Alien: FX TV Series One of Director M.J. Bassett's Dream Projects

Though M.J. Bassett made her directing debut in film with 2002's Deathwatch, the bulk of her work is in television shows like Da Vinci's Demons, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Strike Back, Iron Fist, Power, Nightflyers, Halo, Altered Carbon, and Motherland: Fort Salem. Promoting her latest film Endangered Species for Lionsgate, I spoke to the writer and director about comparing film and television, and why the FX TV series Alien, based on the film franchise, is her dream project. "It's night and day in terms of the difference in how I approach [film and TV], Bassett explained. "When I'm doing TV, I go in as an episodic director if I'm a guest on somebody else's set. Strike Back was different because I produced it as well so I had a lot more freedom and creative control. When I'm doing somebody else's project as a showrunner and studio executives, most people looking over your shoulder. They want a product that is in accordance with how they want their show to be. As a director, I'm respectful and try to make my work fit into that pattern."

Alien
Image courtesy of 20th Century Studios

How M.J. Bassett Compares Directing TV & Film

Bassett explained one of her more recent projects. "I just come off The Terminal List with Chris Pratt," she said. "That's a particular show in a particular way. I worked in a way that they wanted me to work. It was a great experience, but it was much more work shooting within a straitjacket. With movies like Endangered Species or Rogue. I'm the producer, writer, and director. I have my financers leave me alone and I get to make the movies I want to make. That's very much more a reflection of my personal style, case, my narrative approach, my work with actors, the looseness I like to try and bring to things, and the kind of slightly more grounded approach to action that I like to do. If I didn't make my movies where I had the kind of full creative control, I would try and do the television stuff much more stifling. Because I get both worlds, I feel very satisfied. The TV budgets are bigger than my movie budgets, but I don't I'm not taking money. That's not really a big problem for me."

Alien and Other Franchises Bassett Is Interested In

There's plenty in Bassett's docket when it comes to what she wants to do in the future including hearing news of Noah Hawley's involvement with the Alien franchise. "I'd love to do another big action TV show," she said. "I like to run it, which in a way to strike back was a kind of slightly heightened military globetrotting crazy-action James Bond movie every week. I'm good at that and I'd love to do that. I'm kind of working on a few ideas that might have gotten into that space. I've always loved Michael Moorcock's fantasy writing. I'd love to make something with Michael Moorcock. The only thing that you look at other people doing things that you had. 'Damn, I wish I was involved.' I read about Noah Hawley and the Alien TV series. I basically said to my representatives, 'That's my Holy Grail.' I, I don't really mind what I do. I'm not sure I'd make tea. I just want to be involved in some capacity. I'd actually write a letter saying 'Alien is the most important movie in my life. It's the reason I wanted to become a filmmaker. What do I have to do to persuade you to let me come and play in the world you're creating?' So that's the one that I really want to do in terms of the kind of the existing franchises, the Marvels of the world, and the DC. I don't really have any interest in doing that stuff. I like the movies a lot, but I don't think I'm not ready to seek out psychologically for playing in a corporate space, but they definitely have a show full of books and things I've always wanted to do them. If it's a genre, fantasy or action, I, I'd like to go I'd like to play in the horror movie world one day as well."

Lionsgate's Endangered Species is available in select theaters, on Apple TV+ and everywhere you rent movies on May 28th and available on Blu-ray and DVD on June 1st.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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