Sir Ridley Scott, born 1937, directed Alien (1979) after several years of guest-directing on various television shows, primarily in Great Britain. After that he had spent some time in advertising before pursuing feature film directing. His first feature film was The Duellists, which won several awards and was nominated for the Palm d'Or at Cannes, a rare honor for a first time filmmaker.
Inspired by the success of the Star Wars franchise, Scott set out to conquer the growing sci-fi market, agreeing to direct Dan O'Bannon's Alien. While Scott was not the first choice to direct, once he agreed to the project, he immediately set out storyboarding the whole movie himself. His rigor and artistic vision impressed the producers so much that they decided to double the production budget from $4.2 million to $8.4 million. For his inspiration, Scott drew upon his love of previously successful science fiction movies such as Star Wars—which inspired his the aesthetic concept for the film which he described as "truckers in space" and "dirty hardware"—as well as 2001: A Space Odyssey, whose visual realism impressed him enough to depict planetary approaches as accurately as possible.
Alien's success has been credited to Scott's inventive and detailed direction, his effectively gasp-worthy use of jump-scares, and the elaborately epic science fictional world he devised. The film includes a number of iconically horrifying scenes, including Kane's attack in the alien spacecraft, the Alien's eruption from Kane's stomach in front of terrified crew mates, and the Alien's ambush of Captain Dallas in the air shafts. In the scene where the alien is birthed from Kane's chest, Scott did not warn the actor about what would happen, and instead surprised them with the bloody mess, eliciting authentically terrified responses.
The success of Alien created a new cinematic genre that would be replicated and copied throughout the 1980s. The popularity of the film also spawned a franchise that is still alive and well today, which includes three more Alien sequels, two Alien vs Predator spins offs, and the quasi-prequel Prometheus and its forthcoming followups, also directed by Scott. Scott's futuristic horror immediately brought him overwhelming success, and help launched his already blooming career.