The new Jurassic story is coming to alive this September 18 on Netflix — in animated form!
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous is a new CGI animated series from DreamWorks Animation, Universal Pictures, and Amblin Entertainment. The eight-episoder premieres September 18, Friday. Camp Cretaceous has Colin Trevorrow as one of its Executive Producers alongside Steven Spielberg. Trevorrow directed Jurassic World and co-wrote its 2018 sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He is also directing the third installment Jurassic World: Dominion, the final film in the Jurassic World trilogy scheduled for theatrical release in 2021.
The 8 episode Netflix original animated series is set within the Jurassic World timeline and follows a group of six teenagers trapped at a new dinosaur adventure camp. We chat with Colin Trevorrow to learn more about the latest addition to the dinosaur franchise.
From being tapped as the director of Jurassic World, you’re now executive producer of the animated series. What is it like being entrusted with these responsibilities? And what is it like being part of this iconic franchise?
Colin Trevorrow: I feel very fortunate that I’ve even been able to play in the sandbox at all. And now that I’ve been doing it for many years, it’s really something that’s become a part of my life. And it’s been a really huge part of not just my career, but of my life, you know, with my family. So much of it has been defined by this responsibility to make sure that this legacy lives on and is respected, and that we recognize where it came from. I see myself as a bit more of a gardener, like I’m tending to this garden, I did not plant it. And I’m a custodian of this, and I’m very sincere in how grateful I am for all of it.
What’s the story behind the creation of this first ever animated series of the franchise?
We recognize that we only make one of these movies every three years and we put a lot of time and heart and care into them. And if you’re a kid, and you know, you’re six years old, and you love Jurassic World, three years is or have your life. And it’s a long time. And so we wanted to be able to make something that kids could go to and get that effects and have the experience with dinosaurs that they love so much at home, you know, without that having to wait for us.
Camp Cretaceous is set within the Jurassic World timeline, after the 2015 film. Does this mean the concept for the series was already in the works as early as 2015? How early was the concept already brewing for an animated series?
It wasn’t as early as 2015, because we didn’t know whether the film was going to be successful or not. I tend to make no plans until the audiences asked for more. But once we started heading toward the second film, this idea came up. And we felt like it was an opportunity since we were planning out the second film and the third film in detail together, to find a way to weave this into the story that we were building. At the same time retroactively weaving it into Jurassic World, so you see a lot of scenes and moments that we know are happening alongside the events of that movie. And so it was just a really fun exercise to be able to revisit someplace that I never thought we would get to go to, again, because we destroyed it! [laughs] And then also, you know, create something that is going to really feel like a complete part of the story in the future, when all is said and done.
You decided to go the animation route this time. What are the challenges that you face doing animation compared to live action?
The challenges of animation, honestly, I think the challenge is always to create characters that feel like real people. And that goes for live action as well. But you know, in animation, the characters can be so expressive but have the kinds of struggles that young kids really go through. And there’s the challenges of being alive in the modern world is something that we really wanted to make sure to infuse into this. So it just wasn’t only a fun show. It was something that means something to young people.
Can you talk about casting the voice actors? What’s the difference between casting people for a live action and casting voice actors? How did you choose the people?
Well, you know, by the time we actually chose the actors, we only come down to a couple options. Sometimes even one or two. But by the time I listened to the voices, it was really just about capturing the soul of the character. Each of these kids at first, we kind of present them almost as archetypes of modern children. And by the time we get to the end of the season, hopefully we reveal that they’re, you know, they’re real human beings, facing all the challenges that young people face in life. And so if you can hear true emotion and true empathy in somebody’s voice, that’s probably what’s going to do it for us.
When you planned this series, was it really intended to be for Netflix, and to evolve as an interactive site for this as well?
Yeah, the partnership with Netflix happened very, very early in the process. We discussed this general idea. But once we decided that we wanted to move forward, we teamed up with them right away. And you know, for me it’ s a different kind of distribution than theatrical obviously, for many reasons. But it does still have the ability for everyone in the world who has access to Netflix, which at this point, a great many people, for a lot of people all over the planet to experience something at the same time. And that’s the thing I love about the actual distribution, as well. Not just the shared experience in the theater, but the shared experience on a global level. You know, we have a shared culture in so many ways when it comes to entertainment. And that’s something that I really appreciate. On Friday, any number of countries, you know, dozens and dozens of countries will have kids that’ll watch this all at the same time, and it’s very exciting.
Spielberg is also billed as the executive producer for this series. Does he still have much of a hand in terms of the creative execution or the storyline?
