HN Entertainment’s Nicholas Whitcomb and CJ Paschall conducted a fantastic in-depth interview with StudioADI’s Alec Gillis, who has worked on the Alien franchise starting with James Cameron’s Aliens then moved on to create his own own creature effects company with partner Tom Woodruff Jr., which ended up tackling the xenomorphs on Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Alien vs Predator, Alien vs Predator: Requiem, and even Neill Blomkamp’s unmade Alien 5.
While Alec previously told us he’d love to get the chance to tackle female Predators, he’s equally interested in expanding the designs for the xenomorphs as well including the Alien Queen variant, the Alien King. StudioAdi was previously behind the Dog xenomorph in Alien 3 and the Pred-Alien in AVP: Requiem, so they obviously have tackled different types in the past.
HN: Jumping back to Alien, there’s been a lot of different Xenomorph variants in the comics and video games, I don’t know if you’ve seen this but Sideshow Collectibles sculpted a really cool maquette of an Alien King. Is that something you’d like to tackle in a project someday?
GILLIS: “Yeah, I think the Alien King was done by our friends at Legacy. I’ve always been kind of bummed that you have such great, cool, interesting Xenomorph designs in games and comics, and when it comes to the movies, everybody pulls back and gets worried about it. And then the chance that we get was with the Newborn, and I’m not a huge fan of the Newborn. The same thing happens on the Predator [franchise], and it’s a weird thing too because, to me, it is a Xeno-morph right? We started doing it on Alien 3, like well this comes out of an ox so it should run on all fours. Comes out of an ox, a dog, whatever, it should run on all fours. It has taken on characteristics of the host, and in fact, that influenced the paint scheme on Alien 3. We were looking at the concrete and saying ‘Well this is a chameleon-like creature that can mimic its surroundings,’ maybe it can’t just change and suddenly whoop ‘Look at me I’ve got pipes and nuts and bolts all over me,’ and then whoop ‘I’m as smooth as glass’.”
“I’m all for [more], it’s called a Xenomorph, let’s have different variations. I like a lot of the stuff in the Ridley Scott movies, that they’re like proto this and that because I think there’s just tons of room for different variants, specifically of the Alien. If you go to Instagram and start hashtagging all the different versions of Aliens that are out there, there’s some really great looking Aliens that people are sculpting in their garages or their living rooms. I would very much love to do some more of that stuff that really does a departure.”
“So yes, I would love to be involved with anything that changes up the Aliens, and in terms of collectibles, we have purchased merchandising rights to a certain amount of stuff through Fox. But our deal with them is they can only be characters that we’ve created for Alien 3, Resurrection, and Shane Black’s Predator. So we are not free to create some crazy version [of the Alien and Predator], but if we get hired by a collectibles company, as Legacy was hired to do the King Alien, then we can do some riff ourselves. So, I guess the answer is a big yes to all that stuff.”
Alec Gillis is currently on various social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram, also consider following the official Studio ADI YouTube channel and Instagram account for some really amazing effects videos that the team over there posts on a regular basis. There might be a new Demolition Man video on the horizon, the channel and Alec’s social media accounts are totally worth checking out to get some excellent insight into the world of practical effects.