Alien 3: Vincent Ward : "Teak In Space"?

leading from

Still collating

Vincent Ward in 1989,
  Source: http://www.nzonscreen.com/


a) Walter Hill and David Giler See The Navigator

b) Vincent Ward's visions on the plane over to Hollywood

c) Monty Pythonesque Alien?

d) HR Giger's involvement

e) New Alien creature designer
The man who would be offering concept designs in place of Giger was Mike Worrall, a surrealist artist in his own right based in Australia

f) Writers working with Vincent Ward

g) Vincent Ward's standing point crumbles

h) Vincent Ward's final straw

i) John Fasano finishes the script

j) Years later


Mike Worrall drawing for the Alien


Quote sources
  1. Vincent Ward: Suddenly we were chasing deadline before we had a script! I didn't really have a history in Hollywood, so I started researching different screenwriters.  (Scifinow, p118)
  2. Scifinow: Among the scribes Ward approached were David Peoples and two time Oscar winner, Robert Bolt who was behind David Lean classics Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. (Scifinow, p118)
  3. Vincent Ward: These films are so expensive that the accountants start making the decisions. (www.independent.co.uk/ Thursday 27 May 1993)
  4. Clint: Speaking of which, whatever happened to your Alien 3?
    Vincent: What happened was… well, when you’re working in the studio system, they have these very powerful words – one’s yes, one’s no, and if you want something to retain it’s voice you have to know when to use the second one of those words. Also, you all have to be on the same page, because working in the studio system, it’s very corporate. One of my producers was on the same page, and one of them wasn’t. I ended up with a story credit for it, but it doesn’t at all resemble what I had in mind. (moviehole.net/)
  5. Vincent Ward: I thought it could be really frightening, but have originality and look quite different from other sci-fi films I'd seen or read. Gradually I found that was disappearing meeting by meeting over an eight-month period. (Scifinow, p118)
  6. Vincent Ward: I think there were some taste differences. Walter Hill doesn't do films that are emotional at all, and I like films that have an emotional content to them. When you're working under that sort of pressure your differences in tastes tend to get highlighted (Scifinow, p118)
  7. David Giler: It was a little far out, but that's what we wanted: to push this thing a little bit. (Premiere May 1992, p66 and later www.empireonline.com/)
  8. Sigourney Weaver : Very original and arresting (www.empireonline.com/)
  9. Interviewer: Who was Vincent Ward and why did you start thinking about him?
    David Giler:
    Well, we were thinking about doing an Alien sequel. Walter had seen The Navigator and said you should look at this, this guy's an interesting film maker, and I saw it and I liked it. We met Vincent, Vincent had a kind of strange idea of how to do this with a wooden planet and monks and all the rest of this stuff, which was really interesting. You know. And we tried to get this to work out on paper with several different writers and all the rest of this stuff and we never could really get it to work. Vincent really wasn't terribly adept at the Studio system by this time and he was quire more used to make movies really hands on, him basically doing everything, and it's impossible to do a big studio movie that way. You just . . . it just didn't work out. And we could never - I mean for example, it was just one of those things where we said, ok, we loved the idea that the planet's made of wood, but why is it made of wood? Well I don't know - maybe we need to figure something out about why it's made out of wood and why they have, why they're using wood. Any kind of reason. Something. Never could quite get that one. So we had to finally abandon. Why doesn't it just burn down! Wood in space does that really? Does that follow any kind of - we like the idea! We like these monks - what are they doing there? Are they Christian or are they not Christian are they? We need more of this, And we never really could get it. So that's sort of what happened, but we were pretty far down the line with Vincent when we were, he was in London, and we were getting over there and hired people and, when that all sort of fell apart

    Interviewer:
    He sounded very enthusiastic and very upset when it didn't happen.

    David Giler:
    I think that's what everybody thought. And I think studios get very wary at that when they're about to put what they hoped was only gonna be - the budge for these movies are just, well, the second one was more than twice the first and the third is more than three times the second and all that. They just go up and up. And so with that kind of an investment I think that you can't use the film making process as a discovery process. Which I think Vincent found surprising, And I think he'd like to work that way, but I just think it's impossible with a major studio, there's too much money involved

    Intervierwer:
    In Vincent's script did Newt or Hick's survive?

