Alien Encounters – 25 Years of Aliens Convention Report

Posted by Corporal Hicks on October 13, 2011 (Updated: 23-Feb-2020)

Sunday, 25th September 2011.

It wasn’t a good night sleep. Our neighbors had decided they would engage in numerous, vigorous and loud exercise throughout the night. It woke us up quite a few times. Tinyeyes and I parted way in the morning, tinyeye heading back home and I headed back to the National Space Centre for day two. I met up with Johnny Gore again and headed in.

The Prometheus panel had been rescheduled as the Aliens SFX panel had been extremely popular and was asked to be put on for a second day. I certainly didn’t mind, I agreed it was good and very interesting. So Johnny and I headed back down to watch. It recapped several points from the Saturday for those that weren’t there.

Chris talked a fair bit more about his roles in Alien vs. Predator. He discussed the construction of the satellite dish seen at the start of the movie, the lenses on the satellite seen during the very opening scenes and about the ice-breaker segments.

 Alien Encounters - 25 Years of Aliens Convention ReportFrom left to right: Chris Trice & Chrissie Overs. Photo by Richard Daborn

He spoke of an occasion during filming in which he’d been collared as everyone was leaving for dinner and asked to ask up the ice-breaker for filming straight after lunch. Quite a lot of technical aspects of model making and logistics were discussed when it was opened to the floor. It was another interesting panel from Chrissie and Chris.

Next up was Terry English’s panel hosted by Harry Harris. Prior to the panel I didn’t really know too much about Terry. He was an armourer on the film and constructed the Colonial Marine’s armor. I didn’t know how much of a character he was. He was so passionate and funny.

He spoke about how he got involved in Aliens, Jim Cameron having been extremely disappointed with the previous sets of armour that were built for him so he went to Terry English, knowing his reputation. He only had a short period of time to construct a large amount of sets though.

Terry touched upon the construction methods and material used in his armour and he branched out to talk about his work on other films as well. It was all very interesting but unfortunately I can’t remember the specifics of the panel.

 Alien Encounters - 25 Years of Aliens Convention ReportLeft to right: Terry English & Harry Harris. Appologies for the poor quality. My camera isn’t fantastic.

After Terry’s panel was Charles Sunday panel. Johnny and I only had time to stay for the first ten minutes as we still had quite a few things to get through before the end of the day. We managed to catch a story in which Charles had been getting lunch for the team not far from their office when they had been working on the Alien 3 Assembly Cut. Who did he see while queuing? David Fincher, of course.

He told how he’d wanted to go up to him and ask him to come back to the office to check it out but he bottled. He’d got the food, gone back to the office and told his team…who promptly persuaded him to go back down to the cafe and invite him up. Unfortunately, David wasn’t there.

If my memory holds up after that we went for signatures first. Being the poverty stricken 9-5 worker that I am I could only really afford two autographs due to the fantastic art copies that I brought from Terry English’s stand. He was selling copies of the production designs for the Colonial Marines armour done by James Cameron. As well as that he was also selling his own art on the W-Y Commando’s (or Dog Handlers as I prefer to nickname them) which I picked up for a very reasonable price.

The autograph tables were arranged around several moderately sized spaces near the rest of the main convention attractions. You brought your tickets from a table before them all and then moved off to get things sized. I brought autographs from Ricco Ross and Trevor Steedman and had them both sign my Aliens UMD cover.

 Alien Encounters - 25 Years of Aliens Convention ReportLeft: Trevor Steedman. Right: Ricco Ross.

It was very relaxed, you were able to talk to the guests and not be rushed through as I’ve experienced at other conventions. They kindly indulged me with a photo at the table. There was also the option for professional shoots earlier in the days.

It wasn’t long before we had to bow out and get in the queue for the Aliens Encounter event. For those that aren’t aware, the event is a live action attraction similar in many ways to the Aliens War event in London in the early 1990s. You’re led through the location and sets by actors, playing roles in a story until you leave the sets.

 Alien Encounters - 25 Years of Aliens Convention ReportIn the Aliens Encounter you are led through a Weyland-Yutani bio-research facility as part of a tour for its benefactors, you. The event takes place in the mission controller simulation suite of the National Space Centre and it did a great job to look the part. The lead researcher takes us into the control room where he gives us a brief overview of the facility and the research before alarms start to flash and marines burst in. It turns out the Xenomorphs have escaped.

Then we’re quickly ushered out into a nearby corridor but the marines keep us back, there’s an egg in the corridor…It’s quickly taken care of and we start to move forward as a scientist behind us is dragged off into the dark. As we approach an airlock the Aliens appear and we’re shouted at to move into the doorway…

I wont spoil the rest of it for you because everyone will have the chance to experience this event. The Aliens Encounter event usually takes place at the film conventions that take place at the National Space Centre and I’m sure we’ll be seeing this as a regular feature of any future Aliens conventions done by ADC and Darren Kemp. It was also including in the Aliens Encounter documentary so you will be able to see it on there.

I wish I had have gone on it twice as to be honest, I was a little too distracted by checking out all the little bits such as the W-Y displays on the screen, the W-Y notepads and energy drinks and etc. Once I saw one, I was hunting the rest down. I must admit, I was also trying to make sure I didn’t let myself get scared. Next time I get chance I’ll be going through again and turn off the critical eye.

I really enjoyed it. It had me smiling, all the little things added to the immersion and I must admit I was surprised at how decent the actors were.

After this I quickly had to make my way to the Prometheus panel. Oopps, I was a little bit late due to the event. Ian Nathan wasn’t in for the second day so it was just Christian, myself and ADC hosting. Again, it was a speculative panel and we covered the Space Jockey inclusion amongst other things. My memory falters here but this next thing I remember well and fondly.

At some point during the event ADC put questions to the audience and a lovely old lady chirped up asking why we weren’t part of the film crew and how she disappointed with us. Apparently someone didn’t realize it was a speculative discussion panel. The person next to her eventually told us all that he’d heard her muttering to her husband about how she didn’t have a clue what this convention was and when asked if she’d seen Ridley Scott’s Alien she said no.

It doesn’t stop there! As we were talking about Space Jockeys and the new pictures, the lovely woman could be heard muttering “Jockeys? I see no horses.” I really enjoyed both of these panels and we had good reception (aside from the hilarious old woman) from the audience.

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