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'Dead Space: Aftermath' Scribe Brandon Auman Interview


Early last year, FEARnet made a new friend in fear when we chatted with screenwriter Brandon Auman, who had penned the screenplay for Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic, the animated tie-in to Visceral and EA’s blasphemous brawler.  With the upcoming release of Dead Space 2, EA once again turned to Auman to expand on the mythology of their franchise with Dead Space: Aftermath, an animated anthology that explores just what happened between the two games.  And we once again turned to the always-enthusiastic Auman for the inside scoop!

FEARnet: The look of Dead Space: Aftermath bears a stronger resemblance to Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic with its constantly shifting art styles than Dead Space: Downfall.  Did you have any influence on this aesthetic decision?

Brandon Auman: Well we all knew early on that we’d break the movie up into five distinct styles.  On one hand, I think it’s far more entertaining and interesting, to reinterpret Dead Space in different styles within a single film.  The Matrix anime did that, so did Batman [Gotham Knight] and a few others… On the other hand, it’s also a time factor.  It saves a lot of time – and it’s more economical – than giving the entire project to one studio.  But I think it works well with Aftermath; each segment is a reflection of a character’s memory, so the different style changes represent that.  Mike Disa did a great job utilizing the studios in that way.

What are some of the challenges in filling in the gaps in the Dead Space mythology?  Is there a “Dead Space bible” you had to follow, or were you given a lot of leeway?

We followed the bible, and also I read the Dead Space 2 script – which was great, but had some “malleable” spots.  In other words, there were segments and characters which would or could change at any moment.  But I was stoked to see these amazing new designs, knowing the game was still a year before it hit the shelves.  EA/Visceral hires the most incredible and imaginative artists…they’re insane and brilliant!

What are some of your personal influences you’ve incorporated into Dead Space: Aftermath?

Definitely sci-fi literature of the last 30 years… Philip K. Dick, John Shirley … also I was influenced quite a bit by “darker” spiritual philosophies, like certain Gnostic sects, and Medieval Occultism.  There are a lot of grim philosophical ideas in Dead Space. And of course I gotta mention the “grandfathers” of Dead Space!  Dan O’Bannon, the writer who created Alien and John Campbell, who wrote “Who Goes There?” the short story adapted into The Thing.  Both of those guys are paid homage to in Dead Space: Aftermath.  I named a lot of the characters after famous sci-fi writers, actually.

If ya need dark sci-fi movies that inspired the Aftermath script, I'd go with -
1. The Thing and Aliens (a given)
2. Blade Runner 
3. Pi
4. Time Crimes
5. 2001 

This is your second video game related screenplay.  Are you a gamer yourself?

Hell yeah.  I buy at least 2 games a month.  Not that I always have time to finish them.  But I feel the need to keep up with what’s out there.  Plus I just love the artistry and storytelling of modern games.  I dig horror games and first person sci-fi shooters...

OK, name your top 5 horror games of all time!

Sure -- these are my favorite horror games of all time:
1. Fallout 3 (not exactly horror, but at times pretty freaky)
2. Dead Space (of course)
3. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
4. Resident Evil 4
5. Silent Hill: The Room
What’s the last thing you saw/read/played that genuinely scared the hell out of you?

I was a bit let down by Resident Evil 5.  The fourth game was much scarier and more innovative…honestly I think the first Dead Space is still the scariest game of the past 5 years, and most gamers who have played it will agree.  Dead Space 2 is even freakier and better.  The game mechanics are better.  The last great horror film I saw was Black Swan, and yes it’s definitely a horror film, the Argento references are clear.  The last scary book I read was probably The Exorcism of Annaliese Michel, a documented true story.  Horror novels don’t really scare me anymore.

What’s next for you after Dead Space: Aftermath?

We have a really huge horror project cooking up at EA/Visceral.  I’m already halfway through it on the movie side, but it’s a giant horror project that has been taking months to write.  The fans will love it though… it’ll be announced soon!  

Dead Space: Aftermath will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray January 25, 2011.