Alien Production Timeline May 1978

Leading from

still collating
Tuesday, 2nd May 1978
Gordon Carroll calls Giger to say that he likes the pictures  
  1. HR Giger: 2 May, Zürich Telephone call from Carroll, He is enthuslastic about the pictures. He thinks they get better and better (Giger's Alien p14)

Saturday 6th May 1978
  1.  Interior Galley, set no.506,  Plan E - elevation is drawn for stage C
Monday 8th May 1978
  1. Ridley has some notes typed out for the characters Ripley and Dallas, giving some details about their background. (See: Alien: Ridley Scott's notes for Ripley and Dallas in the test scene in Alien)

    Friday  12th May 1978
    1. Sigourney Weaver flies to London to do the screen test. (See Sigourney's Screen Test ))
    Saturday 13th May 1978

    1. Was this when Alan Ladd brought various members of staff to see Sigourney's screentest or did that happen on Monday. (See Alien: Consulting Women)

Sunday, 14th May 1978
Giger received a phone call from London, and has been re-appointed, and is asked to go to Shepperton to work on scenery models for Alien including a visualisation of a skeleton of an alien astronaut now to be blended into the landscape instead

Although the other side to that is that Cinefex (CFX1, p48) informs us that Gordon Carroll invited Giger to London to observe the progress being made on the alien forms. 

Giger had a strong desire to fulfill his work commitments at his studio from Zurich. Although Ridley accepted this, it was never his intention to let him stay there. 
  1. HR Giger: 14 May, Zurich Another call from Carroll, telling me that I've been re-appointed, I am to go to Shepperton as soon as possible and start work on the scenery models for Alien. (Giger's Alien p14)

Monday, 15th May 1978  
  1. Giger finished the picture of an alien astronaut's body on the landscape.  (See Alien: HR Giger's landscape (work 385)(1978)  and also Alien: Landscape with alien astronaut corpse)
Giger's landscape (work 385) (1978) for Alien

Wednesday, 17th May 1978
  1. Giger asks Ridley's secretary if he should come to London to show the painting 
Thursday 18th May 1978
  1. Giger takes a flight to London. 
  2. Ridley takes a look at the picture but doesn't like the details on the skeleton and so Giger must rework it. 
  3. Giger finds that construction of space ship is in full swing, small models of the landscape and derelict entrance have been made. 
  4. Giger decides that he ought to go ahead and design the models himself 
Friday 19th May 1978
  1. Giger visits Li's grave around noon on the anniversary of his death, he brought 100 pale roses with him, The tombstone looked fine and the bronze had developed a natural patina. Presumably he is back in Switzerland and that the trip to London was very quick
  2. He called Shepperton later that day. He discussed his plan to start making the landscape model from bones on the 25th and they would discuss this matter with him.
Monday, 22nd May 1978
Materials and Hotel have been booked for Giger. with the flight on the 25th. A film screening

  1. HR Giger: 22 May, Shepperton Staying in Warren Lodge Hotel. They have given me the best room, with a huge balcony and a view over the Thames. There are always a lot of boats on the river, since there is a sailing club on an island nearby. The pop group The Who stayed here a few years ago, as you can tell from the golden disc dedicated to the proprietor, Mr Gordon. I'm crazy about my new pad, and immediately ring up Mia, my girl-friend in Zürich, and ask her to come over as soon as possible. We're thinking of taking some photographs and making a documentary film about Alien. (Giger's Alien p16)

Tuesday, 23rd May 1978
  1. Giger receives a phonecall from the lawyer.  20th Century Fox is inquiring about whether he would  be satisfied with a mid-price hotel. Giger responds that he would prefer to live in Shepperton renting a studio or a little house, rather than commuting from central London and back taking up an hour every day.
  2. He works on the hieroglyphs, and this would probably be finished by the evening of the 24th which he would then take to London.
Thursday, 25th May 1978
Giger stays in Warren Lodge Hotel which is less than a mile from the town centre which was the area where the writer J G Ballard lived, and also a mile and a third from the film studios .
  1. HR Giger: 25 May, Shepperton Studios In the studios the sets, as the scenes are called, are slowly taking shape. The Alien scenery is to be bullt on the stage in Sound Stage H, one of the biggest In Europe, where this great sound stage, sixty by a hundred metres, is to be demollshed and a housing estate put up. They have already started modelling the scenery, and I'm appalled by it; it len't in the least like what I had designed, Seeing how upset I am, they ask me it I'd prefer to bulld the models myself. (Giger's Alien  p14)
  2. HR Giger: lt's clear to me that, unless I do, It won't go the way l want it, so I take the work over, I ask them to obtain as many different bones as possible, and a supply of plasticine, before my next visit, With this request I leave London on the same day and fly back to Zurich. (Giger's Alien  p14)

