Alien Covenant: production fires up

leading from 
Alien: Covenant
Alien Covenant: The Xenomorph : Stripped down killing machine


a) MPC start on concepts

It was still during the time when Alien Covenant was to be called Paradise. 

Ridley wanted another Alien beast, the designs started with concepts drawn up with MPC’s art department, with 20 or 30 different concepts of the adult xenomorph

However none of the concept artists could come up with something that Ridley could find found suitable.

Conor O'Sullivan
b) Conor hired to do makeup
When Conor came aboard, they told him that he was only doing the makeup and if that was enough for him
According to the studio everything had been designed, that there weren't going to be any men in suits so it would be CG and then it wasn't, and he found that nothing had been designed.
The impression that he got, it was as if the producers asked "Is it designed? Have you have a design for the creature?" and to shut them up someone told them that it had been designed.
Suddenly he suddenly found out that he would be expected to do creature design for suits, he put in a budget with finances thinking that they needed further designs. 
The producer had said “Why have you got that? You don’t need it. It’s designed!
By now it looked as if he were falling into Ridley's mischievous game of keeping everything alive and vibrant .
c) Revelation on the way to China
In November 2015, around two months later, Conor was sitting in an airport on a plane away to China to do a separate job, and he finally got access to these so called Alien Covenant creature designs, they were about a 100 designs for the creature going back ten years but then realised that they’re all the same as the artwork from Prometheus. 
By that time Ridley still hadn't committed to the movie
There were bits that had been new designs from MPC but weren’t approves and Ridley didn’t like them. 

d) Problem fixer
Then it got to the point when the producer rang Conor up and said, 'Do you guys want to be the creature designers?
That's when everything started kicking off and getting into to January, and Ridley wanted to put men in suits   
Conor considered himself a problem fixer above being a creative artist, and it would be as if Ridley would come to him looking to him thinking "He'll have an opinion"
He was the guy who could fix it.
Perhaps he wouldn't enjoy it but it was a problem to be fixed

He managed to bring Colin Shulver as an artists and sculptor once Colin found that he could take his son out of school and over to Australia.
e) Men in suit aliens
Something to understand was the fact that Conor realised that he would be designing suits, but he knew that they were never going to be used, and completely different versions were being made

f) Countering the anorak opinions
He could come to think about all these so called Anorak nerds out there who might be thinkingWhy didn’t they shoot on them more, they would have been better”  but as far as Conor thought, these would be men in suit aliens and they would still look like men in suit aliens. 
His view about the alien beast for the original Alien film, it looked like a man in a suit, but it was well shot because you hardly ever saw it.

  1. Conor O'Sullivan: When I came onto the film, I was only doing the makeup,I was told by the studio that everything had been designed, and there was never going to be any men in suits.(
  2.  Conor O'Sullivan: I presume someone at Fox asked, ‘Is it designed? Have you have a design for the creature?’ Somebody told the producers it was. But, when I got there, that wasn’t the case, and it wasn’t what Ridley wanted.”
  3. Conor: At first, I was told that everything was designed and there were going to be no ment in suits. They said I was just going over for makeup effects, and asked if that was enough for me. In November, I finally saw 100-odd designs for the creature going back 10 years, and Ridley still hadn't committed. Then the producer rang me up and said, 'Do you guys want to be the creature designers?' That's when it all started kicking off. Then we got to January, and Ridley wanted to put men in suits (Cinefex 153, p14)
  4. Conor: Alien was the torturous experience and very difficult and we opened it up. We were doing the creature design for that, which I wasn’t expecting to do, that was not, it was everything, I was told that everything was designed and it wasn’t designed when we started the job. Then I was told everything was going to be CG and then it wasn’t, and we had to make it, and Ridley is kind of, you know he is quite mischievous, you know, that’s all kind of the little game, to keep it sort of alive and vibrant

    Interviewer:Keep you on your toes

    Conor: and people were, were genuinely, myself and mostly everybody else, was terrified of taking on the, you know they wanted to do it but were terrified of it at the same time, you know, because it’s the film that they all wanted to do, especially with Ridley Scott directing it, you know. It was the film that everybody wanted to do ever since they were a kid, it was the, that was the golden chalice, you know, well it was a slightly poisoned chalice

    Interviewer:Was this on Covenant?

    Conor: Yes

    Interviewer:So you had already worked with him on Prometheus

    Conor: Yuh, I worked with him a lot. and I knew, once I realised, I, I put in a budget with er, the finances for doing some  design, thinking that we needed designers further, the producer had said “why have you got that? You don’t need it. It’s all designed
    Two months later I’m on a plane on the way, sitting in an airport on a plane away to China to do a separate job, I finally get access to the designs and realise that they’re all the same stuff on Prometheus. Totally, unrelevant, there were some bits that had been new designs on MPC but they weren’t approve and he didn’t like them. So it was then, I was then asked for, that is a problem to be fixed, you know I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the experience, I didn’t enjoy the experience, but it was, we fixed it

    Interviewer:even once you got going and okay, we’re doing it now?

    Conor: No, it was just a torturous, hard and torturous. You know,  everybody was, was very anxious, very, you know, we did a hell of a lot, you know a huge amount of stuff, getting everybody through it, you know Now, you talk to everybody and it’s like “what a wonderful job that was to work on” at the time, you know, they were on the verge of tears mostly and really some of them were (Reel Feedback podcast
  5. Interviewer: So when you were designing, were you at the same time designing the CG version. Do you even have to? I assume that you..?

    Conor: Well no, they had already had a go at it, I don’t know why, you know, ‘cause we worked on them a lot and we’d get on, it was, I think he thought maybe I was, I could be the guy that could fix it. So, he wasn’t necessarily looking to me as being an artistic creative artist who could come up with this bar wonderful design, I think he looks at me and thinks “and he’ll have an opinion" and in that way, it is a, it is a good, it is a good experience. but it’s not, I mean, it’s not easy, you know it's kind of cathartic and all sorts of thing, but it's interesting,  you know, it's interesting, you know, the way the whole thing of, making making the guys in suits, you know, we knew they were never going to be used but we made different versions, completely different versions, you could n’t they were all the same thing, but we made them, and all the anoraks are out there at the moment saying “why didn’t they shoot on them more, they would have been better” It’s still a guy in a suit, you know, it still looks like a guy, you know, the original looks like a guy in a suit, well shot, because you hardly see it

    Conor: Erm, when you see too much of it, it’s not so good, you know

    Interviewer: No

    Conor: Er

    Interviewer:Yeah, there’s a couple of shots in Aliens where they sort of

    Conor: Yeah

    Interviewer: come round behind them or the end of Alien,

    Conor: Yeah

    Interviewer: on the, on the pod with Sigourney oh yeah, that’s a guy in a suit

    Conor: That’s a guy in a suit ,or the you know when it, on the original one, he he, and he purposefully kept it hidden, because  you couldn’t , you didn’t feel you could shoot him, you know every now and then you’d get a bit of a shock when its folded up and put into a kind of contained

    Interviewer: Yeah

    Conor: space like in the overhead locker or a down the the tube and it kind of works in there, or the one, it doesn't work in that film , when it's er, when it gets flung out of the shuttle and it's hanging under the burning flame, and you sort of see it in this kind of  crucifix sort of situation which is sort of something that and er, you can see it's a man in a suit

    Interviewer: Yeah

    (Reel Feedback podcast  

1 comment:

  1. "Alien Covenant: production fires up" was posted on July 31st 2021