In June 2017, I traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii to visit the set of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. This week we have been running a ton of coverage from this visit. Yesterday, it began with our interview with producers Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley. Today, we bring you our sitdown discussion with director J.A. Bayona.

Thanks for having us out.  This is really cool. And Thanks for chatting with us while you’re on your lunch break. A lot of your movies have young people in horrific situations.  Does this movie follow that trend?

Bayona: Yeah.  Very young people in [a] problem again.

What do you have against the youth of the world?

Bayona: Well, I mean, all the movies I’ve done, I end up very close to the POV of the kids.  I don’t know.  It’s a natural thing.  It’s not planned.  I mean, the three movies I did so far, you can tell that they’re about childhood and dealing with growing up.  This is very different.  But of course you have a kid in the film, because there’s always been kids in the Jurassic movies, you know?  And the movie pays tribute and keeps the legacy of the movies that we’ve seen so far and we love.

Can we talk a little bit about the where you’re starting off in this one?  ‘Cause I heard, Frank told us a little bit about the setup for the story and I think it’s really interesting ’cause it gives you a completely different sense of urgency than we’ve seen.

Bayona: And what did Frank tell you?

Well, we know about the extinction level event, the volcano thing.  And the sense of the characters returning to try to save the dinosaurs.  So we at least know that beginning.

Bayona: Yeah.  Well, it was the first time Colin pitched me the story, I was very intrigued, very surprised, because it’s true that it keeps the legacy of the films we’ve seen so far.  But there’s a twist.  It’s not humans trying to save humans from dinosaurs.  It’s humans trying to save dinosaurs from the island.  And I thought that was very interesting.  And there’s a twist in the [second] half of the film.  And the film becomes something very different from the first section of the movie.  And I thought that was very interesting too.  I was very interested, very intrigued, and I really enjoyed the pitch.  And I think the development that we did so far…I’m very happy with it.

How do you bring your stamp…? Colin already had the story obviously when you came aboard.  How do you put your stamp on that?

Bayona: Well, I think one of the things I always enjoy the most in designing the films are the set pieces.  And Jurassic movies, they are perfect for designing set pieces.  When I think about the old Jurassic movies, I think about the T. Rex scene in the first one.  Or the scene with the truck hanging off the cliff in the second one.  So the first thing I had was, okay, we’re gonna try to design the best set pieces possible.  And I really enjoy that.  I really enjoy designing shot by shot.  For me, every camera position matters.  Every movement of the camera.  Every shot is a step in escalating the tension.  It’s very Hitchcockian.  When you see the T. Rex scene in the first one, the gyrosphere scene in Jurassic World, they feel very designed shot by shot in a very Hitchcockian way and for me, movies are about that.

Yeah, I was gonna say, the two you described were suspense things.

Bayona: Yeah, it’s true.  There’s going to be like a very big scene, an action scene in the movie, in the middle.  But then the whole film plays more [with] the idea of suspense.  And I really like that.  I think somehow the first Jurassic was like that.  You had the big T. Rex scene in the middle and then it plays with the suspense of the kitchen scene in the with the Raptors.  And we tried to follow the same pattern.

Yeah.  It’s like a nice combination.  There’s that sweet spot between awe, suspense and like humor.

Bayona: Exactly, yeah.  And I think that they’ll be a lot of humor in this one.  It’s going to be a lot of fun too.  It’s gonna be suspenseful.  It’s gonna be probably a little more scary.  But it’s gonna be a lot of fun too.

It’s good to be a little scared. Well, speaking of that, maybe is that why you kind of choose to bring back the animatronic element a little bit because there’s something scarier about seeing something that’s real.

Bayona: Yeah.  We love animatronics.  Colin and I, we talk about how can we [can] bring back more animatronics in the game.  And there was a space for that in the story.  I came with the experience of doing A Monster Calls, where we designed a huge animatronic and at the end, you can, you need to use CGI more than what you will want, because the audience is so used to CGI that they are kind of reluctant to animatronics.  But at the same time, when you have something real, you appreciate that.  There’s a reality that you don’t have with CGI.  So there’s plenty of animatronics in this one.  But the story, somehow, was easy, [it made] things easier for us to use animatronics.

Who’s building them for you?  What company?

Bayona: Neal Scanlan, who’s been working on the Star Wars movies.  It’s been great to work with him.  Yeah, it’s great.  You know, it was kind of like surprising the first time we had an animatronic on the set.  Because I was with Bryce and Chris and they were so shocked, so happy to have [an] animatronic.  And I told Colin, and he’s done a movie so far, but then I thought about it and of course there was no almost animatronics in that movie.  They have this–

They just had that one.

Bayona: Yeah, and it was funny to see the actors that were in the first one reacting so excited.

I was gonna say it seems like you’re worked very closely with Colin.  I’m wondering Spielberg, when we were on the set of first Jurassic World movie, Colin told us about the story of how Spielberg had this whole suggestion with the water scene of the seats going down below the water. I love hearing these stories how Spielberg will plus something.  Do you have any stories of like where he threw out a suggestion that like changed the movie?

Bayona: I mean, not…we don’t have any scene, a specific scene, but it’s true that Steven has been always very encouraging.  And the sort of person that empowers a director.  He makes him feel good and he makes him feel prepared.  I wanted to meet him as much as possible.  I tried to watch all the pre-vis that we did together.  And it was fascinating to show him the stuff and hearing his ideas.  Hearing back his ideas.  And so there was lots of details here and there.  I don’t remember any–

Little flourishes.

Bayona: Yeah.  I don’t remember any specific scene, but I think that there is not any specific scene, but there was a lot of details here and there.  He was very, very encouraging all the time and very supportive of our ideas.

So he was pretty hands on I would assume during the development.

Bayona: Mm-hmm.

And but I assume that now it’s just your show.  I know Colin’s been on set a lot, but it seems like they put a lot of trust in you.  So is that like stressful for you?  Or is it like, I mean, I don’t wanna make it sound like that you’re not, you don’t feel supported, but like it must be… This is a hundreds of millions of dollars movie, right?

Bayona: Yeah.  Well no, I mean…I always admire Steven and my movies, a lot of people used to talk about them [being] very Spielbergian, you know?  So I feel so comfortable–

Very Ambliny, yeah.

Bayona: –being in this territory that I don’t have any problem in that sense, you know. But the truth is that I’ve been lucky of being able to sit down with all the previous guys and design the scenes together shot by shot and Steven has been always very supportive.  He love all the stuff that we did and I consider that there was not any pressure.  Completely the opposite.  It was completely the opposite.

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