A few days ago I posted a write up after I got to go to the
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 eveninfluenced them to move to
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
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.
Were there key things that you had to have like with Predator the key thing is the fangs and the Alien the key thing is the head, were there…
Colin Strause: Yeah, for us it was keeping the Alien teeth because that’s such a distinct feature and having the dome. That’s why we went back with putting the skull actually underneath the glass dome so it has a real Predator skull under there. Even in the original Alien you could never really see it because the photographers lit so dark. We have a couple shots in the movie where you can actually see the whole skull feature and everything underneath. The with the mandibles in that because of the basically the egg laying scene we wanted the mandibles under there so she could actually wrap around almost like a face hugger in a way and grab people’s faces as she’s doing the impregnation. So it was a kind of important design thing. In the battle sequence I think she looks pretty fearsome. When she has the mandible closed she looks more Predator, but when they open up you see the distinct Alien teeth and everything.
Alien fans have been waiting a long time to see Aliens on Earth. How much fun can you have with that finally within the context of the AVP story?
Colin Strause: Well, I mean, the thing we were trying to be careful of is we didn’t want to have Aliens dancing in front of McDonald’s and stuff. I know a lot of people were worried being on Earth it’s like you know what are the locations going to be. One of the first things in our pitch we said the movie’s got to take place and power’s going get knocked out and it’s got to be raining the whole last night. Seeing an Alien in broad daylight or just plain view is going to look stupid no matter what you do. The reason it worked in all the other movies is you were in a dark spaceship, you had flashing blinking lights, steam jets. You had all these great elements to cover them up basically and if you don’t do that they’re going to look like guys in suits. That’s why the first thing we did is get that atmosphere and that in there and the 2nd thing was picking cooler locations. The 1st big battle takes place in this huge underground sewer network. The next battle takes place in a power plant. Then you have the big rooftop battle. Then there’s a National Guard battle on the street in the rain. We tried to pick locations that even though they were earth bound, they still were reminiscent of you know, the power plant is going to look very much like Alien. It’s got all the yellow warning beacons and lot of steam and everything so we’re trying to give it that space sort of feel so even though it is Earth it doesn’t—try not to make it feel cheesy or anything, just give it a much more gritty kind of environments.
Do you have other films sort of conceptionalized going beyond this? You mentioned going into space and approaching the time line of the original Alien movie.
Colin Strause: We’ve been talking very loosely with the writer and all that with what could be the next one but we’re going to wait to see how this one does and then we’ll figure out what the deal is. But yeah, definitely the next one’s got to be in space.
You said this franchise is obviously a fan-boys dream. What ways is it for the general audiences?
Colin Strause: Well, the big thing we did with the movie is just try to make a good scary film. I mean, we tried to treat it not as like a versus movie because I think sometimes people see a vs. movies as being kind of cheesy. You know, Freddy vs. Jason is entertaining, but there’s a little kind of funny cheese to it. We tried to keep it as serious as we could with the creatures and just make a good, scary, dark movie. Basically the idea was to do a kind of like a
What’s your opinion on the Christmas Day opening?
Colin Strause: I think it’s going to be pretty cool. There’s actually you know with “I Am Legend” coming out before… our buddy Francis did.
Greg Strause: Scream movies did really well during that week. People ask about that and it’s a huge movie going week. So like every day that week is like a Friday or Saturday.
Because of your extensive experience over the years now with all that’s taken place, what was the most complicated element to do in terms of the effects for this picture that you’re very much proud of?
Colin Strause: Predator ship interiors?
Greg Strause: The most complex without being a total spoiler. One of the hardest scenes is still not completely been spoiled yet and we’re trying not to spoil everything. It gets real easy with every interview you give away a little hint in each one and all of a sudden there’s nothing left to find out in the theatres, so we always try to dampen ourselves on that.
Colin Strause: The big thing was a lot of shots.
