With Prometheus just around the corner, we decided to remake Ridley Scott's original Alien as an Easter movie. It's pretty short so it's probably best if you just watch it (Warning: contains chocolatey gore and violent fabric puppets). Features John Seaward from The Inbetweeners, Patrick Fysh who once won Come Dine With Me with his experimental pea dishes, James Duckworth who is a very talented musician as well as an acting man, the ever lovely Nic Carter and Simon Maeder (who have done a lot of nonsense with me in the past), and the smashing Maria Askew.
SHORT VERSION: Hope you like the film, if you do pass it to everyone you know, and have a fantastic chocolatey Easter!
LONG VERSION: The following is interspersed with images taken by the cast and crew, including Geoff, Kellie, Danielle, Kathryn, and whoever I gave my camera to when it wasn't being used for anything. I've checked with as many people as possible, but if you don't feel comfortable with me using any of these pictures please let me know.
Before I say any more I should properly credit the cast and crew:
Written by Geoff Gedroyc and Will Tribble
Director & Editor: Will Tribble
Producer and DP: Geoff Gedroyc
Composer: James Duckworth
Sound Design: James Hyde & De Lane Lea Studios
End music: "Merry Go" by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com
Camera Operator: George Burt
Camera and Sound Supervisor: Tom McDaniel
Prop Master & SFX Supervisor: Kellie Black
Art Director: Kathryn Kane
Assistant Art Directors: Esther Nosworthy & Lottie Louise McDowell
Art Assistants: Danielle McNiven, Joe Park, Sarah Pearman
General Lovely Help: Danish Qazi & Viktoria Sahl
Thanks to Anna for sending us some nice pictures of things
Thanks for Charlie for getting up early and helping
Special thanks to Sutton Film Makers (http://www.suttonfilm.co.uk/) for helping us get equipment and people and generally being brilliant.
Special thanks to Sally McCormack for providing us with theatre flats for spaceship building
Special thanks to Will's family for putting up with a lot of stuff and breezeblocks.
It was shot entirely at my family house.
The alien spaceship bit was done in the garage with a whole lot of blackcloth, hastily assembled by Kathryn and anyone that wasn't immediately needed while we were shooting the human spaceship bit. The human spaceship bit was done in my family living room, which had been covered in Dexter-style tarp from floor to ceiling to soak up any spray goo (and we did need the ceiling tarp at least once). Since we did that bit first I'll talk about it first.
The human spaceship was called the Chocstromo. It was a commercial towing vehicle transporting a refinery processing 20,000,000 tons of caramel minerals, mined from the planet Fudgeotron, in the gooey chewy outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. They answer a distress signal from the...Space....Chockeys? Look, it's hard to keep making chocolatey versions of Alien. Try coming up with a chocolatey pun for Xenomorph or LV-426 or Weyland-Yutani, or even Alien. Geoff only just stopped me from calling the film Eggstraterrestrials. You get the idea.
Anyway, the Chocstromo set was made from a collection of theatre flats borrowed from Sally McCormack, who runs Matrix Theatre . These were covered in wallpaper, and decorated with bits of cardboard, piping, etc. by Kathryn, Esther, Lottie and the rest of their team. It took about a week and enough trips to B&Q to build several sheds.
(guess which of those three cameras was used for filming video and which was used mainly for recording sound. Camera technology is weird.)
The chestburster was a cute little bunny puppet with a basket specially made by Esther. We had three in case they were completely ruined by a stomach burst, but in the end one lasted pretty well. Could people see that his basket had chocolate eggs in it, hence the "DON'T EAT IT!" line? I wasn't sure. Geoff imagined it as a chocolate easter bunny, which would have worked well in many ways, not so well in others.
The table is a Homebase plastic picnic table with a hole cut in the middle. James knelt behind the table, with a fake body in front of him connected to his arms and head, through which the chestburster exploded/was puppeteered. This is pretty much how it was done in the original film (except the actors knew what was going to happen).
The squirty bits and fake body for this scene were built by Kellie "Miss Pearl Grey" Black. There was a brilliant stomach bubbling effect she created with some vinegar and bicarbonate, sadly we couldn't really justify a close up in the final film. However it did help to make James' stomach taste completely disgusting, he didn't like doing the bits where he eats his guts. The chocolate around his mouth was tastier, but looks more genuinely horrifying than I expected.
We bought the cast several identical sets of the same clothing in case we wanted to do any reshoots, but, like the bunny, we just ended up making do with one. Shame really, we might have bought fancier clothing if we'd known. Nic bought a special Ripley afro wig because she's hardcore like that.
By the way here's the badge designs I made for the crew and John's character, I was quite proud of them and they don't get many close ups in the film.
The Facehugger bit was filmed last, between the hours of about 9pm and 1:45am. Because clocks went forward that day this somehow became 2:45am. I'm very thankful and sorry for everyone that stuck around that long, especially Viktoria who could have escaped if she wanted and probably didn't know what she was getting herself in for.
The alien egg is made of painted papier mâché and chickenwire. Talks about how big the egg actually needed to be got more and more Chinese Whisperated, until a lot of work had been put into making an egg that was about four foot tall by three foot wide. It's still in the garage and I'm not quite sure what to do with it.
I was concerned that it was a bit too massive to look like an Easter egg - if you don't instantly realise what it is, the film is in trouble. So in the last few days before the shoot Kathryn, Dani, Esther and Sarah quickly put together a much smaller one. It's wrapped in coloured cellophane, because large quantities of patterened tinfoil is quite hard to get.
The facehugger itself is a beautiful puppet built by Kellie. It's made of fabric, with poseable wire legs, a toy snake for a tail, and a back covered in chocolate buttons.
It was attached to James' face by the legs, pulled off and into the egg using a piece of fishing wire, and then we played the whole thing in reverse.
While we were shooting it I was concerned that the wire we used was a bit too obvious in shot. Then I watched Alien again and saw this:
You might notice a large white wire hanging from the alien's back, cunningly disguised by some slime. They did exactly the same thing, hooray!
Most of James' lines are improvised by him. It was quite late at night and he was pretty tired, but in a way that adds to his John Hurt semi-impression.
James did some brilliant music for the opening sequence and first scene, but didn't have enough time to make a super happy funtime piece of music for the end, so we used some royalty free music from Kevin MacLeod at Incompetech.
The final sound mix was done by James Hyde at De Lane Lea Studios, which normally does ADR for big feature films, James took some time out (and stayed up for like 24 hours) to work on this.
The title photo was taken by Geoff. Here's a full image of the space Easter egg from the opening titles, I made it in Photoshop:
COOL STORY BRO
And that's the film! I very much hope you like it, it was a garguantuan effort for a freely accessible internet sketch less than 3 minutes long. If you do like it, please do pass it around to everyone you know.
Once again, thanks so much to everyone that worked on it, you did an absolutely incredible job. I might be biased but I think the film looks pretty goddamn fantastic.
P.S. OTHER SCENES FROM ALIEN WE COULD HAVE DONE BUT DIDN'T
- The Easter Bunny eventually mutates into a full sized person in a bunny suit, it has a second set of adorable little jaws that rip people's heads off and/or fill their mouths with mini eggs.
- In a dramatic fight scene John's head is knocked off and a chocolate fountain sprays from his neck, turns out Dr Notarobotson is actually a robot. He hs a body filled with Maltesers and strawberry bootlaces.
- While escaping, Nic finds the Easter Bunny's lair, in which several crew members are being forcefed so much chocolate that they gradually turn into Easter eggs.