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Alien Covenant filmed on sets in Australia

Alien CovenantRidley Scott’s new sci-fi horror Alien: Covenant filmed mainly on sound stages at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney.

The movie is the latest in the iconic 40-year-old movie franchise that Scott initiated with the first Alien back in 1979.

Alien: Covenant follows a spacecraft that encounters new horrors when it’s blown off-course on the way to establishing a colony of humans in the far reaches of space.

“Alien: Covenant chose New South Wales (NSW) as we have Fox Studios which has the size of studios that suited the production, as well as a world-class crew available in Sydney,” says Matt Carroll, director of production attraction and incentives at Screen NSW, in comments to KFTV. 

“Ridley Scott looked at several European locations as well as here. He also liked a location in New Zealand so working out of Sydney he was able to combine both.

“The production was largely studio-based and they used every stage at Fox Studios. They also used what Ridley called one of the best backlots in the world at Potts Hill, in Western Sydney. At this site they built several giant exterior sets.”

Fox Studios Australia has nine separate sound stages, including two that each span around 42,000 sq ft, and water tank facilities.

For more on filming in Australia and for local contacts see our production guide.

An interior set of the Covenant spacecraft of the film’s title was built as a 20-metre-long structure that was mounted on a 40-ton gimbal so that the ‘ship’ could shudder and vibrate on demand, according to the needs of the story.

The Covenant set was even equipped with 1,500 electrical circuits so that every switch and piece of equipment that the cast interacted with performed its scripted purpose as they filmed.

“I felt like I was on a functional spaceship,” says actor Michael Fassbender. “The corridors, the bridge and the sleep chamber – all these production design elements were so detailed and sophisticated. 

Alien Covenant“It’s a rare thing with fantasy films or high-concept action films. There’s a lot of green screen usually. We used some green screen, but a lot of it was there for us to explore, to touch and to interact with, and that’s a real rarity these days.”

Scenes set on an alien planet where the Covenant touches down after being blown off-course were filmed on location at Milford Sound in southern New Zealand's Fiordland National Park.

The visuals and atmosphere of this location were also recreated at Fox Studios for specific scenes.

Alien: Covenant is the first in the Alien franchise to film in Australia. Scott also directed the previous instalment Prometheus, which used the UK as a base and shot scenes on location in Iceland.

The filmmaker has been interested in Australia’s production resources for some time, having originally planned to film his sci-fi movie The Martian in Australia before incentive complications resulted in the project opting for Budapest instead.

Australia offers a 16.5% Location Offset as its main incentive for international productions. The country’s states also compete with each other by offering separate regional incentives. Big-budget films usually shoot in either Queensland or Sydney, where the main studio facilities are located.

Images: Mark Rogers/20th Century Fox


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