Quebec crew could win big for Arrival

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi hit heads into Sunday’s Academy Awards gala with eight nominations, including several that recognize local crew members from the Montreal-area shoot. T’Cha Dunlevy discusses the craft behind one of 2016’s most acclaimed films wit


JAN THIJS/PARAMOUNT PICTURES Denis Villeneuve, right, wanted the audience to be connected to Amy Adams’s character in Arrival. “I made room around her voice so we would feel close to her,” says sound mixer Bernard Gariépy Strobl, one of several Quebec crew members nominated for an Academy Award at this Sunday’s gala.

Denis Villeneuve likes to share. The Quebec director is one of the hottest commodities in Hollywood at the moment, but for his latest film, Arrival, he brought the production home, shooting in and around Montreal and showcasing Quebec’s thriving film industry by hiring local talent in many technical categories.

Now Arrival is nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best picture and best director, with members of Villeneuve’s Quebec team up for best production design (Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte), best sound editing (Sylvain Bellemare) and best sound mixing (Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye). The film is also nominated for best cinematography, best editing and best adapted screenplay.

In preparation for Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, the Montreal Gazette sat down with the Quebec nominees to talk about their trades, and the visionary filmmaker who brought them along on Arrival’s charmed journey.


Job description: “The production designer takes care of the whole visual envelope of a film. They create the ambience, the design, they supervise the rentals, draw the sets and create the visual harmony of a film.” Specifically speaking: “Before we went into production, Denis and I had a few months to discuss ideas and make sketches — we had the luxury of time. We developed the esthetic and the shell of the spaceship. We decided that the ship wouldn’t land, that it would hover 28 feet over the Earth, because humans must make the last effort (to reach it). We analyzed different countrysides, to find the right look for the big field (where the ship appears). We had the idea for the orange suits (the humans wear); that gravity would shift inside the ship; and that (the entry) shaft would turn into a hallway. We decided that the camp of scientists would be further away. We developed the whole concept of the mise-en-scène.” Getting connected: “We created these esthetic links between the spaceship, (Amy Adams’s character) Louise’s house, the university (shot at Montreal’s HEC), Place des Arts (where Adams’s character meets a Chinese general late in the film) and the hospital. The texture of the ship is stone, representing the history of civilization. You find that motif in the architecture of the university classroom; then in the spaceship’s interview chamber, which is like a classroom with its big white screen. In the house, there is a big white window with a hazy view of the lake, looking out at the future into infinity. In the university classroom, the board is white, not black or green. The interior of the ship is like a temple, dark and calm, in contrast to the wires and the chaos of the military camp. I like working on different levels — not just esthetically.” The aliens’ language: “At the beginning, we didn’t want the audience to know it’s a language. We wanted people to be surprised and wonder what it is, kind of like the ship. The esthetic is attractive, but danger can be attractive. We wanted the language to be a starting point.” On all the Oscar love: “C’est un beau cadeau de la vie. It’s a nice bit of recognition by my peers — the designers who voted. I was walking on air for a week. I think (they appreciated) the fact it’s a bit different, and surprising, esthetically. This film is a great example of teamwork. We all embraced the story and were inspired by it.”


Job description: “My job is to break down the elements of the decor that we see in the film. I had 10 days with Patrice before we were swarmed by our team. We were able to think and talk about things. He had already met with Denis, so he knew what he wanted.” Specifically speaking: “We found this company on the West Coast, this kind of army surplus place that specializes in military equipment. We were able to buy all our tents and equipment from them. We had six tents, 20 by 60 feet, with hallways connecting them. In one of the main tents, there was the command centre, which was where everything converged. In there we put these big tables, computers, lights, all together as in a crisis situation — fast, nothing fancy.

“There was the spy tent, the medical tent, the barracks, the cafeteria, the science tent for Louise and Ian (Jeremy Renner’s character), and the cryptography tent. That was my biggest challenge, the biggest piece of the puzzle in terms of budget and preparation, which took up most of the time of our team.

“At the same time, I worked with other decorators on the decor of Louise’s home, the university and the hospital. I had four decorators working with me; each had a part of the decor they were responsible for, and their research was done based on discussions we had, which were based on discussions I had with Patrice.” On all the Oscar love: “I see it more as (a recognition of ) the ensemble, not just the production design. Denis Villeneuve has his own cinematic language particular to him, like a writer or a novelist has his own way of explaining life.”


Job description: “On the whole, we use the term ‘conception’ or ‘construction’ — it’s the writing of the sonic language of the film. There are more naturalistic films, but Arrival was a work of construction. We received the finished visual edit and then we added all kinds of sounds that didn’t exist at the time of the visual edit.