    David Giler:
    Hicks I think. I think was there Newt? I can't remember. Yes, there was. I remember Vincent's script now! If I'm confusing it there were several in there and so... yeah, but I think actually that Newt and Hicks .... to be honest I don't remember. There was one version where they did survive briefly and then Hicks was, you know, there was a thought that Hicks was gonna be a major character and that disappeared. It's all hazy

    Interviewer:
    Why did Hicks not become a major character?

    David Giler:
    I don't know because I always thought he would be too actually, And I, you know, sitting there, thinking about it, I can't remember what happened. Why, we started off to keep him in, I guess he didn't really function in the story.
  10. Norman Reynolds:  I liked him immediately, He was very enthusiastic; he had lots of ideas. We looked at some images he was really excited about: the fires of hell, all that sort of stuff. It seemed a really interesting way to go with Alien (www.empireonline.com/)
  11. Vincent Ward: The thing blows out of her mouth and is sucked into him. He then sacrifices himself, walking slowly into the wheatfields, which are on fire. (www.empireonline.com/)
  12. Norman Reynolds: We were doing it in a serious way, It was happening.
  13. Jon Landau: As a studio we set out to make a release date, and not make a movie. (www.empireonline.com/)
  14. David Jones: I had a hard time with it. Atmosphere has to be built up over thousands of feet (www.empireonline.com/)
  15. Tom Woodruff: It added too much of a human agenda to the Alien.(www.empireonline.com/)
  16. Vincent Ward: It was effectively father to the embryo inside her and so therefore would not want to destroy her during its gestation. The thought of that creature licking at her would be truly frightening and kind of wonderfully revolting, sexual and protective at the same time, even if it was only in her nightmare. It would make you feel she had gone to hell and back, and when she finally kills it the satisfaction would be very primal. (www.empireonline.com/)
  17. Giler: We could never quite get him to explain why this planet should be wood,. (www.empireonline.com/)
  18. Tom Woodruff: The interior was clad with wood before it went into outer space. You can clad the interior of a spaceship now with wood!(www.empireonline.com/)
  19. Pruss: The movie's called Alien because it's about the Alien, I couldn't get that across to Vincent. He and the studios were at odds, clear and simple, I was in the middle" (Premiere May 1992, p66)
  20. Weaver: Frankly, I think he never wanted to make an Alien picture in the first place, The elements were there but there was no story involving Ripley. He really did not know what to do with my character."  (www.empireonline.com/)
  21. Vincent Ward: In retrospect it would have been smarter to outline more horror beats and Ripley-character beats straight up, even if it wasn't the best way to nail a realistic world for her to move through.  (www.empireonline.com/)
  22. Vincent Ward: When you're working with a star and showing treatment drafts at such an early stage, that's not such a good strategy! (www.empireonline.com/)
  23. Vincent Ward:You can't keep living your life fighting creatures without much of a family, How would you survive? Families give us something. We're communal, social creatures. So Ripley's big regret is that she missed out on a personal life. She seeks some sort of strange atonement for not having had a relationship with her daughter.www.empireonline.com/)
  24. Vincent Ward: Basically, the only reason I signed on was because I had a strong idea for the story, and the very fabric of that story had been chipped away. It just became a remake. (www.empireonline.com/)
  25. Vincent Ward:  It was a weird situation to find myself in, I'm one of those people who like to see things through. I don't mind compromising if it will improve the story. But you're dealing with people where it's not known as a 'film' - it's called a 'franchise'. So you don't want your Kentucky Fried Chicken or your McDonald's to look different. You gotta have the same coloured walls, and the doors in the right place... (He pauses.) There's only so much you can say, really. It just comes down to creative differences.(www.empireonline.com/)
  26. Vincent Ward: Essentially I found that the story was being watered down, and on a project of that scale it's very hard to maintain a single viewpoint on the material which is kind of necessary for it to have any singularity to it otherwise it becomes a mishmash of everything you've seen before.(Venue magazine #11)
  27. Vincent Ward: There were no bad guys on Alien III, Just people with different agendas. (www.empireonline.com/)
  28. Vincent Ward: The basic story points are all mine but the rest is totally different. My ideas was to spend $40 million on re-creating Bosch in outer space. I wanted to use every penny of the $40 million just to scare the hell out of everybody. Apparently, they had something else in mind. (Washington Post, May 31, 1993)
