Welcome everyone to the AlienDay Celebrations for 2020!!
The start to this years was rather rough… however let’s all take this Alien Day to celebrate something that brings us all together. For myself (Project: Acheron) and Carlos Huante (Alien Creature Content Artist and More!) at least, that is the world of the creatures in the films of the Alien Universe. These creatures being the foundation for what has made these films so memorable!
This AlienDay i was fortunate enough to catch up with Mr Huante via a written interview and procure insight into his thoughts and opinions on the Alien Universe, the creature that are in its and were never to be, and his work and inspirations for it!
Q1: So, first up I would like to know how it was that you originally got into art and what drew you towards working specifically in creature design?
A1: “Well .. i can say that I always drew weird things.. always. If it wasn’t Dinosaurs it was monters or my only superhero The Incredible Hulk.. Monster movies were a thing that my whole family liked except my sisters of course.. my father likes fantastic stories but my mother really liked monster movies.. so there’s that as a foundation.. but i was about 11 or 12 when Star wars hit the theaters which means i was about 14 when Alien was in the theaters.. i was more than interested before Alien and I was all in after. I lived just outside the area where Rick Baker and Rob Bottin grew up. I was very inspired by both of them..but I didn’t want to be a makeup artist.. i just loved drawing and sculpting. I had met fellows who had like interests but different skill sets. So we’d share our skills on Halloween projects. It started that way .. i just kept sculpting and drawing till i had a “near” pro portfolio by the time i decided to take my first drawing class after high school. I say “near” because it became the foundation of my pro portfolio.. i still had the work from that time in my portfolio till i moved up north to work at ILM. Which was after I had a whole career down in L.A.. After visiting many schools and colleges I realized i didn’t need school for what i did but i liked life drawing for the practice. . One of my life drawing instructors, which was the only type of class i took, happened to work at Filmation on He Man the animated series.. because of my expressed interest this instructor invited me to visit his workplace and i was given an unplanned interview. I got a job as a runner and worked my way into the industry as a layout artist by the following season. But once I discovered I could make a living as a designer I never looked back…I was working on Ghostbusters the animated series by the following year. and so my career continued as a character designer for Animation.. After years as a character designer for action adventure animated series I was very much building my interest in film..so while i was still in Animation I had been given a tour of a place called Dinamation which builds full size animatronic Dinos for museums around the world.. they hired me as an illustrator. The problem was that I wasn’t there for a job. I already had a job on the Ghostbusters but I said yes. I worked it out where they allowed me to work from home for the Ghostbusters which allowed me to work at both jobs full time. Through that job I met some life long friends who went off to be huge artists in the film industry, Miles Teves and Jose Fernandez..After a couple years Dinamation had a full company lay off so i went freelance for several shops that I stumbled into thanks to my friend Miles Teves. Chiodo brothers hired me to sculpt some prehistoric mammals for stop motion animated commercials..years go by and I’m working for small makeup shops and Tv animation Studios. One day out of the blue while working on GI Joe extreme I was given a call from Rick Baker to go work on MIB..of course i said yes. That was my first full-time Live action film gig. and I’ve been in film since. That’s an abbreviated version of how it started for me.”
Q2: When creating the creatures that you do, particularly your creatures featured in the alien universe, what inspiration do you draw from and why?
A2: “Giger was my main source of artistic inspiration. I wanted everything to look like his hand was on it and not cheapen it.. if I created a new character it had to be in the universe and not become a creature-y creature if you know what I mean.. it still had to be “other” like Giger’s work.. “
Q3: If you could change one thing, literally anything about the alien franchise or universe, what would it be and why would you do it?
A3: “heheheh.. okay. if I had the power I’d eliminate all the Alien films after the first one…Aliens is good fun but it’s the film that created too much order out of the Aliens and I really disliked that.. I do not like the idea of them being a hive or there being a queen.. I liked the mystery.. it was much more interesting . The Alien in the first film even moved weird.. after that they moved like men or like an animal.. very boring… anyway that’s just me…”
Q4: What creatures and/or concepts that you have worked on do you wish had made it into the Alien films that you have worked on?
A4: “I’d have liked it if they made my design of the Deacon..not that thing at the end of Prometheus which made me ill in my stomach for two days.. I’d have also liked it if they had used my Belugahead for Fifield instead of turning him into Freddy Krueger.”
