Aliens In-House Panel Overview by David Gogel

With the pandemic going on, the thought of going to a Convention of any kind has long passed. Then suddenly, Carrie Henn tweets information about a virtual convention on June 13th organized by Coolwaters Productions. Without hesitation, I signed up. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m pleased to say it went way better than I had anticipated.

The announced guests were Carrie Henn (Newt), Cynthia Scott (Dietrich), Daniel Kash (Spunkmeyer), and Tom Woodruff Jr (Creature Design) with a surprise guest. Derek Maki was the host for the event.

As most meetings are done, this was all done via Zoom. Derek started us off introducing himself and the event. Coolwater Productions was new to me until Henn’s Retweet (Thanks Newt!). They offer all sorts of events, and are worth looking into. Check them out at LLC (@coolwatersprods): https://twitter.com/coolwatersprods?s=09.

Anyway, we were shortly introduced to our guests. Cynthia Scott, Daniel Kash, Tom Woodruff, Jr and Carrie Henn drop on into the Zoom chat and we are live! I can’t lie, I was geeking out big time. The format was as such: The panelists and host did all the talking, us guests were all muted. However, there were two different ways to interact. There was a public chat in which you interact with the other guests, and it was also visible to the panelists and host. There was also a separate Q&A page dedicated to us guests posting questions. Most of those were answered live, but Cynthia Scott was nice enough to answer a few in the page.

I tried to take as many notes as I could. There is a ton to go over so i’m going to break it down by panelists, with the surprise at the end of course!

Cynthia Scott was broadcasting from New Orleans. She talked about how she received the script via a motorcycle delivery. Scott was reading for Ferro, but her call went so well that they wrote the Dietrich character just for her! That is impressive. She loved using the flamethrower, saying it was “Awesome and empowering.” Every actor was trained in all of the weapons. When asked if she was hurt on set, Scott recalled incessantly scraping her knee during the rain sequence, and she fell a few times during the scene where she was abducted in the hive. She also commented that Cameron was tough on the set, but great off it.

One of the first guest questions was excellent, asking the panel about the switch from James Remar to Michael Biehn. Cynthia Scott gave the most detailed answer. Fox kept the entire situation sequence. One day they were working with Remar, the next day Biehn was on the script sheet. There was never a formal announcement. Daniel Kash commented that “Remar scared me.” They mentioned the change, but thankfully the suddenness of it did not cause any issues. As actors they are trained for this type of adjustments.

Located in Toronto, Daniel Kash was fresh out of drama school when the Aliens opportunity had arisen. He was all set to audition when he broke his leg playing football with Mike Meyers. Yes, that one. No, not *that* one! Despite the injury, he hopped to the audition with crutches and a “funky coat.” Kash remembers being intimidated by Al Matthews initially and talking exceptionally bold to James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd. He was laughing at himself thinking back to how he was talking to them, but eventually was hired when Cameron said “I’ll give you the part, if you give me the coat!” Kash had starred in an amazing 176 different roles!

Another guest wondered what they all thought the story should be going forward. Interestingly enough, only Kash answered. He referenced Prometheus, as he liked the questions that were brought up and it should have a true follow up. I can second that sentiment. No other panelist commented, probably nothing to read into but interesting nonetheless.

Broadcasting out of Pennsylvania, next up is Tom Woodruff, Jr. I was excited to hear from him, as I love hearing stories about all the creature effects. Woodruff’s favorite creature was the med lab attack facehugger crawling towards Ripley in the sprinkler rain. He enjoyed how it showcased how quick and smart the little buggers are. Gave them some personality. When asked why Cameron changed the dome design, Woodruff explained that he wanted the alien to have a characteristic. It gave them some life. A few fans asked about performing in the suit, be he only did so in Alien 3. He did mention that his head is where the neck is located, and he breathes through slots there. Someone also asked him, if there was an Alien 5 if he’d be in the suit. Woodruff joked he’s “too big and too big wide.” The suits are slender, so a digital approach is probably the route they’d go down.

I was lucky enough that my question was answered live by Woodruff. I asked what was the biggest challenge they faced. During the filming of the big med lab ambush, the crew was putting together a dozen suits. He was stressing about the design, worried that it wasn’t what Giger wanted. It was a big shot and they wanted to get it right. In London, there are strict labor laws. They must take mandatory breaks at certain times, and just as they were getting the scene down they were forced to take a break, thus ruining all momentum. I also learned that these breaks consist of tea and bacon. I’ve already booked a flight to London.

(Starting at top left) Derek Maki, Cynthia Scott, Daniel Kash, Tom Woodruff, Jr.

Last, and certainly not least was Newt herself hailing from Central Valley, California! She admitted it’s a cliche answer, but her favorite character is Ripley. The way she exuded toughness and kick-ass girl power (before Spice Girls) is tough to top. Her road to Aliens started at school. A picture of her was taken as she was eating lunch (she admitted this sounds creepy now) and received a call back sometime after. The auditions were done at the school as well. Neither Henn or her family had any idea how big this movie was going to be.

When asked what she preferred happened to Newt, Henn answered a story where she evolves similar to Ripley. Speaking of, she did the read comics with her character in it but that was a long time ago.

Carrie Henn displaying one of her favorite photos with Sigourney Weaver

And the special guest?! Christopher Henn, her brother! It was really cool seeing them both talk about their experiences. Chris talked about getting cut from the film. He showcased a signed a picture from Sigourney Weaver addressed “To Tim” as proof he was actually in it.

Christopher Henn with the autograhed photo from Sigourney Weaver

But wait, there’s more! Derek Maki revealed that during each panel there are “in-house con exclusives.” Each panelist showcased something they’d never let anyone else lay their eyes on. I’m only going to touch on the Aliens related stuff of course. Carrie Henn showed her Saturn Award and unraveled her scrapbook from production, which needs to be published immediately. Christopher displayed a few behind the scenes photos and a similar scrap book. Woodruff had some treats as well, of which I posted a few on the Facebook page: Behind the scene photos of facehugger props, the Queen, and an Alien suit. There were even a couple photos Carrie Henn being put in a body cast. Don’t worry, I have tons of screen shots of these and will put them all together.

The amazing part of all this is that I know I forgot some key elements. I was doing my best to document everything, but it was tough considering how interesting and engaging it was. Folks, it was a two hour panel for only $5! Incredible! There were also options to chat with a panelist beforehand, as well as opportunities to purchase exclusive signed merchandise afterward. It was just a wonderful time all-around. Aaron Percival from AvP Galaxy was there as well, we couldn’t stop talking about how much fun we were on. It’s not Alien themed but the show on the 27th will have Ian Whyte as one of the panelists. I’d love to be there to ask the Engineer/Predator a question. Hope you enjoyed this recap, and looking forward to the next!

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