a) The trip over to Atlantic
Was it two weeks or just sixteen to seventeen hours, or perhaps even thirty two, after reading the script, Ridley was on the plane to Hollywood.
Somewhere along the line, producers David Giler, Gordon Carroll, Walter Hill, had met with Ridley.
Walter Hill and David Giler met up with Ridley at Musso and Frank's Grill in Hollywood to have lunch there, Ridley told them that he liked the script because it was a very linear story.
They told him ‘Look, the budget is hovering just under $4 million.’
Since Ridley had done 'The Duellists" for $850,000, the figures sounded right to him.
He said "Well, what I will do first is go back, look at this carefully to see if there’s anything I need to adjust."
b) Ridley's metaphor for the film
When Ridley explain an idea that would become crucial to the look of the film and contributed to a rewrite by Giler and Hill
He said "Look fellas. The metaphor of the film is an old tramp steamer that has broken down in the Indian Ocean and an intelligent octopus gets aboard. The boat is rusty and nothing works properly, and the crew are the crew that couldn't get onto the Cunard liner. That's the metaphor for it. So we're just going to do that in space."
So Hill went away for a little over two weeks and came back with a script,
What Peter Beale noticed was how much they had they just uplifted the dialogue, how Walter had then made is so much more real and that he gave the actors so much more character following that metaphor.
|Cunard Line Between New-York and Liverpool,poster from 1875 |
in the age of tramp steamers
c) Dan hears the news
Before Dan O'Bannon had been introduced to Ridley and they told Dan about him and so this Ridley was someone that he hadn't had heard of before.
Dan asked "What's he done?"
The producers replied "Well he did a film called The Duellists"
Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett had the film screened for them as well, Dan didn't see anything to do with science fiction in The Duellists although it looked very nice, but the producers were not seeing Ridley's movie from that point of view and Dan would later come to see their point.
So Ridley met with the producers along with Dan O'Bannon, Ron Shusett and Ron Cobb. It would have been around this time that suddenly he was introduced to Giger's artwork and discovered what to do with the design of the alien beast.
Perhaps it was around this time that Ridley met Yaphet Kotto who was so sure that his meeting took placed around Christmas. He was someone that Ron Shusett and Dan O'Bannon already had in mind for the script since they were already friends with Yaphet.
d) See: Into The Necronomicon
|Necronom V and IV as seen in HR Giger's Necronomicon|
e) Ridley the obliged
Ridley sensed the Hollywood machine kicking in, he thought that there was a good idea behind casting him as director of the movie to give a completely different quality to what could have been a very perhaps exciting B movie.
His first meeting was good and then he said "What l have to do is storyboard the movie."
f) The power of storyboard
So with great excitement and glee, Ridley returned to London to storyboard the movie and this took him three and a half weeks.
Ridley and the producers took the storyboards out to California and showed it to the studio bosses and they became interested.
The well thought through storyboards helped them to see what the movie would be like and it would be a different kind of movie.
With that the budget lifted from 4.2 million to around 8.4 because now the studio bosses could see that there was a way to do the film beyond a set that looked like painted cardboard boxes with a dodgy man in a rubber suit running around as the beast.
- Screen International:The script he read was credited to Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Walter Hill, and David Giler. Extemely impressed, Scott agreed to do the film, and asked to see all previous versions of the screenplay (Screen International, Saturday 1st September 1979,p20)
- Ridley Scott: Of course, as soon as the science fiction came through the door, i was on the plane in seventeen hours...into Hollywood, and er, I met with the guys, Giler, David Car...Gordon Carroll, Walter Hill, Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett and er, Ron Cobb. (Alien Legacy Starbeast)
- Ridley Scott: The basic story and the adventure were O'Bannon and Shusett. What Hill and Giler had done was to spartanise it and to remove several offshoots which weren't necessary to the actual thrust of the story. They had made it into a very positive, driving screenplay which really attracted me. They also made a couple of major changes, including introducing the science officer, Ash, what he is and what he does. And they made the lead character a woman.(Screen International, Saturday 1st September 1979,p20)
- Interviewer: How did he react to being offered it?