“It’s really a group effort, and I’m the spokesperson. I’ve got a big gang behind me. There’s the sound technician, getting the raw sounds; the foley people (who match sound effects with visuals after the shoot); the (general) sound effects people. Many things were shot in the studio using a green screen, so we had to create all those sounds — of the spaceship, the heptapods’ voices and movements.” Approach: “I always said to myself I just had to follow Amy Adams. I wanted the sound to accompany her. She’s in a state of non-temporality; from the beginning of the film, she’s not comfortable. She has to help the army, but she doesn’t like these people. She quickly falls into delirium and has visions from who knows where. So I wanted the sound to be kind of trippy and nebulous, like she’s a little stoned.” Case in point: “After Louise Banks meets Costello (one of the aliens), alone in the ship, when she comes out she has just understood: she has seen the future. She runs toward the base and the military people are running to meet her; then the ship moves. At that point, any director from Hollywood would have inserted music. But Denis said, ‘No, no, no, no music. The ship is coming toward her — that’s what I want to hear. I don’t want any cream on top.’ That’s him. He was guiding us, and it’s thanks to him if the film is great. He has very strong instincts, and he listens to his instincts.”


Job description: “On set, my job is to record the dialogue, first and foremost, and the background ambience if I get the opportunity.” Case in point: “In Arrival, many scenes involved the actors wearing spacesuits. My job was to ensure the communications. At first nobody could hear anyone else. I had to make sure everyone could hear everyone and that their voices were at the right level. Each actor had a microphone and headphones in their suit. Denis had to be able to communicate with people, and they had to hear Denis and the first assistant director.” Approach: “Recording sound is about capturing the real performance of the actors, so the director can take off from there and create something else. It’s about placing the microphone and working with the lighting (setup) and the decor, and noises you don’t want to hear. Getting all those things right is not easy.” On all the Oscar love: “We’re riding the Denis Villeneuve wave.”


Job description: “The sound for a film starts on set, in this case with Claude La Haye. Then there’s the visual edit. During that time, the foleying and the sound editing starts; and then there are all the sound effects. The creation of the voices of the heptapods started in New Zealand with David Whitehead and his wife, Michelle Child. The foleying was done in Paris with Nicolas Becker, and we had a whole big team here with Sylvain Bellemare at the head. Olivier Calvert was in charge of the sounds of the spaceship and the ambience inside. The job of the mixer is to mix all those sounds together and create a final atmosphere. My job is to make sure Denis Villeneuve’s ideas for sound are clearly realized.” Approach: “Denis wanted to be close to Louise Banks. I made room around her voice so we would feel close to her. If he needed a feeling of anxiety — like at the beginning where she arrives at the military base — in the mix, I played the sounds around her loud, to make it chaotic and nerve-racking. Or when she comes out of the tent to go toward the spaceship, there’s an interior point of view from inside her suit, which feels claustrophobic. I toyed around to make it sound like she was inside a bubble, and brought the music in softly. That’s all the job of the mixer — to sculpt all the sounds to provide the sonic ambience of the film.

“Denis wanted it to be as naturalistic as possible. He didn’t want the cliché of a big action film, with this big sonic mass. He wanted it to be delicate, and you can feel that in the film. He insisted the spaceship have no motor or other sci-fi effects. So when the ship moves, which is the only moment it makes sound, you hear rock and ice, morphed together — natural sources so that we feel like the Earth is grumbling. When humans are around the ship, the alien presence is felt through static in their communication. And there’s this strange wind sound, which is based on all kinds of wind, mixed together. In the mix, we went for subtlety and poetry over effects and sonic pressure.” On all the Oscar love: “I think it’s the colour that Denis brings to American cinema. It’s a different way of doing things that is felt on every level. He offered us this platform and we were able to accompany him well.”

Denis Villeneuve has his own cinematic language particular to him, like a writer or a novelist has his own way of explaining life.

Fanzine: Tightbeam from

Lots of interesting reviews of books, movies, and fanzines.


A surprisingly negative review of The Fifth Season by George Philies which starts with:

For reasons best understood by its supporters, The Fifth Season, a novel by N. K. Jemison, published by Orbit Books, was the 2016 Hugo Award winner. The writing is, all things considered, abysmal. The author appears to have identified a set of major stylistic conventions, seemingly only so that she could trample them under foot. One could say that the writing style was ‘experimental’, but if so the experiment should be viewed as a write-off. There are so many problems with the work that it is difficult to choose where to begin.

TIGHTBEAM is produced on a bi-monthly basis by the N3F –The National Fantasy Fan Federation, a world-wide club for fans of science fiction/fantasy and related subjects.

Free Movie passes

For advance screening of LIFE, a Sci-Fi Thriller will be drawn at the March 12th meeting.

We were better off alone!

Life tells the story of the six-member crew of the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As the crew begins to conduct research and their methods end up having unintended consequences, the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.

Directed by:    Daniel Espinosa
Written by:    Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese
Cast:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson. Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Ryan Reynolds   

Sci-Fi Bridge Offers 4 free ebooks

Plus chance to win more!

Thanks to Leybl for pointing us to this resource!

The site is not clear on details, but apparently according to Leybl’s source, SCI-Fi Bridge is a weekly Sci-Fi newsletter recommending different books from both indie and traditional sci-fi authors, usually at a discount. There will be author interviews, fun stories, excerpts, and behind the scenes articles.