Greg Strause: And the ship crash stuff in the beginning was some of our more intense stuff with you know plowing over a whole forest of trees and all the fire and all that. That stuff is pretty involved.
Colin Strause: Every tree had to be completely 3D and we built these simulations so as the ship actually hits the trees physically bend over and start snapping and breaking as the ship kind of plows over it.
Greg Strause: And the trophy room was pretty involved too. Oops, I just let that out.
Colin Strause: Well, that’s on that clip now so.
Greg Strause: Oh yeah, that’s right. It’s on the Internet.
Can you talk just a little bit about the title? What is the Requiem part? Why Requiem? What is that referring to?
Colin Strause: It’s kind of 2 things. One it was you know trying to show the more adult theme to the movie…
Greg Strause: The real answer we can’t give you on record.
Colin Strause: Also it was supposed to make it more adult which is basically the big thing with the movie. The last one was a little bit more kind of a normal sci-fi where ours is much more of a darker town. I think you saw from that clip it’s a lot kind of meaner of a movie.
You guys obviously speak as fans and have high reverence for both franchises. Can you talk about what the Alien films and the Predator films mean to you? I mean, did they help get you guys into this…?
Greg Strause: It’s funny, Colin and I had said this before, we go on a lot of movie pitches and a lot of times you don’t just talk about the project you’re there to talk about. You talk about things you like. What your tastes are and we’d always be like Predator is the best mission movie ever made bar none and then Aliens just from a horror standpoint scared the piss out of us when we were 8 years old and just loved that movie. Also, though, it’s a scary action film but it’s got a real heart to it. I mean, the whole Ripley/Nute dynamic and her starting as a mom and having to become a solider. It was like this great character of writing in there.
Colin Strause: And also Cameron was a big influence. I mean for us when we moved out here we saw Terminator II and it was like…because we were already doing visual effects in
Where does Predator 2 fall into that then?
Colin Strause: Lower.
I did notice there was a music cue from Predator 2 in there.
Colin Strause: No, there’s a lot of stuff from Predator 2 I liked. It just didn’t hold up as well. Like you put Predator in I mean like I watched—I’ve watched it like 40 times, but on Friday the Jules Verne thing we’re going to get to see but I mean, you watch that movie on DVD it’s so timeless. Predator 2, you throw it in and I mean, there’s some funny stuff—the guy with the…
Greg Strause: The rayon shirts don’t hold up as well. They don’t stand the test of time.
Are you guys showing these same clips at the Jules Verne or are you showing different clips?
Colin Strause: I think we’re doing those 2 clips aren’t we?
Greg Strause: That’s not been decided yet.
Colin Strause: It’s either that or the opening or something. We’re still working that out.
Greg Strause: Yeah, we’ll figure that out tomorrow probably.
You mentioned plays for an extended DVD. What other extras do you have for Blue-Ray and HD DVD.
Colin Strause: You know, I think there’s some extra concept stuff. There’s still a whole bunch of stuff we’re still going over with the DVD people. We’re still actually doing the DI on it. We have to go there tonight and finish.
Greg Strause: We just…the last bit of color timing work on the theatrical is finished on Friday so we’re just going to start getting into the DVD stuff in the next week or so.
So what’s your final running time on this film?
Greg Strause: You’re going to have to ask Dan. 96 or something? It’s right around….it’s 94-96 right in that neighborhood.
When you guys work together, do you have like similar minds about a lot of stuff or…?
Greg Strause: Yeah, we have to otherwise we wouldn’t be able to sit here together. Yeah, I mean…
Colin Strause: It’s interesting. Some things we’re completely aligned on and some things we’re very different about, which is nice because we get to play devil’s advocate a lot, which is a nice thing. Where if a director is by himself, if there’s something he’s not quite sure about, he has to be careful who he says like I don’t know about this because it usually looks like a sign of weakness, where I can go to him and go like is this idea stupid or he can go like yeah, it’s a fucking retarded idea and we don’t do it or vice versa say this idea’s good. It lets us kind of push each other and lets us battle out the idea so when we actually show up on set we know that we’ve kind of looked at both sides of an issue, picked a way we needed to go and stick with that direction.
