Alien Production Timeline March 1978

  Leading from
 Alien Production Timeline

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  • Dennis Lowe: At Shepperton We all started immediately after 'Pink Panther' and that must have been around March way. At the beginning Brian asked Guy and myself to make an example of a control panel for Ridley to look at and to use the same design they used to have from Space 1999 which had a very stylized clean graphic look to it. We both thought that this was a little too simplistic so we came up with a second version which included parts from ex government surplus equipment and the famous umbilical tubing sprayed down with a dusting of matte black. Ridley came in and of course picked the dirty one. (Alien Experience Re: ALIEN Makers Documentary) 
  • Dennis Lowe: At that same time in the workshop Ridley was talking about his first concept of the refinery and he was describing an actual oil refinery with pipes and spires, eventually the term 'Battleship Bismarck in space' came up to describe the detailing of the model.( ; Re: ALIEN Makers Documentary)
  • A March revised draft of the Alien Script is prepared by Giler and Hill, "based on a screenplay by Dan O'Bannon"

Thursday 2nd March 1978
  1. Roger Christian finds out that Terry Gilliam's Brian of Nazareth production being postponed and suddenly he is called to see Ridley about working on the Alien production

Friday, 3rd March 1978
  1. Giger flies over from Switzerland to England.
  2. See: Alien: Designing the derelict ship exterior
  3. HR Giger: 3 March 1978, London I did some sketches of the first of the three Alien monsters, the Facehugger, among the very first sketches I did. In the script this is the beast that lurks in the egg until some bigger living creature, such as a man, discovers its hiding- place and it is "liberated' from its sheath. As a reward the man becomes its victim and the host of its embryos, and this leads to his early death and the destruction of all around him. We discuss the role and the appearance of this horrible beast with the aid of my first sketches. The Facehugger had got a bit big, since I had to assume that an egg 800 cm (2 ft 6 in) across must contain something of corresponding size. In the first draft of the Alien story the astronaut who is let down into the eggsilo doesn't wear his helmet, and the Facehugger can jump straight on to his face and fasten itself there. Scott now decides that the astronaut must wear his helmet and that the beast must attach itself to the helmet first, then break into the eye-holes and force its loathsome tube into its victim's throat. Its spring like tail is coiled round his throat to render him unconscious. (Giger's Alien p52)

Sunday, 5th March 1978
  1. Giger is in London, he outlines his ideas to Ridley See: Alien: Battle between O'Bannon and Scott over derelict.
  2. H. R. Giger: 5 March 1978, London.: In Scott's office on Lexington Street, I outline my ideas for the derelict (plate 374) The derelict is a space-ship built by non-humans which the three astronauts come across on the strange planet. Scott thinks its absolutely great. O'Bannon who has just flown over from the USA, doesn't think it's technical enough. A battle of pros and cons begin. I keep quiet; I know that Scott will win the argument.  (Giger's Alien, p22, )
  3. H. R. Giger: 5 March 1978, London.: The certainty that my ideas will be adopted and that Scott can interpret them allows me to keep quiet. The war of words comes to an end and Scott asks me to paint a picture of the entrance passage. The battle is won. (Giger's Alien, p22, )

Saturday, 11th March 1978
  1. Discussion about the chestburster in London, inspired by Bacon's crucifixion and Giger works on the design at his apartment.  

Sunday, March 12th 1978
  1. Meryl Streep's partner John Cazale dies from bone cancer

Monday, March 13th 1978
  1. Laddie and Ridley discuss who's up for the Ripley role. Asking Meryl Streep is out of the question. Sigourney Weaver's name is then mentioned.
  2. Monty Python member Michael Palin who is a member of the board of directors at Shepperton is aware that the is overflowing with work. Portakabins are being hired to accommodate everyone - it looks like a Yukon town at the height of the gold rush. Odd Job and Pink Panther are shooting. Alien needing three stages, is building. Thief of Baghdad is in production too. However he thinks that the catering is appalling, he has pushed and pushed for some improvement but this had led nowhere. (Information taken from Michael Palin Diaries 1969-1979 The Python Years)
  3. Brian Johnson arrives at ILM in California to see George Lucas and Gary Kurtz about his work on Empire Strikes Back (See: Alien: Brian Johnson comes aboard)

Thursday, 16th March 1978
  1. Giger has a long talk with lawyer about his contract.

Friday 17th March 1978
  1. The day of Sigourney Weaver's audition at the Regency Hotel in New York?  

Thursday March 23rd 1978

  1.  "A Fox press release went out announcing that , "Distinguished director Ridley Scott has been signed to direct  the upcoming Brandywine -Ronald Shusett Production, Alien." The start date  had been moved from May to a more realistic July 3rd. The screenplay was listed as being written by O'Bannon, Hill and Giler" (The Making of Alien, p90, JW Rinzler)

Thursday, 30th March 1978
Works 366 and 367 are finished in Zurich, Giger goes to England for a conference and works on sketches while at the airport. 
Discussion about the set which features the derelict entrance and the landscape along with the Nostromo landing leg.

Giger is driven to Shepperton where he has a conference with Scott and O'Bannon about the Facehugger which means more alterations. 
  1. HR Giger: 30 March 1978 I am driven to Shepperton by the Chauffer, the signed contract in m pocket. It had been made clear to me that I must accept their terms of stay at home. Meanwhile the production team has grown to about 150 people, and more freelances were currently being taken on. Only the best people in the film industry - so they tell me. There are three big films being shot in Shepperton sound Stages A, B, C, D and H have been booked for Alien. Seymour takes charge of me and shows me the various workshops. In Sound Stage C they are already building the first sets of the interior of the space-ship Nostromo to designs by Ron Cobb. Cobb has actually been at work here with O'Bannon for a couple of weeks. (Giger's Alien p52)
  2. HR Giger: The designs I've brought with me meet with general approval. The eggsilo (plate 378) can't be built because it would be too expensive. Pity! Also, they want the eggs containing the Facehuggers to be made organically, like a sort of vagina. Scott makes my task easy, illustrating what he has in mind all the time with the help of my book H. R. Giger's Necronomicon. That saves me copying strange designs. (Giger's Alien p52) 
  3. HR Giger: 30 March 1978, Shepperton Studios I've made use of British Airways' compulsory one-hour wait to draw a few sketches. Meanwhile, in my studio in Zürich, plates 366 and 367 have been finished. Another conference, this time with O'Bannon, the author. Scott thinks it would be more effective to show the beast under the helmet instead of on it. He thinks he can heighten the tension and the horror with the beast's biting its way in, the removal of both sections of the helmet and a close-up of the repulsive creature actually on its victim's face. They soon reach the solution of having a fairly large eyehole, giving the Facehugger room to gnaw its way in. Since, unlike ordinary animals, it contains a corrosive yellow acid instead of blood, all materials are instantly eaten away when this liquid is released. This conference means yet another change in my designs (plate 379). If only I could get a bit more used to this endless alteration of my drawings. (Giger's Alien p52)

Friday, 31st March 1978
  1. Ridley gives Giger specifics about the Space Jockey design then known as the Outsize Pilot. 
  2. Giger draws an intricate sketch of the outsized alien in cockpit
  3. Today, Giger returns to Zurich.

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