a) Background in the movies
Terry Rawlings had been sound editor for seventeen years and the last film that he did sound editing for was Ridley The Duellists (released in 1977) before he moved onto actual film editing
He had worked as editor on a small film The Sentinel (released in 1977) and then Watership Down released in October 1978 for which he was the sole editor.
b) Call from Ridley's Office
One day Terry got a call from Ridley's office telling him "We're going to make this film Alien, we'd like you to do the sound"
Terry's response was, "thank him very much, but I'll cut it, but I'm not going to do the sound".
Such was Ridley's interest in that, he personally phoned Terry up to say "You had better come and meet the producers then."
Somewhere in the conversation he added "Well, if they will accept you, so will I "
c) The meeting
Terry came into the office where the producers Gordon Carroll and David Giler were and then it turned out that they were very interested in Watership Down which they had recently seen although it hadn't been released.
They kept asking him about it and Terry was able to talk about this. At the end of the conversation he seemed to ask “Well, can I be the editor on this film?” or perhaps even "Well, can I cut this film or not?"
They replied with such words as "Yes" , “Of course!” or even "We’d be pleased"
Terry drove home as if he were flying his own Boeing 747 home, not quite realising what they were about to make as a film.
He didn't know much about Ridley apart from his work on The Duellists and his commercials, but when he read the script, he thought that it looked interesting and wondered what he Ridley was going to make a science fiction movie look like
He thought perhaps was going to be just an ordinary little horror film, or a little space journey film, nothing special , and yet it literally developed into what seemed to be a monster,
It would be the hardest films that he ever did, and they worked seven days a week, perhaps eighteen hours a day.
It was as if they never seemed to leave.
With the other members of the team, they all wanted to do the best work that they could and they wouldn't give up.
|Terry Rawlings pictured late in his life with his original draft script of Alien|
- Terry Rawlings: When Ridley was going to do Alien, I got a call
from his office because he wanted me to do the sound. I said I didn’t
want to do the sound, I wanted to cut it! So he said “You better come
and meet the producers then”, which I did, and they were so interested
in Watership Down, they kept asking me about it, and so I was
talking all about that, and then at the end of all this I just said,
“Well, can I be the editor on this film?”, and Gordon Carroll and David
Giler, who were there, said “Of course!” I tell you what, I was flying
my 747 home! It was fantastic! But I’ve never worked so hard as I did on that film. We spent hours doing that picture.
Animated Views: As you say, though, you thought that it was just another film to be working on…and then it came out and became this huge phenomenon.
Terry Rawlings: Oh, Alien was one of the most exciting periods of editing I have ever had, I think, because I was doing this really for the first time on my own, having done Sentinel. Watership Down wasn’t quite the same. But this, even though it wasn’t a big film when we first started – it was going to be just an ordinary little horror film, or a little space journey film, nothing special – and yet it just developed into this monster, literally! (https://animatedviews.com/2015/conversation-with-terry-rawlings/
- 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.(http://alienexplorations.blogspot.com/2014/08/alien-q-genesis-cinema-august-23rd-2014.html) "
- Terry Rawlings: I was a sound editor for seventeen years, and the last film that I did as sound editor was The Duellists, so that's where I met Ridley and we got on extremely well, I thought, and I got a call from his office to find out if I would be free to do the sound on a new film he was going to do called Alien. So I phoned back and said "thank him very much, but I'll cut it, but I'm not going to do the sound". So he phoned up and he said er "Well, you better come and meet the producers of this film, " so I did and I met David Giler and er Gordon Carrol and er after spending half an hour with them and Ridley and stuff, I said, well can I do the film or not" They said "of course", which I tell you was one of the great thrills of my life because er, it was going to be a fantastic film, you knew reading the script it was going to be interesting, and to work with Ridley who I admire from the Duellists. I didn't know him apart from that, I know he did commercials, and did the fantastic commercials, but Duellists was wonderful, and er, i thought well if, what he made that look like, what's he going to make a science fiction movie look like. (from Music and Editing Part 1 [The Making Of Alien])
- Interviewer: So, firstly, when were you first aware of Alien? What was it called at the point you were first aware of it for example?
Terry Rawlings: It was called Alien as far as I can remember. I had done, I had been I think I told you a sound editor for some time. The last film I did as a sound editor was The Duellists with Ridley. And then I went on my own way and I did The Sentinel which I cut and Watership Down. I got a call from Ridley to ask me if I’d be interested in doing the sound on his new film he was going to make and I said ‘no, I want to cut it’. So he said ‘well you’d better come and meet the producers." And that’s when it was sort of, I’m sure it was called Alien then and I met Gordon Carol and, who was the other one, there was…?
Interviewer: Giler and Hill.
Terry Rawlings: Giler, David Giler. Those two were there. And so I went to a meeting with those and they were more interested in talking to me about Watership Down all the time which they’d recently seen and Ridley said to me ‘Well if they will accept you so will I’. So I had this meeting with them and after a long sort of talk about everything but that I said well what’s the chance of my doing the film and they said, ‘We’d be pleased’. That’s how I really got the film. It was basically because I did the sound on The Duellists that knew Ridley from there and became the editor, nervously. (as reported from the interviews for Alien Evolution)