  29. Vincent Ward: The prison planet wasn't really me - I had more a complete world than that. What I'd first pitched them on was, yes, I'll scare the pants of people and yes, I can terrify them and there'll be aliens and yes. I can do all that stuff but I really want to create a world that's quite special and different - and what they ended up doing was creating this convict world with guys with prickly scalps who couldn't say more than "der." I thought that was really boring - and so badly written. The characters... aaargghh! (What's On, June 2nd 1993, p13)
  30. Vincent Ward: Under the circumstances they made a very good job. It's not the film I would have made, but given the pressures they were under they did well. (Venue magazine #11, June 9-23 1993) 
  31. David Giler: It was a little far out but that's what we wanted, to push this thing a little bit. (Premiere, May 1992, p66)
  32. Vincent Ward: I got the call to come to LA, and the offer to do Alien 3. I told them I wasn't interested in doing sequels, Anyway by the third phone call, I thought I might as well give it a shot, I looked at the script they sent me, I didn't like it, I thought it was standard scifi stuff that you expect all the gadgetry and so on. I thought I had a tiny idea and on the plane over, in my imagination I expanded it into a story. By the time I got to LA, I sat in with the head of the studio, I sat in with my studio executive and with the producers and I pitched this story to them, and really to my surprise, because I just wanted to get out of Australia for a break, that they really liked it. And that's great for somebody who wants to keep working, but it's not great if you're being adventurous about a story and exploring it. (Alien Quadrilogy, The Making of Alien 3, )
  33. Vincent Ward: My production designer who I had hired was working away building sets in London. He had the Bond stage which was the largest stage in London at that time (Alien Quadrilogy, The Making of Alien 3, )
  34. Vincent Ward: Very shortly after writing the story for Alien 3, you know, I just, I hopped off the plane, I written up the story, within a month, the owner of the studio had given us a release date (Alien Quadrilogy, The Making of Alien 3, )
  35. Vincent Ward: I had the world very strongly in my imagination. A wooden clad environment of floors and floors, sometimes hundreds of metres high , each floor, with each of their different parts of monastic guilds on each of the floors. (Alien Quadrilogy, The Making of Alien 3 )
  36. Vincent Ward: By this stage, the original Alien and Aliens had become very successful. It had a different meaning then the first alien had, which was relatively low budget, relatively unknown star, not too much was at risk. Now everything was a risk. This was a franchise, and this was a, this was going to keep the studio going, this one film. So they look at me and go well, this guy from New Zealand, he's got this kind of wild idea, and he's made these independent films. I don't know, do we trust him or not? So it became a lot of cooks involved, you know, in the making of this broth, so the whole thing became shaky, with my, with my star, and I love working with actors, with my producers getting, wanting something a lot safer, with a release date looming. It was like being on a platform and watching all the thing crumble below you, frankly trying to do this dance to kind of stay... keep everything together. (Alien Quadrilogy, The Making of Alien 3 ) 
  37. Interviewer: At this point in the project, did you know if Sigourney Weaver was going to come back, or did you have to write it around the possibility that she wouldn’t be there. 
    Vincent Ward: There were two options really. The studio wanted Sigourney Weaver and Sigourney Weaver didn’t want to do another Alien, so I wrote, if she was prepared to do this one, it would seem, but she didn’t want to do another one after that. So I wrote two versions of the story. One was her dying and another one was her kind of surviving, and er, she went for the one where she died.
    Interviewer: I know that John Fasano worked with you on this.  What was his relationship with you when you guys were working out the script?
    Vincent Ward: I came up with a story before I met John,  registered with the guild and so on and was given story credit for it, a whole story credit, and then I had two different writers, I had attached to it to help with the screenplay. I give them my notes and detail of how I saw it being done as a screenplay and then they would go off and write 
    Interviewer: I really liked what you were doing with it as far as the idea of like, the alien being the demon, you know, if this was a monk society, that it seems like the alien is kind of being the demon that they all are fearing in , in their religious practices. 
