Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Posted by Darkness on February 8, 2014 (Updated: 29-Nov-2016)

Back in January of 2013, Alien vs. Predator Galaxy had the pleasure of hosting an interview between Corporal Hicks and Mikey and Charles de Lauzirika for the eighth episode of the Alien vs. Predator Galaxy Podcast.

Charles is a fantastic DVD and Blu-ray producer who is responsible for spoiling the entire Alien community with the Alien Quadrilogy and Alien Anthology boxsets. At the time of the interview, the amazing Prometheus Blu-ray had just come out as well. Below is a transcript of that podcast written by Darkness.

charlesdelauzirikaaudiointerview Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Mikey: Hello everybody this is the eight official AvPGalaxy podcast. This is Mikey speaking and with me, I have Corporal Hicks.

Hicks: Hi there everybody. Today we have a special guest with us. He’s the man behind the Alien Quadrilogy set, the DVD set that actually pretty much spoiled all DVD sets for me, the recent Alien Anthology blu-ray set, and the Prometheus set. So, I’d like to welcome Charles De Lauzirika. First of all, thank you very much for joining us, Charles. It’s always a pleasure to speak to you. 

Charles: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Charles De Lauzirika & Aaron Percival (Corporal Hicks) at the Aliens 25th Anniversary Convention in Leicester Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Charles De Lauzirika & Aaron Percival (Corporal Hicks) at the Aliens 25th Anniversary Convention in Leicester

Hicks: That’s alright. I’m going to let Mikey start this one off. 

Mikey: Alright…so… I personally don’t know a lot about you. I’m sure a lot of the other members on the website don’t either. Could you tell us a little bit more about what you do and where you are and if I remember this correctly, from a little bit of the research I’ve done, did you help Ridley Scott start in the direction of using DVDs for his movies?

Charles: Yeah, I mean that’s kind of how I got started on DVDs, was through Ridley. I had been working at his company. I had started as an intern when I was at film school but then I went on to become a script reader. Then I was just assigned a variety of special little projects and things and during that time, DVD was just starting out. This was around ’97, ’98 and I heard on the grapevine that Fox was working on the first Alien set which turned out to be the Alien Legacy set. And I just happened to mention to Ridley that these DVDs are going to be a really great format… maybe you should take advantage of it, look into it and on top of that, please make this first Alien set as great as it could be. I gave him a full  brief on DVD and its whole potential and before he went to meet with Fox, he basically turned to me and asked is this something you can be in charge of for me and I just pretty much said yes, jumped in and it was a trial by fire. I learned very quickly but I don’t know, I just kind of enjoyed it and it was a nice little side job that turned into a 14 year side job.

Hicks: You’ve done quite a lot of Ridley’s sets, haven’t you? You’ve done a lot of work on Blade Runner and we’re on about 2…3… versions of Alien?

Charles: Yeah, I supervised the Alien Legacy set. I didn’t do the extras on that one. And then Quadrilogy was the first time I actually produced the extras and I did them for all four of the films and then Anthology. So, yeah, three.

Hicks: On to Prometheus which is the last, well the latest one you’ve done with Ridley in terms of the Alien series. Now, throughout the promotion for  the film, Fox was really trying to downplay its Alien connection but when it comes to the Blu-Ray, straight from the go, the menus are very similar to how you make the Anthology. The Anthology look. Given the movie was out and you know, did know about the connections, did you make a conscious decision to play into the other set more. Was that one of the decisions?

Charles: Well, the way I always looked at it. I called Prometheus a cousin to the Alien films, not a direct sibling but a cousin and that’s how I treated every aspect of the disc. I mean, structurally, it’s very similar to the Anthology but in terms of design and just the overall aesthetic, you know, it’s a little more cleaner, higher tech, a little more elegant and glossy, much like Prometheus is in so far as, it’s got a very heavy Weyland Corp presence whereas the Anthology is cyberpunk, grungy future and Prometheus is more elegant and refined and you know, it’s kind of like going from with Prometheus, going like being on upper class on Virgin Atlantic to and then travelling over to the Millennium Falcon or a better set than the Nostromo frankly… I kind of treated the discs that way too.

Alien Anthology Menu Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Alien Anthology Menu

Hicks: I can’t speak for Mikey but I don’t know much about the production process for Blu-Rays or DVDs. When it comes to approaching a new set, how do you do it, how do you decide what to do? Can you walk us through that process?

