(Production Assistant for Boss Film FX Creature Shop)
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did you get involved in PREDATOR?
- I had been doing storyboard work for a number of years, for animation, TV and films, and a special effects friend told me they (Boss Film FX) was looking for production assistants. So I sent my resume and a bunch of photos, they liked what they saw and hired me. I was first hired as a puppeteer on BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, then, a few weeks later, was called in for PREDATOR...
- Do you
remember when and how long you worked on this project?
- I was hired with a bunch of other young fellers, on a day-by-day basis. In fact, I was laid off with about 6 other guys at the end of the first week, and hired back later, that same day, with one other guy. They were terribly behind and over worked at the time, doing many projects, a car commercial that featured aliens collecting cars, POLTERGEIST 2, SOLAR BABIES and a coupler of other things... I think I worked on PREDATOR a total of three weeks.
was your task, exactly, on this show?
- As a production assistant, you are basically a slave. I helped grunt heavy molds in and out of giant ovens, poured foam latex, you name it...
the (unused) Predator costume, you said (on your online resume) that you worked
on "assorted corpses & body parts". Could you elaborate on that?
Were they used in the film?
- Mostly, there were two of us working on the dead bodies that the Predator had hung from the trees. We "stippled" latex into these head to toe 2 piece fiberglass molds of the dead gutted bodies. Using a square of sponge dipped into liquid latex, then stippled into the molds. I think we made 4 of those dead bodies --you see them strung up in the trees in the film, then they are cut down. One had a jointed metal skeleton inside, but, due to the weight, we made the others with wooden dowle skeletons. Much easier on our backs! Once the insides of the mold halves were stippled with 6-8 layers of latex, we suspended the skeletons inside, sealed the molds and filed them with foam latex. They were then send up to painting, where Steve Wang did the final paint jobs on them.
- So Steve
Wang worked on PREDATOR when at Boss Film, then, later, when at Stan Winston
- Yep! In addition to the bodies, I helped pour silicone "guts". We made garbage can sized drums, full of fake guts, in various colors. Very disgusting looking stuff!
Rick Baker involved in the project before they contracted Boss Film?
- I'm unaware of any involvement by Rick Baker, but I'm sure he was probably approached. I'd bet that, at some point, every FX house was asked!
they first consider to use stop-motion before finally choosing the costume
way for the Predator?
- I don't know anything about that. It's possible though...
- Do you
know who designed the look of the costume you worked on? Didn't William Stout
sketch some preliminary designs?
- I'm not sure who did the final design of the (unused) Predator, but it may have been Steve Johnson. I'd seen a bunch of sketches for the various aliens of the car commercial, and a few for THE LOST BOYS, at his office, that were just fantastic... And lots of photos of old people, too (for reference, I assume)!
sure wasn't a good period for Steve Johnson: he had just been fired from JOJO
DANCER, YOUR LIFE IS CALLING, then his costume was not used on PREDATOR, and,
finally, he was not hired on THE LOST BOYS!
- I remember, one day, [Alex Winter] the actor from BILL & TED EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, who played one of the vampires in THE LOST BOYS, was at the shop...
you precisely describe me the unused Predator costume you worked on?
- The funny thing is I never really got to see the thing fully assembled (the suit that is). I did see it in pieces, etc., but never the full final Predator. Yet, there were a couple of maquettes used as reference that I saw. The final design was very bug-ish: a small bug-like head, with mandibles; long arm extensions with long claws; the legs were double-jointed with that backward joint, and long spike filled toes and claws. If you have seen Stan Winston's Pumpkinhead, that design was pretty much anatomically what the unused Predator looked like...
I know it (the Boss suit) had lots of long thick claws, and spines... And may have been covered in scales, but I can't remember for sure (on that point). I still have a few of the claws. They were made of cast resin, semi-clear!
- Do you
have any idea of its height, though? I have heard about 2,10 meters (approx.
- This thing was at least 7 feet tall!
- I have
also heard about some red suit created to be used for the "hole in the
jungle" effects... Was there two costumes or what?
- I know that the Winston Studios did FX work with a red suit. R/Greenberg, who did the Predator invisible effect, used the red suit footage to do the matte work.
the Predator supposed, in some early stages, to have the power of imitating
the appearance of his enemies, including humans?
- Beats me!
- I asked
this, because this would have mean optical effects. And, as far as I know,
Boss Film major speciality was visual (optical) FX, right? So when they hired
Boss Film for PREDATOR, maybe the producers were thinking Boss Film could
do both the optical and make-up FX, don't you think? (whereas other makeup
artists would only have work on the make-up FX...)
- At the time, I only think the (Boss Film) Creature Shop was involved. I'm unaware of them being asked to do the visual FX. I do know they were doing a lot of heavy FX films, so they may have simply not had the time to do PREDATOR's FX work...
McTiernan has said in some interview that an attempt was made to get shots
of the Predator swinging from tree to tree using a monkey in this red suit,
but that the monkey kept removing the suit so the idea was abandoned...
- That's news to me... Funny as hell if it's true!
- Is it
true that Jean-Claude Van Damme was supposed to be the man in the suit? He
reportedly said he worked on this show during the first three weeks of shooting.
Other sources say he quit after two days...
