Neill Blomkamp, who had to bring a high-concept sci-fi world to life with a budget of $30 million, struggled after his originally-planned collaboration on the film’s VFX with WETA fell through. After pivoting to the lesser-known company Image Engine, Blomkamp and his crew had to contend with an insufficient budget and arbitrary shooting schedule, which demanded that a lot be accomplished with little. In a 2009 conversation with Gizmodo, the director explained that all the alien interactions during the eviction sequence were improvised on the spot by Sharlto Copley and Jason Cope, who effectively shifted scenes while pretending to evict different aliens:
“So we would film the two of them and then we would go to a different shack. And he’d [Copley] pretend to evict a new alien. Then we’d go somewhere else. […] It’s the conversations between those two, the actual dialogue, and what actually came out of them was totally improved. Any details in words and the language between the two happened right there on the day of shooting.”
Apart from stellar improvisation, the reason why these interactions feel so real is the way in which the camera captures these events in faux-documentary style, granting them a grounded, realistic essence. Even in moments when the duo diverge from the script, Blomkamp kept rolling, stopping only when something did not work in tandem with the story. For instance, after the crew drew a sign on the wall, Copley randomly ad-libbed, “This is a gang sign, we’re in a gang area right here,” which meant that the characters inside the alien home with the sign would now be treated as gangsters. This meant that the specifics of the story had to often be changed to allow creative freedom to the duo at the heart of the eviction sequence.