On Tuesday morning (10th April) Cinemart went along to a footage preview and Q&A for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. We wrote about our impressions – based on, like, five minutes of clips, and we were forbidden from taking any audio equipment – Fox insisted on doing the transcript for us!
Here are images and transcript extracts, mostly from director Ridley Scott because he had the most interesting things to say.
CHAIR CHRIS HEWITT: Ridley you had an idea for a prequel to ‘Alien’ based around the Space Jockey for a long, long time but at what point did that coalesce into something solid, into this?
Ridley Scott: Well, I watched the three subsequent ‘Aliens’ being made, which were all jolly good in some form or other. Does that sound competitive? Because I’m really competitive! So I thought the franchise was fundamentally used up. How long ago was the last ‘Alien’?
Chair: ‘Alien Resurrection’ was 1997.
RS: 1997, so I must have thought about it for three or four years and thought in all of the films nobody had asked a very simple question which was – who is the big guy in the chair, who was fondly after ‘Alien’ called The Space Jockey. I don’t know how the hell he got that name; there was this big boned creature who seemed to be nine feet tall sitting in this chair and I went in to Fox with four questions. Who are they? Why are they there? Why that cargo and where were they going or had they in fact had a forced landing? And so in fact it was a study of a pilot and Tom Rothman [co-chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment] said, ‘That sounds good to me’. And so off I went with two writers, John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof and we came up with the screenplay, the draft. It’s interesting when you start off with an interesting idea like that and you don’t know whether it’s going to be a prequel or a sequel, it gradually adjusted itself into much larger questions and therefore now the actual connection to the original ‘Alien’ is barely in its DNA. You kind of get it in the last seven minutes or so. What you saw here was a montage of what comes out of the film, just to give you a taste of what’s to come, so some of it felt a bit disjointed but you may have caught a bit of it, but there is a little bit of it right at the end that gives you a connection. That’s about it.
Chair: But there are Easter Eggs in the film, I don’t know if anyone saw the planet is LV-223, I believe and the planet in ‘Alien’ is LV-426. Was it fun putting those things in, layering those little references?
RS: Yes; but the more I got into another story the less inclined I was to take on board that it was connected to the original.
Q: This is for Mr Scott, you’ve work with genius designers in the past, how long did you work on designing this new world and who are the people that worked on it with you?
RS: Oh, I knew you were going to ask that question! I’d have had my little list. But actually I tend to work with one guy all the time now called Arthur Max, who’s my production designer. I’ve worked with him, since, God, I must’ve done about five or six movies with him now. It used to be Norris Spencer before that. Because I was a designer, I really enjoy the process. And so I really get into it. And so this film, before we were even green lit, I persuaded Fox to spend some smart money, in that the film was completely planned with five designers who are digital designers who can design like industrial designers. From the suits to the kitchen on the ship, to the corridors, to everything you can possibly think of, and then actually climbing into the environment. Arthur Max and these five guys sat in my office in LA, while we were writing and re-writing, for about four and a half months, and by the time I had finished I had a book which was this big and that thick of glossies that were like photographs; they’re not drawings they’re exactly what you get on the screen. So I planned the film before we then mustered and put together a huge team, because once that huge team goes together, that’s where your money runs away. And time and time again I’d get asked, ‘Are you sure? I would like to just adjust this’ and I’d say, ‘Nope, there it is’. ‘What about the light?’ ‘There it is!’ And so that became my benchmark. So it worked out economically first, as opposed to trying to work it out on the floor when you’ve got a unit of three hundred and fifty people. So designing to me is very important.
Q: How conscious were you of fusing the world of ‘Prometheus’ with the world of ‘Alien’…the derelict ship, the Giger designs, the biomechanical?
RS: You know one of the problems with science fiction, which is probably one of the reasons why I haven’t done one for many, many years, is the fact that everything is used up. Every type of spacesuit is used up, every type of spacecraft is vaguely familiar, the corridors are similar and the planets are similar. So what you try to do is lean more heavily on the story and on the characters, to make that really, to give you lift-off, bad pun! But then during the design process, I think we come up with a lot of fairly, to use that awful word ‘cool’…cool looking things which evolve from the drawing board with the designers saying, ‘I’ve seen that, you can’t do that, you can’t do that’. Then you suddenly start to come up with evolutions of different looks so that as a total package, the film feels quite different.
Q: The scene in the original ‘Alien’ where the actors were surprised by something bursting out of the actor’s chest. Was there an extra level of anxiety that that brought to you?
Michael Fassbender: I never knew that! So, no I was living in bliss, ignorance and bliss.
Ridley Scott: There is a scene that could be called the equivalent of that in this film. But that was private, no one witnessed that. It’s your scene [points to Noomi]. But we can’t say what it is.
Michael Fassbender: Which one was that?
Noomi Rapace: But I did! I dreamt nightmares for two weeks. I had these weird fucked up images in my head, so yes it did affect us.
Thanks to Twentieth Century Fox and Substancefor the transcript and images