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Future Noir: The Second Cut


Article and Interview by Bryan Ebenhoch

Images Courtesy of Paul M. Sammon

In celebration of Blade Runner’s 25th Anniversary, it gives us great pleasure here at BladeZone to once again welcome Mr. Paul M. Sammon, who will discuss his most recent contributions to the scholarship of Blade Runner.
Mr. Sammon’s career in the film industry began in the 1970’s as a publicist. He then went on to perform many other roles in the film making arena – Studio Executive, Producer, Director, Still Photographer, Special Effects Coordinator, Actor - while also writing many filmmaking articles that have graced the pages of American Cinematographer, The Los Angeles Times, Cinefex, and many other magazines. In addition, Mr. Sammon has written over a dozen books, and he has either worked with or extensively covered the works of Sir Ridley Scott, Paul Verhoeven, James Cameron, John Milius, Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg, John Landis and David Lynch.

Three recent books authored/contributed to by Paul M. Sammon

During the year 2007 Mr. Sammon was busy composing the Second Edition of his well-known “Blade Runner Bible,” Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner. This second edition hardcover appeared on December 13 2007 from Orion Books in the United Kingdom. It can be ordered from

During 2007, Mr. Sammon also published three new Blade Runner articles for England’s Empire Magazine, and wrote a 7000-word essay about Philip K. Dick for the late 2007 reissue of Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (this appeared in paperback from Del Rey Books). Paul also contributed to the Blade Runner: The Final Cut DVD documentaries, released by Warner Home Video on December 18th, and wrote a number of “History” articles detailing BR’s evolution for Warner Home Video’s official Blade Runner website


Sammon’s 2007 Empire Magazine Article on Harrison Ford

We took some time to ask Mr. Sammon about his thoughts on the recent release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut, and his 25-year long history of supporting the film.


Paul M. Sammon in a screenshot from the BR documentary DANGEROUS DAYS

Mr. Sammon, thank you for taking the time to offer your words to the Blade Runner fan community. We congratulate you on your all your work and are excited to hear you have a new revised edition of Future Noir. What will fans expect to see in this new edition?

Approximately 70,000 words of new material. This covers the BR story from 1996, when the first edition of Future Noir was published, up until 2007, the year the Final Cut appeared. The Second Edition also includes a 10,000-word interview with Harrison Ford. It’s the longest interview he’s ever done on Blade Runner. Harrison was very gracious during our talks; basically, he told me that because enough time had passed, Ford’s now made his peace with the film. And with Sir Ridley.
Ford and I spoke twice about BR. We did the longer of the two interviews, which took about an hour and half, at Harrison’s office near the Santa Monica airport. That’s where he has a hanger housing his fixed-wing aircraft and his helicopter. Ford’s a licensed pilot.

Sammon and Ford February 2007

How long did you take writing this new second edition?

Well, I’ve never stopped collecting information on BR, but I more or less officially contracted for the new Future Noir during December 2006. Then I spent months reconnecting with the cast & crew, doing new interviews, and warehousing a ton of fresh research. I turned in the final manuscript in early October of 2007. So I spent about 10 months on this version of the book. Although, really, you could say that I’m always writing about BR, one way or another (laughs).

Yes, we’d heard that you’d conducted new interviews with the cast and crew.

Yeah, I did about 25-30 of those. People I spoke with this time included Harrison, Michael Deeley, Ivor Powell, Mark Stetson, Hampton Fancher, David Peoples, and Joanna Cassidy. Charles de Lauzirika, the Restoration Producer for the Final Cut, was also tremendously helpful; I literally could not have composed this version of the book without Charlie. And then I had a terrific and very long chat with Sean Young about Blade Runner. But that happened far too late in the game to include in this version of Future Noir. Maybe it’ll appear in the Third Edition! (laughs)

Sammon's Empire Magazine Interview with Producer Charles de Lauzirika

Who can we expect to be included and what additional subjects have you covered?

First, there’s a new 50,000-word chapter entitled “The Final Cut.” That section covers the entire process of creating The Final Cut, including moments like the “Greenscreen shoot” with Joanna Cassidy and Ben Ford. This chapter also includes a heavily detailed report on all the new Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick happenings since 1996. Then there is the Second Edition’s standalone Harrison Ford interview, which is done as an appendix, “Appendix J.” There are two other new appendices as well. One, the Second Edition Data File, is a grab-bag of anecdotes and BR-related factoids. Here’s where you’ll find info on the Westwood BR videogame, the new bootleg soundtracks, and the BR DVD collector sets. The last new appendix in the Second Edition addresses and corrects some of the typos and misinformation that sneaked into the first edition. That one’s called “Errata: First Edition Corrections.”

Were you able to completely revise the first edition?