Charles: No one process is identical. It really depends if it’s an older film like when I worked on Blade Runner, it was a different process because that was all archival and it was almost like movie archaeology. Going through boxes and digging things up and going back and conducting interviews with cast and crew, you know 25 years later. So that’s one way to go but then with Prometheus. It’s a new film that’s been created… You know, so it’s like I get to actually document it myself and I get to go on set and shoot the behind-the-scenes footage or I have a crew that I work with and I’ll conduct the interviews and then we edit everything together but usually what I do is I just look for the overall story that I wanted to tell, that I think should be told, based on what are the more interesting aspects of the making of, of the film and I just take a look at what exists or what doesn’t exist in case of an older film.

Alien Anthology Menu Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Alien Anthology Menu

If it’s a new film, we kind of have to document it as we go and you know, hope we cover everything but the great thing about Prometheus is that I started very early on it. I started, I believe, over a year before shooting began, documenting it so I have a huge wealth of footage to draw on because I actually go to watch the film unfold in terms of the making of it. It was easier for me to, you know, target certain subject matter and ask questions that were very specific with an eye towards what the Blu-Ray experience would be like because that’s a far more nitty gritty detailed narrative than what you get in a promotional featurette or a HBO special. But basically what it boils down to is me or my crew shooing footage on set or conducting interviews.

Hicks: That sort of informs the process, the direction that you take with the story you’re telling with the documentary and stuff like that. 

Charles: Yeah, it’s basically like journalism. You’re basically just following a story and trying to cover as much as you can.

Hicks: This is actually the first sort of Alien related thing you’ve been able to cover yourself from pre-production all the way to home release. Did you work on the Anthology set and previous set and sort of inform what you wanted to do with it with Prometheus?

Charles: Yeah, absolutely. With Alien for instance. There’s precious few minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from Alien that was shot back in ’78 and every time Fox comes to me and asks can we do something new, you know, when it was on the Quadrilogy and later on the Anthology. Can we do something new? I always think, wow, shame I don’t have a time machine and I can’t go back in time to 1978 and document the hell out of Alien. We’ve pretty much used all the available footage. I know there’s more footage out there we don’t have access to but we’ve pretty much everything we could. We could always conduct new interviews and always rely on still photography and conceptual art and outtakes from the film. But you know, the documentation of Alien is long since passed so we’ve Prometheus I approached it as, with that in mind, some future documentarian doesn’t look back at the making of Prometheus 25 years from now and scratch their head… wow why didn’t we cover it, you know…Why didn’t we cover that scene so we tried to shoot everything we possibly could on Prometheus.

Charles De Lauzirika and Ian Whyte on location in the Orrey. Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Charles De Lauzirika and Ian Whyte on location in the Orrey.

Hicks: Is that not something you typically do for other projects?

Charles: It depends on the film to be honest because, you know, every film has a different budget and that’s the reality of the situation. Some projects, we can afford to have a camera person on set every day, others we can’t. We have to pick and choose. We have to look at the script and we have to talk to the crew and say or ask them, what are the most interesting aspects of the film and those can often be tough decisions and sometimes I just dip into my own pocket and cover a day that we’re not covered for with the budget because I feel like, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever and we need to preserve it. I did a bit on Prometheus as well but it wasn’t as bad because I think Fox also understood the importance of documenting as much as the film as we possibly could. So yeah, it really depends on the film. It depends on the demands of the filmmaker and the studio. You know, some films, it may not need the elaborate coverage that we did on Prometheus. You know, that’s not for me to say. I always try to get as much as we possibly can. But like I said earlier, every project is very different from another.

Mikey: So, the ‘Furious of the Gods’ documentary. That thing was a beast. I had to watch it over three or four days because I didn’t realise it was three hours almost. How long did that actually take you to make the documentary?

Charles: Oh, we began before shooting began and we were probably shooting past the release of the film a bit. So that’s two years or so. Over two years of shooting. We didn’t shoot every single day of those two years like when you’re in pre-production, you kind of just go down to cover what’s interesting or just try to be there for certain meetings or go to a certain subject matter. In post, kind of the same thing. You don’t need to be there every single minute as the film’s been edited or scored but you try to go down for the big moments or you try to get a flavour of the process. It’s really during production where you try to cover as much as you can because you know, that’s where the movie is being captured. So there was that and then once we got all that material which we believe, I’ve got about 7 terabytes worth of footage, behind-the-scenes footage of Prometheus and then make sense of it all. You have to ask yourself, what’s the story, what are the interesting challenges the crew faced, how they overcome them. So then you try to sculpt that into something, you know, interesting and when you cover a film as elaborately detailed as we did with Prometheus, you tend to end up with a pretty long documentary, at least I do because I find it fascinating.

Charles De Lauzirika and Ian Whyte on set of Prometheus, aboard Vicker's lifeboat.  Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Charles De Lauzirika and Ian Whyte on set of Prometheus, aboard Vicker’s lifeboat.

