

“Yeah, I don’t remember much from that entire time,” Gosling said. “You start making sounds that no person should hear themselves make.”

Gosling filmed scenes strapped into several devices used by astronauts during training designed to simulate g-forces and space travel — and he did so all in the same week.

The article also addresses the American flag controversy that has dogged the film since even before its release, with Chazelle weighing in on the conspiracy theory that the moon landing might’ve actually been faked by Stanley Kubrick.

“If it’s this hard to literally re-create, like, a five-minute version of this event 50 years later… To re-create a live stream, basically, of hours of this event in 1969? I’m of the mind-set it would’ve been harder to fake this than to actually do it,” Chazelle said. “At that point, you might as well send people off in a rocket.”

Gosling covers the November issue of GQ, which hits newsstands Oct. 23. “First Man” opens in theaters October 12. Read the full profile here.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Damien Chazelle Aims to Show Neil Armstrong's 'Normalcy and Quotidian Reality' in 'First Man' (Video)

'First Man' Gets Bigger and Bolder in Toronto IMAX Premiere

Neil Armstrong's Sons, 'First Man' Author on Flag Omission: 'We Do Not Feel This Movie Is Anti-American'

‘First Man’ Review: Damien Chazelle & Ryan Gosling Land Another Triumph

Damien Chazelle proves himself to be one of the more versatile directors around, following Oscar-nominated hits like Whiplash and La La Land by tackling a completely different genre — outer space — and succeeding admirably in bringing the s…

Damien Chazelle proves himself to be one of the more versatile directors around, following Oscar-nominated hits like Whiplash and La La Land by tackling a completely different genre — outer space — and succeeding admirably in bringing the story of Apollo 11’s first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, to life in the appropriately titled First Man. As I say in my video review above, this area is not new to Hollywood and has been favorably filmed with such Best Picture nominees…

Listen: Damien Chazelle on ‘First Man’ and ‘Surreal’ Oscars EnvelopeGate

PLAYBACK is a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films. New episodes air every Thursday. Filmmaker Damien Chazelle had quite the act to follow after “La La Land,” t…

PLAYBACK is a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films. New episodes air every Thursday. Filmmaker Damien Chazelle had quite the act to follow after “La La Land,” the 2016 musical that tied the record for Oscar nominations and marked him as the youngest person to […]

Damien Chazelle Aims to Show Neil Armstrong’s ‘Normalcy and Quotidian Reality’ in ‘First Man’ (Video)

With historical space drama “First Man,” Damien Chazelle said it was important to show Neil Armstrong’s down-to-earth, “quotidian reality” while still showcasing his stellar achievements of flying to the moon.

“I think the thing that interested me the most was finding out how difficult this period of Neil’s life was,” Chazelle told TheWrap at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Growing up, I thought of the moon landing as this great success story and I think the history of it has been cast in this glow that lives in the aftermath of the success. But when you unwind and look back… I got a sense of such sacrifice, such loss, such hardships, such trauma at times, that made me ask questions that I tried to ask in earlier movies as well: What the cost of a goal is and what the worth of a goal is, and there’s no more famous goal than landing someone on the moon.”

“First Man” stars Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, and also stars Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll and Pablo Schreiber.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Expected to Launch to $20 Million Box Office Opening

Josh Singer, who wrote the screenplay for the film that’s already gaining awards buzz, said that initially, a film about Neil Armstrong kind of sounded “bland,” but he soon realized otherwise.

“But when you get into the detail of what you had to deal with, I was just blown away,” said Singer. “The amount of loss, the amount of sacrifice, the amount of failure… seeing these failures in and out throughout this story just made it all the more inspiring.”

Ultimately, what the filmmakers wanted to achieve with the drama was portraying Armstrong’s family life while not taking away from his massive achievement of being the first man to walk on the moon.

