‘Life’ Director Daniel Espinosa on Why They Shot with Only One Camera and No Second Unit

     March 24, 2017

With Life now playing in theaters, I recently sat down with director Daniel Espinosa to talk about the film. If you’re not familiar with the sci-fi thriller, Life stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya, and Hiroyuki Sanada and it revolves around the six-member crew of the International Space Station as they come into contact with the very first evidence of biological life on Mars: a small, single-celled organism. As they begin to research the specimen, however, this “life” proves far more dangerous than they could have ever imagined. Life was written by Deadpool’s Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese and produced by Skydance’s David Ellison and Dana Goldberg along with Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn.


Image via Sony Pictures

During the interview Espinosa talked about how none of the characters in Life make dumb movie mistakes, what he learned in test screenings that impacted the finished film, the eight-minute opening shot, how he only shot with one camera and no second unit, the length of his early cuts on films like Easy Money, Safe House and Child 44, and more. In addition, after Espinosa revealed his first cut on Child 44 was 5 hours (!); we spent a lot of time talking about it. Check out what he had to say in the player above and below is what we talked about followed by the official synopsis and the Life red band trailer.

Daniel Espinosa:

  • How no one in Life is making stupid movie mistakes.
  • What did he learn in test screenings that impacted the finished film?
  • How long was his first cut?
  • Talks about the length of his early cuts on films like Easy Money, Safe House and Child 44.
  • Talks about his five hour cut of Child 44 that he likes. The theatrical cut was 2 hours. Reveals the script was 176 pages.
  • life-hiroyuki-sanada

    Image via Sony Pictures

    How the opening shot of Life is 8 minutes.

  • How he only shot with one camera on Life and no second unit.
  • What’s coming up next?

Here’s the official synopsis for Life:

Columbia Pictures invites you and a guest to the upcoming promotional screening of LIFE, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. In the intense Sci-Fi thriller, the mission of a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

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