- I had heard, while at Boss Film, that they had a "French" stunt man to do the suit work. It's very possible that this was Van Damme. It was 1986, so it was before his big break... But I do know that the whoever would have worn the suit would have been in for one hell of a workout!
- Did Kevin Peter Hall wear the Boss costume, or was he brought afterwards, when Stan Winston was hired?
- Hall was in the Winston suit, not the Boss suit.
- Do you
know what went wrong in the jungle locations? I have heard about harness and
wires problems... McTiernan allegedly said "The design was poorly
executed. We only had a few weeks of preproduction, and they did a terrible
job of creating the monster in that short a period of time. It's that simple!"
- I remember, in one of my last days at Boss Film, that we came in and they had packed all the pieces into crates for shipping down to the Mexico locations. Later, I had heard that the suit didn't allow for the kind of "movement" that the director had hoped for, because this guy was literally hung in a harness. Also, the alien was only intended for a lot less action, and that, on the jungle set, they wanted it to do more than it was originally designed to do. About the comment that it was a terrible job of creating... Well, that's up for interpretation, I guess! (The guys at Boss Films) had designed a really cool suit. I think once this suit got to Mexico, things changed out on location, in the jungle... There was no way that the Boss suit would have done any of what the Winston suit was eventually asked to do. The idea behind the Boss design was to make a creature that would have made it hard to tell that it was a "man in a suit".
- I have
read that they actually shot 7 scenes with the Boss costume, but that none
of them made it into the final cut. Yet, seems to me that it isn't the Winston
costume which is seen in some shots of the movie...
- They did shoot with the Boss suit, but quickly learned it wasn't gonna do what they wanted it to do, etc. The two designs were totally different. And, as far as I know, NO footage of the Boss suit ever ended up in the film. Guess that would be something for a Special Edition DVD...
to some sources, there will be one (scheduled for june 2002), with an audio
commentary from John McTiernan, text commentary, a 30 min documentary, 7 featurettes,
deleted scenes, outtakes, a gallery of 100 stills, and many more...
- Hey, I'll buy one!
- Me too!
Did Stan Winston draw his inspiration from the original costume or did he
work on a brand new one of his own?
- The Winston suit started from scratch. Going for a more of the "man in a suit" look. I do believe that the design was the sole work of Steve Wang. (As a special note, while at Boss Film, I talked with Steve a lot. In his spare time, he was making masks of characters from ROBOTECH. We talked at length about the ROBOTECH phenomenon, that was huge at the time. In fact, he got me a copy of the uncut MACROSS in Japanese. Cool dude!)
finally, Winston got inspired by the Boss suit on PUMPKINHEAD...
- "Inspired" is a good way to put it!
- In the
original screenplay, the Predator has got a spaceship and uses primitive weapons,
like a spear. Do you remember if such things were considered (maybe designed...)
by Boss Film?
- I think, and I may be basing this on photos I've seen. The Boss crew was also doing a "trophy room". If I recall, they were building all kinds of skulls for use in the film. But, for whatever reason, this never made it to the final cut, little lone if it was ever shot. There is a scene in PREDATOR 2 that has a trophy room ; I have no idea if any of that is from the Boss shop, but I doubt it.
the Boss version some helmet and pieces of armor too?
- To the best of my knowledge, the Predator suit didn't have armor... That's not to say it didn't: I just never saw any of it!
did you think of PREDATOR, the movie?
- I loved the movie! I end up getting hooked anytime I see it play on TV...
how did you feel about the Winston costume, as opposed to the Boss one?
- The Winston suit really worked great and was just so fucking cool. The Boss suit was nice, but it would have never worked for what ultimately ended up on screen. I think the best thing to happen to PREDATOR was the fact they realized the Boss suit, as cool as it was, wouldn't work. The decision to shut down production for 6 months to rethink the alien was a good idea. Hey, Arnie went and did RUNNING MAN during that 6 months break! I'm not sure how Winston was brought in, but I'm sure Arnie must have made the suggestion, due to the fact they were pals and had worked on TERMINATOR together...
you would want to add about your experience on this show?
- One real funny thing happened during a blood test. The FX guys had come up with the high pressure blood hit (they used one of those pump up pressure bug sprayers). Anyway, Steve Johnson comes out to test this thing. I think somebody was wearing a shirt with the "device" under the shirt... Steve pumped the sprayer and, ZAP!, blood was flying everywhere. It looked great. Only thing, Steve was wearing this brand new Hawaiian shirt... and he was soaked! I've never seen anybody so pissed! It was fun to be at the Boss Film FX house. Richard Edlund was a hero of mine from the STAR WARS films... A funny story, my partner there and I went up into the store room above the offices, and we found all sorts of great things to play with. I put on the burnt StayPuff Marshmallow-man head from GHOSTBUSTERS... Man, did that thing stink! YUCK! We also played with a huge vampire bat that, I think, was from FRIGHT NIGHT, and with the old lady from the museum scene in GHOSTBUSTERS, you know, when she turns to SHUSH the guys and turns into this demon. Funny thing was the puppet had these long skinny sagging breasts that were worked with controls and we were taking turns making the boobs jump... That is till we got busted! Literally!
© 2002 - The John McTiernan Central