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Hey Kids, we had a chance to have an exclusive chat with R.W. Goodwin, director of Alien Trespass, the ingenious homage to the U.F.O. invasion films of the 1950ís.  Sit in as Mr. Goodwin discusses the brilliance of Eric McCormack, the X-Files, why remakes are a bad thing, The Simpsons and Ghota clones.

 

Alien Trespass

Director R.W. Goodwin

 

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  I wasnít sure what to make of Alien Trespass at first.  I wasnít sure if it was a spoof of the sci-fi films from the 1950ís, a satire, or was it a serious attempt at making one of those films?  What did you think when you first read the script? 

R.W. Goodwin:  I wasnít much into the idea of a spoof or a satire or a parody or a jokey kind of thing.  It was my friend, James Swiftís idea.  He used to go see these movies as a kid and he loved them and he just felt there werenít enough, so he wanted to make one more.  I was thinking, ďThatís odd.Ē  Jim and I, it turned out had gone to the same theatre every Saturday in LA, we didnít know it.  Weíve just known each other 6 years, but we were in the same schools together, but he was a year behind me, so I didnít know him, but I saw those same movies when I was a kid and I loved them, too.  I thought the same thing to myself, ďThatís kind of a peculiar idea.Ē  So, I got a bunch of them on DVD, and all my childhood memories were intact - that was a good thing - but what was really even a better thing was I was laughing, they were funny!  They were so out of style, you know what I mean?  They were out of style and because of that, they were funny.  When the people they made Ďem, they werenít trying to be funny, they were serious, but they were living in the 50ís, that was the accepted acting style and Iím talking about good actors.  We werenít trying to make one of those bad 50ís films, because there were a lot of those, too.  Jim had taken War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still and It Came from Outer Space, which were three of the classics from the 50ís; those were his prototypes and he had stolen a little bit from here and a little bit from there, a character, a monster and he put them all together in a new storyline.  I thought, because I was having so much fun watching these old things, that if we really did it in that way, totally true to the period in all ways, acting, directing, producing, everything, that we could make a movie that would be funny like that, but we only could achieve it if we were serious about making the best movie we could make, but we live in 1957.  And that was the fun of it, I think that movie couldíve opened in 1957; it would have fit right in.

 

LMD:  You have a lot of that goofy stuff, particularly the Ghota, whoís just silly looking. 

RWG:  Oh, I know, itís just ridiculous.  Did you ever see It Came from Outer Space?

LMD: Yes.

RWG:  Now thatís a silly monster.  I mean, we de-sillifed that a little bit. That was kind of what we started out with, the one-eyed thing.

 

LMD:  But what surprised me is by the end, I was actually scared of it, which Iím almost embarrassed to say.  

RWG:  Of course! Thatís what you call good directing! {Laughs} You know, Byron Haskin, who directed War of the Worlds, boy, he did a good job!  That thing in the farmhouse, with the two of them and the creature and the eye of the spaceship is searching, I mean, that was scary stuff!

 

LMD:  I think people tend to forget that there were some amazing films from that period, but here we are in the resurgence of interest in the genre. 

RWG:  I know, but the problem is, you donít want to do remakes.  When you try and bring it into the 20th century, it upsets the whole apple cart.

 

LMD:  Even in the cartoon feature, Monsters vs. Aliens, there are a lot of the same themes and references and thereís a creature that looks just like the Ghota. 

RWG:  Theyíve been around forever.  Look at The Simpsons; they had one on there, too.  They all came from It Came from Outer Space, really, that was the first one-eyed monster, I think.  That was that other thing that interesting for me, because Iíve been prettily heavily into sci-fi in my lifetime and the 50ís was when they established the basic vocabulary for sci-fi films. And so everything youíve seen since then was born out of the 50ís; obviously, things were cruder cos they had less technology and everything else, but still the basics were all there.

 

LMD:  There was one line that sort of threw me off when you speak of the film being a serious interpretation of a 1950ís sci-fi movie and thatís when one of the characters says, ďThe Edsel will be around forever.Ē  Were you afraid of there being too many moments of winking to the audience? 

RWG:  I wasnít afraid of doing that, because I made it very clear that we werenít doing that.  So, if anybody tried to bend that way a little bit, I stopped it, and itís interesting that you picked that line cos thatís the one line Iíve always had a lot of discussion about. It was one of the only real kind of joke in the movie.  I wanted to take it out, to be truthful with you, but the audience has responded so much to it, so we kept it for that reason.  But thatís the only incident like that really, where weíre not really true to the comedy coming out of character or situation.

 

LMD:  Eric McCormack is just fantastic in the film; heís actually playing three different roles, Ted the astronomer, Urp the alien, and in the opening scenes heís a 1950ís version of himself, M. Eric McCormack. 

RWG:  Eric, when he read it, totally got what we were doing.  The script was very clear that we werenít doing a joke, we werenít doing a parody, we were doing a true 50ís film and also if you have any sense of humour, you knew that it was very funny.  And of course, Eric has humour and amazing talent.  He is amazing.  The human character was Ted and the alien character was Urp, and whenever Urp was inside of Ted, we called that character, Turp.  Turp was like walking on a tightrope, cos you could want to push it and be jokey and make it funny, and then it wouldnít have been funny.  On the other hand, you have to have an innate sense of humour and timing and still make it funny.

 

LMD:  Urp reminded me of a gentler version of Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still. 

RWG:  Exactly.  That was the character.  When I say weíd pick and choose, that was one of the things we picked clearly from The Day the Earth Stood Still.

 

LMD:  Once the film was over, I thought Alien Trespass has the potential to become a big cult classic. Have you thought of it being a hit on the midnight movie circuit? 

RWG:  Yeah, Iíve thought of it.  Iíd rather it do that as well as become a big hit.  You know, they all said on the X-Files, they used to call us a cult hit, the first year or second year, and then all of a sudden we became a hit. A hit hit!  Iím hoping that the word of mouth spreads on this one.

 

LMD:  What about your work in television have you brought over to your work in features?  Did it help in your work with the actors or budgeting time?

RWG:  First, working with actors, when I started off and knew I wanted to direct, the first thing I did was I took acting classes.  This is what I tell all young directors, if you really wanna direct, do that, because I think that so much of the job is being able to understand the acting to help the actors get to where they need to be.  So, Iíve done that and I think that served me really well.

The X-Files was what taught me how to do feature-quality film on a television schedule. In terms of being able to do this, I shot this in 15 days, but because of X-Files I could do it.  It goes back to thorough, thorough prep; every detail had to be in my mind and ready to go before we get there and I have to communicate that to everybody before we go.

 

LMD:  Whatís next for you?

RWG:  Iím writing a script for another movie, which is a sort of a different way to go.  I have a pilot Iíve just finished called The Cody Rivers Show, which is a, very short hand, Monty Python meets Moulin Rouge in the 21 century, thatís basically what I call it.

 

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

March 24th 2009

  

 

 

 

 

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Photos

Exclusive photo by LMD

Film stills courtesy of Roadside Attractions

 

 

 

 

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