The Alien 40th Anniversary Short Films are a series of six fan-made short films that were released on a weekly basis from March 29, 2019 until April 26, 2019 in celebration of Alien‘s 40th Anniversary. They were created in association with 20th Century Fox and Tongal who ran a competition to find the six best pitches for an Alien fan film. People were asked to come up with a completely unique story with new characters that were set in the Alien universe. Each short film was to last between 5 and 9 minutes and feature working-class characters like the original Alien and feature at least one form of the Xenomorph’s life cycle. In the end, there were more than 550 submissions.
Tongal eventually narrowed down the submissions to 18 entries and the entrants had to develop their idea further and pitch it to the studio. There were then narrowed down to 6 and each creator was given a budget of $35,000 to craft their short film. Four of the Alien short films premiered at the 2019 Emerald City Comic-Con in Seattle, Washington and they were made available online via IGN and its YouTube channel beginning on a weekly basis on March 29th, 2019.
Alien: Containment was released March 29, 2019 and is about four people who escaped their ship in a shuttle. They soon realise that one of them is carrying a Chestburster. The film was written and directed by Chris Reading. Filming lasted over two days at 3 Mills Studios in London while Matter SFX handled practical effects work and the visual effects were provided by The Brewery VFX.
Alien: Specimen was released April 5, 2019 and takes place in a greenhouse facility on LV-492 where a botanist called Julie is working nightshift with her dog Maggie. It was directed by Kelsey Taylor and written by Federico Fracchia. The director, Kelsey Taylor, only found out about the Tongal competition close the submission deadline and felt she didn’t have time to develop a story. She then contacted other Tongal users outside of North America to see if they would let her direct their story. She received four pitches and Taylor submitted all four to 20th Century Fox and Tongal. The studios eventually decided to go with the greenhouse concept.
- The Facehugger was going to be portrayed by a practical prop but didn’t have the budget to create the effect. Instead, she turned to friend Luc Delamare who did the CGI for creature.
- Along with Alien: Ore, this was the other short film to receive a theatrical poster.
- Director Kelsey Taylor sees the short film as a scene from a larger story that sees the characters Julie and Dev leave the greenhouse and discover the truth. They would venture into LV-492’s jungle after the greenhouse facility becomes overrun by Xenomorphs. It would also be revealed as to whether the Egg found in the soil sample was accidentally scooped up or placed there by somebody intentionally.
- Alien: Specimen was also known as Alien: The Green House Effect during production.
Alien: Night Shift
Alien: Night Shift was released April 12, 2019 and takes place on a mining colony called High Lonesome on LV-422. Four people find themselves in the midst of a xenomorph outbreak. The film was written and directed by Aidan Michael Breznick.
Alien: Ore was released April 19, 2019 and takes place around 2122. The short film is about a group of miners at a colony called Bowen’s Landing who encounter a Xenomorph thousands of feet below the surface of the mine. The film was written and directed by sisters Kailey and Sam Spear. Filming took place over four days and the underground scenes were filmed at night at Britannia Mine Museum near Vancouver, Canada.
The Xenomorph in the short film was originally envisaged to be a mixture of animatronics and CGI but that would have been too expensive. Instead, they used a fully CGI Xenomorph that was provided by Canadian effects studio Image Engine. The Xenomorph has a ridged head like the creatures in Aliens because the digital model provided by Image Engine was made before the film. It would have been too expensive to create a brand new model from scratch.
Alien: Harvest was released April 26, 2019 and takes place on the USCSS November which is a collision course with a comet. The film follows four survivors who attempt to escape the vessel as well a Xenomorph aboard the spaceship. The short film was written by Craig Dewey and directed by Benjamin Howdeshell. The short film was shot over two days at Laurel Canyon Stages in Los Angeles. The film’s script was very action-orientated but 20th Century Fox wanted the film to be a more of a slow-burn film like Alien so the filmmakers changed some of the dialogue to create more tension.
Alien: Alone was the last Alien short film to be released on April 26, 2019 and focuses on Hope, a synthetic left behind by her crew of a commercial transportation vessel called the Otranto. She discovers a Facehugger aboard the ship who she befriends.The film was written and directed Noah Miller and stars James Paxton, the son of late actor Bill Paxton. Filming took place over four days at Laurel Canyon Stages in Los Angeles.
While most of the short films relied heavily on visual effects, Alien: Alone uses many practical effects like spacecraft models and life-size puppets for the Facehugger that were created by Raptor House Effects. Two Facehugger models were created – the first an inanimate Facehugger made from silicon and the other was a more complex animatronic puppet capable of moving its legs. The original cut of the film was around 20 minutes and was cut to 12 minutes. It is the longest Alien short film out of the six.