Simon Atherton - Weapons

Simon Atherton's feature film work includes: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Killing Fields (1984), The Mission (1986), The Living Daylights (1987), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Alien 3 (1993), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), Braveheart (1995), Cutthroat Island (1995), The Fifth Element (1997), The Mask of Zorro (998), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Mummy (1999) and Gladiator (2000).

For his partially complete credits see Simon Atherton's Internet Movie Database entry. I talked with Simon about his time on Aliens in July 2000.

Q: According to Tony Rimmington, In 1985 you were working at BAPTY's but have since gone freelance?
SA: Yes, I left soon after finishing up on Aliens. I had actually just smashed my back up on 'The Mission' and was shipped home to hospital. When I recovered, Richard Hooper who is the managing director of BAPTY's said he had this nice easy film to start me off on…that film was 'Aliens'. He put me on Aliens in August of 1985.


Final page of the 'Aliens' unit list.

Q: What was your first job? I have a list of work from the internet that you are credited for but I am sure it is incomplete.
SA: My first work was on 'The Professionals', do you know that one? Bodie and Doyle?

Q: Yes, from my mis-spent youth, I remember it well…great show.
SA: Well, from there I did Secret Army for the BBC, that was the fore-runner to 'Allo Allo'. Raiders was my first major feature outside the UK.

Q: Getting back to Aliens...BAPTY's is mentioned on call sheets from October 1st to the end of November.
SA: I was brought in reasonably early.

Q: When were you hired? Your name was added to the unit list sometime between 14th July and 30th September, along with a Tony O'Connor. Were all three of you guys on set together?
SA: I was on set every day. Tony assisted on days when I needed help.

Q: A call sheet for Wednesday 25th September reads: Rehearsals, workout and training 'F' stage. The sheet says it was arranged by Brendan Alimo (assistant set decorator technical). Weapons training is mentioned on that call sheet.
SA: There would have been some kind of fitting to make sure that people could load and unload magazines. On one occasion I was fitting Vasquez with the MG 42 (Smartgun) and told her not to let go. I turned around to get a bolt and as I turned back I saw that she had fallen over!

Q: How were the weapons kept at the studios?
SA: The weapons were taken back to BAPTY's overnight. Whilst at Acton they were kept in a secure vehicle.

Q: I have a Black and white 1:1 photo showing the insides (without shroud). Left, right, front and bottom. Can you tell me why this would have been taken?
SA: Those would have been taken to the art department for them to draw the shroud around it. As for the development of the shroud, I was asked to do the film, then came back to the workshop and put the bits (the Thompson and Remmington) together. I then took them to the art department where it was modelled by an art department sculptor. The shroud was built up in plastilene on top of the component parts and then moulded. The shrouds were made from aluminium, they then came back to me and I modified it so that everything worked.


Pulse Rifle photo taken at BAPTY's.

Q: Now, about those Smart-Gun components I asked about in my original letter…
They were from a Kawasaki motorcycle. Sorry, I can't remember the model. We mounted the MG 42 on top of the steadicam and then clad it.

Q: John Ward said something about having to add extra weight to the gun.
SA: John Ward brought the mount in, I took the arm off the jacket and mounted it on a bench. I was convinced it wouldn't work though and thought the recoil would be too much. I put extra weight on the gun and It was clad with plastic to hide it. I was very surprised to see it actually working.

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