AVP: Peter Briggs vs Paul Anderson

leading from


a)  Challenges in the job market
Peter Briggs was working in film companies as a runner and worked his way up becoming a cameraman, and got his union card.

However towards the end of the 1980s the British film studios were closing down and it was very tough to get a job. As a cameraman there are 3000 people all vying for one job and he thought to himself, "this is ridiculous"

b) Turning to script writing
Peter had been writing scripts for years and he thought to himself "Let's see if I can get some representation, get my career back on track." So he sent them off to various agencies, and so William Morros and ICM both offered to represent him the same day.

Those scripts consisted of a few things such as a comedy, an adaptation, and a couple of original dramas, and looking back on them he was not very impressed with the work he had done on them. He wondered "Jesus Christ, why did anybody hire on on the say-so of this?" but still someone must have seen something in them.

c) Developing scifi projects for Paramount
Initially he went with ICM, they represented him for a year but they really didn't help him very much at all.

Then he spent a year with Paramount UK helping to develop science fiction projects.

The ideas was that he'd develop a bunch of them and then he'd go away and write one and they would make it. However he noticed that they didn't know what they were doing or how to develop the rich vein of genre material.

He tried to introduce them to William Gibson cyberpunk but they wanted all these old science fiction projects that were prematurely old.

It got to a point where he mentioned that they should get Starship Troopers and they responded "No, nobody wants to see any old Heinlein crap"

 He then said "Look, it's a fucking classic! Somebody is going to do this" and then the following  week, it was bought up by Tristar for Paul Verhoeven.

So it got to that point where he thought to get further on his track "Right, I've got to write myself a decent enough sample to get a re-write or something with Joel Silver, to this this into high gear"



d) Adapting the Alien Vs Predator comics
He looked around and the very first Alien Vs Predator comic was just about to come out and he thought "That's it".

Then he wrote his Alien vs Predator script on an Amstrad computer in a six week period  in 1991, finishing in September, to basically get out of a development grind at Paramount UK, in a desperate hope that he could use it as a sample to land a rewrite gig with someone like Joel Silver.

He wrote it, finished it and it was possibly just as the last comic book in the series came out.

He thought that the comic book was great and faultless, and it showed that Dark Horse put thought into it.

He was also a fan of Phil Norwood's art, who did the original artwork for the comic book.

e) Adapting Alien Vs Predator
Peter took the bare frame of the story, removed everything from it that didn't work, and put in a whole lot more material.

So he thought that there was probably about 70-75% of his own creativity in there.

He handed it in to his agent , Steve Kenis, the head of the William Morris agency in London, who was friendly with Larry Gordon who had a deal with Fox.

Steve looked horrified, because he had no idea that Peter was writing it, and assumed rightly it'd be a tough sell.

f) Getting the script to Larry's lap
The agent said to Peter "Well, I've got to go across to LA next week," he was flying over to the states for meetings, and so he went and he took it to Larry Gordon who just so happened to have been asked the week before by Fox to come up with this.

Steve met Larry, they talked and Steve phoned Peter from LA to tell him that he bought the script the same day, Peter sat heavily on the stairs to recieve the call.

As it happened Larry had only been discussed for the first time at Fox literally days before Steve gave him the script. Perhaps there seemed something synchronous about Peter's first sale.

g) Joe Roth champions AVP
Joe Roth at Fox was the big champion of the script, he authorized the second draft, which was a tidy up and Peter was really happy with it.

Some of the characters disappeared from it, a lot of the dialogue was re-worked, the beginning changed, some of the extra sequences would be different...

There was about 70% of my first draft remaining in the second.  At one point there was even serious talk about tweaking the project to make it a Schwarzenegger vehicle.

h) Stumbling block
The huge stumbling block to the project all along was the producers.

There was big resistance mostly from the ALIEN camp, particularly he heard from David Giler, who he believed went down on print as saying something like, "I'm violently opposed to this, because it dilutes the whole ALIEN franchise."

