HN Entertainment’s Nicholas Whitcomb spoke exclusively with creature designer Carlos Huante during a recent in-depth interview that took place on Friday. We talked about what got him into the business along with his artistic influences, then moved on to his feature film creature design work that included the recent Alien franchise films with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. He’s also been involved with many other projects which include Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and a single sequence on Blade Runner 2049.
Carlos was behind the design of the aliens called the Heptapods aka Abbott and Costello from Arrival, he speaks to how that creative process worked with Denis Villeneuve and how they went from conventional aliens to what we eventually got on the screen. He also confirmed to HN Entertainment that he’s worked/working on something secret for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, but couldn’t go into detail for obvious reasons as the film hasn’t even started production and isn’t sure if it will make it into the final film.
HN: I guess jumping over to the work you’ve done with Denis Villeneuve on some of his projects live Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. What kind of creative freedom did you have with Denis working on those properties?
HUANTE: ”I love working with Denis, Denis is awesome. The studio called me to work on Arrival and they told me that Denis Villeneuve had gone through a stack of artwork and portfolios and pulled my work out of the stack, and he said ‘this is the guy that I want’. So that’s what I was told. I was very surprised and happy. Similarly, I had been told by the production designer on Prometheus that Ridley Scott had done that as well. That’s the best feeling, that the work spoke for itself. I say that because it’s better than a trophy, for me. Other people in my industry have their Oscars, I don’t have that, but I have a director that chose my stuff out of a stack of others. Since I don’t have an award to display, I, unfortunately, have to talk about it. I don’t have a statue on the table that speaks for itself. I don’t say this as a need or way of bragging. When clients acknowledge the work it’s simply part of my reward for my hard work.”
“But back to Denis, we hit it off right away. Denis doesn’t always have an exact idea but he has a feeling of what he wants and so I’ll give him stuff and sometimes he’d go off for days, and go invisible. Then he’d come back and tells me what he wants. He did warn me after I’d turn the work in that he was going to go away and digest it..hehe… to me that means he is really thinking about it.. It’s good I love that guy. “
“We went through periods on Arrival were the designs for the creatures were very conventional, I mean it was an alien. As we started and stopped through the year Denis gave no holds bard parameters so I went very esoteric. He gave me two days to go-nuts and I gave him two pages of little thumbnails of ideas that were aliens that were really far-out concepts. One was like folding paper. It would constantly be unfolding itself which is the way it would walk and move. It was a giant, it wasn’t necessarily paper but it felt like it. There were no eyes on it and no face, eight feet tall and it looks like it has multi-limbs but no limbs per se. And that’s how far off I went for some of the ideas. So we then mixed that thinking with the conventional stuff and that’s when I came up with the idea of what ended up in the film, which was the bizarre upper-torso kind of a thing, an anthropomorphic whale creature with the spider hand creature at the end of an umbilical cord. THAT was a really bizarre alien. I can’t believe it made it into the film.”
HN: On Blade Runner 2049, in the whole universe of Blade Runner there’s kind of mention of other worlds and colonies. Did you actually design anything that was off-world for Blade Runner or was that just never part of the process?
HUANTE: “No, nothing like that. I wish we did.. but no… So I got a call saying ’Carlos, Denis is calling he wants you on Blade Runner’… and I said Okay?, I thought, I don’t know what I’m gonna do I don’t do environments…, but it’s Denis and it’s Blade Runner, I’m not gonna tell him no,…and I really like the guy too much and I love working with him so I thought, let’s see what he has for me’…They told me ‘he found something for you’.. ‘Ah, okay I said ..I’ll see what this is, it sounds interesting’.”
“It was just a sequence, that’s all I worked on. The sequence of the old replicants or replicant model display that were floating in the cases and that went through an illustration stage and then into them scanning humans based off of the illustrations I had done and then me getting those then augmenting with a modeler friend of mine and they literally made those things. They printed them out and did some fabrication work over there. It’s a lot of work that the guys did over at the fabrication shop. Other than that I didn’t touch that film, that’s all I did was that sequence. It was a walk-on .”
Carlos confirms that like with Blade Runner 2049, he’s tackling a sequence on Villeneuve’s Dune it’s unknown if it’ll make the movie as the science fiction fantasy film’s production hasn’t even started.
“But I’ve been fortunate enough that Denis brings me on to his projects. Recently I did the same thing for Dune, I walked-on and off. I can’t talk about that film, of course. I know nothing about it other than I did the same thing on that one where I worked briefly and then left. But it was potentially even less involvement than Blade Runner. Depending on whether they use what I did or not.“
We’ll be posting more segments from our fantastic interview with Carlos over the next couple of days, stay tuned.
Please take a moment to follow Carlos Huante at his two Instagram accounts @carlos_huante and @galleryanatom to get a wonderful glimpse into the world of Carlos as he regularly posts his stunning artwork there.