I always try to be as thorough as I can because I feel if it’s a topic you’re not interested in, you can just skip to the next topic. You don’t have to watch every single minute of it but I know a lot of fans, particularly of the Alien films love this stuff. Whether they like the film or not, they still wanna know about the process so I figure let’s put as much in there as we can. So with the documentary, it’s three hours and 41 minutes long but then we have, I believe, an hour and fifteen of Enhancement Pods. You almost have five hours of documentary to go through but then again, you can go as deep or shallow as you want. You can tailor the experience to your liking. I don’t make you sit there. You don’t have to watch every single second of it in order. You can skip around. You can check things out topically but you know again, it’s like going to library. You can never have too many books. I feel if there’s something you really wanna know about, put it on the disc and if there’s things you don’t wanna know about today, you might want to know about it a month later. I mean, who knows…

Hicks: Given the sort of fly on the wall approach I imagine you take while you do your filming, trying to keep out of the way of the cast and crew, does it make it harder for you to associate with them?

Charles: Yeah, it’s very interesting. I’ve seen other documentarians and how they behave on set and a lot of them really befriend the cast and crew and they’re very social and they like to joke around and be very personal with them because they feel like that opens them up and it probably does but I take a different approach. I try to disappear and become invisible and not to be in the way. And I feel like that tends to give me more honest moments because otherwise if they know you’re there and even though you might be a friendly face, they tend to ham it out for the camera or it’s not as truthful of an experience. You know, they’re aware the camera is there and they tend to show off or censor themselves for the camera. I tend to be a walking surveillance camera when you know, I try to, you know, blend in as best as I can. It doesn’t mean I’m not social with the crew or the cast. I talk to them. I obviously interview them at some point so they know I’m there but I basically try to get them to forget about me and be very respectful of their space. I don’t get too close unless I’m welcomed in, you know and you just have to read that from moment to moment. Sometimes you can tell, they’re into it, you know. They’re happy to have you there. Other times they just kind of want to be alone to focus on their work and you just have to be aware of when to go in and when to hang back.

Mikey: Did the relationship with Ridley make your work on Prometheus a little easier to work on the sets you’re on?

Charles: Oh, absolutely, I think all these documentaries I’ve done. I’ve gotten access that someone probably wouldn’t have gotten but because you know, there’s a trust level is I feel, I’m not gonna immediately upload it to YouTube and give it to Ain’t It Cool News or whatever. It’s going to stay with me, stay vaulted, stay protected until we actually release the material. So, you know, there’s a trust level that I will never abuse that and I’ll never take advantage of it. I just try to do my best to be truthful and honest from a journalistic standpoint in terms of making it. But I’m also looking out for everyone’s best interests. I’m not trying to make anyone look bad. So, you know, you’re always walking a fine line. But to me, it’s ultimately about paying tribute, about making sure their work is immortalised. Doesn’t mean everything always goes smoothly or everything is always a picnic. Sometimes, you have very difficult moments on set.

Charles De Lauzirika and Ridley Scott on the set of Prometheus.  Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Charles De Lauzirika and Ridley Scott on the set of Prometheus.

There’s a lot of tension, a lot of arguments, and you know, you kind of play them case by case and see how they connect to the overall making of story, you know. If it was an actual moment of tension that resulted in something great or resulted in some sort of innovation or you know, caused some sort of historic moment to happen in the film. That is something I would run by the people involved and ask is it okay to include this. You know, if it’s just tempers flaring up which happens. Everybody’s human. Especially when you’re a passionately creative person. You sometimes have to vent and those moments I try to shy away from, back off and give them some space. Sometimes, you have to play it by here. Ridley has been very accommodating in sort of letting me play in his sandbox and just sort of be a respectful geek on set that you know, documents and keeps everything sort of stored away for fans and just you know, knows what to look for in terms of the making of story but also doesn’t abuse it. I’ve tried, you know. Tried to be very respectful of him and his process and everyone on the crew and the cast.

Mikey: Yeah, I can’t speak for everybody but for me, that’s like heaven. You’ve got Pandora’s Box right there. I like that stuff but I don’t know about anybody else. I would love to have the opportunity to keep stuff like that. You have everything right there. That’s awesome.

Hicks: One thing I’m curious about. How much input does Ridley have with your sets, the blu-ray sets, I mean. Is there any sort of stuff he’ll look at and not like or does he just sort of..?

Charles: Usually, he just lets me do my thing. I give him rough cuts of everything and you know, if he can, he’ll look at it. Occasionally, if it’s something sort of hot, I will make a separate disc for him to look at and say look you might want to take a look at this specifically. Everything else is pretty much straight forward and safe but this one you might want to look at. But on the whole, he kind of lets me get on with it and the cast and certain members of the crew might watch some of it and weigh in but you know, usually Ridley’s involvement is with the film itself and how it like the picture and sound quality, you know, need the level of quality that they need to be for the disc and also deleted scenes. He’s very involved in them, especially on the new film.

