Luc Besson's "superpowered drug mule" movie Lucy went to some pretty intense places in its final act. And concept artist Ben Mauro did a lot to shape the look of those scenes. Check out more of Mauro's Lucy concept art below — plus Mauro's attempts to reinvent alien invasions, and create a live-action movie of his own art.
"Luc had pretty specific ideas for how he wanted everything to look but also left room for me to explore, so a lot of the job for me was to do some extensive research and have fun trying to hit the target he set for me while combining things in interesting ways," Mauro tells io9. "Most of the basis for what he was after came from natural forms/structures/designs with a slight twist to push it into something more sci-fi."
One of the others things that was fun to visualize was how Lucy sees the world once she is further along in her metamorphosis, there was a scene that ended up being cut towards the end where she looked at a scientist and we see the world through her eyes as she is looking at him before diving into his memories about his daughter. Luc wanted this to be the equivalent to the moment in the Matrix where Neo can now see the code of the digital world around him, but what if LUCY could see the natural/real world at an even deeper level and understand and feel everything around her at a micro and macro scale, what if she could see the atomic/cellular activity of a human being, the magnetic fields/waves/energies that pulse and flow around/in/out of us and connect us to others, the cellular and radio waves in the air, everything..............what would THAT look like?
One of the starting points Luc asked for was thinking about things like the solar flare tendrils on the sun, so i started with that and branched off into other visualizations, keeping mind the human vascular system and how fluids flow through the human body, trying to integrate things like galaxy and nebula patterns and other directions ignoring that for something a bit more 'stylized'. Extremely fun assignment to do, was bummed when i saw that it got cut, but at least you can see a bit of the explorations into what could have been for that scene.
"For the computers, some of the initial ideas were inspired from choral reefs, stalagmites, termite mounds and the natural forms/structures made in their colonies," Mauro tells io9. "There are some visualizations where scientists poured concrete/metal into a colony then excavate the form once its hardened). Then later [Besson] had me explore something a bit more hard surfaced and 'designed' to see what that might look like, the final result in the film ended up being somewhere in-between those two extremes."
"The ideas in the script were really different/fresh compared to most of the other projects i have been involved with," says Mauro. "It was hugely exciting and satisfying to work with Luc again to visualize this for LUCY, have had some of the best creative experiences working with him, it is always a treat."
Mauro experimented with creating a really different alien life form, as a personal project. And he tried to imagine these aliens coming to Earth and clashing with our military — but also being worshipped as saviors. And how these creatures might remake human beings into new forms.
"I guess for me it becomes a fun design challenge," Mauro tells io9. "It is something that has been done to death in the entertainment industry so it forces you to really think outside of the box to come up with something new. What would something TRULY alien look like (not a little grey man, or look vaguely humanoid)? Where would it come from? What would it be here for? How would people around the world react to that?"
I was a huge Asimov fan growing up,
something along the lines of 'Rendezvous with Rama' has always captured my imagination more than any Hollywood blockbuster to date (maybe '2001" A Space Odyssey' comes close). This project doesn't have any relationship to that book, but maybe part of me is trying to capture that sense of wonder i felt reading a story like that, hopefully i have been somewhat successful in my explorations so far.
This was an attempt at converting Mauro's own concept art into a live-action movie, with an emphasis on practical effects. On his site, Mauro explains, "Taking cues from books like Neuromancer and early Ridley Scott films, Eduardo and I set out to explore what was possible on a limited budget (under $5k)."
Talking to io9, Mauro explains further:
The goal for that exercise was also to try to accomplish this task with extremely low budget and no VFX, so that was a learning experience in and of itself! I think the biggest thing i learned was a better understanding for the production pipeline and how everything fits together to make a film, knowing what resources are at your disposal and how you are going to build a set/costume/prop to create the desired look for the final shot you want with limited resources, its not always about creating a pretty piece of concept art to hang on your wall or put in a book, its about problem solving with images to accomplish a task, which is sometimes hard to understand until you experience something like this and see how everything fits together.