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Holy crap! Quint chats ALIEN, the upcoming Alien Prequels and 3D with Sir Ridley Scott!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. In the 14 years I’ve been at AICN I’ve found myself in some crazy situations, sitting with Gods of Cinema to discuss their work. If I had a check list there would be another name ticked off after last weekend when I was able to arrange a brief sit-down with Sir Ridley Scott to discuss Alien and his forthcoming Alien prequels. I only got 6 minutes, but I was the only person to get any alone time with Scott when he dropped by the Hero Complex Film Festival to discuss his career between screenings of Alien and Blade Runner. We go over some interesting things with a focus on why he’s wanting to go 3-D with the Alien prequels. When I was introduced to Scott as being with Ain’t It Cool he told me “you better not write anything bad about me!” The interview starts with my response to that. Enjoy!

Quint: I’m such a big fan of yours I wouldn’t write anything nasty. You could punch me in the face and I’d probably be fine with it! Since you’re here tonight to talk about your early films, I’d like to touch on something specific. I’m a big trailer fan, especially teaser trailers. There’s a lost art, I feel, to movie trailers.

Sir Ridley Scott: Yeah, sure.

Quint: And you have one of the best trailers of all time with Alien, the cracking egg trailer. How involved were you with that?

Sir Ridley Scott: I was two films out of advertising. My previous film was The Duellists and Alien was the second film, so I was deeply in advertising and am still. My company, RSA, is 40 years old and it (has) a lot of advertising directors. So, I’m still deeply in advertising today and trying to do transitions into what you do: alternative forms of income. I knew a guy at Y&R (Young & Rubicam) in New York, Steve Frankfurt. Steve was the creative director. And Richard Goldberg… they were partners. Either Goldberg worked for them or Steve had gone freelance, I don’t remember which. But at that moment Steve did the campaign with Goldberg’s company and they not only did the title, which I always think is great… You know when the title comes up and it’s dashes and you don’t know what the hell it us? It’s like a strange hieroglyphic, especially to Jerry Goldsmith’s music, which I think is one of his best scores. It was wonderfully architectural somehow. But he came up with whole deal. The title, which then you can use that letterform on the poster and he selected… I said, “There are lots of images, but the one you can not use is the alien.” He said, “I’d love to use the egg.” So he took the egg and from that he blew it open with light coming out of it. I saw it and said, “That’s it. That’s great!” He came up, also, with the line “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream,” which I thought was pretty good.

Quint: Yeah, and I know that really became part of the identity of the movie. My step-father told me when he went to see the film he had no real idea what it was, just saw the poster and knew he wanted to see it. The tagline really grabbed him. You can’t really have that these days. We all know everything about a movie before going to see it.

Sir Ridley Scott: Well, you guys do it! You spread the news!

Quint: Oh, I realize what part we play a part in that.

Sir Ridley Scott: The danger is are we removing the magic? I don’t know. By letting everybody in the door… I’ve heard now that audiences object if it’s not purely 3D, if it’s 2D to 3D. I could show you 2D to 3D and you wouldn’t know the difference. But when they’re told it’s 2D to 3D they say, “Fuck that, man! I’m paying another four dollars…” It’s about money, of course, but you’re still paying for the effect. Really, it’s very close. 2D to 3D is awfully close.

Quint: Speaking of, I know a lot of our readers, myself included, are very excited to see you return to the Alien franchise, but there was some concern over your interest in doing the prequels in 3D.

Sir Ridley Scott: People don’t want me to do it?

Quint: I think there’s just a worry there because of the technical limitations of filming a movie in 3D.

Sir Ridley Scott: Not at all.

Quint: None at all?

Sir Ridley Scott: Naw. You know, what’s happened is the scientists have gone in the room… because it is complex. The beam-splitter, the this and the that and blah, blah, blah… it all sounds very complex. I always (camera) operate. I operated entirely on Alien, for instance. Because I’m an operator I think lenses. If you think lenses then the crossover to 3D honestly is nothing. I was told it was going to slow us down… it didn’t slow (Michael) Bay down. Bay is moving like lightning. Once he realized, “Oh, Jesus… there’s no difference, really. Except I’m adding dimension.” They say, “Aren’t you worried about how it’s going to cut?” No, because when I’m planning I think in 3D anyway. Even when I’m storyboarding the scene is already thought of in dimension. “When he comes in there, I’ve got a deep two-shot. Should I cover that in singles or not? Will I need a reversal?” You’re already thinking in 3D.

Quint: But will it effect the lighting? My understanding is you have to light 3D brightly for it to really work, which doesn’t seem to fit into the atmospheric mold of an Alien film.

Sir Ridley Scott: You need a stop more. This new (film) stock is running at 800 ASA (ASA being American Standards Association, which sets film speed standards globally). I think when it melts down is will be about as fast (as standard film stock). Normal stock is 500 ASA, so even that is going to be equalized. I think what people forget is that sometimes you want to fill a little bit more so you have the information in the blacks. So then later, when I grade it, the digital grading will have something to pick up. If there’s nothing to pick up, there’s nothing to pick up. So, you protect yourself, particularly if you’re doing a film where you see a lot of effects shots you want to protect your negative. If I was just pure film, I would worry less about that and shoot for what I want, but because I’m going to go through a phase, or a generation, digitally I have to protect the negative by having information.

Quint: So, as long as the information is there you can go in during post and put whatever shadows you want.

Sir Ridley Scott: Yes. Then later I can take it, if the information is there, and crush it and contrast it.

Quint: Thank you so much for your time. They’re pulling me away here. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what you’ve got in store. I hope we’ll be seeing a lot of real, practical Aliens running around!

Sir Ridley Scott: Yeah, you will!

I’m not terribly sold on 3-D in the Alien universe, but from the above conversation I’m at least convinced that Scott has put a lot of technical and creative thought into the decision and isn’t just jumping on to the 3-D bandwagon. I could have spent a couple hours talking with Sir Ridley about his career, but who gets that kind of time? I’m lucky to have gotten the 6 minutes I did. I hope you guys enjoyed it! -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

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