American filmmaker Colin Trevorrow likens his job of tackling the Jurassic Park franchise to that of a landscaper.
When Trevorrow was handed the key to the multi-billion property to helm 2015’s Jurassic World, he was a relative newcomer with only one feature, the sci-fi indie Safety Not Guaranteed, under his belt.
That reboot, starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, did gangbusters at the box-office and he signed up for more dino-adventures — as the writer and producer of 2018’s Fallen Kingdom, and the director of the threequel, Dominion, which just resumed shooting after being shut down for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Between the sequels, Trevorrow made the CGI-free thriller Book of Henry and came really close to helming what would eventually become Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker).
Looking back, the bespectacled and bearded auteur, who just turned 44 on Sept 13, is grateful that he was invited to be part of a legacy started by Michael Crichton, who wrote the 1990 best-selling novel which Steven Spielberg adapted in 1993 into a ground-breaking, epoch-defining movie that went on to spawn two sequels.
“They’ve given me the opportunity to tend to this garden for a while now,” says Trevorrow. “To me, it’s just a great privilege. I feel very fortunate that I am also able to plant some new things myself and watch them grow.” And one such “new thing” — and the reason Trevorrow is doing a conference call with journos from Southeast-Asia — is the Netflix animated series Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.
Produced by DreamWorks Animation, the eight-episode series is set within the timeline of Jurassic World and follows a group of teenagers at a summer camp who are trapped on Isla Nublar alongside some rampaging dinosaurs. The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil and Set It Up’s Glen Powell voice the paleontologists and camp counsellors caught up with the kids’ exploits.
You know the drill: Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then there’s running and screaming. Lots of running and screaming — on the show and behind the scenes. Trevorrow had a blast spit-balling ideas in the writers’ room, trying to tell a familiar story from a different perspective and with more room for character development. That, and finding new ways to scare kids — that’s always been the Jurassic Park hallmark.
“When you think about what scares you,” says Trevorrow, “sometimes you almost regress to being a child and that kind of fear you had of an unknown world, of things around the corner, under the bed, and in this case, in the jungle. So I wanted to see an entire series through the eyes of children. I think when you watch these movies, we become kids a little bit.”
He continues, “You can argue that, ‘Do we make horror movies for children?’ Maybe. Being a kid is a scary thing and I think it’s important for them to be able to realise their fears sometimes in a cathartic way and get some of the fear out of their system by seeing children triumph over danger.”
Even though the medium is animation, Trevorrow is adamant that one rule remains the same: the science behind the dinosaurs. “We are very lucky to be a franchise rooted in real science,” says Trevorrow. “I feel like if we let go of that, we’ll be giving up something that’s truly unique. My rule is, if we venture out of the realm of what real dinosaurs are capable of, it’s only in the context of dinosaurs that aren’t real, as in the case of Dominus Rex and the Indoraptor [in the Jurassic World live-action movies].”
And how much has the science evolved over the decades? “To me, the films in the 1990s were a warning of the possible consequences of our decisions from meddling with the natural world,” says Trevorrow. “I feel like now the consequences have occurred and the results are right in front of us, like climate change. So, I certainly see the Jurassic World series to be about dealing with the consequences of the poor choices we made in the ‘90s.
The director continues, “[Jurassic Park] is about humility, it’s about the idea that humans are only on this planet for a short period of time and we are just guests here and we can’t treat the place like we own it. And dinosaurs are a reminder of that because they existed hundreds of million years ago.”
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is now streaming on Netflix. Jurassic World: Dominion is currently in production and slated to open in June 2021.
Photos: TPG News/Click Photos, Netflix