Yeah, he puts a lot of faith in me and something I really appreciate in guiding all of this forward. But I do go to him in key moments, crucial moments and, you know, ask for his advice. And then on a macro level is him giving these writers permission in a lot of ways to be as openly creative as possible. And the one thing that he said very clearly to everyone is he didn’t just want this to be a kid show. He wanted this to be Jurassic, which means that the kids are in real danger. And that’s something that we’ve done in all of the films pretty consistently. Showing that not only is nobody safe and that dinosaurs don’t discriminate in human life when it comes to who deserves it or who doesn’t. They’re animals. And that comes to children as well. It gave the writers a great freedom to create a show that has a level of tension in it because you’re not really sure who’s safe and who isn’t.
The Jurassic franchise has a lot of fans, both kids and adults. Do you think this series will appeal to adults as well? Was this something that you consciously worked on that you knew you were doing a kid show, but you also really tried to make sure that it was something that adults would like?
Yeah, I think hopefully it will. It’ll naturally be that and it was created mostly by adults. But my children were definitely way in on this series. [laughs] I’m a parent and I watch stuff with my kids. My kids watch every one of these episodes in early forms before we had finalized them, just to make sure that they were entertaining them, because it was entertaining me a lot. Actually, I was very confident that it was going to work for adults as we wrote and I watched everything. I just wanted to make sure kids like it. And I think they will!
So it’s been 27 years since Jurassic Park opened in theaters and the Jurassic Park universe is still thriving. What do you think makes this franchise both magical and relevant for nearly three decades?
Thanks for saying that. You know, I think a couple of things. One is that every day, so many new dinosaur fans are born, and the advantage is that dinosaurs were real, and they were here. And kids are introduced to them, oftentimes you know, just in life through other means other than the films that we make and now this show that we created. And that’s what’s very exciting, we get to play in a world that’s based on our own scientific reality and I love how much it gets kids to recognize the value of the natural world. And how very briefly we’ve been here compared to how long the herds existed.
Can you share with us a little update on the third Jurassic World film and what was it like filming during this time?
You know, it is a time of great solidarity amongst the people who are making this film. And yes, there are really pretty strict protocols that we put in place, I’ll be the first to admit. And maybe we’ve gone beyond what is absolutely necessary. But that’s a choice that we made. Because we just want everyone to be as safe as possible. And we want to be able to finish this film. And, you know, it’s the livelihoods of so many when it comes to our crew and people working for us. I’m just astounded and really moved by how everyone’s risen to the occasion on this movie, and we all show up. We wear masks every single day, and we are tested three times a week and we take our temperature checks every morning when we show up and I’ve been quarantined away from my family for four months. I’ve seen him for two days out of those four months. And all of these things we’ve done because we care so much about it. And I really believe it’s going to show up in the movie that we’re making.
There will be a new generation, younger audiences introduced to the Jurassic universe through this Netflix series, so this will be their first look at the Jurassic World, compared to the kids, now adults, that grew up with it. What do you think makes this series in particular stand out among the other Jurassic material?
Well, I think at different times different ages, we may respond differently in each of those films. Jurassic Park, it’s for adults, and it’s definitely for kids. But it’s a science thriller. It approaches the ethical questions when it comes to cloning life in general in a very complex way. And I think that kids probably read it differently and process it differently as they get older. And our films, they’re more action adventure films, and I’m sure kids deal with the issues we bring up in that a little differently as they age. And so what we wanted to do with this show is really create something that wasn’t really a massive leap when it came to being universally understandable amongst children. So we focused on the emotions and what it’s like to be a young kid and to be in a world that feels unsafe and to feel lost and alone sometimes. And all of the emotions we go through as children. We really wanted to play out in this drama that is, that is with some comedy and that’s set on a dinosaur island.
A lot of kids go through a phase when they’re super obsessed with dinosaurs. Did you ever go through that phase?
I was a dinosaur kid, but but mostly in the context of how those dinosaurs can help my other action figures, fight various battles and get around it. So I would kind of mesh dinosaurs together you know, with my Star Wars figures and various others. So yeah, they’re very helpful in war even though I don’t necessarily support that storyline in the movies were making when I was a kid. Yes, dinosaur in snow battles were a big deal. But I think the reality of it is is that kids’ obsession with dinosaurs, I think, doesn’t have much to do with us. I think that they show up to our movies already being obsessed with dinosaurs, and we get to that entertain them in the context of their love for these creatures, but I think that happens on its own. That’s just my opinion.
If you can share anything, what are your plans for season two?
Oh, I’ll only know that we have a season two if people like season one! That’s the exchange. So if this goes well, I will probably tell you on the end of next weekend. If kids watch it, and they love it, and they want more, we’re definitely ready to entertain them further. But we need your permission!
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous premieres September 18, 2020 on Netflix.