(end of Alien movie)
Wayne Imms: There we go, that was alright, wasn't it. There we go, as I say now , couple of things ........ special guests
voice: Ivor Powell
(Soft cell music suddenly comes up)
Wayne Imms: There's Soft Cell for you. Erm where was I. Oh thank you. Ivor Powell played a key role in the making of Alien as associate producer, he worked with Ridley Scott in bringing the film to the screen. His credits also include Ridley Scott's other films which were The Duellists and Blade Runner. Let's now welcome you to the stage. The first name to appear on the end credits as well.
Ivor Powell: Are we on?
Ivor Powell: That, That, erm, credit always made Ridley jealous, because I got the applause at the end of the film because everyone was so impressed, just because of the position
Wayne Imms: Good stuff. Terry Rawlings with his editing skills, helped shaped the suspense and other elements of Alien, as well as Ridley Scott's, erm, The Duellists and Blade Runner, as well as Legend, he also edited Chariots of Fire, Golden Eye, Entrapment, The Saint and The End Tour among many many other films. Come on then Terry, come over here. Oh good. Here we are, there's some water obviously if you want some.
Terry Rawlings: Okay
Wayne Imms: Erm, Ivor, first, how did you become involved with Alien, you worked with Ridley before so, you knew him
Ivor Powell: Yeah, I erm, I worked with Ridley on commercials, erm, er, I was a, I guess a sort of struggling first assistant director , and erm, one day got a call basically to er, come and do this commercial that a studio provides for all studios, er, but it wasn't as a first, it was for a second, because er, and I said, "sod it, I'll do it", erm, because I need the money, erm, so that started a long sort of like a fifteen year relationship with working with him, working on commercials, erm, eventually er, you know, helping, working with him for, get a picture, you know, get the first picture off the ground, which was the Duellists
Wayne Imms: What did you first know of Alien, how did... d'you remember or you know, how he kind of er, well, came, get , got across to you, the idea of the film,
Ivor Powell: Yeah. We'd er, we'd made er, we made The Duellists, and er, Ridley, erm, I was along, literally from, er, knee high, I was a sci-fi fanatic, absolutely loved Horror movies, Scifi movies. Used to as a teenager, used to go and see erm, theSunday only , which doesn't happen these days, but Sunday only movies that were in obscure little cinemas, ahem, I was going to say like this but no, but all in London, but it was Sunday only, it was usually a double bill like X the Unknown or It the Terror From Beyond Space, and I used to sit there, and try and get my arm around the, whatever girlfriend I had, at the moments I knew were coming up because I had seen them a sort of thousand times before. Anyway, erm, so, I'm digressing, as I always do, but Ridley absolutely hated any of that, that shit, he was a realist, he loved historical drama. He had as he constantly reminded me, erm, an eye, erm, he went, er, I think it was Hornsey College of Art, and erm, listen, he was an artist, and er, but he didn't like that sort of thing. However much I tried to show him scifi movies or enthuse him about... he didn't get it, and one day, I'll get to the end in a minute, and one day we were travelling back from our first wrecky down to the Dordogne in erm, the South of, in Sarlat, sort of mid France, and er, on the Station waiting for the train, there was this, erm, magazine rack, and there was this, er, comic there called Metal Hurlant/ Heavy Metal and I bought it and we were sitting on the train going back to Paris and Ridley sort of saw it and picked it up and there was on of Dan O'Bannon's erm, er, str... comic strips in there, erm which was about, which was part of the foundation for. for , for Blade Runner. Anyway, that, the images in that Heavy Metal comic absolutely hooked him, he suddenly, it was like he had an epiphany, and er, so I think vaguely that was the kind of oh no, he just kind of saw the light there, and so, erm, though that wasn't the seed of Alien, what happened was that after the success of The Duellists , erm, I think he had some fan Sandy Lieberson who was then head of Twentieth Century Fox in England, erm, sort of basically passed him this script that had been going 'round Hollywood with various directors and kind of happened... hadn't happened... and erm. Ridley and I had a little tussle with the script because it was scifi and I thought well I should read it first, but no, he said No, I'm going to read it first, it's been offered to me, so anyway, so he shut himself in an office next door, our offices in Lexington Street in Soho, and all I could hear was "Fuck me!" every time he used to get to one of the various scenes in the original script which changed quite a bit, So anyway, and I read it, you know, the rest is history, I mean he, he , he saw it, he saw it as a, he saw the potential in it and, er, did it his own way and whatever, that's my story
Wayne Imms: Terry were you, 'cause The Duellists was his first film before, and also before Alien wasn't it, so...
Terry Rawlings: Yes, yes
Wayne Imms: though you didn't edit that you did the sound, didn't you? so...
Terry Rawlings: That was the last film I did sound on, I mean, I've been doing sound for about fifteen, sixteen years, and that's when i really first met, first met Ridley, and when I got connected with Alien was the fact, I was now editing Watership Down, and I got a call from Ridley's office to say, "we're going to make this film Alien, we'd like you to do the sound", so I said "I'm not interested in doing the sound, I'd like to cut it", so he said "you'd better come and meet the producers then." So I went to the office and we spent ages talking mostly about Watership Down, and I said at the end, "well can I cut this film or not?", and they said "yes" and I drove home like I was driving a 747 not realising what we were about to make, which, looking at it now, so many years, I mean you've seen it a few times, but I thought it was wonderful watching this tonight or this afternoon, I should say. And er, it makes you realise all the hard work was worth it, and particularly because, apart from working on The Saint, which I did, which was one of the hardest films I've worked on, this was the hardest film I ever did, we worked, as Ivor will tell you, we worked seven days a week like eighteen hours a day, right, and we never seemed to leave. I mean, I was doing the second film I'd ever done, so was Ridley, so was Ivor, so was the costume designer and we all wanted to do the best we knew how, and so we just wouldn't give up.
Wayne Imms: You mentioned the costume designer John Mollo
Terry Rawlings: Yes
Wayne Imms: His first film was Star Wars, which he won an Oscar for.