David Giler: I don’t think we met him until he, we got him just before he accepted, Walter and I and Ridley went and had lunch at Muso’s here and he said he liked it because it was a straight line story. That was linear he said. Very linear. (Report from Alien Evolution interview)
- Screen International: Scott's original task was to storyboard it. Originally budgeted by Fox at four and a half million dollars, the budget escalated to 13 million with the completion of Scott's storyboard. Eventually, Fox and Scott agreed on a budget of eight and a half million. The main thing which increased the budget was the design and quality of special effects Scott wanted to bring to the picture. (Screen International, Saturday 1st September 1979, p20)
- Gordon Carroll: When Ridley came in , he worked on a storyboard, and it was when we took that out to California and showed it to them that they became interested. It was only then that we were able to show what the picture could be like. (Screen International, Saturday 1st September 1979, p21)
- Ridley: So l started to feel the Hollywood machine kicking in. l think it is really clever casting, the fact that somebody who's got a good eye and would give a completely different quality to what could have been a very, maybe exciting, but nonetheless, B movie. That first encounter was good, and then l said ''What l have to do is storyboard the movie.'' So, with great excitement and glee, l storyboarded the movie in London, which actually took me three and a half weeks. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
- Ridley: Went back with the boards and the budget doubled, which shows the power of a well-thought-through storyboard because we went from 4.2 to 8.4, or something like that, because they suddenly saw a way to do the film which was not doing it on a bunch of sets that looked like painted cardboard boxes with a dodgy man in a rubber suit running around as the beast. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
- Ridley: At the time the budget was something like $4.5 million. And I was very well aware that we couldn't do it for that. There was a preliminary period of about a month to six weeks during which we had to work up a new budget (Starlog September 1979)
- Starlog: During that time Scott took the script and drew storyboards for every key sequence in the film. (Starlog September 1979)
- Ridley Scott: I felt obliged to do storyboards. This was prior to the employment of the several artists who were later to contribute to the visual concept of the film. (Starlog September 1979)
- Dan O'Bannon: All of a sudden, they said they, they had met with a director nobody had, none of us had heard of him, Ridley Scott. He was a director of commercials from England. I said "what has he done?" He's... well he did a film called The Duellists and they screened it for us, very nice looking picture, I couldn't see much what it had to do with Science Fiction, but erm, they weren't looking at it from that perspective, and they may have had a point. (Direction and Design : The Making of Alien)
- Ridley Scott: They sent me a script and I read it, I loved it. I was in Hollywood within 32 hours. Once I was there, they said ‘Look, the budget is hovering just under $4 million.’ I did ‘The Duelists” for $850,000, so the figures sounded right to me. I said, ‘Well, what I will do first is go back [to London], look at this carefully to see if there’s anything I need to adjust.”(https://variety.com/2019/film/news/alien-40-anniverary-ridley-scott-1203223989/)
- Ridley Scott: I was drawing all day. Then I flew back to L.A. with the boards, and they suddenly saw they had a different kind of movie. The boards told them that. So, that’s the power of being able to visualize. It went up to $8.2, I think. Then we went to $8.6 by the time we finished. <>(https://variety.com/2019/film/news/alien-40-anniverary-ridley-scott-1203223989/)
- Peter Beale: When Ridley came aboard, he said "Look fellas. The metaphor of the film is an old tramp steamer that has broken down in the Indian Ocean and an intelligent octopus gets aboard. The boat is rusty and nothing works properly, and the crew are the crew that couldn't get onto the Cunard liner. That's the metaphor for it. So we're just going to do that in space.' So Hill went away for a little over two weeks and came back with a script, and they just uplifted the dialogue. Walter made is so much more real. He gave the actors so much more character following that metaphor. (The making of Alien. p.90, JW Rinzler)