Prometheus Menu Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Prometheus Menu

On the older films, he’s not as directly involved, like on Blade Runner for instance, we only had a few deleted scenes that were actually edited together and the rest I had to actually go through the dailies and cut them together myself with my editors because there is no guide to follow. It was just raw dailies but as a fan, I knew it was very important to show this footage to fans but it had to be edited together so basically all the deleted scenes on Blade Runner was me having fun with Ridley’s dailies which was very intoxicating frankly to have these beautiful dailies of raw, almost like a glorified fan edit, basically of his footage but on Prometheus or the newer films, he will work with editor Pietro Scalia and between the two of them, they will sort of come up with a package of deleted scenes for me to then go through and try to organise and title and put those on the disc but that’s usually how it works with Ridley.

Mikey: You’re also a filmmaker yourself and you’ve been doing convention rounds for your movie Crave. You’ve also edited the Alien 3 assembly cut. Would you have liked to have done a cut for Prometheus itself?

Charles: Would I like to have done an extended cut of Prometheus?

Mikey: Your own cut of the film.

Charles: That’s a very interesting question. It’s tough because on the one hand it’s not my film, it’s not for me to say, you know. I do find it’s an interesting exercise, I think when I see all of these fan edits for other films and I’m sure there will be more and more for Prometheus. I already know there’s a few and there’ll be more and I always think it’s interesting to see what people come up with in terms of what they think is the best cut of the film but I don’t really put myself in that headspace when it comes to these films, I do the extras for them just because it’s not my role frankly and even though I could be like a Monday morning quarterback and just sit back and say well it should have been this and should have been that and you should have taken this up and put this one and to me, it’s a fool’s errand. I don’t think it’s really worth exploring. Me personally, I know other people love to obsess over that and I enjoy those conversations. I don’t know. I basically in terms of the Alien 3 assembly cut / special edition cut. That was basically just because Fincher didn’t want to be involved, you know and we had to do something. Fincher gave us his blessing to go ahead and do whatever we wanted. Even though I had basically total control, cut the movie together however I wanted to cut it together. I didn’t think historically sound. I thought people would want to see what Fincher and Terry Rawlings came up with in the early iteration of the film in terms of the edit ‘cos who cares what my, you know, vision of what the cut should be. It’s like I’m just here to help out, you know, to just guide people through the process.

charles-interview-new05 Charles De Lauzirika Interview

I’m not, it’s not for me to re-edit the film and revise what actually happened so I feel the same would be with the case with Prometheus. It’s like if the filmmaker wants to be involved. Great. He should put whatever cut he wants. If he wants multiple cuts on the disc. Great. We should do that too. If he doesn’t want any cuts except the theatrical. Yes, that’s exactly what we should do so you know, I usually defer, I always defer to the filmmakers’ wishes and you have to negotiate a bit with the studio in terms of what they would like and if the studio really feels passionately about something they will speak to the filmmaker directly and they will come to some sort of agreement but as far as I can tell, 99 times out of 100, the director ultimately gets what he wants, especially when you’re dealing with filmmakers of the calibre of say Ridley. That was a very tap dancey answer to your question. It’s just you know it’s a complicated subject to be honest. I don’t have an answer that covers it all. It really is case by case, believe me, there are times when I see films that I wish god, if they’d have put that one scene in back in, it would be perfect but you know, if you really feel that way, go do it. Now everyone has the technology to cut it together on their laptops if they like and it’s interesting to see that evolution.

Alien 3 David Fincher Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Alien 3 David Fincher

It really, as far I can tell, might be wrong about this, but that’s how it began with star wars and just people trying to you know salvage their own memories of their film when they grew up and then how to reconcile the new changes that have been made over the years and ultimately boiling down to.. well there are so many versions of Star Wars out there. So many versions of scenes from Star Wars, everyone kind of has something they love or what they view to be the pure version of the film so it’s great that we have the technology for people to just go do that on their own so they can enjoy it and that now applies to every film that has deleted scenes available. in fact I mean I don’t do it intentionally with this in mind but I always know for instance on Blade Runner say or even the past Alien sets, the documentaries always include outtakes and alternate angles and other little bits that I know will end up in fan edit, you know and when we put these things together we know okay so even though we have whatever forty minutes of deleted scenes, we also have, if you go through the documentary, there’s tonnes more in there in terms of other angles alternate takes, different bits, but if  someone really wanted to they could construct their super mega cut and have everything they could possibly want, you know. But that’s not for me to do. I have frankly other things that I’m interested in.