Terry Rawlings: Yes
Wayne Imms: Erm. He was of course at the even five years ago
Terry Rawlings: Yes. That's right
Wayne Imms: About Alien. Erm. But, what was your personal vision before you actually worked on it, Terry?
Terry Rawlings: well, I thought the script was interesting, but the thing is, obviously, until you start seeing the material, you don't know what ye .... you don't know what the concept or, you know what the concept is but you don't know how he's going to achieve it and what it's going to look like, but as soon as you started seeing this material, you thought, this is really something very special, you know, the... the design of this film was amazing, I think. I mean, I don't think you've seen anything like this, even the Star Wars film wasn't a standard.... couldn't stand up to the quality of this film, I don't think, at the time.
Wayne Imms: Erm, did you both go on set while they were filming?
Terry Rawlings: Well, Ivor, he must be at all the tiles
Ivor Powell: Yes, erm when I was erm, yeah, it was a kind of a job you know as a, when you're a line producer, you're . a lot of the time you're locked into an office sort of dealing with the the the logistics of things, trying to make sure that there are, you know, that everybody's, you know, the next set's ready or you get delegated jobs, like one of my main jobs was, believe it or not, we started the film, and we really hadn't got locked down, erm, who the hell was going to design and make the alien, we had several attempts. In fact the first alien suit was made by a guy, I won't name him at the moment, but anyway, but, he made, he had his offices on the Shepperton lot, and he made the first Alien suit, and erm, obviously made out of a kind of latex rubber, but the first time anyone tried to put it on, it all kind of just fell apart, and, erm, it was a long dispute about payment for it. etc. Erm, and then Gordon Carroll, who was the main sort of, one of the three American producers that were kind of resident actually working on the movie day to day with me, erm, he suggested he'd called up this guy, erm, Carlo Rambaldi, erm, who made, er, you know the , whatsit, close en... the the creature in close encounters etc
Wayne Imms: And on Jaws too
Ivor Powell: Yeah, and on Jaws. Yeah, yeah. Erm, and erm, he knows more than I do. And er, so anyway, Carlo came over , erm, we had another guy make the tail mechanism which was a bit of a... a number, etc, erm, and erm, but anyway, eventually this, suddenly the Alien began to take shape , and , and another young guy that I met, erm, er, called Roger Dicken, who was kind of a, whose main claim to fame, I seem to remember he worked with erm, who was the guy who did Mighty Joe Young, the name, er, Ray Harryhausen, no
Wayne Imms: Ray Harryhausen
Ivor Powell: It was Ray Harryhausen who'd done the the the the Kong creature for er Mighty Joe Young. I mean, he was an absolute horror movie fanatic anyway. He came over here and he was given much, though he wanted to do the design of the A.... , the the, the main Alien, but he was given the job of making the face hugger and the little rascal as we called it, the one that dives across the table. erm we had to give them all names, and erm, so yeah, that's, that all came apart, or came together, so I got came apart. I nearly came apart, I can tell you. We never thought we were going to have a creature
Wayne Imms: Erm, you mentioned the little rascal that ran across after it came out of John Hurt,erm that was quite a scene, and erm, you know. Were you, you weren't there when they shot that were you ?
Ivor Powell: I was indeed
Wayne Imms: Really, go on, tell us, what was it like?
Ivor Powell: Erm, well, I'm sure you all heard a million times, but erm, I mean, Ridley erm wanted to make it as real as possible, and again, Ridley I think at the back of his mind all the time I mean Terry kind of didn't quite touch on it.... the script was, in the wrong hands, would have been an absolute B movie, a B, you know, er. i... i... it.... it wasn't subtle... certainly.... I mean there were many many drafts of the script, erm and when Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett did it, erm, it it, listen it was great, I loved... I loved it, I could relate to it, um, but once it got through David Giler and Walter Hill's hands, they kind of er... again, they weren't particularly sci-fi orientated and so they did their changes, they changed the male, the, the, the, hero into a heroine, erm, that became Ripley etc... etc... So Ridley in the same sort of frame of mind well when we came to shooting the chestburster sequence, you know, he sent the, one of effects guys down to the local abattoir to fill up buckets with slop and guts and whatever it is, which basically got slung about the place, erm, much to the surprise of the actors.
Terry Rawling: They were surprised by it. They were
Ivor Powell: Veronica Cartwright was certainly surprised by it yeah, actually she, I think she fell over the back of wherever she was sitting at the time. So that gave it a certain er voracity er and shock value, erm, but we didn't have the kind of money that you know, erm, they would have nowadays, everything now it would be done CGI, you'd all... everybody would be saying, well, we could do it in post, etc. we couldn't, we didn't, you know, we were under constant pressure erm, from the studio who were very supportive, but none the less wanted us to keep to budget and nobody had ever dreamt at that time of spending the same amount that erm they spent on Star Wars, on a horror movie, so erm, you know it was , it was a tense shoot
Wayne Imms: Fox did quite well didn't they in the 70s with science fiction, you know Star Wars
Ivor Powell: They did indeed, they did indeed, which is why I guess, er they they came on board this and obviously er, they recognised Ridley's potential
Wayne Imms: Mmm. So Terry, as editor, how closely did you work with Ridley, did you.. I don't, did you like sit together and cut it?
Terry Rawlings: The way I work I, I, I assemble everything, I cut it the way I feel it should it should go and every night, I would talk to him about this, and if he had time, which he didn't have a lot of time, if he had time, he would come and look at it with me, and if he liked it, we'd leave it, to work on when we had the whole thing together, but I mean the way he worked is that, er, you talk to the director all the time of shooting as well and you want to know what his ideas are on a particular scene and then you try an obviously incorporate his ideas, but some of your own, when you're, when you're editing it. So if you work with the right director, and I always found it worked well with Ridley, erm he wouldn't, he wouldn't interfere while while we were up, while I was doing my cut of the film, and when we got down to it, I mean we would analyze all the sequences and we would work on it and change things where they needed to be changed, it was the same fact for practically everyone I've worked with. That's the way you do it anyway, but you must speak and and er understand your director and we... spend a lot of time talking to him, what do you want from this, what are you after? Soon as you know that, then you can try and achieve it for him, but I always say you've got to give something of yourself but what's the point if you don't add anything.