And this was just was Peter thought that ALIEN 3 did to the franchise all by itself.

i) Joe Roth leaves
However Joe Roth left, he went off to Disney, someone new came in to fill his place, and the project floundered.

There wasn't any one strong person who was going to fight for it, and there was in-fighting among the producers about who would get what percentage of the grosses.

It was all muscle-flexing over who would get the credit, and the thing just went into limbo. 

Peter felt quite sure that if Joe Roth had stayed at Fox, that Alien Resurrection would not have gone ahead and his draft of Alien Vs Predator would have gone into Production.

He realised that it would have cost a lot more to make that Paul Anderson's movie which turned out to be sixty million dollars, while he estimated the budget for his own script being somewhere between sixty to eighty million dollars.



j) Loss of the Amstrad disk with the original AVP script
The first version that he wrote as a writing sample would later leak out. In 1992 he swapped his Amstrad computer for an Apple Mac and ended up loosing his Amstrad disk.

Someone had transcribed his script and pirated on the internet years later and he was able to cut and paste this into Final draft and once more have an electronic copy again.

At the time Peter didn't expect it to be taken so serious but he wrote it quickly.
 
k) Meeting  Gillis and Woodruff
At the time that Renny Harlin was still about to direct Alien 3,  Peter Briggs with his friend the Finnish film journalist Juhani Nurmi concocted to get H R Giger on board as Juhani knew him quite well. (However their attempt to get him involved didn't leave him very happy in the end)

Because of the connection with Giger, he was invited down to Pinewood in the summer of 1991 to meet Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff who showed him around their creature shop and told him all kinds of horror stories about the shoot.

At the time he was still writing Alien Vs Predator and he told them about this and they look at him as this 25 year old young man that they'd never heard of and responded something to the effect of "well, we can't see how that could possibly work."

(It would be 12 years later that Gillis and Woodruff would end up doing the effects for Paul Anderson's Alien vs Predator.)

l) Briggs Watches the final film
Peter Briggs thought that for Alien Vs Predator movie's budget which he heard from various sources was lower than that which was bandied around, it was an amazing piece of art direction. He enjoyed the icebreaker miniatures

 He thought that the aliens had never moved better and the animatronics were wonderful.

He also thought that the alien queen was a fabulous piece of work. However he did wish that ADI wouldn't alter the sculpt of the regular Aliens.

He briefly enjoyed the first fight between the Alien and the Predator in Anderson's movie, he enjoyed Henrikson's presence in. and found interesting the idea.

But was he actually impressed with the Antarctic setting after they turned up in heatwave conditions in the movies.

He thought that there were some really interesting things in Anderson’s third act of ‘AvP’ that’s up there on the screen,and they looked suspiciously to him like material in the third act of his first draft.

m) What Briggs didn't like
But was he actually impressed?

He would not mention what he blurted out when he read the "Bullet-time Facehugger" shot in the script.

He came out of the cinema afterwards feeling perhaps empty and depressed.

He didn't like the inclusion of the "Alien Finger Blooding" scene from the comic book and there the woman is allowing the Predator to allow blood from the alien finger to mark the woman's forehead. Peter Briggs stayed away from this because it seemed ridiculous.

He thought “you know, I’ve been championing this thing for 13 years…and what a sterile letdown. Why did I bother?

Perhaps the answer was to go off somewhere and get very drunk but he just went home to read a book instead.



n) Anderson's view of Briggs' script
Paul Anderson had commented that when he read Peter Briggs' script, he thought that it was like a comic book, but Peter acknowledged that he had used a few elements from the Randy Stradley comic material, such as the captive queen, the hover bikes, and the main female character that he created as a jumping off point. 

o) Reports of other scripts
Paul Anderson claimed that he had been many script drafts at the studio before he came on board but as far as Peter Briggs remembered, there was his draft and there was the James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox draft and that was all the material that was presented at the WGA arbitration.

