Bringing the Elder Predator to Life, Pt. 1

If you look closely, you can see the cinematographer's soul commit suicide in the reflection of the computer screeen.

The Elder Predator on the first day of filming.

Much time was spent during pre-production working out exactly how to bring to life the film’s ostensible hero, the Elder Predator. Early concepts revolved around using the same method as used for the human cast — originally paper masks tied on with string, then later match-moved photographic cut-outs. A McFarlane Predator figure, either the original or “City Hunter” models, would then be used for wide-shots.

Production manager Alan Smithee, consulting with Producer Alan Smithee, decided that this method would simply be too time-consuming for the production’s projected schedule. A new, streamlined method was requested instead, leading Effects Supervisor Alan Smithee to propose cutting the workload in half: instead of using an actor, all of the performance would be completed using only a Predator figure.

They said to me, Al, we can’t do this. We can’t be [bothered]. Yeah, he’s the star, but surely there’s gotta be an easier way. So I went back to my tent in the Production Manager’s office and took a handful of painkillers and the solution just came to me.

— Effects Supervisor Alan Smithee

To further ease the potential upcoming workload it was also decided that the Elder Predator would be filmed against a computer screen, with a backdrop or composited scene displayed behind, rather than being composited into scenes like the rest of the cast.

With their plan sorted, the last matter left was casting. The McFarlane figures were the strongest contenders for the role, with Director Alan Smithee leaning towards the City Hunter for his superior articulation and removable mask. It wasn’t until a fateful visit to a toy store in a neighbouring city that Casting Director Alan Smithee discovered the ideal candidate for the role.

I was going to use the McFarlane Movie Maniacs P2 Predator with the removable mask and left forearm, then decided on a whim to see if there were any “Lost Predator” figures I could use instead. When I went shopping the store didn’t have any Predators up, and I was about to leave dejected when a staff member walked past carrying two stacks of the new Super Predators. I took one look at this ridiculously OTT mother[lover] and knew he had to be the Elder. Of course the Elder has a ridiculous helmet, oversized blades, and a staff he can’t actually hold. What else would he have?!

–Casting Director Alan Smithee

Director Alan Smithee loved the choice and immediately pitched it to the studio. Producer Alan Smithee signed off on the decision in a heartbeat, calling it “the greatest thing to come out of a weekend-long cocaine binge since my daughter”.

With the role cast and the production schedule determined, filming could finally begin.

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