Wayne Imms: So, what's it, as editor, Terry, what's it like on a you know, first, obviously since it's release on the big screen, but as an editor, what's it like for you to see it
Terry Rawlings: Tonight, today?
Wayne Imms: Yeah
Terry Rawlings: Well, in general I thought it was wonderful, I'm not just saying it because we worked on it, but I couldn't see anything that I would like to change
Wayne Imms: That's good I think 'cause people are involved in something but are never that satisfied are they?
Terry Rawlings: No, I mean the thing is there are things that I've worked on that I'm not that satisfied with
Wayne Imms: Anything in particular
Terry Rawlings: I refuse to answer. On the grounds that it would incriminate me.
Wayne Imms: You can tell me later.
Terry Rawlings: No, the thing is, looking at that today, was it a Blu-Ray you were playing?
Wayne Imms: No, it was a DCP. A digital cinema package
Terry Rawlings: Oh yeah, well it looked fantastic,
Wayne Imms: It did actually, yeah
Terry Rawlings: It looked wonderful. And er, what I thought was, it, everything we had tried to achieve, we achieved, and that makes you feel really good. I mean the thing that's standing up now after thirty five or thirty six years as far as we're concerned or longer for Ivor
Wayne Imms: You were a teenagers when you worked on it weren't you
Terry Rawlings: I was in the cradle
Ivor Powell: I'm still in nappies
Wayne Imms: Or in both
Ivor Powell: I mean, i don't know what you guys out there feel, but I mean it takes forty five minutes for anything to really happen in this movie, this movie wouldn't get made now days because the pressures would, would be to, I just think that erm, that people's patience, attention levels are different, and they want something like in the first few minutes. They're always telling me write scripts that, you've got to get and grab the reader by balls by the first ten pages. And I think that they kind of apply that to movies in general these days and erm, the sort of cinemas that you, we all go and see, we love it when they're made well, are the big franchise movies but, this, this movie now, I mean, it made me incredibly proud, because I hadn't see it for a few years, I mean, you get glimpses of it and it's sort of shown on telly and things, but even here today on a small screen with not the big surround sound, it was still impressive but I think it's the, it's the er the weight, the erm tension that builds up in the hands of this master who is, there are no other editors have been, or certainly at the moment, who had the control, the kind of sound, music, erm, and visual, etc. I just thought it was brilliant
Terry Rawling: The thing about Alien which, I've said this before and I'll say it again, eighty percent of the film is in slow motion. When you think about it, we creep around this ship to start with, the ship glides in, it starts off with the ship gliding in. We then spend endless time wandering around the decks, onto the bridge and switching on, and it opens them up, when they open up in the , in the flower, I call it the flower, and I love the way, I wanted to make those dissolves so he was coming out of himself like he was coming out of a chrysalis, that's all slow, and then they just sit around the tall table talking, nothing's happened, nothing really happens for ages, but you're keeping everybody in their toes. There's certain things about that film, all the time you're tense, and I think you know, Jimmy Shields who was the sound editor, no longer with us unfortunately, he did an amazing job as well, because to keep people's attention is very hard when you're doing this. One of the biggest problems with this film is when we first got it together was having to show it to anybody, because the thing is until it had it's sound track on it, as Ivor just said, you would bore people to death, you just sit watching these people wandering about without any tension because tension is created with the music and the sound effects. You know, you can do it in silence, but it's not the same, so if anything it was a difficult film to get to the public to start with and we had a lot of sort of hiccups as far as that's concerned as well because when we first finished the film here, we had a man come over from America called Leonard Krohl who was their sort of er, post production supervisor for 20th Century Fox, was a great ally to me. We mixed the film at Elstree Studios and we did a six track stereo for a 70 mil print. They then said, "we want to run, we want you to come over with this", er ", this weekend. We're going to go on a sneak preview tour." So we arrived in America and they said "we want to show this film this afternoon, we want this tonight rather", our first day there and it was being shown to the science fiction fans of America and we had all these funny people turning up dressed up like Star Wars and any other science fiction you could think of
Wayne Imms: We've got some here today
Terry Rawlings: Anyway, they all turned up at this thing and they had this screening as the Zanec theatre which was their major dubbing theatre in Fox and it sounded terrible. I mean the film was really sounding bad. So they were saying, "oh we've got a problem with this" and we said, "well there is no problem." And this Leonard Krohl, who was, as I said was a great ally, said "I was there when they did it and everything was fine", so we go off the next day and we go to St Louis. Well when you go to the, when you go up with a six track, which we don't do any more now, but when they went up then, you would take a seventy, right, seventy mil sound placement reel, and they play this thing and you go into the theatre and it was just the sound and lets say "now speaking from theatre six", sorry, "now speaking from speaker extreme right" and it would go shhhhp shhhhp shhhhp , do all this stuff, now I'm speaking from speaker extreme left, silence, they didn't have a speaker there because they said they took it out and used it in one of their other rooms, so you've got a theatre that's not playing the sound properly, so that was another bad screening. We went from there to Denver, we had the same problem, so by and now, Fox were thinking that they had got a disaster on their hands, so we go then to Dallas where in this cinema, they had er two older men running the place, you could have eaten off the floor, the sound was fantastic, the picture was pin sharp like you saw it today, and people were fainting and being sick in the theatre, it was, it was crazy. I mean, they had thin red curtains at the back of the theatre and then one of the ushers looked through the curtains as the chest burster came out and fainted straight into the "orchestra (?)", so the management were going crazy, you remember that?
