When I was a kid, there were some answers I’d have almost at the ready. What’s your favourite colour? What do you want to be when you grow up? What’s your favourite Dinosaur? Although the last one wasn’t a regular question, I always had an answer: the Brachiosaurus. Obviously, this name was too big for little, six-year-old me, so I called the creature a Long Neck Dinosaur instead.
Dinosaurs seem to be one of those things children are just fascinated with. These giant, almost mythical creatures, now immortalised fossils in museums, deserve no other reaction than jaw dropping awe. And with the progress of technology and effects in the film industry, it is becoming easier than ever before to bring these incredible creatures to life.
Australian Director and Writer Matt Drummond is doing just this in his latest film My Pet Dinosaur.
My Pet Dinosaur’s follows a young boy who accidentally becomes friends with a small, but ever growing, dinosaur. The friendship plunges a troubled town into chaos, and the boy soon realises that there are people out there that will stop at nothing to get their hands on the dinosaur.
I was lucky enough to send through some questions to Matt Drummond.
After watching the trailer with its bicycles, secret creatures, and mischievous children, I immediately had a sense of E.T. Are there any classic films you draw inspiration from?
Of course, like many filmmakers Spielberg and Zemeckis will always be a powerful influence, however it is the overlapping banter of children in these films that really drives the energy and has been most influential. Films like Goonies, and Stand by Me are timeless. What these types of films do is connect the audience to the magic of childhood. These are everyday families going through extraordinary circumstances; if you aren’t in a family just like this, then you at least know of a family like them. The accessibility of these films is a huge part of what make them so special.
From a technological perspective, many of the innovations introduced by Spielberg, in particular his depiction of dinosaurs in a realistic way in Jurassic Park, was revolutionary, groundbreaking and still holds up to the visual effects we see in films today.
On the My Pet Dinosaur Facebook page I saw a concept design of Magnus, the movie’s dinosaur, that included wings. Magnus is so adorable! What kind of dinosaurs is Magnus based on?
Yes, we particularly love ‘Baby Magnus’ and we have found he really is a crowd pleaser! The character is unique in that he changes over time as part of the story. I looked at Magnus from an evolutionary point of view. He doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before. I studied taxonomic classification and evolutionary processes, hence Magnus’ beginning as an almost amphibious form. He then evolves into a Styrachasoaur and beyond. He goes from being a tetrapod like creature to a dinosaur.
Friendship looks to be a large plot device in the story. What do you hope that children will take away from it?
I particularly hope children take away the theme of the ‘everyday hero’, that hero’s come in all shapes and sizes and can come from the most unlikely of places.
Your work in TV and movies seem to hold prehistoric themes. Is there anything in particular that interests you with these themes?
Their size and magnitude is mind bending yet there seems to be a certain loneliness attached to them. I find that when prehistoric creatures are placed in the context of everyday life they become both more relatable and, conversely, even more wondrous. Their story is ultimately tragic and we are always faced with an infinite number of questions about how they lived and died. It’s the tragedy and the unknown that create a powerful allure.
And lastly, with this being your second written and directed film, do you have plans to continue with movies or work once again with TV?
Absolutely! Thanks to our previous film, Dinosaur Island and My Pet Dinosaur being so well received in both the Australian and International marketplace the next film is in development as we speak with pre-production to begin early next year.
I will always keep my hand in TV, I have a soft spot for the TV Documentary space and there is always something new being produced which keeps things interesting.
Along with the opportunity to interview Drummond, I was also given the chance to send questions to the movie’s debut actor, Jordan Dulieu. Here’s what he had to say.
What was it like trying to interact with a dinosaur that wasn’t there?
It was definitely weird and felt a bit unnatural at first. At times it was challenging, like when I had to interact with Magnus, or show emotion toward him because there was nothing really there. Luckily, to support me I had Matt who helped show me what the facial features were and where everything was on the dinosaur so that I could use my imagination and get a great sense of what it looked like so that I wouldn’t just poke it in the eye or something. But it was definitely a new experience for me and gave me another challenging insight into what it’s like acting in the industry.
If you could have any animal as a pet, including prehistoric creatures, what would it be? And why?
I would love to have a pig or a monkey, it never really occurred to me why I would like these animals as pets though. I guess its because they are different to your everyday pet and they would be a tonne of fun to have around the house and to do things with. I think having one of these animals would be a challenge because they are uncommon and not a lot of people would know what to do with them, but I think I would be up for it and have great time in the process.
What did you enjoy most about being in your first film?
I don’t think there is one thing that I can pinpoint and say what I most enjoyed about the experience of being in my first film because I loved the whole process. I loved being on set and behind the scenes working with all the amazing people. All of it was a whole lot of fun. From meeting new people like other actors in the film, to seeing the makeup lady almost every day, to working with the sound guys, everyone that I met I created a bond and a friendship with. I loved seeing everyone learn new things and being able to talk to anyone with confidence. I really believe that this was one of the aspects of creating my first film that made it such an amazing time and smooth process. So, in saying that I think that one of the things I enjoyed most about being in my first film was waking up each morning knowing that I was going out to set that day, to a new location and seeing these amazing people work and getting a sense of what being an actor going forward means and might look like.
A fun outing for the whole family, My Pet Dinosaur will be released in cinemas in April, 2017 for each of you dinosaur enthusiasts out there. Oh, and did you know that a Brachiosaurus means ‘arm lizard’? Weird, huh.