    Vincent Ward: Yeah, and of course, and Ripley being a pragmatist and scientific behaviourist, knows that’s not what the case is at all, but it’s almost impossible apart from one monk she befriends, to communicate the real nature of this creature. 
    Interviewer: You have to say, you know, I’ve read the early drafts, I’ve read this one, I read the ones that came before it, and really, this draft that you guys put together is, you know, so much of what ended up being the final film with the monk colony, with the befriending of the one character, just so much of this became what we know as the Alien 3 
    Vincent Ward:  You know, all of that was in the story that I wrote, the befriending of the one monk, that all of it was in the original story I wrote, it was only about, I don’t know, eight pages or something, but it had all those elements in it
    Interviewer: And I liked all the dream imagery that was going on as well, and just kind of being able to use that, because other than some of the scares that you get in something like in Aliens, erm, where she’s imagining that she has the creature inside of her, you don’t get a lot of the dream imagery that you guys were utilising, which kind of precludes some of your later projects. 
    Vincent Ward: Yeah, well I’ve been playing around with medieval world in The Navigator and then, erm, and then I have a sort of er hellish world in What Dreams May Come, so, I kind of, I like evoking those kind of er, for one of a, not really a gothic world but that sort of , sort of darker and more frightening than the way you would describe gothic normally, just engulfing, worlds that just engulfs you and terrify you. 
    Interviewer: How long do you think that you were in the project for.
    Vincent Ward: I think I was on for about ten months. You know, I actually ended up at erm, Pinewood, and starting to go on to pre-pre-production with a production designer and other people, with a line producer. We were actively working towards getting the film made. But , you know, but we started to run into some hiccups. 
    Interviewer: Ay, I don’t know if it’s indelicate of me to ask or whatever, but it feels like from everything that I’ve see, reading about this project, it feels like Walter Hill and David Giler were really kind of overbearing and controlling when it came to that project, was that, do you feel comfortable saying yes or no about that.
    Vincent Ward: You know, I say it’s a bit more complicated that, I can’t speak for what happened with David Fincher because I wasn’t there. I think that what happened was a kind of conjunction of several things. Primarily Murdoch took over the studio, the, you know, he bought the studio, he bought Fox, and he needed a tent pole film and suddenly we had er, a release date before we had a, an agreed upon script or anywhere near an agreed upon script, and then the next thing that happened, while I was, as I think, that sometimes happens with sequels, people became driven purely by the franchise, by their fears and and also, would the franchise, if it was original, and at all un-orthodox, would it, would it make the money that everybody hoped it would make, if the main tentpole film for Fox for that year and with that came this wrath of orthodoxy and conservatism and the life of the project was very quickly leached out of it, That’s what I started to notice, everything I loved about the project was rapidly disappearing . The only reason I decided to do it was because of this belief one could create this almost prequel, this totally unique world that you would get surprised by and lost in and that one had never seen in a science fiction film before. And suddenly all of that was disappearing and I went “hold on! what’s what’s going on here.” I felt that they were the messengers of death, not death itself.
    Interviewer: That’s a good way of putting it, I suppose (laughter) 
    Vincent Ward: I think they themselves were caught up in it, you know, in a, in a kind of crappy situation and they were struggling and, and I, you know, Walter is a genre, very much a straight genre director, he’s not cross genre. It was not a great situation, it became, it devolved into not a great situation. But it was, it was sort of really unfortunate. 
    Interviewer: Were there any silver linings for you when it came to the project, that this managed to keep doors open in Hollywood, or help you know, get Map of the Human Heart made or anything, or was this pretty much awash for you, ten months down the drain 
