Top takeaways from our Masterclass with Filmmaker Colin Trevorrow
By Rosie Togher
07 July 2020
Filmmaker Colin Trevorrow re-launched the Jurassic Park franchise with the smash hit, Jurassic World (2015), which he directed and co-wrote. The Universal release is the highest-grossing summer film in box office history. Next, Colin will direct and produce Jurassic World: Dominion, the third chapter in the Jurassic World trilogy that is set to be released in June 2021.
We were thrilled to have Colin Trevorrow join us for a conversation exclusively for MetFilm School students discussing all things Jurassic Park and his journey to success.
Pathway to Directing
I began making movies when I was 11 years old and also performed in theatre, where I was surrounded by professional performers who showed me that the creative life is not all glamorous. While attending NYU for Filmmaking I realised there were a lot of talented people and I had to start from scratch in terms of finding my voice and realising the purpose of it all. I focused on writing and reading lots of scripts, especially different types of scripts.
Huge leap from first feature to Jurassic World
The leap was daunting. Part of doing this job is to make sure that however you are feeling when you are alone looking in the mirror, is not reflected when you walk out of that trailer where everyone is looking at you thinking ‘what do we do next’. I played a character of someone who had directed five movies and put myself into that headspace, trusted my instincts, made choices very quickly and confidently and stuck to them. People knew exactly what the plan was at all times.
When Steven Spielberg read the script, he was really keen to go ahead but wanted to take another year to do it. That extra year gave us the ability to generate the level of invention necessary to make a movie like Jurassic World work. I will always be grateful to Steven for being wise enough to force me to take the time.
We wanted it to have a Fiji resort vibe, so we took aspects like teak wood, textures and colours. Very slowly without abandoning the concrete look of Jurassic Park as we wanted to evoke that; we started to construct this world as well as the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs from previous movies could not be used as technology had progressed, so everything had to be rebuilt. Jurassic World was the first time we had our Production Designer also design the dinosaurs, as he came from creature design.
Ultimately, the process is about making sure that each department from Production Design to VFX to the script itself, are all communicating and understanding each other’s work.
You can tell them when you don’t understand something, and they will help you to understand, as it makes their job easier. I didn’t know how to do everyone’s job any better than the person doing that job themselves, the more I could learn about their process the better I could communicate what it is I was after, in the language that they speak.
On each film you can build this army of really talented people that you can take from one movie to another. The team we have for Jurassic World: Dominion (2021) is a group I will be with for a while.
I started out writing alone and I had successes as a solo writer in Hollywood but I became lonely and joined Derek Connolly. We essentially had to go back to basics and write something together that would put our names on the map. I had to forgo the success I previously had just to be able to write with a partner, and I’m so glad I did it. It changed the trajectory of my career in a big way.
We spend a lot of time building, outlining and creating a story for the movie before we even put pen to paper. We then create a very detailed outline that we share with the studio, so that everyone understands what we are doing on a scene to scene level and then we’ll start writing. Derek would write the first part, which I would read through and send it back with notes and so forth.
Bringing dinosaurs to life for Jurassic World
We had four actors wearing grey suits and wrapper helmets. We hired a group of modern dancers from New Orleans who helped reproduce the movements of the Velociraptor in a live and beautiful way. It wasn’t a motion capture performance, but it allowed them to fill the spaces and give Chris Pratt something to interact with.
To make the dinosaur noises, they are layers of sounds that are mixed together. Our Sound Designer, Al Nelson, had a keyboard and each key made a different animal sound. Every time you would play eight notes together it would create a different kind of dinosaur sound and roar.
The feeling of hearing the iconic Jurassic Park theme music on your film
It was amazing! We were very conscious about how we used the music and not to overuse it. We wanted to establish Michael Crichton’s theme as the Jurassic World theme, so that when you hear it in later movies it would have its own set of emotional recognition that other pieces have.
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