Afterwards DeMonaco would go on to work on to adapt the Driver computer game for Paul Anderson.

p) Takayuki Takeya's Alien Pile
Peter had always been impressed by Giger's original version which was for him the most realistic looking of the beasts to date.

However he marveled at the hyper-elongated head of the Takayuki Takeya Japanese model kit of the Alien and this was the look that he would have wanted for his creatures if he had directed this thing.

This was an extreme to which Peter would have gone.



Takayuki Takeya's Alien Pile sculpture by Sideshow Collectibles


Sources Quotes
  1. Peter Briggs: I always knew I wanted to direct. It's a familiar story - everyone and their aunt wants to direct. So I figured, I'll go to film school and - bang! - be directing by 23 or 24. Didn't happen that way. I dropped out of college because I'd moved down to London to move in with a girl. I started working in film companies as a runner, worked my way up, became a cameraman, got my union card. Problem was, towards the end of the 1980s, all the studios were closing down over here and it was really tough. As a cameraman, there are 3000 guys behind your back vying for the job, and I just thought, "this is ridiculous."
    Anyway. I'd been writing scripts for years and I thought, let's see if I can get some representation, get my career back on track. So I sent them off to various agencies, and William Morris and ICM both offered to represent me the same day. As for the scripts, there was a comedy, an adaptation, a couple of original drama things; not very many. And looking back on them, they were disastrous. I think, Jesus Christ, why did anybody want to hire me on the say-so of this? But, somebody must've seen something in them.
    So I initially went with ICM - who after a year of representation managed to do bupkiss for me. But, during that time I spent a year with Paramount UK helping develop science-fiction projects. The idea was, I'd develop a bunch of them, and then I'd go away and write one and they'd make it. The problem was, they didn't actually know what they were doing, how to develop the rich vein of genre material. I was throwing them all this William Gibson cyberpunk bait, and they wanted all these creaking science fiction projects that were past their sell-by date the second they were born.
    It sort of reached a head when I said we should get STARSHIP TROOPERS. And they said "No, nobody wants to see any of that old Heinlein crap." And I replied heatedly, "Look, it's a f***ing classic! Somebody is going to do this" - and the next week, it was bought up by Tristar for Paul Verhoeven.
    That was it, that's when I thought, right, I've got to write myself a decent enough sample to get a re-write or something with Joel Silver, to kick this into high gear.
    I looked around and the very first ALIEN VS PREDATOR comic was just about to come out, and I thought - "That's it". And I wrote it. I finished it, I think, just as the last comic came out. The comic's great, you can't fault it. Dark Horse, to their credit, thought about putting it together, and I'm a big fan of Phil Norwood's art, who did the original artwork - great guy, great storyboard artist, the guy's a hero in the field. 
    (Peter Briggs Interview by Andy Diggle 13th August 1996 http://www.alienscollection.com/andydiggle.html)
  2. Mr. D: What is your relationship with ‘Alien vs Predator’ for anyone who doesn’t know?
    Peter Briggs: Okay. As you’re twisting my arm, let’s pull the corpse out of hypersleep and whack it over the head again…! Well, I wrote that first draft in a 6 week period in 1991, basically to get out of a development grind at Paramount UK that was driving me nuts, in the desperate hope that I could use it as a sample to land a rewrite gig with someone like Joel Silver. Weirdly, I sold it overnight instead to 20th Century Fox, and it set the project along its tortured path. If Joe Roth had stayed at Fox, we could have been spared “Alien Resurrection”, and my draft might have happened. Though it would have cost a whole helluva lot more to make than Paul Anderson’s….er, tale. Probably a 100 mill. At least 60-80. (bloody-disgusting.com/ August 29th 2004)
