Talking Alien: Alone With Noah Miller

Recently I spoke with Noah Miller about his new film “Alien: Alone”.


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

I know a lot about Alien, I learned filmmaking by dissecting it’s scripts and production so I had a little bit of a head start since the knowledge of that universe is almost a muscle memory at this point.

However, a lot of the initial idea came from what’s achievable. For whatever reason science fiction really works under constraints, so a low budget with specific rules really narrowed down what could be made. You can’t afford to build the Nostromo, but you can get something that looks dark and destroyed, so the ship must be broken. You can’t afford an entire crew but you can afford one person, so your crew must have left. If they left someone behind why would they? Oh cause she’s synthetic, and if they’d leave their synthetic behind she must be defective, if she’s alone and defective what’s that doing to her mind— Bounce those questions around you end up with a bunch of elements to play with. Jam those elements together until they look interesting, feel interesting, and seem unique, or at least unique to you.

I wrote the initial pitch in about two hours, the first draft was an afternoon, and there were three drafts after that with various notes from Fox and Tongal.

What other projects had you done prior?

I’ve been writing for years, directed a few small shorts and a ton of music videos, a few commercials, but my love is genre narrative pieces and those are so hard to get off the ground, so Alien was a literal dream come true.

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

Casting was pretty normal we recorded a few different casting sessions but in the end Taylor Lyons came to us through a recommendation from a friend of mine, and James Paxton sought us out after learning about the project, which meant a lot to me personally.

Filming was 4 days. 1 prelight, 3 production, it was very packed, so we had to be pretty organized and make a lot of quick choices on set.

Editing took a few months, it was a lot of back and forth trying to whittle it down to the important core story.

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

From the beginning I wanted to this to feel like the camera crew came back the day after wrapping Alien and decided to roll a few more feet of film, so getting close to the feel was important. Colin Jacob, our DP, did an amazing job capturing that feeling, there wasn’t a moment where I looked on my monitor and wasn’t amazed.

What were your biggest challenges and greatest successes with it?

These are sort of the same answer, figuring out how to do a lot of what I wanted was the biggest challenge, and meeting the crew that we brought on to do it was the greatest success, these are people I want to work with for the rest of my career. I can’t express enough how grateful I am to them, I can’t list everyone here but if you have a chance look at those names on the credits, each one of them is immensely talented and insanely committed to their work.

How did you achieve the FX in the film?

Our effects were done by Raptorhouse FX, and they did some insanely amazing stuff, they built the 2 facehuggers (named Kate and Rose) we used, and did the puppetry on set, they also pulled an amazing spaceship out of nowhere. We asked way too much of them and they were able to make some damn impressive work with very little.

How did you do the music and sound effects?

SFX was a lot of sourcing and just trolling through my SFX library. I probably listened to 100 different old floppy disks booting up and analog buttons being pressed, and fruit being mushed, and celery being snapped, and weird little animals screeching.

Music was insane, Joel Santos our composer came over to my house for our first meeting and within five minutes I knew he was the guy. His scores are classic, he captured the sound of Alien while still making it its own thing.