Ivor Powell: I have to intercede here because the 20th Century Fox thing. the kind of, erm, Alan Ladd Junior and the other execs etc that had, made, that made this film and thank, bless them all, but they'd made another film a few years back and I can't remember what the hell it was called (Rolling Thunder, 1977) but it tanked, it was very violent and it had, er, one sort of scene where a bad guy's got hold of a, a person's hand and shoved it down one of these waste disposal things in the kitchen and the audience kind of went absolutely bananas and, er, they hate, for whatever reason they hated the violence and the executives were watching it, this preview, they actually chased them out of the cinema and down the street. So whenever execs from Fox were watching this film, they were very wary because they knew this film was sort of violent , obviously and they were all sort of standing at the back looking at each other like that, saying, as if, when people were starting fainting, they looked as if to say, "shall we run, you know, shall we run for it now or not."
Terry Rawlings: And one of the reasons, I didn't finish ending the long endless story about the sound, but we found out afterwards, that the theatre that we ran it in first, the Zaneck dubbing theatre, had just finished mixing the film The Rose and they had a rock and roll team in there, because it was a rock and roll style movie and they re, re-voiced all the speaker systems so it sounded completely thin and tinny compared to what we wanted and that was one of the reasons, but then they decided they would run it for forty eight hours non stop from the Friday and you couldn't every... , I was staying there, and I watched the Egyptian theatre and no matter what time of the day or night they were queueing.
Wayne Imms: That was what I was justing thinking of at the Egyptian theatre, because. Is that where the actual premier was
Ivor Powell: Yes
Terry Rawlings: Yes
Wayne Imms: Because your dear wife was telling me "oh, I've still got the ticket" I said "You should have brought it today, I would have loved seeing that" Erm, and that had quite a reaction, obviously, you know, because that was like the launch of this great film to the public
Terry Rawlings: Yeah. It really was. The thing is just, what amazed me that they were queuing non stop.
Wayne Imms: Mmm
Terry Rawlings: Yeah
Wayne Imms: It was, you know, not the second time I saw it on the big screen but it's, I felt it was stressful to watch it, and really intense, and that's a good thing
Terry Rawlings: Well, it means it worked then
Wayne Imms: Was it stressful generally, for anyone here?... It was, even though you know what was going to happen, it was, I suppose sometimes if you know what's going to happen, it's the build up to that , you know, after the suspense and stuff. You know
Terry Rawlings: That was a whole part of this film, editing this film, was how far can you push someone in the corner before they say, "come on, give us a break". You've got to get it timed right, and that was the thing that took us the longest of all, timing these things, to get the most tension before you let it, the cat out of the bag so to speak
Wayne Imms: It might be a silly question, but how do you know, how do you know how to make a film like that?
Terry Rawlings: Well, it's perfectly instinctive, you've got to feel it yourself. I mean, there's no rule book is there? There is no rule book, you do it until you're happy with it, and then obviously when an audience see it, er, they either let... tell you it's working or isn't working, and er , and that was , as I say, that was a difficult thing with that film. but er, I think looking at it again today, everything worked, and I think apart from the one in the, the rain room with the chains, when Brett gets killed, the first one, this, yeah, erm, well the second one really, no what sit
Other voice (possibly Wayne or Ivor): What, other than Kane?
Terry Rawlings: Yeah, other than Kane, he's the first one, that was longer originally, we had it, I had it longer, and I found it more tense and more stressful, and the thing is, I remember there was a shot I had of the alien in the water, like on a cross. It looked like he was on a cross hanging up, but you couldn't see it properly 'cause he's all diffused with the water coming down, and he starts looking up and you know, the way he looks and he thinks he's seen something, and the thing is, they said "take it out because you're giving it away". I said "No one's going to know what they're looking at 'cause you've never seen it , but when we see it, they know they've seen it. It's the same when you're., when she's in the end fixing the thing, the , the shuttle, at the end, when she's switching all the switches on, getting prepared, you're looking at it, you can see it's head there if you know what you're looking for, and the arm is up, it's all there
Wayne Imms: cause it, then again there's those cylinders quite close to the head, which aren't dissimilar
Terry Rawlings: yuh, exactly, that's right
Wayne Imms: But there again, as you say, if you know what you're looking for, you know the film, you know it's there don't you
Terry Rawlings: yeah, you do now, of course
Wayne Imms: it's still, it's still great
Terry Rawlings: yeah, yeah
Wayne Imms: : even though you know it's there. Ehm, ah, when you, you mention the bit about the rain and Brett, did they put that bit in you mentioned in the director's cut?
Terry Rawlings: no, no, no they never did
Wayne Imms: alright
Terry Rawlings: No the thing is, there's , there is a, there is a
Ivor Powell : the business with
Terry Rawlings: no, you're talking about the end
Wayne Imms: yeah
Terry Rawlings: he's talking about in the rain. No, there was a scene in the end, in the end of the film which I thought was absolutely ludicrous. He's got three minutes to get off the ship before it blows up, and she hears a sound, and amongst all that noise, she hears some sound and goes down and finds the bodies all stuff in a chrysalis
Wayne Imms: oh yeah yeah
Terry Rawling: and that's back in, that's something put back in, which is crazy, it doesn't make any sense
Wayne Imms: Ivor, you said, you've done or you do, you love science fiction films erm
Ivor Powell: yeah
Wayne Imms: but this film, do you think its fair to say it's as much science fiction as it is horror, some say it's one or the other
Ivor Powell: no, yeah, well, that's a difficult one because I mean erm, I mean , well talking about the rain, the rain sequence, I mean, I, erm, again being sort of scifi grounded, I sort of said to Ridley, "what-what-what's all this wet business, I mean, wha-what-what's the raison d'etre for it" etc and he said " oh no, it's great, you know", I,
Wayn Imms: That's Ridley
Ivor Powell: Yeah. That's Ridley, it reminded me at the end, erm, Ridley was, you know, he went to art college, and and he was brilliant there, um, he , well got an amazing business mind, erm, witness the fact that he's got such an empire today, erm, but he just, he, he kind of, he weened himself on making commercials, and Ridley always used to get the kind of visual commercials and, Alan Parker, there were only like around two or three companies then, Alan Parker used to get the stuff with the old sort of content in, with the humour in, so poor old Ridley was used to a, was used to a definite sort of conflict between the two of them, that erm Ridley always had to something, a silk purse out of a sows ear and he would have to make it sexy.
