Final part of my interview with SFX and VFX artist, Steve Newburn. Here we talk about 'Alien Resurrection', and the making of the hybrid baby.
What was it like working on Alien Resurrection?
I was still new to ADI at the time of ‘Alien Resurrection’ and ‘Starship Troopers.’ I spent a good chunk of my time building displays for them (thus all the display pictures which get shown everywhere). I had fun with Alien just because I was a fan of it. Even though the movie was ho-hum, it was a good experience overall and I met/worked with a lot of good people, many of whom I'm still very close with.
What did you think of the designs for the hybrid baby - and was it hard to create?
The Newborn Alien was described in the original script as being something of an albino insect. As is always the case, the design evolved significantly during pre-production with the director's input, etc. Ultimately, I see what they were 'going for' although it does seem that it wasn't well used in the movie. Many people didn't understand it to be essentially a scared baby, and yet a monster at the same time. It seemed that the whole 'relationship' with Ripley wasn't so obvious. I don't think a lot of people got it that the Newborn Alien sort of viewed Ripley as its mother. It wasn’t about just having a ‘new’ alien running around (at least not in the version that was put to film). Maybe I’m wrong about people’s take on it. On the other hand, the original on-earth-battle ending was excised, and with it, I think the real purpose of having the Newborn went away as well. It was supposed to be there for a big finale that never happened and so we end up with this thing that goes nowhere and then dies almost as quickly (but not quickly enough in some fans minds I’m sure).
What do you aspire to reach within your career?
I don't know that I aspire to reach any particular level in this career. I feel like I've been pretty lucky in that I get to do something every day for a living that I would otherwise be looking at as a hobby. I've worked on a lot of cool projects over the years and I can't actually think of any one thing I'd really like to do that I've never touched on before. I've been involved with shows from the lab technician level, all the way to the effects supervisor position for the film. I've never wanted to own my own company, because you then need to worry about paying company bills, rather than just enjoying your work and taking home a pay-check.
I did try at one point to get a fairly large semi-A-list film going, and it really ran me ragged. There was a long line of design and development issues that needed to be dealt with and in the end, the show just went away. One of the producers got greedy and decided he wanted more rights to the project and took it to court. After a year of legal issues, everything got settled, but by then the financial backers were gone and the movie was left in limbo. If I had one aspiration, it would be that I get to continue working with my friends on projects that are both cool and hopefully original. We need fewer films with numbers after them. In the end, what more can you ask for, than doing what you love and getting paid for it?
I want to thank Steve again, for giving me his time and for answering my questions so thoroughly. Thanks Steve, keep up the great work! I'm looking forward to 'Alice in Wonderland.'