Let’s say you’ve been tasked with marketing a movie. It’s an ambitious film, one that simultaneously hopes to live up to the lofty standards of one of Philip K. Dick’s most beloved novels while also creating a vast, dystopian world that is equal parts unimaginably different from our own and a logical extension of current and near-future technology. In 2012 that wouldn’t be too difficult — just capture a few seconds of bombastic CGI, hire a deep-voiced narrator and cut a TV commercial that may or may not accurately reflect the film (but who cares as long as it puts people in the seats?) — but way back in 1982 it was a whole lot more difficult to entice notoriously picky sci-fi fans into the theater.
Thus, when faced by a similar situation for Ridley Scott’s phenomenal Blade Runner, the crew at M.K. Productions opted to put together a short, promotional movie to be distributed at various conventions around the country. According to Open Culture the short was a hit, and was widely circulated among sci-fi, horror and fantasy fan groups prior to Blade Runner’s theatrical debut. Whether or not it directly contributed to the movie’s success and current status as one of the all-time greatest sci-fi films Hollywood has ever created is debatable, but the vignette does serve as an undeniably cool look back at the creation of the film, and that’s a solid enough reason for us to embed the clip at the bottom of this post.
Along with the expected images and footage from Blade Runner, the short includes interviews with director Ridley Scott, special effects artist Douglas Trumbull and “futurist designer” Syd Mead. Normally we wouldn’t be this excited about what we now call a “behind the scenes featurette,” but in this case we’re utterly stoked to hear what these people have to say. If you’ve seen Blade Runner you know how masterfully crafted its futuristic world is, and there’s a very good reason why so many sci-fi movies, novels and video games created since 1982 have blatantly lifted ideas from Ridley Scott’s film.
More impressively, Blade Runner was created in an era where computer generated graphics weren’t really something Hollywood studios could use. They existed, certainly, but any CGI work was exorbitantly expensive, and few people had any idea how to effectively use the technology for making films. Thus, when you’re watching Blade Runner and being drawn in by the hyper-detailed detritus of that cyberpunk universe, everything you’re seeing was created by old-school practical visual effects work, making the film that much more stunning a feat.
Before you hit play on the embed below, we will give you a heads up that the footage is not exactly crystal-clear, 1080p HD quality. It is, after all, a 16mm movie from three decades ago, that was never really intended for public consumption. Thus, just be happy that this thing still exists, and that we can all use it to avoid dirtying our hands with any actual work on a lazy Tuesday afternoon.