Thursday 8 December saw a double screening evening, that began with an introduction by Lucy Raven of special effects visionary Phil Tippett. The screenings began with a short coming attraction for Raven and Tippett’s collaborative film-in-progress. This was followed by a discussion by Tippett on work on the 1997 sci-fi classic Starship Troopers, including a never-before screened edit of footage made by Tippett during the Troopers location scout in the badlands of Wyoming (35’). The evening ended with the screening of Starship Troopers (dir. Paul Verhoeven, 129’).
Starring Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards and Dina Meyer, Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers represented a momentous moment for Tippett Studio. The film was the recipient of an Oscar nomination and is now widely regarded as a cult classic.
In 1996, whilst preparing for the filming of Starship Troopers, Verhoeven visited Wyoming with his production crew, including creature visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett. Tippett’s footage of the scout reveals rare insight into the ways in which he provided a visualisation strategy for his studio back in California, and his approach to how they would populate the barren landscape with alien bugs, transforming it into a battlefield. Under a staircase in his Berkeley visual effects studio, Tippett recently unearthed over twelve hours of VHS tapes, including the location scout as well as behind-the-scenes recordings made on set during the shoot, digitised them, and edited them down to this selection.
Starship Troopers imagines warfare in the 23rd century. In a society where citizenship is earned through military service, the story follows young solider Johnny Rico and his exploits in Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit. Earthlings have become space-exploring colonisers in search of new planets, and have encountered a species known as Arachnids. Once war is declared, the alien bugs retaliate violently against the intrusion of humans into their habitat.
On Starship Troopers, Raven writes: “Even today, the film’s visceral goriness surprises. The interspecies penetration of flesh, exoskeleton, and metal in battle scenes feels not just as though it is from outer space but also from another time.”
Lucy Raven was born in Tucson, Arizona in 1977 and lives in New York City. She met Tippett while living in California, and the two are at work on a video collaboration that mines the depths of print media through an examination of its surfaces.
Director, visual effects supervisor and producer Phil Tippett was born in Berkeley, California in 1951. He is the founder of Tippett Studio, who specialise in areas of character animation, visual effects, commercials, virtual reality and augmented reality amongst others. His career in visual effects has spanned more than 30 years and selected filmography include; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012); The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011); The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010); The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009); Evolution (2001); Starship Troopers (1997); RoboCop 1, 2 and 3 (1987, 90 and 93); Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984); Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980); and Star Wars: Episode IV – A new Hope (1977).