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 his reaction when he heard how the film was going to end, how he prepared for the job, what advice Steven Spielberg gave him, if the beginning was always going to open with a James Bond-esque prologue, Easter eggs, creating the Indoraptor, why the Blu-ray doesn’t contain any deleted scenes, what he hoped the film was going to make at the worldwide box office, what he learned making The Impossible and A Monster Calls which helped on Fallen Kingdom, if Jeff Goldblum ever had a bigger role, and more. In addition, he talked about some of the conceived scenes that were never shot like a dilophosaurus scene on the ship and a Indoraptor scene that would have featured two of them with one killing the other.
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 look for part two in a few days.
Collider: When you signed on to do the film, did you immediately re-watch all the Jurassic films?
J.A. BAYONA: I mean, when you work in a Jurassic movie or a big franchise, you try to be faithful to the legacy of movies that were done before, so I re-watched, again, all the films. I remembered them very well, but I re-watched them again, and I read the books from Michael Crichton again, also. I saw some Indiana Jones movies again. One of the things that I love about the Indiana Jones movies, and you can see a little bit of that in Jurassic, is in the visual storytelling from Steven Spielberg is some influence from silent movies. It’s how he’s able to introduce humor visually, and how he makes the characters more sympathetic by introducing humor and make them heroes with faults so you can empathize with them. So I re-watch, again, Indiana Jones, and I re-watch some silent movies from Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin that I love, and trying to put myself into that world of the comedy, of the visual comedy that you can see in silent movies. But basically what I did was I re-watch the Jurassic movies, and I read, again, Michael Crichton’s books.
When you’re watching these movies as a director taking on a Jurassic movie, do you take notes about the shots, or is it just sort of mentally taking a picture?
BAYONA: No. I took notes reading the novels, but not watching the movies.
You got to work with Steven Spielberg while making this film. Can you share some cool advice he gave you during pre-production, production, or post-production?
BAYONA: Very early on discussing the animatics, he suggested not to frame the dinosaurs, not to fill the frame with dinosaurs, not to frame them completely inside the frame, so then you give the impression that they’re bigger.
Oh, that’s good advice. How was it in terms of the collaboration process in the editing room? Is he the type of person, as a producer, that’s very hands-on, or he sort of wants to see the cut you have, and then he gives notes on it?
BAYONA: Yeah, he saw the final cut and gave us some notes. It’s very, very similar to work I did with Guillermo del Toro in The Orphanage. I think it’s great when you have another director as the producer, because he knows what you’re going through. He knows what is the experience of directing a movie, so they don’t want to interfere in that, and I really appreciate how Guillermo del Toro or Steven Spielberg were never invasive. I mean, they always trust, they always support my work, and in terms of the cut, he saw the director’s cut, gave us some suggestions. We worked some of his ideas, and then he saw the movie again.
Congratulations on making $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office. That is a hell of an achievement. When you made this film, what was that dream number? Did you dream, “please just let it cross a billion dollars, I just want it to cross a billion?” What’s that number that you were thinking about?
BAYONA: Well, I mean, when you’re doing a film, you never think about the…that the film is going to be released in theaters. In my case, I care about the story, and I try to do my best, so I don’t have time to think about that, but as soon as you get close to the release, then you start to worry about that. Then you get conscious that the movie’s going to be shown, and people are going to talk about it, and there’s always a discussion where someone decides to bet on how much money it’s going to do.
BAYONA: I’m very bad always in doing that. I mean, it’s not that I’m bad, I just don’t want to do it, because I’m superstitious, but my number, the number that I was fine [with], that was pretty high, it was 1.2.
So you beat your number?
BAYONA: Yes. I’m glad that I beat my number.
I say congratulations. Breaking a billion dollars at the box office, that’s a huge achievement.
BAYONA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I really loved your work on The Impossible and A Monster Calls. What did you learn making these previous films that maybe helped you make Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, especially with VFX?
BAYONA: When you work with a company like ILM, they’re not the best because they have more money, or they better machines, or better computers. It’s because they have the experience. So every time you work in a story, every time you work on a film, you learn a lot about how to use the craft of a film, how to use the technology and the computers, so of course it was a great experience to shoot The Impossible, but it was more the work that we did in A Monster Calls, and the combination of animatronics and CGI that we used in that film that was a great help. I was very aware of how difficult is the interaction between CGI and actors, especially when the actors touch the element, the CGI element, so very early on in the process of making Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I went to David Vickery, who’s the visual effects supervisor, and I ask him that every time that the actors were touching the dinosaurs, we had to have something real on set.