Screenwriter Damon Lindelof Talks In Details About The PROMETHEUS Viral Campaign
Prometheus screenwriter Damon Lindelof talks in detail about the main viral videos for the film from Sir Ridley Scott, offering up a revealing insight into their creation. He also shares his thoughts on the success of the sci-fi epic and whether the virals had an effect on that.
In a lengthy interview with The Wall Street Journal, Damon Lindelof has talked in great detail about his pivotal role in creating the incredible viral videos for Prometheus which were released online ahead of the release of the film. As well as his comments, below are all three of the viral videos mentioned for you to check out in case you missed them the first time ("David 8" in particular is well worth watching). To read my 5* review of Prometheus, click HERE and be sure to click on the link at the bottom of the page in order to read the interview in full.
On Coming Up With The Idea Of A Viral Campaign For Prometheus:
I was working on the script and the story with Ridley directly and this guy Michael Ellenberg who is a producer on the movie. Ridley was aware of "Lost" but Michael was a watcher of it, not just the show, but a lot of the stuff we did virally between the seasons, and the courtship of the fanbase primarily through events like Comic Con. I was aggressively tweeting by the last season of the show, so he understood the idea of a two-way street. He made it clear that Ridley wouldn’t be engaging in any of that, not for lack of caring what the fans thought. He doesn’t have a Twitter handle or even an email address…but he was open to the idea of engaging with the fan base and so the big question that emerged out of the gate was: What is this movie’s relationship to the original "Alien"? Is it a prequel? How is it a prequel? Is it an entirely original movie? I thought that instead of us answering questions in mainstream media, was there a way to control the story by releasing content before the movie that just isn’t the trailer. They were like "What do you mean?" I said, "We can do some cool viral stuff." And the best viral content stars the actors, the stars who are actually in the movie. I thought if we could talk Michael Fassbender into doing this, or Guy Pearce, that would be awesome. But we are going to have to have these ideas figured out by the time we are shooting the movie because that’s when we have those actors.
On Using Noomi Rapace's Screen Test As A Viral Video:
Noomi [Rapace] had screen tested to play Shaw. I wrote this page and a half video message that she sends to Peter Weyland that was not going to be in the movie. It was just an audition to sell Noomi to Fox. Ridley shot her in film, and had her in full costume and makeup. When I saw her screen test, I was like "This is great viral content."
On The "David 8" Commercial Starring Michael Fassbender:
There had just been a new slew of iPad commercials. I thought, "If there are commercials for iPads, there should be commercials for robots." And I pitched a couple of ideas. [Michael Ellenberg] brought it to this guy Johnny Hardstaff, a young renegade director, and pitched him the "David 8" idea and he ran with it. Fassbender was incredible and so game for it. I felt like, if there was going to be a breakout character in the movie it was going to be David.
On Whether Those Involved With "David 8" Were Paid Extra For Their Time And Effort:
I can only answer for myself and presume they didn’t pay Michael anything additional. I looked at it this way: Part of my job, what I get paid for, is promoting the movie and the Writer’s Guild is probably going to get mad at me for saying this, but that’s just the way I looked at it. Since I pitched it, I wanted to do it and Fox said yes, they were putting money out there to make this thing. I looked at it as a couple of extra scenes I was doing for "Prometheus" that would be on a small screen. I do think that in the future my agent will probably negotiate bumps for additional content that are not going to be on the screen. But you have to look at it as a freebie when you are trying to do something new and cool.
On The Origin Of The TED Talk Starring Guy Pearce:
The whole origin of the TED talk was, we cast Guy to play Weyland who was a very old man. There was a scene in the movie of Weyland as a young man. That scene got cut, so Ridley never got to shoot it. One of our concerns was: people are going to wonder why we cast Guy Pearce as an old man. Why not just cast an old man? So the audience needs to see him as a young man. That was concern A. And it dovetailed with this idea of introducing Peter Weyland. I am a huge TED aficionado. I am a member of TED. So I said “We should just do a Ted talk from the not too distant future, like 2023, where someone is giving a talk about things that haven’t quite happened yet but won’t feel so far advanced that people think, 'Oh my God, my brain is leaking out of my ears.'
On The Importance Of Addressing The Audience With Virals:
That’s why we designed the content the way we did. Weyland’s TED talk is a talk to an audience, and the audience is a proxy for the audience that’s watching it. The “David 8” spot is a commercial, not for "Prometheus," but for a robot you can’t actually buy. Sometimes when you put content out there and it’s just a scene from the movie it’s exactly the same experience you’d get in a movie theater. But I do think people, particularly when it comes to viral content, like content that’s talking directly to them, creating that level of interactivity.
On How He Feels About Its Opening Weekend Success And Whether He Thinks The Virals Played A Role In That:
The tracking that they had been presenting me was well short of what we did opening weekend. I don’t know if they were just hedging, but I think between the R rating and opening against "Madagascar." It was always "Madagascar" was going to win the weekend. So, $30-35 million was what they were hoping for…when they did $50 [million] I was surprised. think that tracking is very rudimentary. It’s "Are you aware of this? And if you are aware of this, how strongly do you want to see it?" What it doesn’t take into account is the zeitgeist construct. Take something like "Ted." That was a rated-R movie that way outperformed its tracking. A zeitgeist forms around something, and the fuse doesn’t get lit until it’s out there and available. Then suddenly people go, "Oh right, 'Ted' That’s the 'Family Guy' guy. I want to see that!" So there are these 11th hour miracles that can occur for movies, and I think they are largely spurred by social media.
In the distant future, two superpowers control Earth and fight each other for all the solar system's natural resources. When one side dispatches a team to a distant planet to terraform it for human colonization, the team discovers an indigenous race of bio-mechanoid killers. Ridley Scott, director of 'Alien' and 'Blade Runner,' returns to the genre he helped define. With PROMETHEUS, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw
Michael Fassbender as David
Guy Pearce as Stannison
Idris Elba as Captain Janek
Logan Marshall-Green as Holloway
Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers
RELEASE DATE: June 1st 2012 (UK) June 8th, 2012 (US)
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