Q5: What was your experience working with Ridley Scott on the Alien films and how did that experience affect you going forward in your career?
A5: “Well honestly I was already in my mid 40’s so I had done everything I wanted to do already by this point, so i thought… I had no idea there would be another Alien film with Ridley attached. One day I got a call from Arthur Max. Arthur told me with his British-y accent that Ridley had looked through a stack of portfolios and picked me to be the creature guy for his new prequel to Alien.. I had a stupid smile on my face for days.. understand I was working for ILM at the time..I had to tell someone.. so I walked over to the head of the art dept. who was/is also my good friend and i told him about the phone call. We had a good chat about it and leveled down to geek mode for a moment or two. Ridley was awesome.. it was as good an experience as I could have hoped for.. the man loves art.. he just loves it.. so it was always a pleasure to be frank and opinionated about my likes and dislikes with him.. he liked talking about art.. lots of fun.. great man.. it was a highlight for me for sure. I created music for all my artwork and he actually used my music for the pitch to the studio.. the studio actually liked it a lot from what I heard..I really enjoyed working on that film..and honestly any chance I get to work with Ridley I’m on..”
Q6: Out of all the creatures in the Alien universe including the expanded universe, what creature do you think would have to be your favorite and why?
A6: “The original Xenomorph .. I just loved that first shot.. I still stop everything when that scene just before it kills Brett comes on. I still watch it with the same feeling I had as a 14 year old.. It’s beautifully horrific and mesmerizing…“
Q7: How do you feel about the treatment of Elizabeth Shaw in the prequel films? And how if you had the choice would you have liked her story to have occurred and progressed?
A7: “I wasn’t happy that she got killed off.. she was one of the best things about Prometheus. I liked Idris and The David character..the scientists were severely dumb and had super weak conclusions in Prometheus. They were super hero’s of stupid .. But they were right about there being something there on the planetoid. I’ll give them that.. In the script I read for Covenant..She lived and had escaped the clutches of David.. She helped the crew escape David …in that script there were experiments done on Engineers and some were still alive.”
Q8: Out of all your works, including, art, film, visual and special effects, including even your novels, what would you consider is your best work, and can you explain why you feel that way?
A8: “I don’t know if can answer this yet.. i tend to categorize my work.. although i love the commercial work i do for film games and animation it’s not my voice entirely… I’m designing for a narrative..I like my book Blind Spot a lot because i was able to say a lot in there with images and words. I’m writing stories at the moment and maybe those will fit in the category of being my favorite works.. whether they are the best or not is up to others to decide.. my tastes are usually not commercially acceptable.. or anywhere near being mainstream.. Art must speak and sometimes its not what people want to hear.. or they don’t like the way you are saying whatever it is that you are saying with your work. So in short it’s a tough one to answer at this time. Im still searching it out.. But as i said my book Blind Spot is the first pass on that road. Trying to carve out a clear path.”
Q9: If you could decide how you would like a third alien prequel to go, how would you progress the story and what creature or creatures would you have featured in the film?
A9: “Well just as a member of the audience i want David dead.. heheh.. he’s a menace and the mirror of his creators shortcomings. The story of David to me is the Genesis story of The Nephillim. About how fallen angels / not demons .. the fallen angels removed the their state to be able to mate with humans.. using technology? Not unlike David.. Although David is more of a Nephillim himself.. he’s a creation creating life in his own image in an abominable way because he cannot reproduce like humans can.. so he produces things that mirror his interests and shortcomings.. if a human is born from faulty parents a he or she can still overcome those challenges and do something great.. but if you are a programmed being?.That being said i would like the Ultramorph to show up and there to be the revenge of the Engineers on David.”
Q10: Okay so a sneaky last question I have for you, which I don’t know if you’ll be able to answer or if you’re allowed to or whatever, is, with everything that going on currently in the world of film, what projects are coming up for you, working on anything big? Or anything Alien?
A10: “Well i worked on Dune but not sure what’s making it into the film.. There’s a series coming on Netflix which I’m not sure i can mention yet. Its just about to drop in May I believe. It has to do with Nuns fighting Demons. .. and actually there’s another series i worked on briefly for Ridley.. not Alien related.. i keep hearing Alien/Prometheus rumors but nothing yet..I did some design work for the latest Season of Rick and Morty…”