In this day and age when any major film production eventually gets leaked online, it’s incredibly hard to create anything under the radar. However, that’s exactly what director Colin Trevorrow and his cast and crew managed to pull off last year in Ireland when they secretly shot the eight-minute Jurassic World short film, Battle at Big Rock!
With the short film airing this Sunday, September 15 on FX after Jurassic World (it’ll be online immediately after), I recently landed an exclusive interview with Trevorrow about the project. He talked about where and when the short film takes place, how they filmed it without anyone knowing, where the idea came from, the challenge of making something in the Jurassic universe on a much lower budget, the new dinosaurs appearing in the film, what it was like scoring the film with composer Amie Doherty at Abbey Road Studios, casting the project without being able to say what it was, and a lot more. In addition, I asked about the status of Jurassic World 3 and the upcoming Jurassic World animated series on Netflix.
Finally, I’ve seen Battle at Big Rock, and even though Trevorrow and his team obviously had fewer resources to make the short film, it feels like it was lifted right out of a Jurassic World movie. If you’re a Jurassic World fan and can’t wait to see Jurassic World 3 in 2021, you’re going to really enjoy this short film.
Check out what he had to say below along with two exclusive images from Battle at Big Rock. Click on either image for high-res.
Collider: What is the short film about?
COLIN TREVORROW: Battle At Big Rock is a short film that takes place one year after the events of Fallen Kingdom. It’s about a family on a camping trip to Big Rock National Park, about 20 miles from where the last film ended. There have been a few sightings, but this is the first major confrontation between dinosaurs and humans.
A lot of people are going to wonder how did you make a Jurassic World short film without anyone getting wind of it?
TREVORROW: We shot it in Ireland last winter. They have a grove of redwood trees outside Dublin that look exactly like the national parks in Northern California. I honestly never thought we’d make it this far without getting found out. The Irish can keep a secret.
Where did the idea come from? Who wrote it?
TREVORROW: Universal asked if I’d be interested in making a short film and I didn’t give them any time to reconsider. I wrote it with Emily Carmichael, who is co-writing Jurassic World 3. It felt like a first step into a larger world after the last film. You have these animals loose in an unfamiliar environment, they’re disoriented, struggling to adapt. The first people they run into are bound to be camping. I wanted to see that.
How long is the short and was it ever going to be a lot longer?
TREVORROW: It’s 8 minutes. It was supposed to be shorter. I know 8 minutes is an eternity on the internet, but I hope people will set some time aside and put on a good pair of headphones.
Did the short end up with deleted scenes or because of the time and budget was it incredibly pre-planned to maximize every dollar?
TREVORROW: It was very carefully planned. We did it in 5 days with a small crew. We had two child actors, a giant animatronic dinosaur and a baby. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did.
People love dinosaurs. Does the short feature any new ones?
TREVORROW: There are two species we’ve never seen before. The Nasutoceratops, which is a beautiful herbivore that feels like a Texas Longhorn. And the Allosaurus, one of the most iconic dinosaurs of all time. This one was a juvenile in the last movie. She’s all grown up now.
Why did you feel the need to tell this story in the short before Jurassic World 3 comes out?
TREVORROW: The world is bigger than just the characters we’ve been following in the films. We’ve finally taken the story off Isla Nublar, we wanted to show a glimpse of that new reality. If this really happened, you’d see a series of random disconnected incidents that would create a pattern of chaos. I wanted to see one of those incidents.
How did you go about casting for this project when you can’t advertise what it is without giving it away?
TREVORROW: I’ve been a fan of Andre Holland since I saw him in Selma. And Natalie was incredible in End of Watch. We didn’t audition or put out a casting call, I just reached out quietly to those two actors and begged them to come do this with me. I know a casting director in New York who helped us keep the search quiet for the kids. Pierson Salvador promised me he wouldn’t tell his friends at school until it came out. Melody Hurd had never acted on camera, now she’s co-starring with Kevin Hart in his next film. It doesn’t take long for real stars to break out.
One of the things that’s cool about the short is how diverse the cast is. How important was that to you?
TREVORROW: It matters that kids see themselves up on screen, and it’s important to create all kinds of heroes. This family is from Oakland, which is a hugely diverse community, it felt natural. The baby even wears an Oaklandish shirt, which I’m sure people from the Town will spot. I love these characters, I’d watch a whole movie with them.
Because the Jurassic franchise is one of the crown jewels at Universal. I’m wondering if everyone at the studio is a bit more involved when it’s something involving this franchise?
TREVORROW: We take up a lot of bandwidth because the legacy is strong and everyone cares so much about it. Everyone in production, licensing, marketing—all the departments who work together to support the franchise—they each have their own personal relationship with Jurassic Park. A lot of them have dinosaurs on their desks. They sneak away from work and ride the ride. We’ve got a team pride thing going over there. The competition is pretty fierce, we gotta stick together.