Talking Alien: Ore With The Spears Sisters

Recently I spoke with The Spears Sisters about their pending film “Alien: Ore” which is free to watch today on IGN.


Where did you get the idea for your story from and how long did it take to write?

The seed of the story grew from that title card in the original film.

“crew: seven
cargo: refinery processing
20,000,000 tons of mineral ore
course: returning to earth”

That got us to thinking, who are the miners that are out there in the universe working to mine materials for a world that is rapidly expanding its reach in space?

We had six days to come up with the original pitch for the film. After that pitch was chosen we were given ten days to write the script, do a pitch video and create a pitch package for the film. After the film was chosen to be made there was some additional work done to the script as well.


What other projects had you done prior?

Our most recent projects prior to Alien include a short film made for another franchise. A franchise a little different than AlienThe Twilight Saga. Our short film, The Mary Alice Brandon File, was one of seven short prequel films that were made to explore the life of some of the vampire characters before you see them in Bella/Edward timeline. The Mary Alice Brandon File reveals Alice’s dark past before she became the vampire you know in the books/films.

We also have a short film called CC that is currently close to finishing its festival run. It follows an incident that takes place between a robot nanny, CC, and the mother of the child she has been leased to take care of.

How did you go about casting and how long was the filming and editing process?

We had fantastic casting directors Heike Brandstatter and Coreen Mayrs help us out with our casting process in Vancouver. We were looking for very specific qualities for our cast, especially Lorraine and Hanks. We feel so lucky to have worked with the cast that we did. They are all such wonderful human beings. Working with each one of them was a fantastic experience for us.

Filming took place over four days. Three days (well, nights as they were night shoots) at the mine and one day with Hanks’ office/the locker room location. The editing needed to come together fairly quickly after as we needed to send the cut to VFX, music, sound etc. The post on the film took us from when we shot in October until when we delivered in January.

How did you go about getting the look for your film as it looks very much in the ALIEN universe?

We collected and distributed a lot of reference material to our team. It was very important to us that Ore felt like it took place within the Alien universe that was already created. We had a fantastic team bringing all of the individual elements to screen.

What were your biggest challenges and greatest successes with it?

Challenges, like every film, came with lack of time and budget. Doesn’t it always seem to be the case you never have enough of either? That being said, we are very proud of what our incredible team was able to do. The greatest success for us was seeing the fantastic group of people gather together and pour their talent and heart into creating something that we could all be proud of.

How did you achieve the FX in the film?

We had an incredible visual effects team from Image Engine in Vancouver on board. They brought so many amazing elements to screen. The planet, Bowen’s Landing mining building, the screens, the snow, the dissolving axe, and the freaking fantastic Xenomorph. A gargantuan part of this film’s success was due to Image Engine.

How did you do the music and sound effects?

We really can’t talk enough about how much we loved working with our incredible sound and music team!

We had Rose Hastreiter and Gerry Plant on board for music and Michelle Child on board as sound designer. Michael Hedges brought it all together with his fantastic sound mix.The level of detail that they bring is beautiful. We knew we wanted the relationship between the music and sound to be quite close. Instead of being a classic orchestral score, the music was actually created using sounds, metals etc, that could have been from the mine. They were then altered to serve as music. Similarly, sounds in the soundscape were chosen to play into and heighten the emotion of the story. The soundscape was hugely responsible for building the world. Every beep, scratch of metal, etc was thought out and crafted to add to how we understood and experienced the world that we were in.

Doing sound was a unique experience as our team was spread across the world. We were in Vancouver, the West Coast of Canada, our music team was on the other side of Canada, and Michelle and her team were working out of New Zealand. The final mix was done at Park Road Post.

A little story to explain how thoughtful and talented Michelle Child is as a sound designer: among all the other sounds of the world she needed to design, she had to create the Xenomorph scream. It was an intimidating task because of her reverence for the original film’s sound. But she did an awesome job of giving voice to our Xenomorph; not only did she create a sound that was very much like the original, she also added her unique twist to the sound. She took animal sounds, certain raspy type creatures, and morphed them with her own screeches and breaths. She’s got an awesome knack for high pitched screams! Then she added a small dose of New Zealand’s most notorious and villainous alien pest – the Australian possum. She says “the possum looks really cute and cuddly and in Australia it’s a protected species, but here, it’s horrible and responsible for ongoing destruction of New Zealand’s native birds and trees. It can destroy 800 year old trees, just by eating the tips of their shoots! In one night 20 possums can eat six kilograms of vegetation…Okay, that’s enough about how bad possums are.”