The Strause Brothers Interviewed – ALIENS vs. PREDATOR: REQUIEM
Posted by Frosty
A few days ago I posted a write up after I got to go to the Santa Monica editing studios for “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.” While I was there I saw two scenes from the upcoming movie and I also got to participate in a small roundtable interview with the Strause brothers - the directors of AVP:R.
In case you missed the original article… I’m posting the entire write up again. But if you already read it…you can scroll further down and go right to the interview.
We all arrived around 1pm and were showed around the office. At first we walked around an area they called the '3D pit' and that’s where they were putting the final touches on the upcoming unrated DVD. This area is also where they do a lot of effects for many films, as the Strause brothers said the effects artists were hard at work on “Jumper” and “Starship Dave” now that "AVP:R" is slowing down. I did try and see the computer screens to check out what else was being worked on… but, unfortunately, I didn’t see anything but Aliens.
While we stood around the pit, we asked about the unrated DVD. The brothers said it would be around 7 or 8 minutes longer and they had some new and special footage planned for it. And if you’re wondering, I asked what the running time is for "AVP:R" and they said around 97 minutes. As we continued to walk around the office, someone asked how many special effects shots were in the film and one of the brothers said around 500 or so.
We then walked up some stairs and saw a room with huge racks of servers in an area away from everything else. The server room is surrounded by glass, and since I had heard they keep those rooms ice cold, I put my hands on the wall to see how cold it was. Just like you’d expect, it was cool to the touch. As most of you know, server farms get extremely hot. They told us they have two air conditioning units to keep the room ice cold. Just some random FYI.
From there we went upstairs and sat down in the screening room. This was the area where they watched and worked on the film. I have to say it was very nice. I’ve been in a lot of screening rooms because of Collider and the chairs in this one might have been the best. After a few minutes of Q&A, the brothers showed us two scenes from the film.
The first one featured a Predator in the water after arriving on Earth. From there he goes to a ship - I believe it was another Predator ship – and he goes to a previously killed Predator and gets some stuff from his body. After rummaging around he sets the auto destruct and the scene ended with him walking away and the ship blowing up. The brothers said this scene was about a third of the way into the movie.
The second and much better scene featured humans, Aliens and a Predator. We were told this scene takes place in the last half of the movie. In this scene we saw a Predator smashing his way into the front of a hospital. Inside we saw a group of heavily armed humans as they tried to make there way around the dark and dangerous building. Without ruining the scene, which played quite well to the ten of us, we saw the Preadator getting attacked by some Aliens and the humans stumbling into the battle. The end of the scene featured a great death. All the journalists watching let out a happy scream. Trust me, it’s soooo much better than the last movie.
The one thing I noticed about all the footage is that the movie is dark and a lot of it looks like it takes place in the rain. When we spoke to the brothers they admitted that was their plan. While I don’t have their exact words, they told us that you can’t show the Aliens in too much light or you’ll know it’s someone in a costume. That’s why all the battles in this film will be in dark places with limited light.
What I liked about the brothers is how much they spoke about James Cameron and how he even influenced them to move to L.A. to become filmmakers (it was "T2" that did it). They revere “Aliens” and “Predator,” and after talking with them, they really seemed like fans who got the keys to their dream franchise.
Since I haven’t seen the final film I can’t say if their vision will work out. But based on the scenes I saw this afternoon, and the first five minutes that FOX released online, it’s already a hell of a lot better than the last movie.
At the end of the interview we tried to find out what the brothers were going to do next. They seemed very reluctant to spill the beans, but they did say they have two original projects that they’d like to do and if the box office for "AVP:R" is good they’d love to do a sequel to take the battle into space.
And now… here’s the entire interview. As always, you can either read the transcript or listen to the audio as an MP3 by clicking here.
How many takes did it take to kind of launch the person (from the footage we saw)?
Greg Strause: What did we get 3 or 4 out of that?
Colin Strause: Yeah.
Greg Strause: I thought she was dead after the first take though. There was no speed ramping or any effects on that.
Colin Strause: That’s real speed of her hitting the wall.
Greg Strause: That’s the real in-camera footage.
Colin Strause: It’s crazy.
Was she on a ratchet or something that pulled her against the wall?
Colin Strause: Yeah, she was on a ratchet and the funny thing is we had the guy who played Colossus in X3 was one of our stunt guys… so he was actually the guy on the ratchet at the time. It was really kind of bizarre.
Q: So she was all black and blue by the end of that.
Colin Strause: Yeah, she got banged up a bit but she did great. It looks pretty vicious. No special effects needed on that.
What’s the actress’s name?
Colin Strause: Oh, it’s Kristin Hagger is Jessie, but I forget the name of the stunt woman who was playing her for that shot.
That Colossus guy, did he also double as one of the predators?
