SciFiNow recently interviewed Tim Haines, producer of the BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs and co-creator of ITV’s hit series Primeval. Throughout the interview Haines discussed his likes and dislikes in the sci-fi genre.
What are your favourite sci-fi movies?
Alien, Blade Runner and Forbidden Planet. When you say ‘favourite’ you usually discount ones that you think are a bit flawed. So things like Tremors, Starship Troopers and Dark Star also rank highly to me.
Do you have any favourite sci-fi TV shows?
But of course, the only reason I got a colour television when I was younger was because of Star Trek. It remains a very fond memory for me. I was never really a Doctor Who fan as such because I always thought Star Trek was better. Battlestar’s been good, it’s got some great stories. I’ve really been enjoying Being Human it’s very clever and has humour in it, which I always appreciate.
Do you have an all-time favourite moment in science fiction?
Roy Batty dying in Blade Runner; it’s really corny but I think that’s the point. You can get away with melodrama in sci-fi – try and get away with it in Coronation Street and it’ll never work. Also, I like the opening of Star Wars and the escape pod scene in Alien.
What recent sci-fi films/TV shows have impressed you lately?
I really enjoyed Star Trek this time around, which is a surprise. I didn’t enjoy any of the other Star Trek films but I thought this one was great.
What made you decide you wanted to get into television?
That was probably more to do with natural history more than anything else. I actually come from a science background and then journalism. So I was more interested in making the next Life On Earth than anything else.
What movie/show has influenced your work the most?
Jurassic Park. Obviously if you look at my work you can see that it has had an influence. After being brought up on Harryhausen and rather poor animatronics, seeing the Raptor leap up through the roof was absolutely spot on. The film invented a technology and showed it to you and made you think “gosh, you can do so much with this”. Again, it’s unusual, but Tremors is another example. With that film they made a lot out of not very much and they did it with humour. I like to emulate that in my work in that it is both scary and fun.
Have any recent movies or moviemakers struck you recently as being something quite special?
I suppose if you’re talking about sci-fi you have to pay homage to Steven Spielberg. He seems to have made lots of different types of shows, and still it works. As I said, I think JJ Abrams did a fantastic job with Star Trek.
Do you prefer CG over practical effects?
I think that animatronics can work fantastically but their use is much more restricted than it used to be. So digital is really all you need for that. Digital effects enable you to be more hyper real, so for instance when a car leaps through the air a digital double can make it go much further on the screen. So there’s a great temptation to make it digital rather than practical. Especially for Primeval a lot of the practical stuff, the flames and the water or whatever, have to be practical because it’s be too expensive otherwise.
Give us an example where CG effects have looked bad in a film and/or on TV?
I think people are wrong to say you can have too much CG, it’s about how it’s deployed. Strangely enough for me the one that didn’t work was Van Helsing, which was more to do with the drama than anything else. I think there is work to be done where you combine actors with an unrealistic world.
Lastly we gave Tim some quick fire questions regarding some of science fiction’s most treasured franchises.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
I would go for Star Wars.
Alien on Aliens?
Unfair question. They are both great in their genres, one was a horror show the other was an action show.
Freddy or Jason?
I’m not really a fan of either of those. I think Jason is better because he is less bonkers.
Terminator or T2: Judgement Day?
I think I have to go with The Terminator even though T2 was a good film. T2 didn’t quite reach the heights of the first one.
Primeval: Series 3 is available to own on DVD and retails at around £17.99.