Ridley Scott's Alien DNA lives on
Not one for quick scares, Alien: Covenant director Ridley Scott strives to stress audiences for half an hour before delivering the punch
At the Ham Yard Hotel in London, Ridley Scott was talking about movie monsters and scaring audiences.
"I think it's really, really hard to frighten people. Quick cuts of creatures coming out of the dark in a dark corner are what I call a quick cheap thrill.
"When it's orchestrated into unease, if you get them stressed for nearly half-an-hour, then you hit them, that's orchestration. Then you have to be able to follow it through, otherwise your whole film collapses."
And does he follow through in his new movie Alien: Covenant, which opens here tomorrow.
The film is the second instalment of the Alien prequel movies after 2012's Prometheus.
Remember the phrase, "In space, no one can hear you scream", from the first Alien?
Alien: Covenant continues the sentiment, and the adventure revolves around the crew on board the spaceship Covenant, which is on its way to populate the planet Origae-6, with 2,000 passengers in hyper-sleep, dozens of embryos and the crew, played by Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo, Danny McBride, Amy Seimetz, Demian Bichir and Nathaniel Dean.
With them is one non-human, Walter (Michael Fassbender), an android that takes care of the ship and crew.
Forty years ago with the first Alien movie, there were no CGI monsters. Scott discussed how technology has moved on from the guy in the rubber suit.
"I had to have a guy in a rubber suit in 1979, because that was the only method to make the mechanics, the head and the double mouth.
"Later, I got digital capability where you can do anything, but you have to be very careful so it doesn't look digital. And I can't have actors standing there looking at a blank space going, oh my God, the alien is going to attack me, and acting that out. So I still do the man in the suit, so the actor has something."
Scott and prosthetics supervisor Conor O'Sullivan designed "baby aliens, the baby neomorph and the baby xenomorph" using some form of puppetry.
Wire removal would be digitally done later, said Scott.
"But there were other bits and pieces that weren't quite right, so then we re-conform it absolutely as it is, but digitally. So the digital process gives you final gloss and polish to everything."
Among his many talents, Scott is an artist and always storyboards his films himself.
"I was an inordinate drawer and painter, and I would draw, from five years old, obsessively. I was not academic in school, in any shape or form. And the worst thing about it was, I was trying really hard. I wasn't lazy, I was trying hard. But I didn't feel stupid, I just felt I was good at one thing," said the Oscar-nominated film-maker.
"My father said: 'You are good at one thing, you are going to art school.' So by going to art school, everything opened up, boom."
He has never stopped painting, saying that he still has "painting hands" and "paints full time virtually when I am not filming".
His creative process is fuelled by a lot of vodka martinis, he added, jokingly.
"I have always been very inquisitive. I think my blessing is that I was born with an eye. I still use every day what I learnt from art school when I am filming, so I'd draw scenes when I am storyboarding.
"Those boards aren't just an instruction sheet, they are me working out exactly what I am going to do, the geometry of what I am going to do visually.
"So I can almost walk into the room fresh, a camera here and here and here. It's already in the head, and I can see it."
Because he loves what he does, he feels that he has never worked a day in his life. The 79-year-old Englishman also talked about the projects he has lined up.
"I am shooting another film in three weeks. I will be finished with that and deliver it before Christmas, and I will start (crime thriller) Cartel in January. But that means I have to start prepping it, so I will be prepping Cartel later this year.
"It's quite easy actually if you know what the hell you are doing. If you don't, it's a nightmare. If you don't like stress, don't do the job."
Scott offered a cryptic update on the next Alien movie.
"It's being written down now, we already have a 10-page synopsis. You have got to pick up from where we left off, which is David, the android survivor (played by Fassbender) of the doomed Prometheus expedition, 10 years ago in movie-time.
"He will go to where the plan was to go, and then it will evolve from there. I am not going to tell you any more than that."
So mini-spoiler alert: Fassbender will be in that one as well.