Colin Strause: Yeah, he was one of the predators. We had him and I think was it his brother?
Greg Strause: Yeah, his brother, yeah.
Colin Strause: They were 2 of the stunt predators up in Canada.
Now Robert asked you about the continuity of the mythology of that. The 1st Alien vs. Predator had switched up some of the mythology to suit certain needs. Have you removed some of that and gone back to the original?
Colin Strause: Some stuff has been smoothed over like we redesigned the altar that Scar’s body was on to make the ship a little more Predator-ish, you know. There’s a couple of things—we tried to stay as close as we could be there were a few things we had to massage a little bit just to kind of make the movie more what we wanted it to be.
So this is immediately following AVP?
Colin Strause: Yes, shortly after. I mean, we redo the Scar vs. scene and there’s some extra stuff on the ship which actually they just released on Yahoo.UK the first 5 minutes of the movie today. Slightly cut down. There’s a few shots missing out of it.
There’s also a shot of what we can assume is the Predator homeworld?
Colin Strause: Yeah.
It looked like those were all Predator ships.
Colin Strause: Yeah, there was an exterior of the plant. The big wide on the planet itself with the Wolf ship flying away and then the whole inside his big temple thing where he receives the distress signal and watches all the playback on that.
So is this teasing for a possible film that’s going to maybe take us to the Predator home world?
Colin Strause: Yeah, I mean, we kind of told them this is to us kind of the end of the Earth story. The next one’s got to be in space. The way we kind of end this it’s like we’re kind of done here so it would be nice the next one before Alien but definitely needs to be more of a space epic.
So could we get to a point where there’s a movie that’s just monsters and no aliens at all?
Greg Strause: Actually that’s a hard sell.
Colin Strause: We pitched on the first one and we had like our pitch was like Dances With Wolves and we had like 45 minutes where there was going to be no spoken language at all in the movie. Needless to say we didn’t get the first movie but we tried.
Greg Strause: It sounds great. We’ll call you.
Can you talk a little bit about when you found out you did get the project.
Colin Strause: Yeah, it actually went pretty quick. I mean, we met on the first one so we met all the executives over there and our effects company—we’d been doing a lot of work for Fox and we got the backdrop for Day After Tomorrow and we did all the Fan Four movies—X-Men 3, just a ton of stuff over the years and we pitched on Wolfenstein and got really close to selling it at Fox and then when this thing came around it was all the same executives and everyone. We got our hands on it. We had about a week or so to put together a visual presentation and our ideas of how to take what script they had and where we kind of wanted to put the movie and yeah, we had one really good meeting with them and then we had like 2 other meetings after that and then we basically had the job booked.
Can you talk about the design of the Pred-Alien? How many incarnations you guys went through? Was that the toughest design challenge that you had?
Colin Strause: It was definitely one of the trickier ones. I mean, one of the hard things is that there are so many other people that had to see stuff and approve and try to get everyone on the same page. One of the cool things is we went with ADI the guys have like even for the Predator they must have had 60-70 different concepts painted together of all different Predators. Some of them were from the previous movie they didn’t use, a bunch were new ones they did. Like the Whip was something that one of the concept artists just happened to have. This huge bullwhip and as we went over there on the first meeting we saw them and holy shit this thing is about as cool as it gets. We’ve got to put that in the movie. So, you know it was just really good working with Tom and Alec on that. What they would do is we did our initial designs in Photoshop with our designer. We showed the guys from ADI what we wanted to do, and then they would start doing their paper designs and we’d get something kind of close and then they’d start building all these mechets. We’d start with the head mechets, and they’d start with the full-body mechets. We probably went through a bit of design work.
Greg Strause: Yeah, I remember going through some of the art work and it was like Pred-Alien version 65 and you’re like Jesus Christ. It’s just naturally going through a lot of indurations but there were some concerns. We wanted to keep him very much or her very much an alien so there was some back and forth in terms of how many predator sort of characteristics should come through so that was what most of the back and forth was about.
Colin Strause: One of the trickier things too was it’s one thing when you’ve got like all the geeky fans who know everything watch the movie. They go oh I know that’s obviously a warrior alien ,I know that’s the Pred-Alien but the biggest issue we had with the design is because we’re going so dark with the movie and there’s a lot of rain and atmosphere and everything is a normal person watching the movie going to be able to tell the difference? That was like one of our biggest tricks, because we knew that hardcore fans would get it instantly but good design also has to appeal to people who don’t give a shit about the franchises—just want to go see a movie and they go and actually like it. We had to make sure we included all those people in it as well, so that was one of the things making sure…we cheated the pigmentation a little bit more yellow on her and just things so that if you just see flashes of her at least a general audience member would be able to track it but at the same time not watering down the design or anything to make it kind of generic.
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