John Truby screenwriting class
Jaws in Space!

By Jake J. Smith

Sigourney Weaver Alien (1979)

Written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett
Upon receiving a transmission of unknown origin from a nearby planetoid, the Nostromo, a commercial towing vehicle, wakes its crew from deep sleep to descend and assist. One of the team is attacked on the planet by a creature that attaches itself to his face. Rushed back on board against quarantine protocol, the foreign body has more than its foot in the door; in fact it’s forced its embryo inside crewmembers stomach. John Hurt is about to have the worst case of indigestion he’s ever had.
Alien Alien won an Oscar in 1980 for Best Visual Effects and was hailed by many as one of the best science fiction films to come to our screens. However it is the ominous and formidable story and the way it was written to create atmosphere that really made people reconsider their childhood dreams of wanting to be an astronaut or a fireman. Fireman seemed to have a better pension scheme according to Alien.
The script of Alien formerly called StarBeast, (I know, not quite as catchy) took at least 3 years to write and was taken from the original writers at a point and given to Walter Hill and David Giler. The O’Bannon and Shusett eventually got the script back but accepted their counterpart’s contribution in adding the subplot of Ash, the android.
Alien wasn’t original. Shusett is quoting as saying "I didn't steal Alien from anybody. I stole it from everybody!”
It took ideas from:

The Thing From Another WorldThe Thing from Another World (1951)

Inspired the idea of professional men being pursued by a deadly alien creature through a claustrophobic environment.


Forbidden PlanetForbidden Planet (1956)

Gave O'Bannon the idea of a ship being warned not to land, and then the crew being killed one by one by a mysterious creature when they defy the warning


Planet of the VampiresPlanet of the Vampires (1965)

Contains a scene in which the heroes discover a giant alien skeleton.

Junkyard (Short Story)

In which a crew lands on an asteroid and discovers a chamber full of eggs.
..and more.
The script is an amalgamation of many ideas from sources around the central themes of predatory creature from outer space. The script was pitched as ‘Jaws in Space’. What this shows is that you can take inspiration from other material and even lift ideas entirely as long as you have a new take or a style to your screenplay. O’Bannon and Shusett managed to create a suffocating nature about the Nostromo to be ruled by the dreadful Alien.
If you only look at a single page of the Alien script check out page 58. This shows the situation the crew are in after Kane (John Hurt) is left ‘very dead’. The constriction is evident; they can’t go into deep sleep with the Alien on the loose, they have limited food, they are 10 months from Earth, and if they kill the alien its blood with burn through the hull! What to do!?
Most of us have ideas, scenes, lines of dialogue we wish to use, perhaps even whole concepts. This is good but if you implement them properly you could be looking at a great film.
We have script writing courses led by accomplishes screenwriters to give you a little more than the basics.

Thanks for reading!

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About The Author

Jake SmithJake is born and bred in London and is currently studying Film Production at University.
He loves to watch and make films and is in the process of launching a Production company and writing his first feature horror film.

He is presently interning at Raindance.

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Jaws In Space