Wayne Imms:The Hovis ad up the hill,
Ivor Powell: Hovis was great, I mean that
Wayne Imms: There was the Cinzano Ad with Joan Collins
Ivor Powell: yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, Alan got the dialogue, Ridley got the pictures, but just looking at the end again and that business with Sigourney, I mean erm, you can see why she became such a major star., I mean, I remember Ridley, 'cause again, this is with his , like commercial hat on, before we shot that sequence, we like held up shooting for a couple of hours where I set out one of the costume designers to go, 'cause the first pair of knickers that they turned up with for Sigourney to wear, as far as Ridley was concerned looked like a pair of diapers and they weren't sexy enough, so then we all waited while he went out and came back, and whatever the smallest pair were, those were the ones that got chosen as you can see etc, I mean, Sigourney's a , you know was a very healthy girl, and big sort of legs, she did a lot of running, etc, but they made her look amazingly I mean, sexy, and the whole thing was this undercurrent of sexuality and that end sequence of her changing into that virginal white space suit,
Terry Rawlings: And then it's mouth, the alien's mouth
Ivor Powell: yeah, yeah, absolutely. All of that, talk about Freudian. Erm, It was beauty and the beast really., so
Terry Rawlings: it was all calculated. It was all worked out.
Ivor Powell: oh absolutely, oh yeah yeah yeah, but it still works, my god it works, but but the only flaw I can find in the thing now which makes me cringe now and again, there's little bits of dialogue now that I think in today's world they'd say is Irvin the Explainer stuff, you don't need that bit of dialogue, it's like I'm going to fill this gas tank now, type stuff, or you wouldn't have that now, I mean that would just get chopped, but this was sort of early days I guess. Erm, But visually I'm, I mean, and sound... I can't fault it
Wayne Imms: Any more question. A couple? I won't be long, have another drink very soon
Really. Wow, alright.Well I had some lovely chips down the road earlier. Erm, why do you think. Okay, it's a great film but why was Alien so successful. What would you say?
Terry Rawlings: Because people like being scared
Wayne Imms: yes
Terry Rawlings: People like being scared, they like to laugh, they like comedies, but people also like to be scared, because they're safe in here, so they can be scared by watching the film. I think that works
Ivor Powell: By the same token, I mean by today's standards. It was immensely, it was incredibly successful, but not nearly as successful as it might have been because the mid American female audience did not ... , they just turned their backs on it, they hated the erm, the chestburster sequence, er, they found it, it just turned them off, so it was mainly a male, a male orientated movie. Erm, and as such, only made like erm, you know, it probably less, you know, less than everybody hoped, erm, but um, I mean again, times have changed
Wayne Imms: Off the top of your heads, can I erm, 'cause it was 79 obviously it came out, what other contenders it had at the cinema? can't quite remember
Ivor Powell: I can't remember either, erm,
Wayne Imms: Any one know of big film that also have been, knocks around the cinema around that time of Alien's release?
Ivor Powell: I can't remember the time.
Audience member's voice: Amityville horror
Ivor Powell: There Omen at the time
Wayne Imms: No that was '76
Ivor Powell: Oh, it was '76
Audience member Star Trek was out
Audience member : Superman
Audience member : Amityville
Wayne Imms: No Superman was 78
Ivor Powell: I'll have to get my clothes out for Star Trek
Wayne Imms: Moonraker
Audience member : Amityville Horror!
Terry Rawlings:...would know all that
(Alien, Mad Max (April 12, 1979), Apocalypse Now (August 15, 1979), The Amityville Horror (July 27, 1979), Star Trek The Motion Picture (December 7, 1979), The Black Hole (December 21, 1979). Moonraker (26 June 1979), Phantasm (June 1, 1979), The Brood (May 25, 1979), Driller Killer, Prophecy (June 15, 1979), Meteor (October 19th 1979)
Wayne Imms : You are the one who asks these questions, so you should know these sort of things. Erm, Terry, you worked on Alien 3 as well
Terry Rawlings: yes
Wayne Imms : Which was an underrated film, I'm sure at least most in here would agree
Terry Rawlings: Well, I think you've got to see the version made available now, which ever, version you can get on blu-ray, because it's the version that we intended everyone to see, but it ran into so many problems during when it was being shot because of er, Mr Fincher being, doing his first film, and they didn't trust him. I mean when you think how good he is now, they're mad. But the thing is, he was a great disciple of the biggies, and he wanted to make Alien 3 as a sort of homage to Alien the original and he wanted to spend a long time sort of doing this and the same as Ridley, he had his magical eye as well, and the thing is, because they spent so much time, they never get a chance to finish it as they want to finish it, am I right, and the thing is, they ran out of time and then the powers that be pulled the plug but they did on Alien 3, then we had to go to America to do the cut and I was going to America then for I think for or five months to do it, I was here 13 months doing Alien 3 because when i first got it together, we'd ran it for the studio and they said, it's "you know, it's got some stuff missing from it", I said "course it has, because we didn't finish, and you, you cut us off and we needed A,B,C,D and E things to make it work", so they said "alright, we'll talk about this," and then two months later, they called us in and then said "we've decided we're going to do A, C and D" or something, really three of the things. They started up the whole film again and they did these things, and we ran if for them and they said" well it's much better but it seems like it needs those other things". Nobody listens to you. You have all these idiots who are both called creative consultants, but you have creative consultants who don't know their arse from their elbow but they want to be a producer, so they want to get involved with what you're doing with, what you're working on, so they can be looked good in the eyes of the management. So there were all these arguments for ever and ever and ever and the thing is then we had all these ridiculous things to do. I mean how many of you here have seen Alien 3? Oh well done. I hope you've seen the latest version that you didn't see because in the original version, when they captured this Alien, we're talking about another Alien, when they capture the Alien, they they lock it into this, this vault, right, and the thing is in the original version, this crazy guy lets it out, they said you've got to cut that out. Can you imagine coming out so the thing never got let out, so it didn't make any sense. So when we first showed this film when we finished it, people were saying, it doesn't really follow, it doesn't work very well does it. It took a long time to get all the bits back as they were, Thank god for these blue rays that they do now where you can get a film back to its original concept, like we did with Legend. That's another one of Ridley's films that got slashed to bits and mucked around with, that's available now in its glory.