  3. Peter Briggs: Here’s a fun anecdote: I wrote “A vs P” originally – oh, God…did you hear that? I actually said “A vs P”. I hate that thing…it’s like “T2″ or “LXG”! Anyway, I wrote it on an Amstrad computer, which was about one step above a Univac Room Filler. In ’92 I swapped to an Apple Mac, which I’ve used ever since. And I ended up losing the Amstrad disk, which was some weird, unreadable proprietary brand anyway. It wasn’t until whoever it was transcribed it and pirated it onto the web years later, that I was able to cut-and-paste it into Final Draft and have an electronic copy again. So, thank-you, Internet Leaker, wherever you were! (bloody-disgusting.com/ August 29th 2004)
  4. Peter Briggs: I have to say that for the budget of “A vs P”, which I’ve actually heard from a couple of sources is lower than what’s been bandied around, it’s a very fine looking piece of art-direction by those guys. Really decent sets. The icebreaker miniatures were nicely done. The Aliens have never moved better, as well — just wonderful animatronics. That Queen was a fabulous piece of work. I do wish that A.D.I. wouldn’t alter the sculpt of the regular Aliens, though. Giger’s original version? Still the most “realistic” looking of the beasts, to date. Have you ever seen that Takayuki Takeya Japanese model kit of the Alien, with the hyper-elongated head? Man, that thing is so cool. That’s what my creatures would have looked like if I had directed this thing. I’d have gone to extremes. (bloody-disgusting.com/ August 29th 2004)
  5. Peter Briggs: There was a moment, during that first fight with the Alien and the Predator, where I did get goosebumps and a 13-year flashback. But it was fleeting. And it’s always good to see Henrikson. But I don’t know about “impressed”? Can I plead the Fifth? When I first read the thing was set in Antarctica, after diligently setting the ground rules for the Predators turning up in heatwave conditions in the first two movies…and I won’t mention what I blurted out loud when I read that misjudged “Bullet-time Facehugger” shot in the script. (bloody-disgusting.com/ August 29th 2004)
  6. Mr. D: But, “A vs P”?
    Peter Briggs: I came out of the cinema (from “A vs P”) afterwards, and I felt… I don’t know. Empty. Depressed, actually. I thought: “you know, I’ve been championing this thing for 13 years…and what a sterile letdown. Why did I bother?” It was interesting. I thought about going off and getting very drunk, but just went home and read a book instead. There are some really interesting things in Anderson’s third act of ‘AvP’ that’s up there on the screen, that look suspiciously like stuff in the third act of my first draft, don’t you think? (bloody-disgusting.com/ August 29th 2004)
  7. Mr. D: In an interview in Fangoria magazine, Anderson says he’d read your version, and that it was more like the comic book. Would you comment on that?
    Peter Briggs:
    Well, inasmuch as I used a few elements from the Randy Stradley comic material — the captive queen, the hoverbikes, and the main female character he created, as a jumping-off point…but my “A vs P” wasn’t an adaptation of the comic book. If you put the two side by side, they were disparately different stories. I mean, look at Anderson’s draft. He’s gone back into the comic-books and quite calculatedly pinched the Predator “Alien Finger Blooding”, for example, from there, which I deliberately didn’t use. Would YOU let someone come near you with something hissing with Alien blood? I sure as hell wouldn’t!
    You know, I did read that Fangoria piece. Anderson made a couple of nutty comments in there: that there’d been many drafts at the studio before he came onboard? Uh…no. There was me, and then there was the DeMonaco & Fox draft. And that was it. All this material was presented to the WGA arbitration, so I can tell you that for a fact. I find it a bit curious that after all this, DeMonaco’s now doing an adaptation of the “Driver” videogame for Paul Anderson, though…

