By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Nearly 40 years ago, Science Fiction fans were scared out of their seats by a monster movie like no other. ALIEN. With a monster that had acid for blood, who was born in the bowels of it’s victims, the Ridley Scott film set a high bar for every sci-fi monster film that followed. Now, to celebrate that event, 20th Century Fox is teaming up with Tongal for a film contest that’s out of this world … to make the next chapter in the Alien franchise. And all you need is a monster, a solid pitch, and a sheer sense of other worldly terror.
That’s right, Tongalers, we’re giving you the chance to create your own original story set in the biggest horror
franchise of all time: Alien! To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Alien, 20th Century Fox is tapping six visionary filmmakers in the Tongal Community to produce their own original short videos set in the aftermath of the original film. – Tongal Alien 40th Anniversary Shorts Project
Tongal is going to select the top six pitches to create a short based on the Alien franchise. Fox and Tongal are looking for original stories, with completely new characters (sorry, no Ripley clones, please), and your Pitch should draw on all the things that made the original Alien so groundbreaking. Those story beats include:
- Slow, atmospheric buildups that isolated the viewer in the emptiness of space, anxiously waiting for something to jump from the darkness. In the school of Hitchcockian suspense, what isn’t seen is even scarier than what is!
- The first true badass female protagonist in science fiction and horror. In defiance of orders, this powerful woman summoned immense strength and grit to face down the most primal of fears.
- “Space truckers” – everyday working men and women waiting to talk about their bonus situations and tying the film to its realism and relatability.
The 5-9 minute pitch should take place within the scope of the original 1979 Alien universe, and adhere to the following criteria:
Your STORY must:
- Be themed with the science fiction and/or horror genre;
- Be tonally in line with the original film – suspenseful, visceral, claustrophobic and intense;
- Keep a narrative vantage point centered around the original story;
- Introduce original character(s) based in the archetype of the underdog – the everyday working men and women that grounded the film in realism and relatability;
- Include Alien in some form of its lifecycle (i.e. ovomorph to face hugger, chestburster +/or Xenomorph);
- Be for a short video ideally five to nine minutes in length; and
- TARGET THE FANS OF THE ALIEN FRANCHISE AGES 17+.
Your PITCH must not:
- Use the name/likeness of any actors appearing in the Alien films;
- Use the characters from the Alien films; or
- Use actual Alien film footage, music or any third party controlled material.
Fox and Tongal underscore that the pitch must not use any original material, but may reference that material, and characters in dialogue.
The first phase of the contest is the Pitch Qualification Phase. This is where you submit your pitch, plus a 500 character or less synopsis of your creative approach, confirm your availability for production, and provide samples of your previous work. which you can submit here.
- Pitch Synopsis (REQUIRED): A synopsis of 500 characters or less that summarizes your story and technical approach to the final Short and sells your creative vision.
- Links (REQUIRED): Links to your previous and relevant video work. Please specify your role (producer, director, cinematography, etc.) and DO NOT INCLUDE LINKS TO YOUR SHOWREEL. Please link to individual videos.
- Script Outline (REQUIRED): A one-page script outline including story beats for your Short.
- Writer and Above the Line Crew Descriptions (REQUIRED): A brief description of the writer and above the line crew members (DP, VFX, etc.) including links to their past work.
During the Pitch Qualification Phase, Tongal will select the 18 best pitches to move on to the next phase of the competition. Those 18 who qualify will be granted $2,000 to write up a visual treatment, pitch video, and short script to further develop their pitch story.
- Short Synopsis (REQUIRED): A synopsis of 500 characters or less synopsizing the narrative story you will tell in your Short.
- Treatment (REQUIRED): A detailed narrative description of what’s going to happen in your short video and how you are going to creatively approach making the magic happen. Also, please include biographies for the director and key crew members (writer, DP, VFX artist, etc.). We provided a Treatment template, which you can find here. Please note that this document requires you to provide visual references to help articulate your vision.
- Scripts (REQUIRED): A script that includes dialogue and action paragraphs for the Short you intend to create.
- Pitch Video (REQUIRED): The pitch video is your opportunity to show 20th Century Fox what you’re capable of. Consider submitting a pitch video in which you tell 20th Century Fox what to expect if your pitch is chosen. Also, test videos, animatic, etc. are welcome.
- Links to Past Work (REQUIRED): Links to your previous and relevant video work. Please specify your role (producer, director, cinematography, etc.) and DO NOT INCLUDE LINKS TO YOUR SHOWREEL. Please link to individual videos.
From this second pitch phase the top six Alien short pitches will be selected to enter the pre-production phase to create your short film. Winners will receive a payout of $30,000 to create the following:
- SCRIPT – This Project requires script approval before the Pitch Phase winners move onto the Production Phase. 20th Century Fox may provide feedback on your script and ask you to submit a new version. There will be multiple rounds of feedback.
- HEADSHOT and CASTING REELS– This Project requires headshot approval and a casting reel from each filmmaker before she/he moves onto the Production Phase. You must submit at least two actor options per role. If 20th Century Fox does not approve either of your options for a role, you may be asked to submit two new actor options.
- STORYBOARD – This Project requires storyboard approval before filmmakers move onto the Production Phase. 20th Century Fox may provide feedback on your storyboard and ask you to submit a new version of the storyboard.
- LOCATION – This Project requires location approval before filmmakers move onto the Production Phase. This means you will need to submit multiple images of your primary filming locations. 20th Century Fox may provide feedback on your location and ask you to submit additional photos or to find a new location and submit images for that.
At the end of the Pre-Production phase, the top six filmmakers will enter Phase 4, production, which comes with a final payment of $5,000. In production, the top six filmmakers will be required to produce a 5-9 minute short video based on your approved pitch materials, a third second promotional trailer, a fifteen second promotional trailer, five still images pulled from completed footage, and a behind the scenes featurette. Filmmakers will also be required to provide all raw footage, pre and post SFX and VFX, on hard drives and you will be responsible for the costs of those drives and shipping.
So, all told, the winning entry will receive just a hair under $40,000, plus you’ll have your film marketed by Tongal as the next thrilling chapter in the Alien saga!
The deadline for submitting written pitches is July 3, with 18 selected for the next phase on July 6th. Read up on the rules and details here.