Making a Monster: A Conversation with JA Bayona for the Home Entertainment Release of JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM
It’s been four years since theme park and luxury resort Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs out of containment. Isla Nublar now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the jungles.
When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Owen is driven to find Blue, his lead raptor who’s still missing in the wild, and Claire has grown a respect for these creatures she now makes her mission. Arriving on the unstable island as lava begins raining down, their expedition uncovers a conspiracy that could return our entire planet to a perilous order not seen since prehistoric times.
With all of the wonder, adventure and thrills synonymous with one of the most popular and successful series in cinema history, this all-new motion-picture event sees the return of favourite characters and dinosaurs—along with new breeds more awe-inspiring and terrifying than ever before. Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Do you have any favourite monster movies or dinosaur movies from when you were a kid?
Can we say that King Kong is a dinosaur movie? At school when I was very, very young, they had at my school a 16mm print of the old King Kong and they used to show it at the end of every year to all us kids. I still love that movie and I tried to work in a reference to that movie in Fallen Kingdom when we discover the indoraptor and the big gates open to reveal its shadow. There is even a moment at the end of the story when we feel sorry for the indoraptor, a moment before he dies. You feel sorry for him at this time - he is not a monster, he is just a creature, a rejected creature in exactly the same way that King Kong was, and Frankenstein, too. Frankenstein was a reference for me also. Actually, when I talked to the visual effect guys trying to look for inspirations for the monster, one of the references that I sent them was a picture of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster.
What were some of the other references for the indoraptor? It is as though it has weird tics and has experienced trauma…
Yes. It is a prototype that went wrong. So we used a lot of references like tics, shivering and shaking in a very weird way. I remember that one of the things that I told the visual effects guys was that I wanted to put the accent on the eyes and the teeth. I really like to have a creature that is so dark that when you see it in the darkness you can only see its eyes and its teeth. Because the way that kids feel about dinosaurs is simple. They think about the textures, the colours, the eyes and the teeth. Also, one of the things we talked to Steven Spielberg about was that he found the long arms we gave the indoraptor very, very scary. They feel almost like human arms on the indoraptor.
You must have loved shooting the indoraptor’s entrance to the little girl's room…
Yes. That was a particularly exciting moment. Of course, that is a reference to the first Jurassic Park when we see the raptor trying to open the door.
Knowing your previous work it felt as though the first portion of this movie on the island was like a disaster movie and the second half was more like a horror film…
Totally. The first time [Fallen Kingdom screenwriter and the first Jurassic World director] Colin Trevorrow told me the story he said that he was planning a movie whose second half had to feel a little bit like a haunted house movie. I fell in love immediately with that idea, having dinosaurs inside a mansion and playing with suspense. That's the reason I loved so much the first Jurassic Park - those scenes with the velociraptors chasing the kids in the kitchen. Also, the first time that we see the T Rex. I think those are among the most memorable scenes I have ever seen in any movie and I wanted to be able to create a couple of scenes as memorable as those. I wanted to have people remembering them in the future.
There is something cool about having horror and action in a contracted space and here you have the baryonyx attack in the bunker on the island, and the monster chasing Maisie through the corridors…
Certainly, geography is so important when you play with suspense. I think in the bunker, for example, you have that image of this tunnel leading into darkness and suddenly you start to play with drips of lava, and every time you see a drip of lava you have a glimpse of the baryonyx and it is very important that the audience sees the baryonyx before the characters do. This is when you play the suspense; when the audience knows a little bit more than the characters. That as a director is very exciting. I really like to design those scenes and I work them shot by shot and build up the tension in a way that every detail is important to get the best effect for the audience, and to get the best reaction from the audience.
When you were young and learning your craft were you influenced by individual films or by the work of certain filmmakers?
When I was a kid there was only one television channel in Spain and they used to show all sorts of movies: Hitchcock, Truffaut, Spielberg, Kurosawa, Polanski. So I discovered those movies when I was very, very little and for me they were part of the same thing. It is great because there are so many different ways of seeing movies and I enjoyed all of them. For me, every single movie I saw as a kid was very exciting and you can tell by watching the movies I do that I really loved those films. And, from time to time, I like to reference them. In that sense, one of the reasons that I wanted to be part of a Jurassic movie was because I learnt so much about Steven Spielberg's craft and about his style of filmmaking. I just wanted to be part of a Jurassic movie and to try to be part of the legacy of movies that he created in the past.
You have previous experience of working with water on The Impossible, so were those underwater scenes on this movie a collaboration in the writing between you and Colin Trevorrow?
The whole underwater scene was already in the script. What I suggested to Colin Trevorrow was that it had to be done in one single shot in order to feel the claustrophobia of the moment. And I really pushed for having the camera inside the gyrosphere all the time with the characters of Claire and Frankie. I think when you work a scene as a director you are always trying to capture the truth and emotion, and in that sense the camera had to be with them. We had to really sink the gyrosphere in the water with the actors inside and we had to capture that sense of claustrophobia so it would have been totally inconvenient to do any shot from outside of the gyrosphere.
It must have been difficult to pull off…
It was very scary, I can tell you, as a director. I just checked with the security guys, with the stunt people two or three times as to how they were doing it because I was definitely very scared about the security of the actors.
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM is now available on digital download and released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 5 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment