Latest News

Caretakers of Terror, An Interview With ADI’s Alec Gillis & Tom Woodruff Jr. – AvP Galaxy Podcast #126

We have just uploaded the 126th episode of the Alien vs. Predator Galaxy Podcast (right-click and save as to download)! Happy Alien Day! Since it’s Alien Day, we naturally wanted to bring you a special episode with some awesome guests, and for this episode we’re talking to none other than Amalgamated Dynamic Inc’s Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr!

 Caretakers of Terror, An Interview With ADI’s Alec Gillis & Tom Woodruff Jr. - AvP Galaxy Podcast #126

We talk Alien 3 myths, telling fibs, AvP Requiem’s unused hydraulic PredAlien, Sigourney Weaver posing naked with an Alien suit, a novelization of Tom’s Alien: Salvation concept and plenty more!

What did you think of our latest episode? Be sure to let us know down below! You can also listen to any of our previous episodes in the Podcast section under the News tab on the main menu. The Alien vs. Predator Galaxy Podcast is also available via iTunes, PodBean, GooglePlay Stitcher, and Spotify! Please be sure to leave a rating and review on whichever platform you’re using!

And if you’d rather see our beautiful faces, as always the video version of the podcast is also available on the Alien vs. Predator Galaxy YouTube channel!

If you’re still jonesing for more Alien discussion check out some of our previous Alien Day specials where we had the pleasure of talking to other legendary figures within the Alien universe such as Aliens’ very own Carrie Henn, the father of the Expanded Universe Mark Verheiden, and Alien: Covenant’s backburster victim Ben Rigby!

Make sure your browsers are locked into Alien vs. Predator Galaxy for the latest Alien and Predator news! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to get the latest on your social media walls. Be sure to join in with fellow Alien and Predator fans on our forums as well!



Post Comment
Comments: 66
« Newer Comments 12 Older Comments »
  1. SiL
    True, audience reaction didn't help. But from all accounts together it feels like the producers used the reaction to justify their existing desire to go CGI and force the filmmakers hands, rather than the impetus for change.
  2. Voodoo Magic
    It sure is gooey! I wonder how screening audiences reacted to it.

    Wasn't that the story, where test audiences complained about The Thing 2011's practical fx (among other things) and everyone acknowledged improvements needed to be made in areas, but the debate was go CG or replace some of troublesome practical fx with improved practical fx?
    The producers didn't seem to want to use the practical effects as early as shooting. Woodruff has a story about the guy who splits in half in the helicopter; the producers didn't like that the effect they made only looked good from certain angles. ADI explained that was kind of how practical effects worked and it was ok because that was the angle it was meant to be seen at. The producers didn't like the limitation and the effect was replaced with CGI ... Seen at exactly the angle the practical effect was designed for anyway.

    Here's what I remembered... The Thing 2011's Screenwriter Eric Heisserer.

    Eric on the belief going in that everything should be practical:

    • There’s a lot of CGI in the film. While it was in development we kept hearing that the effects would be practical [Rob Bottin’s groundbreaking practical effects are a hallmark of the 1982 The Thing]. When did this come into play? 
      “I got this job going in with the firm, fervid belief that no CGI should ever be in this movie. That it should be all practical. We are creating a very grounded psychological thriller and part of that paranoia with the monster movie is to have the monsters as real and as grounded as everything else we’re making around them. That’s not to say that I am slighting the CG department, because those guys are workhorses… [But] the last thing you want to do is take the audience out of the film. You want to have them married to the story. And I felt that, what little I saw being onset and in the dailies, the practical stuff looked great. But that’s an argument that I was out of and it’s an argument that I trust [director] Mattjis [van Heijningen Jr.] stuck with for as long as he could and for his reasons. While I’m not quite as qualified to talk about the specifics, I know that as a storyteller, we were all onboard with this being a practical movie.”

    Eric on the test screenings that changed things:

    • Principal photography wrapped a while back. What’s the gestation process on this been like? “Test screenings really changed the shape of this film from what I wrote to what the audience will ultimately see, for better or worse… I can say that going through this experience that no studio would make a film like ‘Alien’ or even Carpenter and Lancaster’s version of ‘The Thing’ today. There is a sense of impatience from the audience to just get to whatever it is they paid their ticket for. And that can hurt filmmakers but it can also help box office. It’s a strange argument to have.”
      So what was added in reshoots? “As I understand it, they were replacing scene work outside of Antarctica. Like at Columbia where we meet Kate and to a lesser extent where we meet the other American members. The other re-shoots as I know them were more of a fight between practical effects and CG. When I was on set and when Mattjis shot a lot of this, and he’s a great director by the way, it was all practical. We had Mary using a flamethrower on an animatronic and it looked great. It’s hard to say what it looked like once they got into editing, I wasn’t a part of that process, but I do know that there were two definite sides of the argument. There were people saying we had to replace with CG and there were people saying we could make the practical [effects] better in places where they fell short."
      https://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/26758/interview-the-thing-2011-screenwriter-explains-how-the-film-transformed-into-what-you-saw/

    So it was part of the reshoots after the test screenings, but was it audiences dictating, just producers, or a mixture of both, it's hard to be sure.

    It seems based on this last sentence "There were people saying we had to replace with CG and there were people saying we could make the practical [effects] better in places where they fell short" there was an acknowledgement even on the pro-practical fx side that some of their fx (per Eric) "fell short", but it does seem a shame (if that's the case) that they couldn't even try to fix the practical fx with practical fx... especially when the love for the first film is so tied to its practical effects.
  3. SiL
    It sure is gooey! I wonder how screening audiences reacted to it.

    Wasn't that the story, where test audiences complained about The Thing 2011's practical fx (among other things) and everyone acknowledged improvements needed to be made in areas, but the debate was go CG or replace some of troublesome practical fx with improved practical fx?
    The producers didn't seem to want to use the practical effects as early as shooting. Woodruff has a story about the guy who splits in half in the helicopter; the producers didn't like that the effect they made only looked good from certain angles. ADI explained that was kind of how practical effects worked and it was ok because that was the angle it was meant to be seen at. The producers didn't like the limitation and the effect was replaced with CGI ... Seen at exactly the angle the practical effect was designed for anyway.
  4. Gentleman Death
    It sure is gooey! I wonder how screening audiences reacted to it.

    Wasn't that the story, where test audiences complained about The Thing 2011's practical fx (among other things) and everyone acknowledged improvements needed to be made in areas, but the debate was go CG or replace some of troublesome practical fx with improved practical fx?

    Not sure but it is funny that the CGI in that film ended up being a huge complaint ha
  5. Voodoo Magic
    It sure is gooey! I wonder how screening audiences reacted to it.

    Wasn't that the story, where test audiences complained about The Thing 2011's practical fx (among other things) and everyone acknowledged improvements needed to be made in areas, but the debate was go CG or replace some of troublesome practical fx with improved practical fx?
  6. BigDaddyJohn
    Here's the transcription from the interview: https://www.avpgalaxy.net/website/interviews/alec-gillis-tom-woodruff-2/

    Yeah, good work. The Giger stuff was interesting. I just feel sorry for him that it ended up like that. But it's understandable, the studio just wanted to crack on with the movie and Giger didn't want to sort of be on set to work on it. I can't seem to find the Cinemafantastique article they mentioned.

    Thanks!  :D



    Quote from: AVPGALAXY
    Adam: Tom, what you mentioned with the combination of practical and other types of effects, kind of leads into another question I had. I would say there was a time in the early 2000s where you had very strong harmony of practical and digital seen quite prominently in films like AvP as well as others like Jurassic Park 3 where you had digital and practical effects interacting with each other in the same shots.

    There was a shift more towards digital for a while but it seems like that earlier harmony may be returning. In particular we’ve seen really strong practical effects and even older techniques like Phil Tippet’s go motion return in The Mandalorian along with very new special effect techniques such as the impressive digital sets that they use. Do you see a renaissance of practical effects in today’s quickly changing entertainment landscape?

    Alec: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of talk about it which has become… maybe a decade ago it feels like they were talking a lot about it and we kind of got the feeling on a couple of productions that we were building things just so that they could say “We’ve got practical!”. Like it’s whatever a studio feels will help sell the movie.

    That is a very interesting question. Also I agree with what they answered. And in the case of The Mandalorian's crew, they really are killing two birds with one shot. Making a Star Wars live-action series out of pure CGI would be very expensive, plus they know that a considerable number of fans love the OT-style practical effects. The virtual sets are a cinema breakthrough indeed.

    Edit~ I know RidgeTop is not a big fan of Prometheus, but I think that was a quite recent & good example of a balance between practical effects and CGI.  ;D ;)



    Quote from:  ADI
    Alec: Oh, the giant thing that you see in that scene. The giant one was just brought to us by I think by I think Prop Store brought it over… oh actually we were using it as reference. It was a fiberglass casting of the original. We used it as sculptural reference just to get… because Neill’s deal was, he wanted to get back to the feeling of the ‘79 Alien and we were asking “You’re a master of photoreal CGI. Why aren’t you doing the CGI?” He said “Because having something real forces you into shooting it in a way that will look like what Ridley Scott did in 1979”.  That’s what he wanted. So, there’s a guy that is a master of CGI who understands that it is a tool to be used to get certain results that are right for certain stories. But that’s why that was there.

    Wow, that makes me happy and sad at the same time.  :o



    Quote from: AVP GALAXY
    Aaron: We do have just a handful of community questions from community members so ImmortalJonesy in particular would like to know if you’d have any interest in taking a crack at a Space Jockey animatronic?

    Tom: Yeah, it’d be great. Any anything iconic in this whole world of Aliens and Predators is a really… it’s just such a cool thing to be able to look at something that inspired you 40 years ago and actually be able to put your thumb print on it, particularly with movement and motion and character performance.

    Glad to hear they would like to make it if they could.  :)

    I asked that question because Alec Gillis and his studio have done a wonderful job when it comes to animatronic characters. And I'm not just talking about science fiction, as is the case with the gorilla suit they made for Old Dogs. It's a top tier piece of practical effect.  8)


    I also liked their criminally unused pilot in the 2011 prequel to The Thing. Whether that creature got infected by the Thing and crashes it's spaceship million of years ago becoming a Jockey to so speak is subject of speculation.  :laugh:

    Still the closedt thing of a SJ performed by ADI studios in my opinion.  8)


    I know we have Engineers, who are superior to the jockeys in the comics ~ but you know ~ nerd dreams.  :laugh:

    The last one was supposed to be in The Thing 2011 ? Cool !
  7. Immortan Jonesy
    Here's the transcription from the interview: https://www.avpgalaxy.net/website/interviews/alec-gillis-tom-woodruff-2/

    Yeah, good work. The Giger stuff was interesting. I just feel sorry for him that it ended up like that. But it's understandable, the studio just wanted to crack on with the movie and Giger didn't want to sort of be on set to work on it. I can't seem to find the Cinemafantastique article they mentioned.

    Thanks!  :D



    Quote from: AVPGALAXY
    Adam: Tom, what you mentioned with the combination of practical and other types of effects, kind of leads into another question I had. I would say there was a time in the early 2000s where you had very strong harmony of practical and digital seen quite prominently in films like AvP as well as others like Jurassic Park 3 where you had digital and practical effects interacting with each other in the same shots.

    There was a shift more towards digital for a while but it seems like that earlier harmony may be returning. In particular we’ve seen really strong practical effects and even older techniques like Phil Tippet’s go motion return in The Mandalorian along with very new special effect techniques such as the impressive digital sets that they use. Do you see a renaissance of practical effects in today’s quickly changing entertainment landscape?

    Alec: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of talk about it which has become… maybe a decade ago it feels like they were talking a lot about it and we kind of got the feeling on a couple of productions that we were building things just so that they could say “We’ve got practical!”. Like it’s whatever a studio feels will help sell the movie.

    That is a very interesting question. Also I agree with what they answered. And in the case of The Mandalorian's crew, they really are killing two birds with one shot. Making a Star Wars live-action series out of pure CGI would be very expensive, plus they know that a considerable number of fans love the OT-style practical effects. The virtual sets are a cinema breakthrough indeed.

    Edit~ I know RidgeTop is not a big fan of Prometheus, but I think that was a quite recent & good example of a balance between practical effects and CGI.  ;D ;)



    Quote from:  ADI
    Alec: Oh, the giant thing that you see in that scene. The giant one was just brought to us by I think by I think Prop Store brought it over… oh actually we were using it as reference. It was a fiberglass casting of the original. We used it as sculptural reference just to get… because Neill’s deal was, he wanted to get back to the feeling of the ‘79 Alien and we were asking “You’re a master of photoreal CGI. Why aren’t you doing the CGI?” He said “Because having something real forces you into shooting it in a way that will look like what Ridley Scott did in 1979”.  That’s what he wanted. So, there’s a guy that is a master of CGI who understands that it is a tool to be used to get certain results that are right for certain stories. But that’s why that was there.

    Wow, that makes me happy and sad at the same time.  :o



    Quote from: AVP GALAXY
    Aaron: We do have just a handful of community questions from community members so ImmortalJonesy in particular would like to know if you’d have any interest in taking a crack at a Space Jockey animatronic?

    Tom: Yeah, it’d be great. Any anything iconic in this whole world of Aliens and Predators is a really… it’s just such a cool thing to be able to look at something that inspired you 40 years ago and actually be able to put your thumb print on it, particularly with movement and motion and character performance.

    Glad to hear they would like to make it if they could.  :)

    I asked that question because Alec Gillis and his studio have done a wonderful job when it comes to animatronic characters. And I'm not just talking about science fiction, as is the case with the gorilla suit they made for Old Dogs. It's a top tier piece of practical effect.  8)


    I also liked their criminally unused pilot in the 2011 prequel to The Thing. Whether that creature got infected by the Thing and crashes it's spaceship million of years ago becoming a Jockey to so speak is subject of speculation.  :laugh:

    Still the closedt thing of a SJ performed by ADI studios in my opinion.  8)


    I know we have Engineers, who are superior to the jockeys in the comics ~ but you know ~ nerd dreams.  :laugh:
  8. xeno_alpha_07
    Here's the transcription from the interview: https://www.avpgalaxy.net/website/interviews/alec-gillis-tom-woodruff-2/

    Yeah, good work. The Giger stuff was interesting. I just feel sorry for him that it ended up like that. But it's understandable, the studio just wanted to crack on with the movie and Giger didn't want to sort of be on set to work on it. I can't seem to find the Cinemafantastique article they mentioned.



    Hi Darkness.  I think the Cinefantastique article Alec mentions regarding Alien 3 might be in the off-shoot Cinefantastique magazine Imagi-Movies from spring 1994 Click But I could be wrong.  I'm basing my guess on Alec's 'nice coincidence' comment.  On the top left of p19, they talk about the removal of the "tailpipes" from the creatures back which ends with 'It was a very welcome coincidence'.

    And I think, but again guessing, the Aliens article mentioned that Gale Anne Hurd was upset about was this one Click  Thought I'd try to find it in case anyone was interested.

    Thank you for the transcription Darkness  :)
  9. SM
    Quote
    Giger was also very unhappy with the look of the Resurrection aliens for both the amount of goo applied to the suits and the softer, more organic look of the creatures. His terms were most unflattering, and he emphasized his preference for aesthetic monsters. Sorry, I don't have the source for that.

    How about this?

    In his first letter, Giger writes,"The creatures in Alien:Resurrection are even closer to my original Alien designs than the ones which appear in Aliens and Alien3. The film also resurrects my original designs for the other stages of the creature's life-cycle, the Eggs, the Facehugger and the Chestburster. Alien:Resurrection is an excellent film. What would it look like without my Alien life-forms? In all likelihood, all the sequels to Alien would not even exist! The designs and my credit have been stolen from me, since I alone have designed the Alien. So why does not Fox give me the credit I rightfully earned?".

    Source

    Let's keep in mind Giger at the time was fighting for a credit in the film; his words are rather deliberate here. If he said they didn't reflect his work, he could have tanked his own argument.

    In 2001 he said about the Resurrection Aliens: “I always wanted my Alien to be a very beautiful thing, not just something disgusting, not just a monster, but something aesthetic. Throughout the creature’s evolution what they’ve done is change it from something aesthetic to something that looks like shit – I mean literally, it looks like a turd.”

