There’s less than one week until Australian audiences have access to what may very well be the country’s next childhood cult classic.
Ahead of next week’s release of My Pet Dinosaur (22 April), GDU caught up with the movie’s Writer and Director Matt Drummond to talk about the process of merging sci-fi with a heart warming young adventure movie, finding inspiration in Steven Spielberg’s classic E.T. and more.
Check out what he had to say below:
Congratulations on the upcoming release of My Pet Dinosaur, what was it about the script that captured you?
I actually wrote the script myself so originally it was the idea that the family films I make mean taking a step back from the overly complicated plot lines of modern filmmaking. I like to keep it simple. It’s a story about a boy and his pet dinosaur.
The plot is not over developed, but is an emotionally layered story. There isn’t a lot of films around like that these days for kids. I hope the story captures the imagination and engages audiences in ways they don’t expect.
It has been a while since a heartfelt dinosaur movie was made for younger viewers, are you hoping this could be this generation’s The Land Before Time?
Ha! One can only wish! Land Before Time has really become one of the animated classics. Its coming of age themes are timeless and I think we represent similar ideals in My Pet Dinosaur.
What work went into creating the dinosaur in the movie?
The dinosaur’s name is Magnus and we looked at his design from an evolutionary point of view. He doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before. We studied taxonomic classification and evolutionary processes, hence Magnus beginning as an almost amphibious form. Through a process of rapid evolution he transitions from being a tetrapod like creature to a Styrachasoaur in a matter of days.
Based on the trailer, the young actors do an incredible job at interacting with the creature, did they come into the movie with the skill set to act with an imaginary character?
In the pre-production phase we gave all of the actors very specific research in which to examine such as walk cycles, behaviours and sketches of what the creatures were going to look like. We think the actors did a fantastic job, most of our actors had previous experience working with green screen production but it can be very challenging to work with something that is not physically there to see and touch.
There are however always environmental cues and physical objects to work with. There is also a large amount of pre-planning that goes into these shots with pre-visualisation and storyboards available which help the actors tell the story.
The storyline feels reminiscent of E.T., would you say My Pet Dinosaur was inspired by the classic?
I think the question is, how can E.T. not be an inspiration? Steven Spielberg is the father of the blockbuster! His influence on contemporary filmmaking is undeniable. His themes of human connection and relationships stand out across all genres.
Did that inspiration go beyond storyline to some of the visuals (for example, the use of bikes and the forest)?
I loved buddy films growing up. There is a certain magic and innocence that abounds in those 80’s films such as E.T., and Goonies. Kids, bikes and adventure just seem to go hand in hand. Riding bikes with friends around the neighbourhood is a universal concept and is a notion that most people can identify with and reminisce about from their childhood.
The whole ‘nostalgia’ look seems to have become quite popular since the success of the TV series Stranger Things which is timely for us as we had already filmed before the series had gone to air and had chosen to use similar design themes even though our film is set in the current day.