Recently I had the chance to speak with Director R.W. Goodwin about his new movie “Alien Trespass”. R.W. Goodwin served as a writer, director, and co-executive producer on the X-Files for many seasons and has crafted a very funny and nostalgic look at the classic 50’s sci fi and monster films of the past. I want to thank Danielle at THA for setting up the interview and R.W. for answering my questions.
GVK: How did you become involved with the project?
James Swift (the writer) about three years ago had an idea about the films he had watched growing up. It turns out that I had watched the same films at the same theater but we had never met until years later. We thought that there had not been enough of the 50’s style movies made and we decided we needed to make one more.
GVK: What sort of research did you do for the film?
I watched as many of those old films that used to scare the pants off me and the ones that were inadvertently funny. I noticed how fifty years on styles had changed but that it was important to stay true to the era and source and make the best 1957 movie we could and we borrowed all of the good elements.
GVK: What films were you a fan of and which did you draw the most inspiration from?
“War of the Worlds”, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, “This Island Earth”, and “Earth Vs The Flying Saucers”, were all big influences and since I was not crazy about remakes, I wanted to stay as close to the colors, lighting, and style of the originals.
If you noticed we even added some of the touches like the background being out of synch. I learned that in one older film that had the actor running on a treadmill to simulate motion. If you look you can see he is still moving after things have stopped. We added a scene like this when Urp is walking down the road and gets picked up.
GVK: How did the casting for the film come about?
We got very lucky on this as we had a list of the people we wanted and were lucky to get all of our first choices. Eric got what we were trying to do instantly and signed aboard. He is a very funny and talented individual and we were lucky that he wanted to do it. I had already left X-Files when Robert Patrick joined the show but I had worked with him on a pilot and it was a real slam dunk getting him and Dan Laurie.
We got very fortunate with Jenni Baird as we had a lot of people we looked at fir the part. She gave the big speech at the end in her audition and just nailed it and it gave me goose bumps.
Jody Thompson really nailed the 50’s thing as Lana and she is gorgeous as well. I gave her a lot of 50’s movies and when she returned for the callback she really absorbed the material and was fantastic. It was a dream cast.
GVK: There are some great pop culture moments in the film such as the RC Cola joke and the look of the film. How challenging was it to recreate that look?
The set dresser said they had a lot of fun with the film and I challenged them to be authentic. The patio set seemed a bit off to me and I asked them about the grill as it seemed too modern. They brought me a Webber catalog that showed that it came from that year. We had to manufacture some things but thanks to wardrobe, thrift shops, and the net we were able to find what we needed.
We worked a year to get the script right and we had all the classics like the old man who lives in the cabin, the kids in the car and the only thing we really changed was having strong women as Tami is a co-hero. We were taking clichés and having fun.
GVK: I had read that the cars were in such great shape you had to dirty them up a bit.
Yes we had to do that and we also have a scene where there is one item that is not authentic and we may wait until the DVD to let people in on it.
GVK: Where was the movie filmed?
It was all done in British Columbia and we shot the Desert at an area near Kamloops.
GVK: What were some of the great moments from filming and would you change anything if you could?
Everyone was in on my vision and only way better and I would not change a thing. Eric is a very funny individual and it was great to work with him every day.
Robert had a great death scene and he played it well not as an over the top buffoon.
Prior to that we never saw the full attack of the Ghota, only the puddle it leaves afterwards. We had a Ghota that had a slit in the belly for Robert to put his head into so we could pretend he was being absorbed. Well, they pushed too hard and all of him went into the Ghota. All of a sudden, Robert yelled out” Hey what are you doing in here”.
GVK: I had a person ask me to ask you about your thoughts on the latest X-Files film and if you think they should do another one or leave the series as it stands?
I was on the show for five seasons and only left when they moved production to L.A. we live in Washington and my son was a senior in high school and I did not want to move. I love the show as Chris, Dave, Gillian, and the writers all became a big warm family and it was emotional to part with them and I withdrew. I moved on and to be honest, I have not seen the last movie as I was too busy with “Alien Trespass”. I wish them all the best and I am sure Chris Carter will decide to do what is best with the future of the series.
GVK: Any plans for a sequel?
Funny you should ask. I got an e-mail from Jim that had the header of sequel ideas. I have not had a chance to read it yet as I have been so busy.