    (bloody-disgusting.com/ August 29th 2004)
  8. Mr. D: In an interview in Fangoria magazine, Anderson says he’d read your version, and that it was more like the comic book. Would you comment on that?
    Peter Briggs:
    Well, in as much as I used a few elements from the Randy Stradley comic material — the captive queen, the hoverbikes, and the main female character he created, as a jumping-off point…but my “A vs P” wasn’t an adaptation of the comic book. If you put the two side by side, they were disparately different stories. I mean, look at Anderson’s draft. He’s gone back into the comic-books and quite calculatedly pinched the Predator “Alien Finger Blooding”, for example, from there, which I deliberately didn’t use. Would YOU let someone come near you with something hissing with Alien blood? I sure as hell wouldn’t!
    You know, I did read that Fangoria piece. Anderson made a couple of nutty comments in there: that there’d been many drafts at the studio before he came onboard? Uh…no. There was me, and then there was the DeMonaco & Fox draft. And that was it. All this material was presented to the WGA arbitration, so I can tell you that for a fact. I find it a bit curious that after all this, DeMonaco’s now doing an adaptation of the “Driver” videogame for Paul Anderson, though…

    (bloody-disgusting.com/ August 29th 2004) 
  9.  IGN: What do you feel has been your most important professional accomplishment to date?
    Peter Briggs: Depending on the way you interpret that question, there are a couple. Finally learning to keep my mouth shut would be one. I'm brutally honest, which gets me into trouble, especially working in a business where nepotism is endemic, and idiocy prevails. My dad used to tell me that as a kid, my favorite phrase was: "but, why?" I'm a hothead, which people often misinterpret as arrogance. But I'm trying to get better.
    In terms of what I've written, "accomplishment" would be deciding initially to write Alien vs. Predator on spec, despite various people telling me it'd be a pointless exercise. It got me noticed, and I couldn't ask more than that. Although given its ultimate fate... (http://uk.ign.com, 6th December 2004)
  10. IGN: Which project do you feel didn't live up to what you envisioned?
    Peter Briggs: All of them, which is primarily the reason I'm striving hard to direct my next project. It's demoralizing seeing your work get strained through the filter of moronic executives, and directors that oughtn't ever be attached. The one that really makes me want to screech like Godzilla and stomp buildings to rubble, is Alien vs. Predator. I don't even want to start on that... (http://uk.ign.com, 6th December 2004)
  11. Peter Briggs: I finished my “Alien vs Predator” draft late September 1991. It was literally only written as a “get attention” sample, in the hope I’d maybe get a rewrite on some other movie off the back of it. My then-agent (Steve Kenis, the head of the William Morris agency in London) was friendly with producer Larry Gordon, who had a deal with Fox. Steve was coincidentally flying over to the States for meetings. Steve met Larry. They talked. I remember sitting heavily down on the stairs when Steve phoned me from L.A. to tell me Larry bought the script the same day. And then round-after-tortured-round of additional producer in-fighting killed the project dead on that go-around during the next year. (I was told later there was even serious talk about tweaking the project to make it a Schwarzenegger vehicle: Arnie was briefly attached to the pre-Stallone version of “Judge Dredd” I worked on for Tony Scott, so I can only imagine how that would have gone. More recently, the Strause Brothers in interview at the time of their “Requiem” sequel admitted they’d toyed with attempting my more-expensive outer-space,more sci-fi script, but went instead for the different Earthbound story you saw on the screen in 2007.) (http://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/3354279/alien-vs-predator-writer-responds-sigourney-weaver-exclusive//
  12. Peter Briggs: Larry Gordon would later tell me “Alien vs Predator” had only been discussed for the first time at Fox literally days before Steve gave him the script in September 1991, which is why I was in the right place at the right time to make my first sale. Maybe they were in a panic about “Alien 3”…I have no idea. And so when I hear Sigourney Weaver recounting her killing off Ripley in “Alien 3” because she’d heard Fox were talking about doing “Alien vs Predator”, despite the fact our project was first spoken about and initiated well over a year (not even counting Vincent Ward’s involvement!) after her movie had gone into active production, I really have to roll my eyes at her claims.
    (http://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/3354279/alien-vs-predator-writer-responds-sigourney-weaver-exclusive/
     

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