    (I know it's been addressed. Just a little devil's advocacy  :laugh:)

    I knew about the turd remark and looked for it on Giger's website. Couldn't find it.
  10. XenoHunter99
    Thanks Valaquen! I should have taken the moment to look up your article on my initial post.

    TC, we don't get Starburst in the US - At least I've never seen it. We had Starlog and Fantastic Films. Good to get corroboration on the Dickens article. If they could have done it right, that birth you described could have been great! "So...  after reading this as a small kid I had to lie down and recuperate."  :laugh:

    Yes Kradan, I'm sure that' s exactly what Dickens wanted to do. ::) :P  ;D
  11. Valaquen
    Quote
    Giger was also very unhappy with the look of the Resurrection aliens for both the amount of goo applied to the suits and the softer, more organic look of the creatures. His terms were most unflattering, and he emphasized his preference for aesthetic monsters. Sorry, I don't have the source for that.

    How about this?

    In his first letter, Giger writes,"The creatures in Alien:Resurrection are even closer to my original Alien designs than the ones which appear in Aliens and Alien3. The film also resurrects my original designs for the other stages of the creature's life-cycle, the Eggs, the Facehugger and the Chestburster. Alien:Resurrection is an excellent film. What would it look like without my Alien life-forms? In all likelihood, all the sequels to Alien would not even exist! The designs and my credit have been stolen from me, since I alone have designed the Alien. So why does not Fox give me the credit I rightfully earned?".

    Source

    Let's keep in mind Giger at the time was fighting for a credit in the film; his words are rather deliberate here. If he said they didn't reflect his work, he could have tanked his own argument.

    In 2001 he said about the Resurrection Aliens: “I always wanted my Alien to be a very beautiful thing, not just something disgusting, not just a monster, but something aesthetic. Throughout the creature’s evolution what they’ve done is change it from something aesthetic to something that looks like shit – I mean literally, it looks like a turd.”

    (I know it's been addressed. Just a little devil's advocacy  :laugh:)
  12. TC
    Yeah, that’s exactly what Dickens was thinking!

    And Ash would flick off the lights as the chestburster is emerging, making a more comfortable environment, 'cause, you know… Light bright… Light bright!

    TC
  13. Kradan
    He also thought punching the chestburster up through Kane's torso was the least effective way of doing it. He wanted the wound to appear first, and then some fingers to push through (I guess reminiscent of the facehugger). Then the fingers would be followed by a pair of tiny hands and they would proceed to pull the rest of the chestburster out of the torso, squirming its way through the hole in Kane's chest.

    All I can imagine is this:

    https://64.media.tumblr.com/15d7915ad8c90ba06c3fc868b6699c02/46745775e09e8d2d-b1/s540x810/ccd155984091ba311b2d318926a092bc867fb090.gifv
  14. TC
    Roger Dickens.Since we want to wander all over the map here, Here's a nice article about Roger Dickens and his involvement in Alien. I think it touches on salient points.

    https://www.scified.com/news/roger-dicken-life-in-small-forms

    Did Dickens get enough credit? IDK. Did he demand it? IDK. I suspect for him, it was just another job. Hard to believe hanging out here, but Giger and Alien are not a religion for everyone. Some people have never even heard of him or seen any of the movies. I know that's not right, but it's true. :laugh:

    ...

    There was a Starburst magazine I read in which Roger Dickens was interviewed. He talked about the facehugger and chestburster, and came across as rather jaded by the whole affair, pretty much as in the Scified article.

    One idea he had was to put rose thorns on the fingers of the facehugger, making it look more aggressive.

    He also thought punching the chestburster up through Kane's torso was the least effective way of doing it. He wanted the wound to appear first, and then some fingers to push through (I guess reminiscent of the facehugger). Then the fingers would be followed by a pair of tiny hands and they would proceed to pull the rest of the chestburster out of the torso, squirming its way through the hole in Kane's chest.

    So...  after reading this as a small kid I had to lie down and recuperate.

    TC
  15. Kradan
    I for the most part enjoyed the interview a lot, I'm surprised no one asked them their thoughts on Prometheus and Covenant, and also the 40th Anniversary Films from the standpoint of their profession.