Unfortunately, no. Only in the sense of the additions and corrections I've already spoken about. That’s why I was annoyed to see the word “revised” appear on the cover of the Second Edition. Because it isn’t – there wasn’t the time or opportunity to do a complete revision, despite the fact that I very much wanted to. Anyway, the new material in the Second Edition begins on page 375, with a 105-page chapter called "The Final Cut." That covers the newest version of the film, the rise in interest in the works of Philip K. Dick, the BR DVDs produced by Charlie de Lauzirika, the 2004 restoration of the original Flying Spinner, the PKD Android Project, and a slew of other topics. The new appendices start on page 548 with Appendix J, the Harrison Ford interview. Then the Second Edition Data File and the Errata appendix follow that. These new appendices total about 50 additional pages. So there are about 150 pages of new material, in toto, in "Future Noir II".

Are you happy with the way the Second Edition came out?

Well...(laughs). I'm rarely satisfied with the final state of my books or films, much less made happy by them. Usually, I just see their blemishes. On the other hand, the Second Edition of Future Noir was composed under circumstances quite different from the first. The main difference was that, this time, the Final Cut and BR DVD sets were still being created while I was writing about them. That situation erected its own unique set of obstacles - Ridley didn't sign off on the Final Cut until early August 2007, for example, yet FN's Second Edition was published just a few months later, in early December. Plus, 2007 was the year of BR's 25th anniversary, and Warner Home Video mounted a very impressive slate of promotional efforts all year long to publicize the BR DVDs and Final Cut. But those efforts lasted virtually up until December 9, the date when the BR DVD/Bradbury Building party took place. Which is why that event isn’t in the Second Edition.

What all this meant was that I was literally writing updates and corrections up through mid-November of 2007, the month I turned in the Second Edition’s last few additions. So this version of the book didn’t appear under the best possible circumstances; for example, I wish that I could have published the Second Edition about a year later, maybe in late 2008. With that extra time, I could have compiled more BR data and gained a deeper perspective on The Final Cut and the BR DVDs. Still, even though the Second Edition process was a bit daunting, my UK publisher, Gollancz/Orion Books, couldn't have been more supportive. Gollancz did a great job with the Second Edition.

What don't you like about the Second Edition?

I'd rather start with something that I do like. There is now a hardcover version of Future Noir that preserves the first edition and includes a new 150-page update on BR, which I think is very cool. As for what I don't like, well, one bother was the matter of timing, as I’ve already mentioned. There I ran up against a relatively new wrinkle in contemporary publishing – the tie-in. By that I mean that books like Future Noir are often slaved to the release date of another product. The Second Edition FN was no different in that respect, since it was always positioned to be published at the same time that the BR DVDs were released. In fact, if there hadn’t been all those BR DVDs and The Final Cut, there probably wouldn’t have been a Second Edition.  That makes perfect sense, by the way, from a publisher's point of view. Publishers like to release one thing at the same time that they can capitalize on the release of another thing, in order to maximize the return on their investment.

I’m surprised that there wasn’t enough faith in Future Noir to publish another edition before this one.

Are you kidding? Publishing is a business, like the film industry, and the tyranny of the bottom-line has both fields in its grip. So unless you’re someone like Stephen King or Steven Spielberg, you gotta line up and beg for your supper, along with everyone else. Plus, it's gotten harder and harder to publish off-center books like Future Noir. I know, since I've been actively trying to get someone interested in a Second Edition since 2002. But there was never any interest in such a thing. Not until 2007, when The Final Cut and the BR DVDs and Gollancz came along. So when the opportunity finally presented itself, even given the restrictions that I’ve mentioned, I jumped at it. Believe me!

Was there anything else you don’t like about the Second Edition?

My main difficulties involve its many typos and flawed photo reproductions. Somewhere between submitting the final draft to the publisher and seeing the end result after it left the printer, a number of corrections I'd originally included weren't put into the book.  For example, in the manuscript that I turned in, I'd mentioned that one of Blade Runner's original illustrators, Mentor Huebner, had passed away since FN's first edition came out. That same sentence went on to add that Sherman Labby, BR's other chief illustrator, had also died. But now the book only mentions Huebner! Plus, Charlie is referred to early on in the Final Cut chapter as "Charles de Lauzirika", which of course is his correct name. But then he's named "Charles Lauzirika" through the rest of that section. Finding errors like that, particularly after you'd previously corrected them, can be annoying.

I also wish that the photos in the Second Edition had been better reproduced.  And I'd wanted to include at least a half-dozen new stills in the Second Edition, things like the Flying Spinner being restored or a behind-the-scenes shot of Joanna Cassidy being filmed during the Greenscreen shoot. But I was told about midway through writing the new material that those stills weren't going to happen. My publisher did say they'd try to get them into the first softcover version of the Second Edition.

