Noah Miller’s pitch for Alien : Alone was really, really simple.
“The Orm: W-Y Mining Vessel, derelict 1811
days, quickly deteriorating.
HOPE: Hyperdine GR-122 Synthetic Unit, left behind, searching for a purpose.
The Specimen: A recently hatched facehugger with no prey.”
Of course there was a bit more to it, but let’s go back a bit to when Miller was in film school. A professor handed him a copy of the script for Alien – a draft by David Giler and Walter Hill – and it was from that script he learned to write.
“It was so incredibly different than other scripts, written in this staccato almost poetic style. It reads so amazingly well, probably the best written script I’ve ever read.” What followed was an extensive study of how Alien was made, “You can follow every aspect of Alien from its origins during Dark Star, through to the director’s cut. [With Alone] I wanted to work as close as possible with the same constraints that existed in the July of 1978. Which meant real props, creature puppetry, and models. These films were designed to be fan homages to Alien, not only was our finished product an homage, so was our production process. Beyond that I wanted to tell a complete story, beginning, middle and end.”
It probably goes without saying that Miller’s favourite Alien film is Ridley Scott’s original, however, he does pay credit to the films that followed. “The franchise as a whole is unique and pretty amazing– I can’t think of another film series that allows for so many voices be heard. Each film is a wildly different interpretation of what the series can and should be. Regardless of anyone’s particular feelings on each film, the fact that there is so much range shown is in and of itself a feat, especially in a genre blockbuster format.”
When the Tongal/ Fox partnership was announced he needed little convincing. “I mean, it’s Alien. One of the absolute greatest films of all time. How could you let the barest possibility of contributing to that world pass by? I certainly couldn’t.”
He completed his pitch with the following…
On the derelict mining ship, “Orm” the synthetic technician Hope finds herself alone. Deemed too expensive to retrieve she has been set adrift. With only a failing MU-TH-UR unit to keep her company she attempts to do her programmed job, keep the ship running. Hope is only restricted from entering one part of the ship, but when MU-TH-UR goes offline she makes her way into a lab where she discovers a living facehugger. With neither being a direct threat to the other, Hope treats the violent parasite like a pet. However, when her pet begins to die she is forced to find a way for it to survive. Repairing the ship she drifts it into shipping lanes and makes contact with a vessel, luring crew on board she pulls one away from the others onto an escape pod, allows her facehugger to implant in the crew member.
He then wrote the script (with some minor change) and created animated storyboards, and that got them the gig. Then the real work began. Thirty thousand dollars and 4-5 months proved to be very tight to get the project finished. “What these other filmmakers created in such a short amount of time with next to no money blows me the hell away.”
As someone who just wants to tell stories, what are his hopes for the future of the series?
“TV series. There’s so much in that world, beyond the creatures, beyond the mythos we’ve seen so far. You’ve got so many elements to play with, so many stories to tell. Worker’s rights, unchecked corporate growth, a morally fungible military, growing AI sentience, and all this with heavy unseen darkness sitting on the darkest edges of the universe that we’ve been pushing into and slowly waking up. Add to that you’ve got cryosleep and long-lived synthetics – you could tell this story across hundreds of years as these different elements are on a collision course for one another.”
Beyond being a filmmaker, he certainly has a knowledge of the franchise that would benefit future projects – citing the deleted (then reinstated) ‘eggmorphing’ as one of his favourite aspects of the Alien. ”Honestly I think that’s way more disturbing than almost any other part, imagine having your body slowly scab over and your organs liquify to become chunks of matter that belong to another being. And living through it all. Chestbursting would be a walk in the park compared to that.”
And when it comes to who would score Miller’s dream Alien TV series – there’s only one choice. “Joel Santos – I mean listen to our score, it’s insane. “