Author Topic: ALIEN BLOOD.  (Read 3214 times)

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Offline Jon Sorensen

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Re: ALIEN BLOOD.
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2010, 02:12:03 AM »
It's Ken's decision to make, but I--for one--am sorry that he turned down a chance to direct "Species," as it'd give him another mainstream film to his cred. Anybody, Jon, know why he turned it down, and anybody, Jon, know what was the other film he turned down?
Ken was offered SPECIES on the back of being a hot prospect because word got around town ALTERED STATES was sensational. The reason he did'nt do it was because, at that time, he did'nt want to be typecast as a sci-fi movie maker. Hollywood executives have very short memories. Remember that Ken had'nt made a feature, since, I think VALENTINO. So it was like they had discovered him all over again. I did'nt ask him what the other film was, but I may do. He had to think back to recall SPECIES. It's been something like 25 years! Also, Ken is very much attached to England. He wanted to go home. LA is'nt for everyone.

By the way, while I'm on here, I posted something on the ALIEN EXPERIENCE website to do with a new book that looks fun. Ken's GOTHIC and my ALIEN BLOOD feature apparently.

Called 150 MOVIES TO DIE BEFORE YOU SEE, it will appeal to Ken's sense of humour as much as it does mine. I love this stuff. Looks like a great Christmas stocking filler.

That "post" is here:

http://www.alienexperience.com/forum/index.php/topic,6575.2160.html

The guys on that Site have a lot in common with you guys here I think. They are totally into their area of film and very enthusiastic and knowledgeable like you guys. The ALIEN fans are presently a bit choked because the new ALIEN PREQUEL has just been canned because apparently Ridley Scott wanted a $250 million budget and it looks like Fox rightly told him to take a hike. So it would appear.

Ken should do it. I wish. Imagine away.

Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Re: ALIEN BLOOD.
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2010, 11:09:22 PM »
It's Ken's decision to make, but I--for one--am sorry that he turned down a chance to direct "Species," as it'd give him another mainstream film to his cred. Anybody, Jon, know why he turned it down, and anybody, Jon, know what was the other film he turned down?

Offline Jon Sorensen

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Re: ALIEN BLOOD.
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2010, 10:33:20 PM »
It occurred to me to drop back here briefly as an addendum to answering Iain's questions about my film ALIEN BLOOD.

A young fan has taken it upon himself to put up a page on MySpace called THE JON SORENSEN MUSIC PROJECT. Brave guy. And very kind anyway.

I asked Ken about the two science fiction projects he truned down in Hollywood on the back of ALTERED STATES and one of them was SPECIES. That would have been an amazing combination, and for those of you interested in H R Giger, with whom Ken would have worked, there is a link on this JON SORENSEN MUSIC PROJECT page to a film my friend and colleague Dennis Lowe made very recently about Giger. You get to see his museum in Zurich, his studio and he talks extensively about his film experiences and work. The music is by me. There are parallels to Ken I think. You decide.

http://www.myspace.com/jonsorensenmusicproject

For those of you interested in the original ALIEN, by the way and while I'm at it, three of the surviving VFX crew have been bantering and reminiscing on a site called ALIEN EXPERIENCE since last year, the 30th Anniversary of the film. Those three are Dennis Lowe, Simon Deering and Jon Sorensen.

So far it runs to 143 pages, and there may be something of interest to some of you here I'm sure as fans of the visual. It is the way films used to be made.

http://www.alienexperience.com/forum/index.php?topic=6575.0

Offline Jon Sorensen

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ALIEN BLOOD.
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2010, 10:51:43 PM »
Jon, a question on Alien Blood if I can.

How did you get it off the ground?  Getting locations, cast, technicians etc?  How long was filming?  What went according to plan and what went off plan?  I suspect your methods are similar to Ken's in his later period.


Hi, Iain. Thanks for your interest. Of course. I'll try to answer in brief. Let's see of brief pans out.

So how did this little movie come about? The one that, to my astonishment, is still out there after 10 years release? Amazing.

Prior to ALIEN BLOOD, I'd spent three years developing my project THE VISUALIST. That dealt with sword-fencing immortals through the centuries. It went out everywhere for consideration. It was ripped off. HIGHLANDER anyone? On that one I spent five years telling myself it was pure co-incidence. Then someone woke me up. It was my movie. Then another three years developing my project WITCH, which told the story of the last "witch" to be executed in 17th century Scotland. Shades of HIGHLANDER again. The screenplay was invited to the 2000 Sundance Festival where many films companies considered it. I was told I'd have to re-write it so that the heroine or witch was more "pro-active" and lived. You have to bend in Hollywood and collaborate. No problem. But I would'nt let go of the central premise. But though I'd still like to make it, it's scratch for now.

I got fed up with developing stuff and then being told I could'nt make it. About then, two things happened. I read a really empowering book by Robert Rodriguez called REBEL WITHOUT A CREW. (I inscribed in the book the date I bought it, and exactly one year later I inscribed under that "completed ALIEN BLOOD"). The other thing was the formation in England of a body, now defunct, called the New Producer's Alliance. The thrust of this was that, at last, people in the UK should form together and actually go out there and shoot a film. Believe me, alongside the States where "indies" thrive, this was rare for the UK!

Also, I recalled only too well how Ken started with AMELIA and PEEPSHOW and LOURDES. He scrimped and scaped and got them bloody well done. I had the advantage of having a good camera, visual effects and shooting stage training on things like ALIEN, DARK CRYSTAL, TIME BANDITS and all the rest, so I had a technical confidence and knowledge.