Ridley Scott Blade Runner Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Ridley Scott Blade Runner

Hicks: That’s fair enough. One of my favourite things about these sets DVDs, Blu-Ray releases in general are commentaries. Your Anthology set and Prometheus set tend to have pretty interesting very sort of in depth commentaries but as I understand it, a lot of them are recorded separately rather than having everybody in the room at the same time. Does that make it difficult to cut them altogether, to edit them together?

Charles. You know, it really depends. On some of them, case in point, on Alien, on the Quadrilogy / Anthology commentary with the cast and crew. That one was really difficult to cut together and have it  seem smooth and have a nice flow to it. Just because each, the energy in each recording session was so radically different. But then on Aliens, it flowed incredibly smoothly and I’m not exactly sure why because they were also all multiple sessions cut together but just for some reason, I think for some reason it had to do with the fact that we had people doing commentary on Aliens that they had never done commentary before on that film whereas on Alien, it was Ridley’s third time doing it. You know, when you’re asked to do a commentary like that for the third time, you tend to not want to repeat yourself so you tend to start digging in to the B, C and D stories versus the A stories which is what Ridley did the first time. So, it could have been some of that but yeah, it’s very difficult and personally from a recording standpoint, it’s always easier when you get everyone in the room together and just you know, record as a straight shot and then polish it up later. You remix a little and deliver it but the problem with having too many people in the room is that suddenly it becomes a bit of a part atmosphere and people start to talk over each other and then you kind of lose the academic side of it, you know or the side of it where you’re actually learning things and then it just becomes more people hanging out on a couch and people having fun drinking beer and talking about the film.

I know that sounds like it’s a lot of fun but rare when it comes together as beautifully as say something the John Carpenter Kurt Russell tracks, you know or one of my favourite tracks is one of the ones I recorded for Speed actually Graham Yost and Mark Gordon, you know I kind of went into that session thinking it was going to be a boring commentary track turned out to be so much fun because those guys just clicked and telling these really great funny stories and they had a really great rapporté between them so when it comes to a commentary, you just never know until you’re maybe five minutes in what kind of track it’s going to be and it’s really hard to change the energy in the room. You can try but it’s kind of just best to what I do is get… I do a pass… I basically say you know watch this in real time you know, don’t worry about gaps, we’ll talk through it and I will basically prompt them with questions if they dry up for me than say 20-30 seconds. And then after we’re done then I just go in my ask like more of an interview style questions so that I know I can plug in the holes that came about in that first pass. That’s what I usually do. Sometimes, you don’t have the opportunity to come back and ask those difficult questions because we’re running out of time. That’s the other thing. People have very tight schedules.

Alien Anthology Menu Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Alien Anthology Menu

There’s a lot more in the early days of DVD. There’s a lot more interest in blocking out of the day to do interviews or commentaries. Now because it’s part of the process I think people, some of the bloomers off the road, don’t really have that kind of time for you anymore, not everybody. Some people still give you the time but with like actors, they really come in and they’re out of there super-fast and you have to do the best you can and case in point, like with Sigourney, when I did the Quadrilogy interviews with her. If you notice we only have new interviews with her for 1-3. She didn’t do Resurrection. That’s because we ran out of time. We do all the on-camera interviews with Sigourney and do the commentary with her and Ridley for Alien and she did that and a gap in her schedule when she was promoting that film she did called Holes. It was like at the press junket basically so we got her for two or three hours but in that time, we had so much to do and you know, it’s like I say it’s every situation is different. You just try to do the best you can with what you’re given. It doesn’t always work but fortunately most of the time, at least you have something to share with people. They get a flavour of it even if they don’t get the nitty gritty you hope for every time. That was a very long elaborate…

Hicks: No, it’s good. I like stuff like this. You looking at doing more sets for it?

Charles: Prometheus?

Hicks: Yeah.

Charles: Well, no, it’s… I mean look, we have tonnes of material archived if there was ever a need to come back to it, we could do new meaningful stuff but there’s no plan but there’s one thing I have to say there’s one thing people think, the studios, or producers involved are intentionally out to screw fans over with double, triple, and quadruple dips but that’s really not the case. I mean, obviously, there will always be a need to refresh the title to come out with something new down the road, if there’s a reason to do it. And whenever those reasons or opportunities come up and if I’m on the project, I always try to do the best job I can, to bring something new to the table rather than just rehash the same old stuff but I’m you know, I really think if you look at Prometheus that came out, I’d say we really loaded it up and tried to make the definitive set and I consider it the definitive set. There is nothing intentionally left off the table but if there is ever a need to come back to Prometheus, there’s more we could do and that would be interesting. I would just need to go through everything all over again and see what we didn’t cover the first time ‘cos I wouldn’t want it to just be fluff to just pad it out.