    Vincent Ward: I don’t think it was very much an awash, awash, because the film that my ideas has, has significant cult following, the film I never made has significant cult following, so , since the init- ini- you know a number of significant articles and pieces on, on that project, one by a London times writer who wrote a book called The Greatest Science Fiction Films Never Made, and I believe listed that, you know, as one of the top, if not the top film that was never made, even though I got the story credit on the final result of Alien 3, much to my surprise. So, in the first day that that appeared in that Empire Magazine article, my website crashed because because I have on VincentWardFilms.com that just visually of that whole idea and it’s the only place you can find it. So it appeared in an Empire Magazine article, and it appeared in this book The Greatest Science Fiction Films Never Made, and people recognised that I have a, you know, some sort of ability or gift for create... evoking these worlds. So I went ahead and made another film Map of the Human Heart, which was incredibly well respected, and then I eventually went to live in Los Angeles and was fortunate enough to make What Dreams May Come. I don’t think Alien 3 led to What Dreams May Come, but certainly didn’t harm it (http://projection-booth.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/episode-228-alien3.html)
  38. (Still the interview transcription still needs some corrections)
    Interviewer:
    At what point were you kind of brought in, and I know there were so many different scripts that were involved with that one
    Fasano:
    But he figured that there were so many different scripts or they were trying to figure out who was going to be the director, at one point Renny Harlen was the director and I was working with him and then he went off to do Ford Fairlane or something like that, and the, and Walter Hill said “The new craze is bringing in these guys from Australia" that, there’s two guys in New Zealand, there was the guy George Miller who had done Dead Calm, did he do Dead Calm?.. and there was this guy that did the Navigator, Vincent Ward and he said “who would you hire as the” I said “I didn’t know who they were talking about , but I just remembered that I read the, the review of the Navigator and thought, this guy made a movie about some monk in New Zealand in the 1400s who would go into a cave and come out in New Zealand in 2000, I mean in 1990, and I thought, that guy’s got a good sense of something” so they hired that guy to direct Alien 3 and he came in and he said “Here’s my idea, a planet made of wood and it’s creaking in space he said, and they’re all monks, they’re all Trappist monks and they’ve left the Earth, he said books are dying out and they’re preserving all the books." If you ever saw his movie, what dreams may come, there’s a scene in a library, they’re floating in these huge stacks of books, that was supposed to be in the Alien, Alien 3, and so they said, we need somebody to get the script out in like two weeks, and so Joe Roth who was the head of Fox at the time called me up and said “Johnny, are you ready to write Alien 3”, so I said “okay” I met with Vincent and then I realised it had taken him four years to make The Navigator and they wanted a script in two weeks from him that they could shoot and they wanted to go to England like within a month and start prepping the movie and he was like “Let’s talk about it” and they were like “no no no. you’ve got to like shoot this movie” you know I would say to him, “look, you know, just do what they want and you’ll have made a big movie that made money , you’ll be able to whatever you want," and then but, and then so they did all these drafts of Alien 3 and then at one point they brought another guy for one draft who goes and interviews him and says he did all the drafts in Alien 3 which isn’t true, and then they brought me back again, and then they told me you know, you’re paper’s in order, you’re going to England, and then one day they said you know what Larry Ferguson is doing the movie and they’re doing the last draft with Larry Ferguson who is a friend of mine who had written Beverly Hills 3 or something like that and the Presidio with Mark Harmon and Sean Connery. And I just felt totally xxx and in fact that could have been the end of my career that day, so I could have just said oh fuck this and gone back to New York, you know, to do low budget horror movies, because I had just done Another 48 hours for Walter and worked on Alien 3 for a year and then they would just replace me without telling me why or anything like that, and then Larry Ferguson, he didn’t like his script, they got rid of him and then Walter and David Giler who’d written, rewritten the first Alien, he made and then rewrote it, I think they all got, everybody has credit on that movie except me, because I walked out, but afterwards, Vincent Ward got fired, Vincent Ward went to England. Now you’ve got to understand when he was over here in American and they’d say “what’s your vision for the movie”, he’d say “It’s Hieronymous Bosch”, it’s men with goats head and a dogs body, and they were like cool because they’ve never heard of that before, he’d show them these pictures and they said “awesome