Believe it or not, the first thing I did was to weigh up how much help I could get to make something that had'nt been done for a long time in England, (at that time), namely, make a fantastical sci-fi movie. I wanted to shoot on location like, say, WITCHFINDER GENERAL. The English landscape stands as a real star of that movie. And under these beautiful panoramas, people do the most appauling things. Again I come back to Ken, whose movies always dish up scenic beauty to die for, sometimes literally!

I had shot in the English Lake District with my 30 minute film A RETURN TO LOVE and had used a Nature Reserve and its' main house as location and crew base. I determined to do that again with ALIEN BLOOD, so locations were solved. By now, word had gotten around that I was making this movie, mainly through the New Producer's Alliance, and I was being contacted by actors and technicians. So I determined I would have enough help. So I set a start date of 4 October 1997 and ran at it. It's important to set an immovable date because then you are committed. There can be no dodging yourself.

So, then I started writing the screenplay and planning the thing out. Experience again paid off because I knew our technical limitations, time limitations, and most of all our budget limitations. I cut my ideas to what I knew was achievable and that's what went on the page. Although one early sequence I wrote for ALIEN BLOOD was dropped. Based on a dream I had, it took place in a church graveyard and was to open the film. Night-time. The heroine is hiding out in the tombs. Hanging in the sky are giant spacecraft. Motionless and silent. Suddenly a baby cries and crawls out from behind a tombstone. It is making for her and crying all the time. The spacecraft come to life and make terrible foghorn type noises, deep resonances. They light up and shafts of searchlights hit the ground looking for the baby. The heroine is trying to shoo it away, because if the searchlights find the baby, they find her too. (Which is the exact opposite in sentiment of what was to follow, of course). Anyway, I found the graveyard, in the Lake District, which was perfect. Called the parish priest. Asked if we could use it. Sure, she said. What's the film about? "Extraterrestrials", I said. "The church does not believe in extraterrestrials", she says, and hangs up! Anyway, the fates were against it. ALIEN BLOOD opens with the dream sequence you now see.

The filming schedule was 15 days. There were no 18 hour days. Everyone started at 9a.m. and finished at 6p.m. (There was another film shooting at the same time with five times my budget and 18 hour days on that one were de riguer apparently). We had animals, kids, guns, stunts, karate, some 10 locations, bullet hits, a French speaking alien. We used some 6 gallons of fake blood, (donated by SFX make-up man Nick Dudman, which I often insisted on cleaning up myself while the crew went off for a cup of tea and a breath of fresh air. The martial artists were amazing. Even ambushing each other at breakfast like Kato and Clouseau. Truly dedicated. In all, I had to find accomodation for about 40 people, cast and crew. It was a lot of work. Most of all I was determined we get through all the filming without anyone being injured and that was a successful outcome.

Amazingly, Iain, I can't recall anything going horrendously wrong. Except for the ghost.

There is a resident ghost in the house I used, believed to be Tissy Fooks, the late woman of the house. A wonderful spirit who had actually helped me enormously on A RETURN TO LOVE. That's another tale, but don't take my word for it. You can always ask that crew. Anyway, I think Tissy hated what I was doing this time on ALIEN BLOOD. She blew out light bulbs, including the cameraman's kit, knocked over furniture, slammed doors during takes and much else. (We actually got on film a door closing by itself).

But, yes, Iain, similar to Ken in his later period. Except Lisi Russell, who has been with him on his later films, said she was shocked at how organised he was. I guess the same with me. Keep calm. Focus. Have a game plan. Be open to changing it. But no compromise on getting the best quality out of what you have. I was determined that no-one would attack ALIEN BLOOD on the grounds of vision and sound, and no-one ever really has. We shot on film. Super 16mm Widescreen. (Though I have no problem with the electronic image). I did the sound design myself, laying 2500 sound effects in 5 days on Avid. (The movie had been shot with no sound, apart from dialogue, like the Italians do). Visually, I corrected a lot. I was going to photograph it myself being a trained DP, but gave the job to someone else because I considered it one too many for me. When the film was being rendered and mastered at the Post Production house in Manchester, England, (the visual effects were done in London), it was so complicated with colour switches, reverses, slow-motions, that their computers kept crashing. Something they said they had never experienced in all the commercial and BBC work they so.

So, it's deceptively simple to watch. As for the subject matter and the success of that, only the audience can decide. I asked the editor I worked with on ALIEN BLOOD if he could compare it to any other movie. He could'nt at first. Then said "TIME BANDITS".

But the best result was when the London crew saw it and said, "It's like a movie by Ken Russell".

Never set out to emulate Ken, but hooray for our side! I think that comment came about because I'm so visually and sound driven, like Ken. As a matter of fact, like Ken, I listen to tons of music whilst "imagineering". A lot comes out of that. After ALIEN BLOOD it went full circle. I've been composing my own music as well.

I hope this covers some of the ground, Iain. Anything else, just ask. Although having just glanced back at the length of this missive, you'll be loath to ask anything else. It's the Gettysburg address.

One last thing. Robert Rodriguez, who wrote REBEL WITHOUT A CREW, about making his EL MARIACHI, used up 25 rolls of 16mm film stock. I did ALIEN BLOOD in 23 rolls. Thought of sending him the two rolls left over but sent him a tape of ALIEN BLOOD instead, which I expect he still uses to this day. As a doorstop.

I would still like to do my WITCH film. Written for a low budget to be made in England, I'm looking at something new called Virtual Studio. Got some technical material coming from the States to read from the people who made 300. Perhaps we can use the same techniques, adapted for the realities of making a film in England. Which believe me, as Ken says, is a completely thankless task. I was very, very tired by the time ALIEN BLOOD was finished. It was a one man band. But there it was. One year from start to finish. Then Troma picked it up for the US. It came out one year later.

Feel at liberty also, Iain, please, to cut bits of this so as not to clutter the Site page.

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