As a practical matter on set is one of you maybe deals more with the actors and the other…
Colin Strause: On the visual effects side, I do more on the 3D and Greg does more on the 2D side. We have a little more of a split up on that but the directing is…
In terms of the assemblies or different cuts or how you guys go about that?
Colin Strause: Well, what we did on this which was really cool is because of that whole final cut system we were able to and our editor Dan is just blazingly quick, as we were shooting the movie—first we did previs for all the battle sequences and storyboarded out the whole film and cut it all together. So we literally had a full movie of storyboards then as we’d shoot, he’d be cutting stuff all during the week then every weekend, when we were up in Vancouver, we’d literally watch whatever the assembly was of the movie the whole time. And the cool thing about that was we were able to make changes on set so we’d be shooting something and we’d be like oh, you know we’d need a close-up of this. We could then go tell 2nd unit to pick up this shot without it actually being extra days in our schedule or we could say, ‘hey we don’t need this scene now—it’s not needed in the movie—don’t waste your time on this, move on.’
Greg Strause: Sometimes I wait until he left and then I’d sneak in with Dan and change the stuff.
Was there any need for like an assistant director?
Colin Strause: Oh yeah.
Greg Strause: We had a 2nd unit director but then the assistant director’s in charge of the schedule and everything.
Colin Strause: I mean, that’s a monumental task all on its own. Especially because we had 52 days of shooting and we had 42 company moves which is kind of insane. It literally means that we’re….never anywhere more than a day. Some days we’d do 3 company moves…because the last one once you got in the temple, you were in the temple for like 45 minutes. Every 3 minutes of our movie you’re literally in a completely different location in the town. Part of the idea was to make the movie as big as we can to show all this shit going on all over the place but it also meant the actual filming was going to be a nightmare. So the assistant director—that was his main task was getting everything scheduled. We kept having towns because when they found out we wanted to fire 50 caliber machine guns and everything—these towns magically started not wanted us shooting there anymore because you could hear the guns for 4 miles as it echoes through the valley. So whenever we’d lose a location he’d scramble to schedule and we’d find a new place, so that was his main task was to get all that crazy stuff sorted out so we could focus on the performances and everything.
You guys have been involved in so many landmarks effects, what do you think is the next level you can take visual effects to?
Greg Strause: Stereoscopic.
Colin Strause: 3D stuff is going to be the future.
Greg Strause: I don’t know if you guys have seen Beowulf or not but the 3D…the stereoscopic aspect of that experience I thought it was awesome.
Colin Strause: I wouldn’t bet against Cameron either. If he thinks it’s a good idea I think it’s going to be….it’s going to be the future I think.
Greg Strause: It brings you into the picture more.
Colin Strause: I find myself with my home theatre at home is like I’ll just wait for the DVD, you know. But stereoscopic you kind of have to get your ass off the sofa and get to the theatre and actually watch it. It’s a cool thing because going to the theatre should be an experience. It shouldn’t be a chore. Having something like stereoscopic would be something that you could only experience there. 3D TV’s—3D plasmas probably won’t be out for another 8 years—7 years realistically, so I think that will be an experience unique to the cinema for a while to keep people going there.
You were talking before about the fact that you used re-mastered soundtracks off the original Aliens and Predator, could you talk about it?
Colin Strause: Yeah, that was such a big thing for us because especially in the last movie and I think the Predator vision didn’t quite sound as full because it didn’t have all the heartbeats and all that stuff so we made sure they pulled all the original sound effects like when the Aliens get killed that squeal that you heard in Aliens, they call that the peacock elephant I guess. It was a weird one off recording in a zoo where they happened to be recording a peacock and in the background a baby elephant squealed at that exact time and that was the exact noise and they literally used that same sound effect over and over again, so we did the same thing and …
Greg Strause: And the sounds from mother from the original Alien for the mother for the type hitting the screen—we used that. The plasma caster from the original Predator, blue cracks….it’s all the same.