So generally speaking were you happy working with Gollancz?

Absolutely, despite the nits I’ve just picked. Orion and my editor, Simon Spanton, were terrific - professional, reasonable, patient. I really appreciated that last quality, by the way. Particularly since I was originally commissioned to write only about 10,000 new words for the Second Edition, and I ultimately turned in 70,000! (laughs)

Will the Second Edition also be published in America?

Not at the moment. Right now the Second Edition is planned to only be published in two countries. One is England - you can easily buy it online from HarperCollins, my American publisher, decided not to do a Second Edition here in the States.


You'd have to ask HarperCollins. I'm assuming that someone there did a cost/benefit analysis and came up short. However, you never know. Perhaps there'll be a change of heart down the line.

Will the new book be in soft cover and Hardcover versions?

Orion's Second Edition Future Noir will be first published in hardcover. A trade paperback may appear later, perhaps in 2008. But that’s undecided at the moment.

You mentioned that the new Future Noir would appear in two countries. So does that mean that there will be other, foreign-language versions of the Second Edition, as there were with the previous edition?

Yes. Right now the Second Edition will be published in Japan, as well as in England. Japanese film buffs have always been fascinated with Blade Runner. Like me!

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2007 Japanese & 2004 Spanish editions of Future Noir


1998 Italian edition of Future Noir

Will you be available for any signings and appearances to promote the book? If so, where can we can we plan to see you?

I should be doing some appearances, perhaps in conjunction with Hollywood Book & Poster, which I mention in the book. I may be doing a signing sponsored by them around March 17, 2008, at a fantasy convention. But I’ll certainly keep BladeZone posted as to that one, or any others.

With your participation in the documentaries on the Blade Runner: The Final Cut DVD set, what do you think fans can expect to see in this documentary?

The best doco on the film ever made. Period. It’s titled Dangerous Days, and it’s fabulously all-inclusive. Charles de Lauzirika is primarily responsible for that, and he’s crafted what has to be the best multi-media examination of the film yet. Just to give you an idea of how thorough Charlie was, he and his crew videotaped me for about seven or eight hours for that documentary, during a single session! We literally recorded over 400 minutes of video of me talking. In one sitting, with no breaks! Well, except for water and the bathroom.

Did you provide a commentary as well?

I originally provided commentaries tracks for three versions of the film - the Director’s Cut, the International Cut, and the Domestic Cut. Then a technical problem arose with the branching technology on that particular disc, as I understand it, so I was asked to do a fourth commentary, this one for the Workprint. That’s the only one that made it onto a DVD set. My Workprint commentary appears in the 5-disc, “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” set. It was done in real-time, and in a single take.


Paul M. Sammon in a screenshot from the BR documentary DANGEROUS DAYS

What are your thoughts on the look and sound of the new restoration of the film?

Blade Runner was always meant to be viewed on the big screen, and it’s always been best experienced on the big screen. So it gives me tremendous pleasure to report that The Final Cut is, hands-down, the best-looking, best-sounding Blade Runner ever shown in a theater. That includes the original 1982 70mm, six-track theatrical prints, one of which I caught in Los Angeles back in the day. The Final Cut has been so well restored, in fact, both visually and aurally, that seeing it in a hardtop again was like seeing it fresh, for the first time. Of course, since it’s a digitally created product, the best place to theatrically experience The Final Cut is in a house equipped with digital projection. Watching the FC that way is astonishing – there’s an interesting dimensionality to some scenes that almost make them look 3-D. Plus, I kept spotting little details in the digitally-projected Final Cut, like scraps of waste paper on Deckard’s apartment’s floor, that I had never noticed before. For someone like myself to notice that, who’s already viewed BR so many, many times – well, that’s really saying something!

How was your experience seeing it 25 years later at the Landmark Theatre in Los Angeles?

Gary Willoughby and I caught a digitally-projected Final Cut on October 5, the first day it opened in Los Angeles. And as the lights came down, I recall silently asking myself, “Am I actually going to be able to sit through this one more time?” Then came the incredible “BOOM!” that precedes BR’s opening credits, and I was sucked in all over again. Interestingly, after that particular screening, I recall being struck by how crucial Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan’s wardrobes were to the picture. I mean, Knode’s costume designs for Blade Runner aren’t only stunning, they’re believable. And during that screening I was also impressed - once again - by Terry Rawlings’ editing. BR is an incredibly tight film.  You could bounce a dime off of it, you know? The cutting is so smooth, and rhythmic. So very, very tight. I’ve never understood people who are put off by the film’s pace.

Do you have any words you can relay from other members of the crew after they viewed the film?

