Alien: Startled cat on the seat

leading from



a) Idea of the cat in the seat startled
They had a scene where they needed to shoot Ripley, the last surviving crew member desperately looking for the cat to rescue, to take along to the shuttle since they are going to blow the whole ship up . So there was a scene where the cat was sleeping in the control seat, and she comes crawling in and finally sees it and startles the cat by touching a button that made the seat fly forwards, a cheap thrill but what this kind of genre wanted just to keep the viewers attention and the cat runs off, and she has to grab it, put it into this little box, and run out.



b) Getting the cat on the chair
They had to get a cat to sleep on a small chair. Ron Cobb went to watch the situation take because there was the crew on this entire spaceship set, the control room, the lights, the camera, the dolly , the director, the assistant director, and the makeup people and all the actors and there were assorted little cat cages that they had full of cats for different takes because once the cat got startled, they had to use a different cat, and so they all looked alike



c) Filming the shot
They would all sit around there very tense and quiet, waiting, and everybody is being very quiet while someone is trying to get the cat to go to sleep on this control seat.
Finally an assistant director with his loud megaphone is staying "Stand by!"
Everyone's getting ready and finally he says, "What? It's asleep! It's asleep!"
Someone says "Go!" and someone comes out and does the scene they shoot
"Here kitty kitty. Here kitty kitty." goes on until they startle the cat and they had to do this all over again, and get another cat to be calm and wait for it to go to sleep so they could startle this as well.



 

Source Quote
  1. Ridley Scott: Sigourney does the extraordinary thing of going back for a cat, where maybe her only real relationship on the space ship is the cat.  (alien-20th-anniversary-dvd-ridley-scott)
  2. Ridley Scott:Ah, yes Sigourney oddly enough, erm, going back for a cat, well, she's looking for Jones, is interesting because it shows a side of Sigourney which is er, softer and er, it's never really been introduced in the film up to now, but I think was interesting because you started to suspect the cat, so I wanted to keep the paranoia going in every direction now, particularly at the end because when you get to the end the cat is in the coffin with her or the hypersleep or the... with her... er one.... I think most of the audience were convinced that the cat had an alien...er the next alien inside it.
    (Ripley enters the control room)
    There's even low key life.. light levels, it's very tricky, because we're pretty well wide open on spherical...o-on I'm sorry, anamorphic, and erm, we saw a little bit of out of focus there. It just shows how few takes I was doing. At this point, I was really running against the gun. Great key now, we got a great cue coming in. And at.. course here, I wanted to promote the idea that Sigourney was next. It'sh is pretty obvious thing to be doing at this point. We want to put her in direct jeopardy, and I was always concerned about would the audience think, "why the hell is she going back for the cat?", but nobody seems to question it. Show's we got a whole bunch of animal loves out there. (1:28:00)
    (Sigourney finds the cat)
    She touched a seat button, that's what made the seat fly forwards, a cheap, a cheap thrill, but that's what this kind of genre needs, is you've got to keep coming up with original, ways of keeping sustaining of attention.
    (alien-20th-anniversary-dvd-ridley-scott)  
  3. (1:27:31) (1:29:15) Ridley Scott: Again would I buy Jonesy today? I didn't even think about it in those days,  I thought why not, you know, you have a cat, she'd be attached to the cat, like I've got dogs, I'd do anything for my dogs, would I go back for my dogs, absolutely.  (alien commentary from alien quadrilogy)
  4. Ron Cobb: They had a scene where we wanted to shoot the last surviving crew member desperately looking for the cat to rescue, to take if they are going to blow the whole ship up, and she's looking for the cat. So they had to have a scene where the cat was sleeping in the control seat, and she comes crawling in and finally sees it and startles the cat by touching a button and the seat jumps a little and the cat runs off, and she has to grab it, put it into this little box, and run out.

    The whole thing, of course, was to get this cat to sleep in this little chair. So I just went out there one day and saw this ludicrous situation because here is the crew on this entire spaceship set, the control room, the lights, the camera, the dolly, the director, and the assistant director, and the make-up people and all the actors, and the assorted little cats cages that they had full of cats for different takes because once the cat got startled, they had to use a different cat, so they all look alike. 

    We're all sitting around there very tense, waiting, and everybody is being very quiet while someone is trying to get this cat to go to sleep on this control seat. So you're sitting there  and everybody is being very quiet, and finally the assistant director with this very loud megaphone - -  the public address system was shot -- saying, "Stand by!

    Everybody's getting read and ready, and finally he says , "What? It's asleep! It's asleep!!" and somebody says, "Go!" and everybody comes out and does the scene, and they shoot, "Here kitty kitty. Here kitty kitty, " going along until they startle the cat. And they have to do this all over again, and they have to get this other cat, and they have to be calm, calm and wait for this cat to go to sleep. It was amazing. Just amazing because the whole deck of the spaceship was filled. (Rocket's Blast Comicollector # 148) 

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