Ivor Powell: Terry gets a cut, by the way of all these blu-rays things
Terry Rawlings: I wish I did, I wish I did
Wayne Imms: I did wonder there if your were telling the truth.
Prometheus, erm, much better than Alien. Of course as we know. I know what Terry, I like to say I know what Terry thinks of it, but we're paying to hear your feelings on the film
Ivor Powell: Immensely disappointed, yeah, yeah, yeah. I did actually, um, um I write as well, and erm, I was trying for years after they had made Alien 1, I used to go home at night and write away, try to, you know, convince myself I was a writer. Fox were not interested in making, I don't know when. When was Aliens made, actually er. 80s?
Wayne Imms: 86 it came out
Voice in audience: 85
Ivor Powell: 86 yeah. Initially, yeah, after the first Alien, they weren't interested in doing a sequel, you can imagine nowadays, I mean before you'd even like finish the first one, if they sort of got the vibe it was going to be successful, they'd already have a sequel on the, you know, on the, on the tracks, but this took a long time, because they weren't really, they didn't see that it was, er, a franchise, and erm, I remember writing a thirty, forty page er sort of thing, based on the prequel, because that's the sort of thing that I found absolutely fascinating about was all Giger's, there were a lot of things that never got, you never saw er, in Alien one, like there was the entrance to the er, the derelict ship, erm, the alien derelict, there were these sort of hieroglyphics and things like that, that he did at a certain sort of Egyptian / sort of galactic sort of alien, erm, sort of background, and none of these things got seen, but all that fascinated me and I think that the little sort of bit of speech that er um er, the robot Ash gives about the, the kind of this, this, what this creature's about, I just, I found really fascinating and what was the space jockey, you know, where did he come from and all that, and I know some of it got vaguely explained in Prometheus but for me, it didn't, it didn't touch it at all,
Terry Rawlings: It was never worked out
Ivor Powell: didn't didn't, so I was bitterly bitterly disappointed.
Terry Rawlings: They gave the last five minutes to that
Ivor Powell: yuh,
Terry Rawlings: It really wasn't about the Pre, it wasn't a prequel was it, really?
Wayne Imms: I guess not . Some people were saying that a bit of mystery was good, and therefore not to know, maybe you have a space jockey, and what it was and where it came from
Ivor Powell: Yeah, yeah, Probably because I mean, to be honest, it's a tall tall task to explain that and actually make it surprising enough, and, and sort of, on that sort of note, I mean, er, like Alien again, if you made it today, because of the resources and CGI and posters etcetera, I think some of the mystery, the temptation would be to show the alien much sooner, and I think the fact is that Ridley was always times up. Ridley was always terrified about a bloke stuntmen in rubber suits and he said, I am not making a movie like that so, he would postpone the day, you know, until right at the end, and unfortunately you have to see a man in rubber suit, you know on a wire coming out of the back of the ship that was strung up on the ceiling of one of our stages, but I think you know, that was now in retrospect to our advantage, which is why you've got so much tension , where you don't quite see anything because he didn't want to see anything because he knew it was going to be crappy if you saw too much of it
Wayne Imms: It would be like the shark in jaws really
Ivor Powell: Absolutely
Wayne Imms: It's what you do with it, it's like the shocks and the editing isn't it, you know, okay, you know, a bloke in rubber suit but. It's not quite like that. It's the wider picture as it were, isn't it?
Terry Rawlings: It's like the Night of the demon, the film Night of the demon, They didn't want
Ivor Powell: Another great movie
Terry Rawlings: He didn't want a great demon, he didn't want to put any monsters in it at all. And the thing was put in after he left the film
Wayne Imms: Who directed that
Terry Rawlings: The Frenchman
Ivor Powell: Jacques Tourneur, Tournier , Tourneur
Terry Rawlings: Tourneur, yes
Ivor Powell: Brilliant, the guy, my first little film as a little nobody was on three years on 2001, and one of the guys that did the effects on that, a guy called Wally Beavers, the most lovely guy, yuh, well he did the effects on that, and I remember seeing that as a kid, I mean that was the sort of B movie that I absolutely loved, except I, I don't think it is a B movie, it's a most important, it's an M R James story
Wayne Imms: Very good
Ivor Powell: Casting's good. Fantastic story, except let down at the end because the studios, well we want, you know, we want to see something, you know, we want to see the creature, so we end up seeing this, you know, guy in a rubber suit with horns on with a bit of fire coming out of its arse and running around down a railway track, which was stupid
Wayne Imms: (barely audible: I was also into that sort of thing, anyway)
Terry Rawlings: You can see it from here if I don't get some food
Ivor Powell: The strength, I think the strength of the film that we've seen this afternoon, was the fact that you don't see it, it's the fact that you see a little bit of it every time, and until the very very end when it stands up, when it gets the two, the two of them downstairs, that's the first time you've really seen it, and that's it's strength I think.
Wayne Imms: Thanks to you, partly, Terry, the legend
Ivor Powell: Good old Terry
Wayne Imms: Has anyone else got any questions. Now. Hmm can we have a mike, can we have, no that's what I was going to do. Usually it's not me doing this thing, I usually run around at the end with the radio on. Can you do that for us or not? Can anyone run around, you've done it? Come on Andy get your arse up here, come on, so can you do that for us. I did call you last time before.
Wmmvrrvrrmm: Okay, I've got a question, but... in the Alien comic book story, um, at the end there's a scene where the alien has kind of curled up into like a box shape, and um, nobody actually has seen any photographs of it, I wondered if you know anything about it?