From their FB page:

Sci-Fi Bridge is a brand-new platform dedicated to bringing you the best in #Scifi books from around the world. To celebrate our launch, we’re excited to bring you the 1st of 4 massive book #giveaways! All who enter will receive 4 FREE ebooks, plus the chance for 5 winners to receive 20+ #ebooks from #Scifi authors from every background. 1 lucky Grand Prize Winner will also receive a package of 17 SIGNED BOOKS, including full series by Jay Allan, Jamie Mcfarlane, Steve Konkoly, Myke Cole and more! Enter here:



REVISED SFWA Nebula Awards Ballot

The revised Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury finalists is below:


  • All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
  • The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Ninefox Gambit,Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)


  • Runtime, S.B. Divya ( Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson ( Publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle ( Publishing)
  • Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
  • “The Liar”, John P. Murphy (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson ( Publishing)


  • “The Long Fall Up”, William Ledbetter (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
  • “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories”, Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “The Orangery”, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde ( Publishing)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)

Short Story

  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Sabbath Wine”, Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “Things With Beards”, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
  • “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door”, A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, Alyssa Wong (
  • “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed)



  • Arrival, Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/Xenolinguistics
  • Doctor Strange, Directed by Scott Derrickson, Screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Kubo and the Two Strings, Directed by Travis Knight, Screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Directed by Gareth Edwards, Written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucusfilm/ Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’’, Directed by Jonathan Nolan, Written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO
  • Zootopia, Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, Screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios



  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers)
  • The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
  • The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
  • Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
  • Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Kathy Dawson Books)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)


Voting will begin on the final ballot for all Active, Active Family, and Lifetime Active members on March 1st, 2017. The awards will be presented during the annual Nebula Conference, which will run from May 18th-21st and feature seminars and panel discussions on the craft and business of writing, SFWA’s annual business meeting, and receptions. On May 19th, a mass autograph session, open to the public, will take place at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center.

The Nebula Awards recognize the best works of science fiction and fantasy published in the United States as selected by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, membership in which is open to all professional science fiction and fantasy authors. The first Nebula Awards were presented in 1966.

In addition to the Nebula Awards, SFWA will present the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

For more information please visit

For more information please email

two zines for your reading pleasure

The Zine Dump 39, in which Guy Lillian reviews lots and lots of zines, including our own WARP 97.

Keith Braithewaite’s cover illo – from War of the Worlds – is frankly beautiful, an oddity for the subject matter. But not for Warp, the club genzine for MonSFFA, the Montreal group which also publishes a newszine, Impulse. (I only this minute figured out the titles joke.) Fine group and happy genzine … coming events (they’re busy up north), a Star Trek Voyager fanfic by Barbara Silverman, Sylvain St. Pierre’s smart, valuable piece on prepping for Helsinki (I am rotten with envy), reviews of SF films (missing Arrival, but including an unknown, Sunshine) and interestingly, the Hebrew novel Hizdamnut Shniya [People of the Circle: 2nd Chance], reviewed by Leybl Botwinik. The club photos that follow are particularly neat; no furries but some likable brothers and sisters of the garter. A page on a board game, War & Feast, illoed by Braithewaite ends things with a wowed jolt: I want to steal that werewolf illo.

February The National Fantasy Fan

I found the article on Marjorie Bowen interesting. She wrote over 150 books under various pen names. A hard life:

Bowen’s alcoholic father left the family at an early age and was eventually found dead on a London street. After this, Bowen’s writings were the chief financial support for her dysfunctional family. She was married twice: first, from 1912 to 1916, to a Sicilian named Zefferino Emilio Constanza, who died of tuber-culosis; they had two children, one of whom died in infancy. She then married Arthur L. Long, “finding with him the do-mestic tranquility she needed.” She and Long had two sons. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage from a fall at her home in Kensington.


Editorial: Article Order — Projects — Franking Bureau
Membership Recruitment — Eldritch Science — Your Project
Bureaus: Birthday Card Bureau — Fan-Pro Coordinating Bureau
Games Bureau — Membership Recruitment
Round Robins — Welcommittee
Letters of Comment — John Thiel —Bruce Gillespie
N3F Founding Members: Dale Tarr
Neglected Genre Authors: Marjorie Bowen
Gourmet Page: Chicken with Dumplings
N3F Founding Members: Elmer Purdue
January Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels
2017 N3F Amateur Short Story Contest


A SpaceX rocket soared from NASA’s long-idled moonshot pad Sunday, sending up space station supplies from the exact spot where astronauts embarked on the lunar landings nearly a half-century ago.

It was the first flight from NASA’s legendary Launch Complex 39A since the shuttle program ended almost six years ago, and SpaceX’s first liftoff from Florida since a rocket explosion last summer.

Detailed article with many images:

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

| Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 21 July 2017 (USA)


Time-traveling agent Valerian is sent to investigate a galactic empire, along with his partner Laureline.

Director: Luc Besson

Writers: Pierre Christin (comic book), Jean-Claude Mézières (comic book) | 1 more credit »

Stars: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Ethan Hawke