From right to left : John, Myself, Production Manager Robert Brown, Associate Producer Larry Franco. The Juneau Ice Field. Location Scout April, 1981

Wednesday, January 4, 2012




         Our original idea was to place the credits at the back end of the movie, and open the film with the saucer crashing to earth revealing the main title. This would have been fine if the movie's official title was THE THING, but it wasn't - as JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING the Directors Guild stipulated that John's directing credit also appear upfront, and with that decision by contract the other credits moved up as well.

          Rob Bottin's credit was the subject of much discussion and negotiation with the make-up union at the time. We were warned if we used the word "effects" after make-up as well as the word "created" there would be a penalty involved. We honestly couldn't come up with another way to accurately phrase Rob's contribution to the film, and as a result Universal was fined Twenty Five Thousand Dollars...  

          After viewing the completed main title we felt that using the traditional Universal logo at the beginning would not only conflict with the opening shot of the saucer careening toward earth, but make the sequence redundant and perhaps confusing. Before the credit situation was resolved one studio executive suggested that we fade off the "Universal" on the logo, pan the camera left to pick up the spacecraft and have it continue on its merry way to crash into the logos' remnants. We referred to this as the ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS version of the opening. In the end, we had to argue our case in order to receive special dispensation from corporate management ( above the motion picture division) to add the simple black and white lettering that opens the film. The unsettling music underneath is John's...

          The entire opening sequence was fashioned and produced by Peter Kuran for an even-then bargain Twenty One Thousand Dollars, model included. Peter and his model maker Susan Turner saved money by borrowing the motion control rig set up by John Dykstra for BATTLESTAR GALLATICA  and shooting in the middle of the night, the only few hours it wasn't in use. Another colleague, Jim Danforth, painted the matte used of the earth in his spare time over a weekend...

Susan Turner

     (2) WHERE'S BLAIR ?

                ... and why isn't he in the official cast photograph? The simple answer is that Wilford Brimley was never on location for filming in Stewart, B.C. The only exterior shot needed, that of Blair being taken to the cabin, was filmed using a well padded double ( Blair's cabin had been shot on stage, with the exception of Mcready's exterior closeup ). Another pressing mystery solved...

     (3) FILM MAKING 101

          When shooting the opening sequence on the Juneau Ice field John, with limited resources and a small crew, had the use of only ONE picture helicopter when filming the air to air portions which had to serve double duty as both Norwegian and American.

             Therefore THIS helicopter

                and THIS helicopter

         ... are the same. John Lloyd supplied us with two complete sets of decals, one Norwegian, the other American. A do it yourself affair, the idea was to be able to "change over" the helicopter completely on both sides, but we found it slow going so with both time and light a constant problem we resorted to doing one side Norwegian, the other American. This is why in the opening shots  the helicopter is primarily shown from the side flying from right to left ( for the last part of the sequence when filming in Stewart six months later John DID have the luxury of using two separate helicopters, appropriately marked, allowing him to fly them around the camp at will )... 



  1. thank you very much for this insight

  2. The opening credits are pitch perfect with the rest of the movie. I love the way it transitions & fools you into thinking you are going to see the saucer crashing, only to realize it's a helicopter coming over the cliffs.

  3. This is probably the second time I've completely read through this blog, as I've just recently watched the whole movie in hi-def for the first time (HD-DVD only, of course!) and I wanted to revisit it. I just love the music in the opening credits - and I'm not surprised to learn it's John. So ominous and effective at setting the mood.