Colin Strause: Just to make the movie feel familiar.
Greg Strause: In certain places the original recordings kind of showed their age and their quality so we would layer new recordings on top but a lot of the fundamental layers—a lot of sound effects sometimes can be 20, 30, 50 layers of sounds all mixed together at once, so a lot of ours the bottom foundation will be from the original. We didn’t do anything where in the final movie it would sound kind of analog or sound antique so we’d run the risk of that we’d layer new stuff in on top.
And there were also music cues from Alien in that stairwell I heard.
Colin Strause: We had Brian do the score we told him the idea was we wanted to be a blend of Aliens and Alien III on the music, so keep it familiar. We also said we really wanted the bongo drums from Predator. So make sure in all the key moments of all the Predator shots that you get that. Again, it’s just to give it a little nostalgia and make it feel familiar. We wanted to get back to that old sort of feeling with it.
Now are you guys already looking for your next job? Do you know what you’re directing next or are you guys waiting?
Colin Strause: We have 2 big things.
Greg Strause: We have some things cooking.
And they are?
Colin Strause: Can’t really talk about them yet. Maybe another week or 2. One’s fantasy and one’s sci-fi.
Are they based at Fox?
Greg Strause: They’re all over the place.
I think you guys mentioned that you guys even though you McG is directing it… but you guys would have like to have taken a whack at Terminator.
Colin Strause: Yeah, that would have been cool.
So is it something Terminator like? Something being re-made that we haven’t heard about?
Greg Strause: They’re both original movies.
That you guys came up with them?
Colin Strause: Nope. We have our own script and we have a big disaster film that we actually almost been writing ourselves which maybe won’t be for the next thing but maybe the thing after that. A big sci-fi disaster.
You say fantasy. Is it Lord of the Rings like fantasy or is it more…?
Colin Strause: I don’t know.
Greg Strause: Keep fishing there.
Do you have plans like for your own TV series project?
Colin Strause: We’ve talked about looking into TV; I mean basically it’s always better to get into TV after you’ve done a movie. We talked about it last year and it was like if you start a TV show it’s always better to start if a movie’s does good and everything is going to put you in a better place for figuring out. It’s something we’re definitely interested in but I want to maybe do another movie or so first before getting into that craziness.
You guys are directing as the Strause Brothers, you guys are not going on your own separate ways?
Colin Strause: No. Staying together. Even after we finished shooting this we shot a bunch of commercials. We still do stuff like that to pay the bills.
Do you guys think that maybe what is
Greg Strause: We haven’t really talked any timelines with them. I mean, there’s definitely a way you can see kind of attitude there. I always believe it’s better to have a little bit of a gap just so the audience builds up a little bit of a hunger. I think every time if you come out the exact next year sometimes you might not maximize the exposure so …
Are the Alien and Predator franchises now basically inexplicably linked or did you envision some just Predator films again?
Colin Strause: I think it will be definitely another AVP before there’s a Predator film again.
Greg Strause: It’s hard for us to speak for what those guys are thinking over there but I’d say your chances of an AVP III are a lot greater. You’d get that first before you’d get another Predator 3 or Alien 5.
Colin Strause: I think most of it is just looking at it from a pure financial standpoint. I mean, you get 2 fan bases or you get just 1. It’s like… you know. At the end of the day the whole idea of making movies is making money off them.
Greg Strause: Don’t get us wrong, I’d love to see both of those movies get made just knowing those guys it’s hard to say. If you look at the curve of the financial performance the last Alien movies is kind of like going like this so it’s you’ve got to make movies to make money so. There’s that unfortunate pressure on all of us.