Terry Rawlings: No I don't know anything about it, in Alien or anything that happened to a box., no I don't
Ivor Powell: The only story I know about the alien at the end, we were all standing having converted very economically, the erm the command module of the ship that you see in the very opening sequences, we converted that and redressed it into the Narcissus which is the escape pod, and we were all standing there thinking "right, okay, this is, so where's the alien going to be?", and I remember just very timorously saying, erm "what if it's like a chameleon or something like that?", and er, it was one of my few good ideas that got actually picked up on, developed and so they made the alien basically sort of like integrate itself, because it was biomechanoid, it was part organic, part... that was Giger's thing, so I guess it became part of the machinery, so as it, but it wasn't a box, it was actually a chameleon
Wmmvrrvrrmm: Yes, but er. but before it enters the shuttle, erm, but when Ripley goes down the corridor and suddenly it comes out at her, erm, in the comic book it actually, well, it seems to be like a, you know, kind of crushed itself into a kind of box and unfolds
Ivor: Perhaps it was mating with the cat, I don't know,
Wmmvrrvrrmm: Okay , well
Ivor: Because that was always another potential storyline,
Ivor: that the cat's always you know
Wmmvrrvrrmm: Yuh, but maybe you weren't involved on that erm, on that day. Also another question, do you know where the.... um, how the space jockey got its name as the space jockey
Ivor: We all get, we all gave, er um... gave things names really.... just made them up simply for communicating in documents and anything like that so, I don't know who first thought of it
Wmmvrrvrrmm: Okay, it wasn't you then
Ivor Powell: I thought of the little rascal and er- what sit, the face hugger, that's, those are mine simply because
Wayne Imms: Yeah
Ivor Powell: You know, you do, you know, you write out documents and things like sort to circulate them amongst the departments and it just seemed great and so at the end of each shooting day, Gordon Carroll the American producer made... he educated Ridley and I and other members. usually on editing/ clipping, called his little rascal which is the best dry martini
Wayne Imms: dry martini
Ivor Powell: yes, just going
Wayne Imms: I was just saying, I bet the rest here know, but the bit just before John Hurt gets the alien on his helmet, erm and you see in the egg like these things flapping on... that's Ridley Scott's hands with er washing up glove things, you know. You probably knew that already. Anyone else
Man in audience: It's a question for Ivor. Erm,the erm, The film set precedent for the female protagonist in the film, and I didn't know it was originally scripted to be a male character. I just wondered did you come under any pressure to keep it as a male character or... or
Ivor Powell: No, no, erm, I mean, there were several early, I mean, by the time I was involved, the thing originally was Hill was going to direct this, erm and then for whatever reason, and and I remember I did the first budget on it, but their budget for it was something like 4.5 million, which was still a hell of a lot in those days, and the one I did for Ridley knowing Ridley and the way that he would want it to be visually etc, it kind of doubled much to their horror, so that caused a lot of consternation. Erm, but I think the script which was the one already being touted about, she'd already become, Walter and David Giler had already, erm done their bit on it, erm, they were brilliant, right, I mean I had to say as a team, they were brilliant, because I, they they for me, they erm, they taught me all about writing and about less is more because they were very spartan, in A their description, I mean to the point of craziness really, but er, their script was fantastic, and erm, they were truck drivers in space really, and er, it was, I mean Ripley already was a woman, where I did have, well now, I sold them off sadly,erm, I did have all the scripts, including Dan and Ron's first one, yeah, where they were all blokes.
Wayne Imms: Thankyou Alien my friend the biomechanoid
Woman in audience: I was wondering if you could to settle an argument for me between me and my dad, because he actually introduced me to the whole Alien franchise when I was still a child about nine, and that's how I grew up to be script editor, so I was very upset about an integral part that I've been damaged. Do you believe about the thing that that people get screwed up by films with very strong imagery or do you think it's an inspiring thing? What, what's... what do you think of it
Terry Rawlings: Well I think it can be both.
Ivor Powell: There are plenty of video, video games out there surfacing
Terry Rawlings: Yes, video games can be dangerous I think, but, the thing is, it depends on the individual, obviously. I mean, er if you believe it's all real, then you have a problem. You know, you're watching these films which are fantasies, it might be a horror, if 's basically a fantasy film because you don't have space ships like that, and you don't have this sort of going on, so you've got to put, put that in the back of your mind and enjoy it as a story. I think then that you can forget the person who's got a... maybe a bit of a problem and they're going to believe what they're watching and that can, can damage them, you know, I think that's true, don't you?
Ivor Powell: Yep, I mean, I , I , I, I think the world today, of course obviously we're getting into different areas now, but I mean, where, you know, your internet, everything 24/7, I think, erm, and er, I think, kids playing violent video games, 24/7, who won't switch off, won't go to work, I think we're potentially making problems for ourselves, I think kids going to see a movie or whatever it is , I think if you're very very young, like I can remember the first movie I ever saw, when i was a little tiddler, my mum took me to see The Day The Earth Stood Still with Michael Rennie, I mean, that absolutely stayed with me for the rest of my life, I mean I absolutely love it, erm, and er, that influenced me in a sense, but er as for seeing a horror movies, etcetera, I saw all these horror movies, absolutely loved them sort of play acted them and whatever, but, I haven't killed, killed anybody yet.. You you keep them in perspective, I mean where does it stop, I mean seeing a bad painting, a bad picture, er, er, reading a book and that, you know, of course that can influence you but, I think if you're potentially, you've got erm, a kind of mind that can be influenced by the negativity then I guess the potential is there, but, you know
Woman in audience: Yeah, yeah, just as a last thing, at the end in the shuttle when she's... the special gases
Ivor Powell: Yes
Woman in audience:.... on the... er, is it, are those gases are they hot or are they cold?
Ivor Powell: There's no science, that's all bollocks, that was all bollocks!