drawings”. When he went to England where Terry Gilliam makes his movies, the guys are like “yeah Bosch, we just did that for Terry Gilliam you know, in Mun…you know, in The Time Bandits", like to them it was nothing special and they started calling back to Americans saying “This kid’s vision isn’t special”, and the killer, he can’t make up his mind, like when you’re a director you have to, when somebody says, what colour is this and so on, you say "grey, no blue grey, no let’s try blue and see how that looks", they’re going to fire you, because what the director should say “it’s grey, fifty percent grey”. You know, you don’t even have to be right, you just have to be decisive, so then they brought in David Fincher, and David Fincher wanted xxxx, at this time I’m the writer of the movie, so I’d meet with Fincher, here, he’s trying to get Robert Bolt who wrote Lawrence of Arabia to do the rewrite because he wanted, you know because it was his first big movie, he wanted someone famous to do it, he doesn’t want me, he doesn’t know who I am. He said Robert Bolt wouldn’t do it. He talked to Larry Ferguson who laughed at me when I took the job to write Alien 3, he was like “That’s a crappy idea”, of course he took the job, ah, and then they went over and made the movie, buy you know, if I had, I had an opportunity to finish the draft I was working on for Fincher, and it would have put me in a better position to get credit, but I was so devastated that they had hired all these other people but not told me, I just went like “Oh like fuck it” you know and walked off, so, I mean, didn't any of them, they didn't notice because they already hired other people, but I would have had a script that I did for Fincher that would have helped me getting credit. I didn’t do that and now I, luckily, you know my agent got me a big deal at Sony to do three movies there, so my career could have stopped right there with Alien 3, but it didn’t.
    Interviewer: I’m remembering your draft as you’re talking about it. Didn’t you have at the very end, someone in the audience saying or yell out the alien was in the dog
    Fasano:
    The Alien was in the dog
    Interviewer:
    Yeah, ‘cause I think the only people that are left are one of the monks and the dog, and you had a little thing that said like, a teenager in the back row of the show
    Fasano:
      Oh, someone in the audience says “the alien is in the dog” yuh, yuh. You know, and also what was really fucked up was that, from the beginning of this process, Sigourney said "look I don't care what you guys do but at the end of this movie I have to die 'cause I fought this thing three time and beat it three times and I don't want to do another one of these movies" and I said "what if it's a huge hit." She goes "well they'll bring me back as a clone or say it was a dream. I mean she was very pragmatic". You know they got our script and they were like you killed Sigourney, and I said "well she wants to die and they said no so I had the priest give her CP, er, like CPR and such the Alien out of her oesophagus into himself and then he jumps into the fire or whatever" and but by then by then Vincent was gone and then Fincher comes in and my xxxx with Fincher, “well what’s your vision of the movie” and he goes "I'm going to kill Sigourney at the end" and they were like "that's a great idea" and "I was like you just fired that other guy for having that idea" and and by the way aliens 3 could've been the end of Fincher’s career
    Interviewer:
    Right
    Fasano:
    You know. I remember a moment where the budget was something like $45,000... $45 million, and he had just done this Madonna video cost like $2 million a minute or something and he said you know you're only going to get like and hour-long movie for that much money, like he or they all laughed  and he went to England I shot the whole movie, they cut it together, and came back and it was like an hour long, and in LA, they spent another $25 million and shot enough to make it long enough to be Alien 3, but he told them up front “that’s what you get for that much money”, you know, just nobody believed him, you know, nobody believed it (http://projection-booth.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/episode-228-alien3.html

1 comment:

  1. I'm endlessly fascinated by ALIEN 3. Vincent Ward has all of his preproduction work--at least, lots of it--on a web page, and I think his art is wonderful. I suspect I wouldn't have enjoyed his ALIEN 3, but it's still interesting.

    One question I've always had is just which version of the script did the sets come from? Because on the ALIEN box set doc on A3, it's said the sets were built based on Ward's script. I just don't know if that's the case, because while some of them COULD be from Ward's vision, it seems like the sets fit the 'prison in space' instead of the wooden planet concept.

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