The design for the intelligent creatures who are at the moment reffered to as the biosophical creatures has by far been the most difficult ones to design.
Its weird, because when you are creating creatures from another planet and solar system all you have is guesses. As this film is set in a realistic world trying to a degree to lean on science as we know it today, and not a cartoon world or a world set in a complete surreal world, any kind of creatures does have to follow normal rules in nature as we know it. Like gravity, abiogenesis, but most importantly.. evolution.
There’s a whole field called astrobiology, which you can study as well.
Its fair to assume that if there is other creatures in the world, they would have to follow the same kind of rules as us. Like they get born, they live, they die. They breed, they procreate.. their next generation lives on. They have a survival mechanism that shapes the way they look. They adapt to their surroundings, just like on our planet.
Of course, you could imagine very strange kind of surroundings, with different forms of biomes, atmosphere and matter than we have seen, but they are dependent on adapting to that still.. and even if we don’t know, there’s a sense of plausibility that things aren’t extremely different. It will be a lot of the same, but in a different way perhaps.
As for the creatures in this movie, what is known about them is that evolved to a degree that made them conscious to a degree that they are aware of their existance. They are intelligent and have built socities, and been through a whole history. They chose to die out collectivly. They’re called biosophical creatures. You can read more about their story here.
The first drafts was well, based on this idea I had myself.. of these strange creatures with flat heads and huge eyes.
So when you saw them from front their head would only look like a stick or something from afar… but when they turned their heads it would have a freaky effect. They look perhaps too much like a human besides that.
After Frode Munkhaugen joined as a designer he was free to try whatever he wanted though. I remember I said I wanted extreme models. Take things to the extreme, and we’ll just tone it down instead. He did a lot of drawings..
They’re very cool in their own rights, but I did noticed Frode weren’t used to drawing stuff that had a facial expression. They all looked kind of instinctive and not intelligent. I wanted creatures that looked intelligent… That looked like they spent time thinking, worrying, feeling, like humans. Not like primitive animals.
I had this other idea that came up which I kind of liked. I was playing an old adventure game by LucasArts based on Indiana Jones, called Indiana Jones and the Fate Of Atlantis, which had this very strange story that Atlantis did indeed exist and the people who lived there tried to mutate themselves into superhumans, but it fails.
We actually never get to see these creatures, but there are sculptures of them on the wall.
I remember I liked this design. Just because the creatures seemed a bit mysterious and intelligent, while not looking like a human. I remember wondering about what animals we think of as intelligent and/or wise.. and elephants and owls came to mind.
I also remembered strangely there was from my day as a Star Wars card collector, which was a weird hobby I had for a while I was younger.. and there was these creatures there that reminded me of some kind of wise elephant-ish creatures. I remember searching high and low for these and found out about them. They’re called chevins, and Jabba The Hutt in the Star Wars movies had a trusty chevin called Ephant Mon that was like his, helper or something.
Here’s from a card game. Kind of like Magic for Star Wars. It was quite popular in my town in 1996-98.
Here’s Ephant Mon, from the Star Wars universe. I remembered trying to put this together into a creature.
For a while, I thought this was going to be what they looked like.
Now there was some kind of gap, and Stein-Christian Fagerbakken joined as a designer.. and I asked him to do something around the creatres. He did however, to my confusion at the time admittingly, do a completely different design at first. Taking it all in a completely new direction..
This one under had an interesting idea of a creature that could compact itself into a box.
Instead he focused on the initial idea about the face that were flat from the side. The picture below the best example.
They looked a bit like small white men, like UFOs. I remember feeling they looked cool in its own rights, but a bit too cartoony for these kind of creatures. Small white men.
There’s also this other element introduced here… the tar-ish substance, which was interesting, and might be used more.
We took another round.