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Film Studies 101
Feature
Five Steps To Creating The Ultimate Movie Monster
Star Trek Into Darkness designer Neville Page shares his creature secrets

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His name may not be as instantly recognisable as SFX peers like Rob Bottin and Rick Baker but, rest assured, Neville Page will soon be a household name – especially if, like us, you live in a house filled with monster memorabilia. He’s been J.J. Abrams’ designer since Star Trek. He was creature creator on Super 8, worked on Falling Skies and Star Trek Into Darkness, and is a possible pick to follow in the footsteps of Stuart Freeborn, Ralph McQuarrie, Bottin and Baker and help put flesh on the bones of Star Wars’ creature-filled galaxy. “I’ve no idea if that will be my next job,” he laughed, “I’m hopeful!” Empire’s Owen ‘The Wereman’ Williams cornered the man in his underground lair (okay, studio) to get his key steps to creating the ultimate movie monster.

WORDS OWEN WILLIAMS
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1. Make Your Monster Beautiful

Prometheus

"I create a checklist early in production for the different elements of a movie monster. It all stems from the demands of the narrative, because there are always certain milestones to hit for the character and those decide the brief. For me, what I always try to do is make the creature beautiful, even if it’s ugly or grotesque. Capturing that beauty is number one, for me - gore and disease aren’t my cup of tea. I’m fortunate that I’m usually briefed with making 'a unique-looking creature', which gives me the opportunity to make it 'sexy', no matter what. Having a really good sense of anatomy is everything, whether it’s an exoskeletal insect or something fleshier, because using the planet’s physics enables you to show the beauty of that animal. A horse, a lion, a great white shark: they’re all beautiful animals. Actually, there are certain fish that fall out of that category. They were God’s experiments that just didn’t work out. Even he makes mistakes."

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