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Pederson (con't):I worked for six months on an extraterrestrial sequence that was on the script, that would explain who the extraterrestrials were... how they monitored the galaxy, very God-like. According to Arthur's idea, to any culture, a sufficiently technologically advanced culture would appear to be magic, and it's only a small step from magic to divinity. So Stanley said "you can't show the face of God," because nobody would know what it looks like. Thus we put the extraterrestrials in that category and we cut that sequence out. So we ended up with only music and the ride, and we thought that it would be easier that way than trying to explain everything.

The model of the space station, and how it appears in the film.
Debert: It's interesting that you mention this because Arthur Clarke eventually wrote the "Rama" series, in which there is a very much God-like alien race that monitors the galaxy, and all the different races on it.

Pederson: I love those books, I've read them twice. I've always wanted to make a movie of that book.

Debert: Did you expect the public response to the movie?

Pederson: No. We thought it would be received fairly well, but it was rather confusing. Besides, a lot of the initial reviews were pretty negative, some were pretty good, and a few were very good. I hadn't really read them though because I was so cold from three winters in England that I went straight to Hawaii to thaw myself. And then I took two years off to chill out. I can't assess the popularity very well, because after you work so closely in a movie for so long, you will never be able to look at it in the same way that somebody else could. I have no opinion about the movie.

Actually, I prefer A CLOCKWORK ORANGE when it comes to Stanley's movies. And I like BARRY LYNDON, but it took me six weeks to decide that. I had been communicating with Stanley about it, as we did with THE SHINING. He had sent me a copy of "The Shining", to ask for some opinions and ideas. I obliged. I had never read Stephen King before. But I was disappointed with the movie, because I thought Stanley had probably indulged Jack Nicholson more than he should've. The film was not a "supernatural" film... it just turned into a psychotic killer thriller. I thought it was beside the point. It missed the "X-File" quality. One of the things Stephen King did in it, and I think is a mistake in supernatural stories, is that he mixed two things. This is not Stanley's fault, though. King mixed the ability to see the future with a ghost story. Those are two strong variables, and I think you should not combine them.

Debert: How much do you think sci-fi and space movies owe to 2001, and what movies in particular have you liked since then?

Pederson: I think they owe it a lot. It changed art direction, and I'm confident to say that it is used as a paradigm in terms of the look and the behavior of things in space, partly because we have since seen real footage from Apollo and such, which would indicate a self-fulfilling prophecy. A lot of the stuff that we've seen looks just like 2001. It has given NASA an awareness that keeps coming back, because astronauts themselves bring up references from the movie more than from any other film since.

I think if you compare a lot of the sci-fi films that have been done, the ones that Doug Trumbull worked on, especially CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, kept that look of awe and

"I'm appalled with the amount of bad [sci-fi] scripts that are around."

beauty. Things that Doug tried to do in his films as well, were greatly influenced by Stanley's sense of composition and color... a real classy art direction. A departure from that would be a film like BLADE RUNNER in which Doug went instead into the dark side. That look is the way I would do it. I really liked it.

On the business of other films and the consequences of doing a sci-fi film one way or another, there have been a lot of sci-fi films recently that have spacecraft or jumping from one dimension to another. Like STARGATE--which by the way I walked out from--I was disgusted that they wasted sometimes great art direction and a lot of detail with a bad script. I'm appalled with the amount of bad scripts that are around. For instance, INDEPENDENCE DAY had good effects, but the story was horrible... but it made a lot of money and that moves people. And that is what Hollywood is about.

VFX HQ would like to graciously thank Con Pederson for his time.

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