Woman in audience: I just thought that they were cold because it was coolant, you know because she goes out with coolant
Ivor Powell: They've got and awful lot of gas on the ship, I think it was you know, every time we were in trouble, we need a bit of drama, turn that on or let bloody gas cylinder off or whatever. I think that, you know, I think we've become a bit more savvy and sophisticated nowadays and erm, I don't think you can get away with that well, it does make you, we can just about get away with the good old green you know monitor, computer type face, just... just about
Wayne Imms: If I was on that ship I'd be letting off gas. Lady over there.
Man in audience: I'm not a lady.
Wayne Imms: You're not a lady of course
Man in audience: This is a question for Mr Rawlings. Could you share us which scene in Alien is the most challenging for you to edit, and did you overcome that scene
Terry Rawlings: Well I think the most difficult to really get correct was the air shafts, we worked very hard on the airshafts, and, er, the strange thing was, when we worked on this thing and we had this box which was saying it's for an (inaudible:air many thing(?)`), yes, and where are they in the air shafts. And we continually recut this and we recut this, and when we finally got it done we showed this to er, er, I think er, David Giler and he said "God" he said "it really is good but you really got the wrong person chasing the wrong person" because the, the, you know the little lights that were following were all the wrong way round because you actually get the, you don't know the wood from the trees, you get involved, are we up the right corridor, are we in the right place when we're talking about where they are, that's the uh.... the airshafts were the most difficult, and took the longest anyway. The others seemed to work, fall into place
Wayne Imms: Time for one more questions
Ivor Powell: Sorry it didn't, didn't help the fact that we had one little bit of like circular bit of tube, tube or corridors. And because, ern our dear beloved friend who, now lives in LA, Peter Beale, was head of Fox here at the time, used to rather like a military police man knowing sort of Ridley by reputation, he used to come on and say "Right, now what's that set there?" and er, he would say "That's wallawallawalla" and he'd look down at the set list etcetera and say "It's not on here" and erm, 'cause Ridley was desperately trying to , you know, get other sets in and shoot things that were, unfortunately we had to tear the pages out, erm, er so had to make, design bridging sequences to put two things together, there was a great scene in a store room for example where the alien, that had to be ripped out, so the reason why Terry had such a hard job with the erm, airshaft was because literally, it was literally like a piece of tube. Erm, everything had to be reshot
Terry Rawlings: (almost inaudible since he's speaking at the same time as Ivor: It was the difference between going down the right one or the wrong one)
Man in audience: Thanks guys, thanks for the turnup. Erm, one of my questions was, erm, on a lot of sets these days, so much time pressure continuously, shoot really quickly and grab stuff, there never seems to be enough time, and I was just wondering erm, how, how you worked kind of time scale wise on this one, how much time you had to to shoot the whole thing and how quickly it was all put together from a, a cinematography perspective,
Terry Rawlings: :(barely audible in the background) I can't remember
Man in audience: because so many, so many amazing kind of shots are throughout the whole film, and what blew me away was small kind of cutaway shots, little closeups, things like that, even, even those appeared to have such incredible amount of consideration to lighting
Ivor Powell: That's Ri.., that, I mean, that is Ridley, and his sort of commercial training, I mean, really we had, we had some, some shot on an A and a B camera, but obviously we were shooting on film and not on digital which is something that you talk to, I mean digital shooting can be a lot faster, but on the other hand, you suddenly after every shot, everybody gather's around the monitor and says "right , let's all look at this" and you wait and you wait and all look at it, "well let's have another" and so, I don't know, swings and roundabouts.
Terry Rawling:(barely audible in the background) How long was this?
Ivor Powell: But we had about, I think it was twelve, twelve weeks, I think our shoot was, twelve weeks,
Audience member :Thirteen weeks
Ivor Powell: yeah,
Man in audience: Must have been
Ivor Powell: we went over two, and were definitely hot guns to our heads to sore of finish up, finish up, they did sort of pull the plug on us at the end sadly, but there we go. So, sometimes pressure's good, you know, because otherwise, you know, people just can too much time, too much money, too much resource, and it doesn't necessarily mean for a better movie. You know, sometimes it's better to have the, used resources, you know, go on the old elastic band or whatever it is.... make something work, shoot something in camera as opposed to doing it, so you know
Man in audience: I think that's always what inspired me as a camera operator, just seeing how much you can find in camera
Ivor Powell: Yeah
Man in audience: And precede the CGI era, and how incredible it still looks , I think it still holds up today in that respect, so I just think.... (inaudible) during... (inaudible)
Ivor Powell: Yeah
Wayne Imms: Does answer my question , pretty, over the years since its release it still it looks brilliant doesn't it. Erm, so I'm afraid that's all we have time for, erm, I'll be back here in three weeks hosting an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 30th Anniversary thing, with its producer Robert Watts and art director Alan J Cassey. Erm, details on the genesis cinema website, and yeah, erm, there we go. Thanks very much for coming. I hope you had a good afternoon here with Alien and erm, Ivor and Terry. Erm, thankyou very much.
Afterwards I approach Ivor with an image from the Alien: The Illustrated Story in my mobile phone of the Alien as a box image
Wmmvrrvrrmm/Alien Explorations: Here's the comic with that strange
Ivor Powell (taking a look at the comic book for the first time): yeah, sure it's not, not the alien kind of, it's obviously something. It's the alien and the cat box, isn't it? yeah the alien was supposed to compact right down, when we cast the alien, we always used to look for, when Peter found Bolaji whatsisname and er. so he always was supposed to er, in fact in some concepts, he was supposed to change shape all the time continuously, obviously metamorphosis, I don't know.
Ivor Powell: I wish that I could see that er, your little... erm ... Alien prequel... script... treatment.... thing, that would be wonderful
Ivor Powell: Yes, it was fun.
Wmmvrrvrrmm: But, I know, I just.. it's the idea of all those strange ideas in the background
Ivor Powell: (barely audible recording so I just hope these are the words) You've heard this. They threw me out in Hollywood all right on first time and anything, but didn't want me there, they wanted me to change it to something else, I thought now what do I do