Prometheus Menu Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Prometheus Menu

But I do believe there’s plenty more we can cover just because we covered so much of it. I mean, just think about it, if we’ve been shooting it for two years off and on and the Prometheus itself, the production, I believe itself is about I feel like it was, I wanna say it’s between 70 and 75 days but we have that much footage for every single day, you know and there’s what? There’s 7 hours of video content on the disc, I mean, that should tell you right there, we have tonnes of material. Some of it is like watching paint dry. You know, some of it is super boring because you have to roll, hope something happens. I’ll be on set, just standing there with a camera rolling. No, nothing’s happening but I do that because in case something happens in front of me, I will have caught it so it’s really just is going back through surveillance tapes and trying to find the golden moments.

Hicks: Now, that sort of brings us onto something else. Giger. He’s a pretty elusive guy and he’s never really sort of liked to talk about his work on the films and as I understand it, he nearly didn’t appear in the Prometheus set at all. Was there much footage of him that you didn’t… couldn’t include in the set this time?

Charles: Hmm, no, I mean, there’s more footage of him in that meeting he had with Ridley. Might be interesting to see some day but in terms of the narrative point we’re trying to make in the documentary. What you see is pretty much what was needed this time. But there was a lot of last minute scramble with Giger, in terms of getting his approval to include that footage. Just because it was so last minute, that didn’t give us a lot of room to talk about adding more or to include more like you know, raw uncut moments of him and Ridley collaborating. It was just, it was basically, we had to, we had a date obviously because we can’t miss the date and Giger… They were still working out his deal and you know, we had to get his approval and all that which is fine. That’s the normal thing anyway.

H.R Giger visits Ridley Scott during the production of Prometheus.  Charles De Lauzirika Interview

H.R Giger visits Ridley Scott during the production of Prometheus.

You have to get it run through people’s approval, get them to sign a release, just in this case it was so down to the wire and we were just so out of time in the end that you know… because there was a moment when I thought we wouldn’t able to. Again, it wasn’t anything contentious, it was just sort of getting it through the pipeline and in his case it was you know, just very late in the game. So I’m really glad we got him in there because it was a really wonderful visit when he came out and he was very nice with me. He’s a very sweet man and he’s very soft spoken and he you know, he asked me about some of the other Alien documentary stuff that I had done and he reached into his bag and said I have a gift for you and pulled out a really beautiful DVD set he made of his short films and he signed it to me and it was a really wonderful visit when he came out so I have very fond memories of Giger. I will always wish I could interview him but that opportunity just didn’t come out this time but maybe next time…

Mikey: Now that’s you’re starting to make feature films would you ever want to work on an Alien or Prometheus film in a production capacity instead of just filming behind the scenes?

Charles: Oh, absolutely, yeah, I would love that. I’ve always had in my head, a sort of version of what an Alien / Prometheus film could be. I’ve had epic discussions about it with people who worked on the film and even people at Fox about it and it’s all in good fun but sure, if I my career, my directing career pans out and I get that opportunity, I would love to do it. It’s a world I’m completely obsessed by ever since I was a kid. My mom took me to see Alien opening day at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood in 1979 and that pretty much rocked my world and I… there are certainly very specific moments of that opening night I’ll never forget and I always felt like that’d be a world I’d love to explore.

Charles De Lauzirika Crave Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Charles De Lauzirika Crave

But you know, that’s down the road and if I got that opportunity, yes, I would jump at it and I think the Alien franchise has a lot of life left in it because the one great thing about the Alien films is that you know for the most part with Prometheus being the exception, you know, they’ve all been very different directors with very unique visions of their own. I think that has been fascinating because it’s almost like you’re watching a film festival of Alien films because every one is so radically different. They all take place in the same universe and it was kind of interesting to see Ridley come back to it and even he had changed his vision, you know, now, is not the same vision we saw back in ’79. So it’s a very, to me, it’s a very fascinating, how it’s evolved over time and how it should continue to evolve.

Hicks: Is it something you’ve ever talked to Ridley about, taking on a production capacity if he came back?

Charles: Yeah, not lately, I mean I approached it very softly conversationally. I think it’s really would be a matter of me going up to him and demanding it in a way. In such a way that he understood that I really meant it because you know, I’ve been working with Ridley… for about, I think, 18 years now. You know, it’s… I’ve found my nice little groove in his universe which is doing the DVD and Blu-Ray stuff and he knows that I love this material and knows that, you know, especially when it comes to science fiction, I have a great affinity for what he’s done. I think he responds to people who are driven and people who you know, have a goal in mind and I just need to basically if I can find a way to make a meaningful contribution and find a way to fit, then yeah I would love to do it. Right now, you know, I’m happy doing the DVD/Blu-Ray work to pay bills and I’m also happy to see what’s happening with Crave which has been very well received so far and we’re really close on distribution, you know. I’m really curious to see how the directing thing will grow and hopefully become something that is more of my passion in life because that’s always what I wanted to. It’s certainly my passion. It’s just can I make it a realistic job that’ll pay the bills. Ultimately, that’s what it boils down to is being able to live and the DVD thing has been wonderful for that, for me, but I do need to find some kind of transition. Either to do original film or getting out of DVD and just doing films.

