Humanoids from Outer Space: An Interview with Writer-Director Sion Griffiths

Humanoids from Outer Space is an online short film divided into five chapters. To find out more about the story and its creation, our editor Amy McLean talked with the project's writer-director Sion Griffiths.

Humanoids from Outer Space is described as a B-movie about a humanoid invasion. Was the story inspired by anything in particular? 

Mainly it was inspired by the spirit of Ed Wood films. The plot however was an amalgamation of B-Movie/genre/monster movie/creature features in general: Plan 9 From Outer Space, Critters, Killer Klowns From Outer Space. The basic concept? A small rural town is invaded by aliens.

Can you tell me a little about how the short film came about?   

The film came about as the practical element of my practice-led PhD. The PhD was researching the stereotypes that exist about the representations of Welsh in English-language films. The Wolf Man and Old Dark House are both based in Wales yet the characters are merely unidentifiable as Welsh. That’s why the film has a rural American small town feel when it’s set in Wales. Essentially the film is a spoof of the notion of small-town Wales. 

Humanoids from Outer Space was filmed in Wales. How fitting is the location for the movie? Was it a straightforward process finding suitable filming spots?

The film is set in Wales but because movies like The Wolf Man and The Old Dark House were also based in Wales but entirely shot in a studio I made a decision to shoot it all on a green screen or set (even though the location being projected on the green screen was outside the studio). To some degree the film also took aspects from The Room in that respect.

From its initial conception to the final edit, how has the short developed? Is it close to the original vision?

The film is pretty close to how I scripted it. Because I wrote the film as well, I only write what I know I can film. The only major differences occurred during the scenes where certain actors would ad-lib lines, mainly the President, the Deputy and Agent Lugosi.

With interest in alien-based movies arguably stronger than ever, do you think it's becoming easier over the years to create realistic sci-fi content with special effects and realistic atmosphere?

I think sci-fi these days can be really realistic or as outrageous as it wants to be. Therefore filmmakers are only held back by their own abilities to make their vision a reality.

Did the film encounter any specific hurdles with regards to the genre and astral realism?

The main difficulties the film had were silly everyday stuff. Because we shot over three different weekends, the actors' hair changed and therefore I resorted to buying wigs for half the cast.

Our dog performer was run over the day of the shoot so we had to use a cat stand in. The biggest issue we had was that one of our actors (Agent Lugosi) was an American, and his visa ran out, so we had to rush the shooting schedule to get all his scenes done before he left the country. 

The short film has been released in five parts on the YouTube channel Los Anglesey. Why was this your platform of choice?

I chose to release the film on YouTube because I’d essentially made it to gain my PhD and therefore I just wanted as many people as possible to see the film. My hope is that the film gains an online following of like-minded creature feature enthusiasts. 

Do such media outlets as YouTube open up possibilities for filmmakers, particularly when working on limited budgets? 

YouTube is a good platform on which to make your films available for people in a professional setting, as well as providing the potential that random people might stumble upon the film.

I work in TV, and YouTube essentially allows you the opportunity to have your voice heard without having to answer to execs and commissioners that might not understand the type of film you're making.

What are your hopes for the future of Humanoids from Outer Space?

The future of Humanoids would hopefully include a sequel. As Humanoids is a 50s B-movie, the sequel would be a 60s B-movie, possibly continuing Chief and the Humanoid Dr Wood as they try and save the world from the Humanoid menace.

Then eventually a third film that would be a 70s B-movie set in a post-apocalyptic world. It would be amazing if Humanoids gained an online following. I wrote the film with as many over-the-top dramatic one-liners as possible.

If you had do describe the film in one word, which word would you choose?

If I could describe Humanoids in one word it would be: Welshsploitation!

Amy McLean was talking to Sion Griffiths about the online short film Humanoids from Outer Space. You can watch the film on the Los Anglesey YouTube channel here.

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