Published on April 15th, 2019 | by gareth0
We Talk Alien: Specimen With Director Kelsey Taylor
Recently I spoke with Director Kelsey Taylor about her Alien film “Specimen” You can see the film on IGN and we hope you enjoy the interview.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR STORY FROM AND HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO WRITE? I was a collaborator in developing the final script but the original idea came from Federico Frachhia, an awesome filmmaker/writer in Argentina. We were in the writing/rewriting process for about a month after we were asked to create an official pitch/script. WHAT OTHER PROJECTS HAD YOU DONE PRIOR? I have done quite a few short films (comedic, dramatic, musicals) prior to this project and a number of commercials. I’ve worked in many other departments in the film industry as well— DP, camera assistant, electric, assistant director, producer, which have all helped me to be the hands on, detail oriented director I am. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT CASTING AND HOW LONG WAS THE FILMING AND EDITING PROCESS? We posted a casting call through Breakdown Express and LA Casting and got great self-tape submissions from which we ultimately chose our lead Jolene Andersen and supporting actor Aubrey Wakeling. We shot our film over the course of two days and had a rough cut due a week later mid November. The films were locked in early January and polished up with a final delivery on Jan. 20th. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT GETTING THE LOOK FOR YOUR FILM AS IT LOOKS VERY MUCH IN THE ALIEN UNIVERSE? Cinematographer Adam Lee and I talked at great length about how we wanted the short to look like it was made in the same era as the original. Inspiration was really drawn from the original from the production design to the wardrobe. We wanted that analog, grungy feeling in everything. We wanted to imagine our world the way people in the 70s/80s imagined the future. We did as much as we could in our budget— I would have loved to go more extreme with it. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT FUNDING THE FILM? 20th Century Fox and Tongal sponsored these films and the funding came entirely through those sources. We could not raise additional funds or spend our own money, but I can assure you that in blood, sweat and tears there’s a lot more money on the screen than our budget shows. I’m really proud to have had wonderful friends (new and old) who brought their passion to this project. The franchise has so many fans. WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES AND GREATEST SUCCESSES WITH IT? Our biggest challenge was time. Our budget and location requirements limited how many people we could have— our small crew of 15 accomplished a lot with what we had. But we needed another day… I’m thrilled with the level of suspense and the character development we were able to cram in such a short run time. The goal was to scare and surprise fans and I do believe there are moments where we pulled it off! HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE THE FX IN THE FILM? The VFX in the film were a combination of practical and CGI… I WISH it all could have been practical but in this crazy world the CGI was shockingly more cost effective. Our VFX supervisor Luc Delamare is a great DP and compositor and singlehandedly learned to animate for the project. He did the final closeups of the face hugger and the moment it jumps. The rest of the face hugger was done with a plush toy for the dog to chew (thanks ThinkGeek!) and a latex model from Moldy Productions that we threw at pipes, hid in trees and scuttled through the foreground. HOW DID YOU DO THE MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS? Eric Wegener (sound designer) and Robert Evan Hunt (composer) did incredible hours of work in this short. Poor Robert wrote so much music that did not make the final cut when we realized how important silence can be in building tension! We really paid homage to the original with choice of instrumentation. You’ll hear those iconic flutes in our score! Eric gave incredible life to the face hugger in sound design. There’s such a range of sounds he used, from dry ice to badgers fighting! He made special gloves to do foley of the dog’s footsteps and paid special attention to keeping Maggie at the center of the story even though she’s off screen most of the movie. Every jump scare— that’s Eric and Robert at work. DO YOU HAVE FOLLOW UP PLANNED? I have a feature film in development right now that I’m really excited about. I would of course love to flesh out the world that we’ve set up in Alien: Specimen. There’s a whole backstory to Julie and Dev’s relationship and what they’re doing for Weyland-Yutani in this greenhouse— this short to me is a scene very early on in that story…