Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President: How would you describe Perfect Organism, and how did the podcast first get started?
Jaime Prater: Thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed. Perfect Organism: The Alien Saga Podcast was born out of a need that I believe the burgeoning (and burdened) Alien fan community had. Having always been a huge fan of Rebel Force Radio, the premier - yet unofficial - Star Wars podcast, I felt like I wanted to create a podcast in the spirit of RFR, yet cater to the voice of a historically overlooked and under-appreciated fan community.
The birth of Perfect Organism was with the announcement of Neill Blomkamp’s Alien film project. Having been epically disappointed by Prometheus, the Blomkamp film stirred an excitement in me that I had not felt since I had been in my twenties, waiting to see Ripley again in Alien Resurrection, another film that had so much potential and ended up hurting the fan community more than anything else at that point.
BD: For those who have never listened, what can Fanbase Press fans expect from a standard episode of the podcast?
JP: Typically, we choose topics we haven't explored, sometimes that’s the music from the films, a specific element that’s been overlooked, design, characters, etc… I’m a philosophical guy, and the Alien films move me and stay with me in a way that’s non-typical. As much as I’m a fan of the creatures, the ships, and the guns, it’s the personal journeys of the character of Ripley that’s fueled my love for the series over the years.
BD: Can you tell us about the hosts and creators of Perfect Organism?
JP: Well, I am the founder and creator of Perfect Organism. I was born and raised in Chicago. I was first exposed to the Alien films at the age of 11 on television by my father, having seen a preview for the broadcast a few days earlier. I’ll never forget seeing the images of Ripley using an incinerator to torch the eggs, and I remember not understanding what I was seeing. My dad took notice right away and asked if I wanted to watch the film. Of course, I said yes, despite protests from my mother.
I now live in the greater Los Angeles metro area. The podcast continues to take up more and more of my time, which has been awesome. As I get older, my passion for the Alien series and the larger fan community stands out as my main priority.
BD: How long has the podcast been running, and do you have any favorite episodes?
JP: The podcast has been running for over two years. It began in January of 2015, a few weeks after the announcement of Neill Blomkamp’s Alien project.
In terms of a favorite episode…hmmm, there are so many. Back when Peter Haight was my co-host (He’s now moved on to other things.), we did an episode exploring the scores of each of the four canonical films. It was a labor-intensive episode to edit, but it was absolutely satisfying. Recently, we had a roundtable that honored Bill Paxton, who played Hudson in James Cameron's Aliens. It was a wonderful and heartfelt discussion about a character that’s lived on in our hearts and minds. Myself and Ryan do this podcast BECAUSE of the characters and the universe and how it’s affected our lives and shaped us, in many ways.
BD: You open the podcast with some specific clips from Alien, Aliens, and Alien: Covenant. Can you explain why these specific clips were chosen to open the show?
JP: The clips we’ve chosen, for me, really represent the seriousness of our commitment and the tone of the series, as well as the whimsy and fun that’s also found in characters like Hudson, Vasquez, etc… The clip from Covenant is there to amp up excitement for the film. We’re feeling confident that this film will deliver. We end each show with that clip of Ripley saying, “This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off,” as a way to bookend each episode and give it a feeling like each episode is a journey.
BD: What do you love about the Alien franchise, and how did it inspire the creation of the podcast?
JP: It’s all about Ripley. I latched onto the character of Ripley as a teenager and never let go. I think of her as my sci-fi mom in many ways. I went through some terribly dark times as a child and teenager, and she was there, going through her own shit, but surviving. That was what we shared. I was re-introduced to Ripley in Alien 3 (1992), at the age of 16, when I was experiencing some of the darkest times of my youth, and Ripley was also in the darkest place she had been as a character. Having lost everything - her family, her daughter, her pseudo-adopted daughter Newt, and everyone else - what was presented was a person, bald, looking like one of the prisoners on the planet she ended up on. Despite her situation, she pushed through it, she ended up sacrificing herself for the cause, but she made it. Without the Ripley from Alien 3, I wouldn’t have made it. I had a poster of her, bald, standing in front of smoke, at the head of my bed at 16. This is why stories are important. They stay with us, in some cases, they keep us alive.
BD: Given your knowledge of the series and the fanbase, what are you expecting from Alien: Covenant?
JP: My expectations of Alien: Covenant are a tempered excitement. Prometheus was a mixed bag - a beautiful film devoid of any likable or believable characters. An Alien film without good characters is nearly sacrilege. I loved the world building that Ridley Scott is capable of. No one can touch him. World building isn’t enough. I can’t really sit through the film with the sound on. Coming from a legacy of Ripley, one of the greatest characters (man or woman) ever written, to a character like Elizabeth Shaw, that was completely unbelievable, man. Do better.
BD: You recently announced that you’ll be producing a fan-created audio drama. What can you tell our readers about it?
JP: I’ve written an hour-long audio drama called Proximity: Last Stand at Hadley’s Hope, and it’s basically an idea of one of probably many stories happening during the alien infestation and outbreak at the colony featured in Aliens. Giving back to the fan community is paramount to me. This audio drama will be free to all. Everyone working on it is volunteering their time and talents to bring this story to life. This is a major labor of love for me. I hope to have it out this summer.
BD: What is Perfect Organism or the Perfect Organism team doing to celebrate Alien Day this year?
JP: We’ve been blessed by receiving an invite to come down to the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles to take part in the Alien Day festivities. I’m not completely positive of everything that will be happening during that event, but it’s an honor, a privilege, and a dream come true and really legitimizes us as a podcast. I don’t know if the studio realizes how important these films are to people like me who’ve lived a life inspired by these characters. Who knows, maybe I’ll meet Sigourney Weaver. That’s a lifetime goal of mine.
We’ve recorded three episodes for release on Alien Day, which includes Tim Lebbon, author of Alien: Out of the Shadows (and a host of other Alien novels), Laurel Lefkow, who voices Ripley in the audio drama version of that book (sounding identical to Sigourney Weaver’s voice), and a special Alien Day episode that Ryan Zeid, my co-host, and I recorded for the day.
BD: Where can readers find out more about Perfect Organism or the audio drama?
JP: We have an active and growing Facebook page where we post all of our episodes, which are available for streaming or download through Apple Podcasts/iTunes, and Podbean’s website. Our official partner group is The Weyland Yutani Bulletin, which is the largest Alien-centered group on social media, with over six thousand members. There’s always an in-depth discussion happening there. Right now, as you can guess, Alien: Covenant has fandom teaming with excitement (and some trepidation). I’m an administrator for the group, founded by William Robbie. If I’m not at work, I’m either at home, working on my art, or I’m in The Weyland Yutani Bulletin, discussing my love for a series that continues to nurture my soul and drive my imagination.