Also Read: ‘First Man’ Gets Bigger and Bolder in Toronto IMAX Premiere

“What fascinated us the most and what we wanted to keep getting at was again that sense of reality, that sense of bringing it all down to earth, creating family scenes and dynamic and show how terrifying and visceral these missions would be,” added Chazelle. “There was a normalcy and quotidian reality at the heart of this.”

Lastly, the filmmaker said that, for most of the people growing up in the Houston area near NASA, “their parents were just doing their jobs — they weren’t making history.”

Watch the video above.

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With historical space drama “First Man,” Damien Chazelle said it was important to show Neil Armstrong’s down-to-earth, “quotidian reality” while still showcasing his stellar achievements of flying to the moon.

“I think the thing that interested me the most was finding out how difficult this period of Neil’s life was,” Chazelle told TheWrap at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Growing up, I thought of the moon landing as this great success story and I think the history of it has been cast in this glow that lives in the aftermath of the success. But when you unwind and look back… I got a sense of such sacrifice, such loss, such hardships, such trauma at times, that made me ask questions that I tried to ask in earlier movies as well: What the cost of a goal is and what the worth of a goal is, and there’s no more famous goal than landing someone on the moon.”

“First Man” stars Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, and also stars Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll and Pablo Schreiber.

Josh Singer, who wrote the screenplay for the film that’s already gaining awards buzz, said that initially, a film about Neil Armstrong kind of sounded “bland,” but he soon realized otherwise.

“But when you get into the detail of what you had to deal with, I was just blown away,” said Singer. “The amount of loss, the amount of sacrifice, the amount of failure… seeing these failures in and out throughout this story just made it all the more inspiring.”

Ultimately, what the filmmakers wanted to achieve with the drama was portraying Armstrong’s family life while not taking away from his massive achievement of being the first man to walk on the moon.

“What fascinated us the most and what we wanted to keep getting at was again that sense of reality, that sense of bringing it all down to earth, creating family scenes and dynamic and show how terrifying and visceral these missions would be,” added Chazelle. “There was a normalcy and quotidian reality at the heart of this.”

Lastly, the filmmaker said that, for most of the people growing up in the Houston area near NASA, “their parents were just doing their jobs — they weren’t making history.”

Watch the video above.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Green Book' Wins Toronto Film Festival's People's Choice Award

Toronto 2018: Here's Every Movie Sold So Far, From 'Wild Rose' to 'Stan & Ollie'

Toronto So Far: 'First Man' and 'A Star Is Born' Lead a Crop of Films With Heart and Dazzle

Box Office: ‘First Man’ to Blast Off With $20 Million-Plus Debut

Damien Chazelle’s space epic “First Man” should achieve a solid liftoff when it opens on Oct. 12. Universal’s biographical drama — starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong — is eyeing a launch of north of $20 million,…

Damien Chazelle’s space epic “First Man” should achieve a solid liftoff when it opens on Oct. 12. Universal’s biographical drama — starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong — is eyeing a launch of north of $20 million, though stellar reviews leading up to its opening could propel it closer to $30 million. “First Man’s” production […]

Deadline Studio at TIFF 2018 – Day 3 – Jonah Hill, Elisabeth Moss, Damien Chazelle, Melissa McCarthy & More

Deadline’s studio at the Toronto International Film Festival kicked off Day 3 by hosting fest-goers such as Jonah Hill of Mid90s; Elisabeth Moss of Her Smell; Melissa McCarthy of Can You Ever Forgive Me; Damien Chazelle of First Man; and many mor…

Deadline’s studio at the Toronto International Film Festival kicked off Day 3 by hosting fest-goers such as Jonah Hill of Mid90s; Elisabeth Moss of Her Smell; Melissa McCarthy of Can You Ever Forgive Me; Damien Chazelle of First Man; and many more. Click on the photo above to launch the gallery. Stay tuned for more photo galleries and video interviews from the Deadline Studio at TIFF 2018. Deadline Studio at TIFF 2018 is presented by eOne. Special thanks to sponsor Watford…