    Perfect Organism host Jaime Praiter did an interview with ADI guys back in 2018 and asked about their opinions on prequels

    https://perfectorganism.podbean.com/e/75-interview-with-alec-gillis-and-tom-woodruff-jr-of-amalgamated-dynamics-inc/

    For anyone interested it's around an hour in.

    Yeah, I probably should've mentioned that before. Whoops. Sorry everybody  ;D
  16. Nukiemorph
    I for the most part enjoyed the interview a lot, I'm surprised no one asked them their thoughts on Prometheus and Covenant, and also the 40th Anniversary Films from the standpoint of their profession.

    Perfect Organism host Jaime Praiter did an interview with ADI guys back in 2018 and asked about their opinions on prequels

    https://perfectorganism.podbean.com/e/75-interview-with-alec-gillis-and-tom-woodruff-jr-of-amalgamated-dynamics-inc/
    For anyone interested it's around an hour in.
    Thank you.
  17. Trash Queen
    I for the most part enjoyed the interview a lot, I'm surprised no one asked them their thoughts on Prometheus and Covenant, and also the 40th Anniversary Films from the standpoint of their profession.

    Perfect Organism host Jaime Praiter did an interview with ADI guys back in 2018 and asked about their opinions on prequels

    https://perfectorganism.podbean.com/e/75-interview-with-alec-gillis-and-tom-woodruff-jr-of-amalgamated-dynamics-inc/

    For anyone interested it's around an hour in.
  18. Kradan
    I for the most part enjoyed the interview a lot, I'm surprised no one asked them their thoughts on Prometheus and Covenant, and also the 40th Anniversary Films from the standpoint of their profession.

    Perfect Organism host Jaime Praiter did an interview with ADI guys back in 2018 and asked about their opinions on prequels

    https://perfectorganism.podbean.com/e/75-interview-with-alec-gillis-and-tom-woodruff-jr-of-amalgamated-dynamics-inc/

    Anyway, that was a great listen. The way Tom and Alec speak it looks like they very much aware of their somewhat notorious fame amongst some fans lol . Also, it seemed to me like Alec talked A LOT while Tom just occasionally threw in couple of sentences

    Jonesy, have you liked their response to your question ?  ;D
  19. XenoHunter99
    Roger Dickens.Since we want to wander all over the map here, Here's a nice article about Roger Dickens and his involvement in Alien. I think it touches on salient points.

    https://www.scified.com/news/roger-dicken-life-in-small-forms

    Did Dickens get enough credit? IDK. Did he demand it? IDK. I suspect for him, it was just another job. Hard to believe hanging out here, but Giger and Alien are not a religion for everyone. Some people have never even heard of him or seen any of the movies. I know that's not right, but it's true. :laugh:

    Both quotes are best taken in context. One is politically astute, the other is perhaps an expression of his deeper feelings on the matter. Contradiction? I'll go with Walt Whitman on that one.

    The quote I referenced along with other info in Valaquen's article speak to my main point: Fair or not, Woodruff and Gillis got lumped in with the people "stealing Giger's art." From the interview with them, we know that was never the intention.

    If Giger really wanted to be involved with A3 and have maximum input, he should have gone to London. I can also understand why he didn't do that. He talks about it in the Giger's Alien book, among other places. In a movie production, the hours are long, he hated the compromises, and so on. Even so, he was disappointed that Cameron did not invite him to participate in Aliens. Maybe by the time A3 rolled around, he didn't want the hassle. Hard to say and no one can ask him.
  20. Corporal Hicks
    I for the most part enjoyed the interview a lot, I'm surprised no one asked them their thoughts on Prometheus and Covenant, and also the 40th Anniversary Films from the standpoint of their profession.

    It was a time issue unfortunately. Tom was only going to be around for an hour, but we managed to keep him on longer because he was enjoying himself, but it did involve snipping back quite a few questions. We had a lot to ask them. That said, I feel like we've asked them that before? In Adam's studio visit, maybe?
  21. SM
    Contradicting statements?  Heavens!

    Neither Giger nor Fox never gave Roger Dicken his proper due for the facehugger and chestburster that ended up on screen, and were both better than Giger's designs.

    So it goes.
« Newer Comments 12 Older Comments »
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube RSS Feed