Joanna Cassidy had an interesting reaction. For the Second Edition Future Noir, I asked people associated with the film to give me some new thoughts about BR’s 25th anniversary, or about The Final Cut. Joanna responded by composing a poem, That you will find in the new FN. One of its couplets summed up Joanna’s feelings: “I dare you all to leave it lay/This perfect movie of its day.”

What support did you provide for Warner Home Video’s Blade Runner website?

Well, as I already mentioned, I wrote up a new three-part history of the film, broken down into its pre-production, principal photography, and post-production periods. You can find them by going to and then clicking on “The Film” tab, on the home page’s menu bar. Anyway, those were done in two different formats, so I guess you could say that I actually wrote six essays for the Warner Bros. site. Three were 400 word summaries that you can read on the website, and three are a trio of different 4000 word essays that you can download as separate PDFs. Warner Home Video also was kind enough to provide a link for me on their site that connects to, where you can purchase a copy of Future Noir. By the way, I must say that WHV’s marketing campaign for The Final Cut and their BR DVD sets was something special. I’m not just saying this to be polite, either. Warner Bros. really did an excellent job of getting the word out.

Now, Warner Bros. also set up the opportunity for me to compose a new 7000 word essay about Philip K. Dick’s reaction to the process of BR’s creation. That will appear, I think, in December 2007 from Del Rey Books, in their latest edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I was very happy to do that essay, because most people don’t realize that I actually had known Phil Dick for almost a decade before we started talking about Ridley Scott. I mean, it was a casual relationship, but I first met Dick in 1973, after a lecture he’d given at Cal State Fullerton College. Our paths then occasionally crossed throughout the rest of the 1970’s, mostly at parties or science fiction conventions. And from 1980-1982, we spoke and met any number of times. That was a wonderful period, Phil could be a very warm guy, and we had endless, fascinating conversations about virtually everything. That was flattering, because Dick seemed to trust me. Particularly after he realized I was such a long-term admirer of his work – I read my first Dick story in 1959 - and particularly after Phil read what I’d written about him in Omni, which was even-handed and respectful. And we were working on a friendship when he abruptly passed away. That’s why I was so happy to not only write my PKD essay for Del Rey, but to be able to include some audio snippets from the actual telephone interviews I did with Dick about BR on the upcoming BR DVDs. Those excerpts from my Phil-talks will appear on the four and five-disc Blade Runner DVD sets.

So if you take my involvement with the Blade Runner DVD into account, and then factor in the three BR articles I wrote for Empire magazine, plus the six essays I did for the BR website, and the long piece I wrote for Del Rey Books, and the 70, 000 word update I did for Future Noir…well, 2007 was definitely the year of Blade Runner at the Sammon house!


Sammon’s 2007 Empire Magazine Article on Ridley Scott

Philip K. Dick’s stories reached beyond his time, drafting human situations beyond the ability of science; do you think he would have continued to do the same if he was writing today?

Of course. Phil was a writer, which means he could do anything but not write. So he certainly would have continued practicing his craft, using present-day circumstances as goads to his critical imaginings. For example, I’m sure Phil would have found a lot of raw material to play with during the Reagan Era And since he was also a professional SF scribe, in contact with other writers of the same ilk, Phil most certainly would have continued to comment on whatever current technologies interested him, I mean, just think of what PKD could have done with our own digital age, when so many events take place in these intangible, virtual worlds. That’s the sort of thing that was right up his thematic alley.


Sammon in the BR Art Department, circa 1980

On the other hand, there was clear evidence in his writing of Phil’s increasing fascination with religion and spirituality during the final years of his life. So who knows? Perhaps Dick would have continued to explore humanity’s urge to worship, or ventured further into man’s relationship with the God principle. All I know is that, 25 years later, I still miss him. Phil was one-of-a-kind.

BladeZone would like to congratulate you on your achievements, Mr. Sammon. Is there any other new project you’d like to alert our readers to?

I’ve just done a coffee-table art book covering 75 years in the history of a fictional character, Conan the barbarian. Most people know him from the 1980’s Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, but Conan was actually created back in 1932, and he’s never been off the pop-culture-map since. The book is called CONAN THE PHENOMENON. It’s a lovely text-and-art package. One that I’m actually rather pleased with. It’s published by Dark Horse Books.


Thank you for taking the time with us – we look forward to reading your Second Edition of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner.

Me too! (laughs). Thanks for taking the time to interview me, Bryan. One last thing - here’s a BIG HUG for anyone who’s ever read, bought or appreciated Future Noir. I truly do appreciate your support. As they say in the Phillippines – Salamat po!*         

* Thank you!


Paul M. Sammon – Photo by Sherri Sammon





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