Hicks: Have you got any other future plans after Crave? In terms of films?

Charles: Yeah, I mean the reaction to Crave has been such that I’m now being approached for a next film, whatever it’s going to be and you know, I have a few options but the big one is a science fiction project. It’s the whole reason I made Crave because I’ve been developing with Isa Dick Hackett who is Philip K. Dicks’ daughter, an adaptation of one of his short stories. We’ve been working on it for a while and it’s a futuristic science fiction film and she felt wouldn’t it be great if I directed something smaller and leaner and meaner basically to show that I can direct before we go and try to raise money for this you know, this more expensive science fiction film. I was basically just me trying to find an almost like a test film that could prove that I could make a film and that was three years ago when we had that conversation I believe. Now here we are three years later and Crave is done and it’s doing pretty well so now going back to that Philip K. Dick short story which is ‘I hope I shall arrive soon’ is the title and we have a really rough draft of it and trying to get it polished up and presentable by the end of the year and we see what next year holds. I mean, it’ll either be that hopefully or something else.

Charles De Lauzirika Crave Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Charles De Lauzirika Crave

But that’s kind of the trick right now is to find what’s the right next project that makes sense to me creatively that I feel could make a contribution to that results in a another really good film and isn’t just you know, just shooting for shooting sake. You know, I wanna make something that means something to me and this particular movie is a very human story that I relate to so hopefully that’ll be it but you know, it’s a very interesting time right now because I’ve not been in this situation before where I would make a film and maybe make another little film and another little film after that but just given the reaction of Crave and how well it’s done in the festivals and the reviews we’ve gotten, it’s kind of like an opportunity now. I wanna be careful to take full advantage of. I don’t wanna wait too long before the heat goes away but I also want to be very smart about what my next move is. That’s kind of where I’m at.

Hicks: Before we sign off, is there anything that you’d like to say to our listeners, anything I haven’t given you the opportunity to get out there.

Charles: Hmm, well, you know, I read AvPGalaxy, you know, occasionally. I still, obviously, during the making of Prometheus, I read it all the time, I mean I was at Pinewood. We had our office that I shared with Stacey Mann, the publicist and Kerry Brown the still photographer. We all shared an office together. I was always checking out AvPGalaxy, IMDB’s board, all the various boards and I would always be reporting back to them. Hey they’re saying this, they’re saying that. This leaked out, these photos got out, and it was just very amusing to me, just to have that instant connection with the forum members, even though I wasn’t posting. I’m not on AvPGalaxy, I don’t post under an alias or anything like that but I do read it, you know and still to this day, I still read it, and to me, it’s just a fascinating perspective to have because you kind of want to reach through the screen sometimes and scream at people. Like no you’re entirely wrong about everything you’re saying but I appreciate the passion that everyone has. I mean, even if they don’t like the film or even if they have problems with certain things, you can still tell they love this universe and still care about it very passionately because they’re still arguing about it, you know, I’ve told people that many times about Prometheus.

Charles De Lauzirika & Aaron Percival at the Aliens 25th Anniversary Convention in Leicester Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Charles De Lauzirika at the Aliens 25th Anniversary Convention in Leicester

It’s like you know, when I came out of The Avengers with friends, we thought wow, that was a really hot, a highly entertaining film and it was a lot of fun. So great. We had nothing bad to say about it and five minutes later we were like okay, what’s next, what’s for dinner, where are we going to get drinks at. That’s not a slam against Avengers. There’s almost no argument to have about it. It’s a quality film, it’s a lot of fun. Prometheus… people are still arguing about it months later and I think they’re going to be arguing about it for years to come and I feel like Prometheus is going to have a long life because of that. In the same way, people debated Blade Runner, that Decker was a replicant or not. It’s still happening today, 30 something years later so I really do appreciate the dialogue and the passionate discourse that you know, has kind of followed the creation of Prometheus and now the aftermath of it. I’ll continue to follow it but yeah, all I can say is that people that think there are these kinds of like conspiracy plots to screw people over or you know, release fake scripts or things like that but that’s really not the case at all.