The Warren Lodge Hotel
Friday, 26th May 1978
Giger meets Peter Voysey and they begin work on the bone landscapes
Giger, Voysey and Brian Muir talked about the bone rocks that formed the landscape leading to the wreck of the derelict entrance to be erected on H stage. The plasterers would make the basic shapes from a series of wooden templates covered with chicken wire and then coated with plaster. Meanwhile Brian Muir would carve the intricate parts in polystyrene and then coated them in plaster. Then the sections were married together and painted until they blended seamlessly
  1. HR Giger: 26 May, Shepperton Studies My new Colleague, Peter Voysey, is introduced to me. He is said to be one of the best and most sought-after modeliers in the film business. (Giger's Alien p16)
  2. HR Giger:  In Sound Stage H we start on a model of the landscape to a scale of 1:2. The bones are all ready for us; they are sawn up, stuck together with plasticine and all mixed up with tubes, cables and bits of machinery (plates 385 a-c) We make good progress, not least because Voysey is able to carry out the work just as I envisage it. There are stage carpenters and joiners all round us putting up foundations for the scenery according to the old wrong models. In some astonishment I try to find out what is the object of this, and the production designer, Seymour enlightens me. It would, he tells me, be bad for the workers" morale it they were stopped in the middle of a job, They have to be kept busy until the new landscape models are ready to be built, or else they will never be able to get anything done. When I ask him what will happen to the old scenery, he just says: 'Scrapped'. An odd way of economizing in a place where you're continually hearing the motto, Time is money: if they hadn't kept me on ice in Zürich for a month, they really would have been able to live up to that motto (Giger's Alien p16)
Saturday, 27th May 1978
  1. HR Giger: 27 May 1978, Shepperton Mia has arrived. She's just as keen on the hotel and its surroundings as I am. We are particularly struck by the King's Head pub, run by the jolly Cameron family with Penny as the charming landlady. In the little pub garden, over Spanish white wine, I give Mia a crash course in photography. (Giger's Alien p18)

Sunday, 28th May 1978
  1. Giger telephoned his mother that morning, and she planned to arrive at the airport at 8pm on Friday. At 12.30 he and Mia took half an acid each , sitting most before the TV with laughter. While Mia is asleep by midnight, Giger is restless after his tripping. He wants to go back to work as soon as possible.
  2. HR Giger: 28 May 1978, Shepperton It's just past midnight. Mia is asleep. I am restless and nervous. Tomorrow, Monday, is a bank holiday. I'm so involved in the work ahead of me that I'd much rather go back to work. If I stop and work here for a few weeks, I believe I can rescue a great part of my designs. (Giger's Alien p18)

Monday 29th May 1978

  1. Today is a public holiday
Tuesday, 30th May 1978
  1. Giger works with Mia and Peter on the model.
  2. Painted the alien aircraft, coloured the bone landscape dark at the request of Ridley Scott
  3. HR Giger:30 May 1978, Shepperton Studios As I am modelling on the stage in Sound Stage H with Mia and Voysey, a group of important looking people come up, led by Scott and Carroll. These gentlemen are introduced to me. They all want to shake hands in the continental style - in England you don't shake hands with people much - but I have to refuse because my hands are filthy; so we content ourselves with bowing to one another stiffly, like Germans, which must look a bit comic. One gentleman with a beard says: "Ah, you're Giger!' He says it in a way that leaves me in some doubt whether he's delighted with my work or angry about the business of my contract.  (Giger's Alien p18)
  4. Ridley approved of the model and wanted Giger to start on the gorge.
  5. Giger finds out that his studio for the future work is supposed to be set up in the B stage, and there's the plan to perhaps visit Roger Dicken who is supposed to create the alien


Wednesday, 31st May 1978
  1. Giger works on model for second decor of the landscape where the derelict is worked into the rock face.  Part of the landscape is based on image 385, where the floor consists of ribs with interstices. The entire thing should suggest a deep gorge,
  2. His studio in B stage, a little house of 4x4x3.5 meters, has been constructed and was supposed to be ready the following day.
  3. He still wanted two spot lights, a swivel chair on wheels and a lock for the door.
  4. Giger talked talked about his plans for the Alien book with Gordon Carroll, and was told that a PR man from Hollywood was there right now and that his matters would be discussed.
  5. The models of the first set were cast in rubber at the plaster shop, and three copies of it were produced. The first one was to painted by him. The second one would be sliced, and enlarged to full size by the carpenters, with the contours being reconstructed in wood. They would be covered in burlap, and small styrofoam parts would be attached. The third cast is for further processing

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