Andrew Niccol deliberately set his film in the "not too distant future." In this didactic futuristic world, he draws upon elements that are prevalent in contemporary society, such as science and technology. By pushing current scientific possibilities to their limit, Niccol speculates and warns against the issues that could arise if we abuse science and take on the role of God. Niccol also created Gattaca so that it would intrigue and captivate a wide audience, not just those with a knowledge of science.
Niccol aimed to explore "the humanity in the technology" and present a futuristic world that is morally ambiguous, where there is no distinct right or wrong. In this way, Gattaca focuses on complex characters that are deeply flawed, but also have a number of positive characteristics. Niccol was influenced by classic Hollywood films as well as the works of Christopher Nolan, who directed Inception and Insomnia, among other films. However, Niccol also wanted to deviate from traditional Hollywood's emphasis on a single moral truth.
He also believes that a number of mainstream Hollywood films have a pretentious element, and seeks to avoid this in his work. This is why Gattaca is so unique and pushes the boundaries of science-fiction. He is also skeptical of overly-emotional performances and celebrity culture. Niccol was very deliberate with his casting choices. He cast Ethan Hawke as the lead character Vincent Freeman, when Hawke was still in his 20s and not yet a large star. This was also the first film that Jude Law (actor of Jerome Eugene Morrow) had been a part of in America. Niccol also put great thought into the setting to create a futuristic sense, as the majority of the interior of the Gattaca Institute is set inside Frank Lloyd Wright's iconoclastic 1960s Marin County Civic Center.
The stark minimalistic sets are also crucial in portraying a society devoid of warmth and love, where every item is treated clinically and there is no room for sentimentality. Considering the stunning sets and poignant classical soundtrack which is equally optimistic and sorrowful (nominated for Best Original Score in Golden Globes USA), it is easy to understand Gattaca as, in Niccol's words, a "beautiful dystopia."