Like the Alien Harvest thing. That’s why I included that in one of the Enhancement Pods because it was so amusing to everybody on the film when that script came out. People were squaring up and down that it was the real script or the inspiration for the film and it wasn’t but we couldn’t say anything about it. Of course, they would say, well if they can’t say anything about it, it must be the real thing. Well, no… We can’t say anything about it because that’s confirming it’s not the real thing. That to me is the frosty part of fandom, it’s not being able to communicate and sit there thinking god I just wish I could straighten them out and tell them what’s happening but that gives people a reference for is true and what isn’t true and they start to figure out the movie by process of elimination. It’s not really much of a comment or a question, just kind of like often thought about is there a way to kind of communicate without communicating, almost telepathically. Can I just convey to you guys it’s going to be okay. Some people get so upset about things.

Hicks: I’ve got my own frustrations when it comes to the website so… well, we had the Strause brothers on at one point who did Requiem and that did not go down well at all, their sort of interaction with everybody gave them expectations for when the actual film came out and it was so completely different.

Mikey: Yeah, I think it made things a lot worse when it actually happened.

Hicks: So you know, I think it’s a pretty good thing to keep it limited, official people’s interactions with us fandom so I totally can see where you’re coming from sometimes with that. Even I get frustrated, there’s people from all over the world interacting on this one place and you’ve got all these different people, or these different personas, personalities, opinions, everything and you know, when they all get together, it can be a really stressful place at times.

Charles: Which is a shame because you think everyone is coming together because they love it. They love the Alien movies and the Predator films and you think that that’s why everyone is getting together. I also think people just love to argue no matter what.

Charles De Lauzirika poses with the Pilot's Chair.  Charles De Lauzirika Interview

Charles De Lauzirika poses with the Pilot’s Chair.

Hicks: Oh definitely. I’ve got a friend who will argue to the end of the Earth, no matter about what, he just loves to do it What were we arguing about the other day, I think it was Conan and we were arguing about how it started and to the point where he would just go for it no matter what ‘cos he just wanted to argue. I mean, the focus so the same on there. It doesn’t matter what it is, stuff that you would think would universally be loved, is absolutely slated by some people and when I first came onto the fandom and the internet, it honestly surprised me, the amount of people that would rip into Aliens. I mean, you’d think that film would be loved by pretty much most people but the amount of hatred I saw for the Queen and the life cycle that Jim Cameron interpreted it. It was astonishing, you know, I couldn’t understand at the time, I was a bit younger then how people could hate it so much and whereas so many other people could love it. It’s the tricky thing about the internet.

Charles: No, it is. I remember being a kid when Alien came out and even Aliens. There was no internet, no chat rooms or message boards. You just didn’t have that sort of immediate access to the world and not only express your opinions but to engage anonymous strangers in this gladiatorial combat… It has changed the dynamic about the way we love films and not love films, it’s very strange. That’s why every year I got to Comic Con, I go to Hall H, and the studios bring out their big guns and they have big directors and actors come down, they show their exclusive clips and on the one hand, I think it’s great to see all that stuff but on the other hand, you get up on stage in Hall H and say you know, even though I’m a multimillion dollar director, I’m still a geek like you guys. That doesn’t resonate with me. You know, ‘cos I sit there thinking well, you’re not a geek, you’re  a actually making films and you should follow that path and not worry about chasing you know, fan approval. You should make the best film you possibly can and don’t worry about referencing things within the franchise or making little, you know, in-jokes about the previous film or things like that. Just tell the best story you can. I feel like we’ve gotten to this point that people at the studios, maybe not so much anymore but there was definitely a time when they were pandering to fans a little too much and I do think there’s a nice balance of being respectful to characters and storylines that have already been previously established in other instalments or other incarnations but by the same token, if you keep trying to make everybody happy, you’re not going to make anybody happy.

Hicks: That was pretty much what the AVPs succumbed to, as well. In the last film, there’s essentially just a homage of all the awesome bits of the other ones. Mikey, is there anything you’d like to get in there?

Mikey:  No, I’m just really, I just sat back all this time and listened. I’m a photographer on the side for my own business and leading towards a photography career and I’ve been doing a lot of photojournalistic stuff and this whole interview here was just fascinating to me. Like I said earlier, it’s Pandora’s Box. I would just love to be a part of something like this. I kind of taken away and just listen to you. I’m really blown away by this. I don’t really have much to say, I’m just a little overwhelmed with all the information

Hicks: That’s exactly what we want. So thank you, thanks very much for joining us and I’m sure our listeners will love this because this has been one of my favourite ones. Lots of info as Mikey said.

Charles: Thanks. I really appreciate it.

Hicks: Thank you Charles and good luck with Crave.

Charles: And if I could make one shameless plug.

Hicks: There we are. Hopefully coming out soon. So thank you very much and this is Corporal Hicks, we’ve got Mikey and Charles. So goodbye.

Charles: Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

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