With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom now available on Blu-ray, I recently got on the phone with director J.A. Bayona for an extended wide-ranging interview about the making of the film. Unlike our interview at the junket where we had just a few minutes to talk, this time I had almost an hour with him and we went into extreme detail about the making of the sequel. Since the interview was so long and covered so many subjects, I decided to break it up into two parts. If you’re curious how Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was made, you’re going to learn a lot reading this interview.
Bayona talks about how he shot the brachiosaurus scene where Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard watch the dinosaur succumb to the erupting volcano, if he prefers to storyboard or find it in the moment, how Roger Deakins has influenced his cinematographer (Oscar Faura), his reasons for camera movement in a shot, designing the second half of the film (which is essentially a haunted house movie), if he thinks the human race has learned anything from the Jurassic Park movies, future projects, and a lot more.
Written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, Fallen Kingdom takes place three years after the events of Jurassic World and finds Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) returning to the now-abandoned Isla Nublar to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from a brewing volcano that threatens to make the animals extinct once again. But their expedition is not what it seems. After uncovering a conspiracy, Owen and Claire find themselves in a race against greed, corporatism, and murderous dinosaurs. The film also stars James Cromwell, Ted Levine, Justice Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Daniella Pineda,Toby Jones, Rafe Spall, Isabella Sermon, BD Wong, and Jeff Goldblum.
Check out what J.A. Bayona had to say below and here’s part one if you missed it.
Collider: So I definitely have to touch on the scene of the—and I’m going to butcher the name—the Brachiosaurus…
Every time I see the scene, it’s so haunting and painful, and it’s so beautifully shot, so screw you for doing this and making me cry every time. I’m kidding, obviously. But talk a little bit about putting that scene on screen, because everyone I talk to is like, “That scene breaks me.”
BAYONA: I think it was a great idea. That was already in the first script. The moment the characters leave the island behind, there’s one dinosaur that you see that it gets left there, and they cannot do anything for her. It wasn’t the brachiosaurus at the very beginning, but there was a moment during the long sessions that we were working on the script that we decided that it had to be the brachiosaurus, the first brachiosaurus that we saw in Jurassic Park. There’s a speech that Claire does later on, “Do you remember the first time you saw a dinosaur?” And the first time we saw a dinosaur was that brachiosaurus. So it was like a way of putting the audience into that moment, remembering the first time they saw a dinosaur, so it had to be the brachiosaurus. It was the right way, it felt like the right thing to do, to finish the island with the first dinosaurs we saw on the island.
Sure, but I’m also specifically talking about the way you framed the shot because the way you framed the shot is just…it’s haunting. You see the dinosaur and the smoke. Talk a little bit about the composition of that image and how much time you spent to get it exactly right.
BAYONA: There’s a story about that shot because it was the last shot that we finished, that we completed for the film. It’s a very emotional shot. It had to be right because any kind of mistake or thing that wasn’t there was going to spoil the emotion of the moment. So I was suffering for that shot, because there was a moment that we only had three or four days to complete the shot, and the shot was not ready, and the moment was not working because the CGI was not working there, the visual effects were not working, so we were struggling a little bit with that shot. There was a moment, in order to go really fast in terms of the specifics for the shot, I asked the visual effects guys to think about the heart of E.T. That shot of the brachiosaurus disappearing among the dust and you see the shadow of the brachiosaurus projected in the cloud, if you think about the heart of E.T., it’s very similar.
How would you typically work on set? Is everything storyboarded? How much are you relying on storyboards, and how much are you sort of figuring out in the moment where you’re standing there, “This is where I want to put the camera?”
BAYONA: I normally do the storyboards for the whole movie, always, because for me it’s like a way of writing the script in a visual way. For me, framing, it’s very important. The place where I put the camera, for me, it’s always a very, very important decision, because depending on where you put the camera, you’re telling the story, you’re setting up a tone. So I always do storyboards, and it’s like a way of re-writing the script in a visual way, and if there’s something I don’t know how to frame, normally it’s because there’s something I’m not a hundred percent sure about in the script. It’s something that as we work on the script, we work in the storyboards. But then on set, most of the times, I don’t look at them. Because I remember them, and you always have new ideas on set, and these ideas are considering the old ideas that you had before. Doing the boards for the movies is like doing your homework but then on set somehow the fact that you know what you need gives me like the security to…gives me the comfort to improvise and try new things.
In the case of this specific movie—because doing scenes with dinosaurs deals with so many people and so we had to have animatics for all the dinosaur scenes—but then I was pretty surprised that I was changing the shots on set and not doing the animatics exactly as they were, and nobody complains so…no, the thing is that the animatics are helpful for the crew and for the producers so that they what you need on set, and as long as you don’t ask for something that you didn’t ask before, it’s okay. So I felt very open to improvisation in terms of the framing or doing things with the actors on set.
You have some very cool camera moves, and I’m just curious, how do you decide when you want a static shot and when you want to dolly in on something on tracks?
BAYONA: For me, it’s an instinct thing. I just close my eyes and see the scene. It doesn’t work like, “In this moment I’m going to use a dolly because I want to give that impression.” It’s just I close my eyes and I see the scene.
So it’s literally just instinct on set?
BAYONA: Exactly, yeah.