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Unused “Ridley-grams” from Alien

If you read Barbara Robertson's most recent interview with Prometheus VFX supervisor Richard Stammers, you know about the "Ridley-grams" that director Ridley Scott would use to communicate his visual ideas with the film's crew.

He’s an incredibly visual director. He’s an artist. He paints and draws regularly. When you ask him a question, the answer, whether it’s simple or complex, usually is in conjunction with a drawing. That was incredibly important for the progress of the story and the look of the film. Knowing what the director wants is half the battle for any time something is hard to describe. He would sketch with a marker or a pen. On set, he’d say, “Someone give me a piece of paper.” He’d draw on the backside of script pages. Any bit of paper. If I couldn’t take it from him, I would take a photograph. We kept scans in our database and sent them to the vendors. In some cases, they were incredibly helpful. We called them Ridley-grams.

The Alien-oriented blog The Weyland-Yutani Archives has a trove of Scott's original Ridley-grams from the first Alien film. They detail unused shots, scenes, and ideas that were jettisoned sometime after the screenplay was written but before the movie finished shooting. The drawings provide an intriguing look at the creative process for fans of the film, but they also showcase Scott's bona fides as an artist. A graphic-novel version of the film using only his drawings as illustrations would be quite a handsome volume in its own right.

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