Scott Beck and Bryan Woods established themselves as a creative force to be reckoned with in both their 2019 feature directorial debut Haunt and original screenplay for A Quiet Place just the year before. Lovers of genre above all else, it’s no surprise to see Beck and Woods take huge swings in their latest film simply titled 65. The sci-fi action flick, starring the impeccable Adam Driver and rising star Ariana Greenblatt, immediately took audiences by great surprise just from its first trailer. After long months of speculation amongst moviegoers – knowing only that it was a space-survival film about a stranded astronaut with the iconic Sam Raimi producing – it was revealed that 65 wouldn’t be showcasing aliens or abstract monsters, but actual prehistoric dinosaurs.
We follow space pilot Mills (Driver), who’s on a deep space exploratory mission with precious human passengers in cryo sleep on board. After an asteroid field forces him to crash land on a mysterious unknown planet, he must do all that it takes to protect the only sole survivor from his voyage – a young girl named Koa (Greenblatt). The only thing is… they haven’t crash-landed on an alien planet – they’re actually on earth 65 million years ago. The pair must leave the wreckage of their former ship and traverse across terrain filled with dangerous prehistoric creatures if they are to make it back home via the last remaining escape pod. They run into a multitude of dinos along the way, including the iconic T-Rex of course.
Another dinosaur flick so soon after last year’s Jurassic World Dominion may not seem as exciting at first, but when you step back and realize just how few dinosaur stories we see in the mainstream that aren’t related to Jurassic Park, the prospects of 65 feel all the more riveting. And when crossed over into the sphere of a sci-fi thriller adventure, you can’t help but wonder why a film like this hadn’t already come sooner. Leave it to the minds of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, which we were lucky to pick apart for an exclusive interview covering everything about 65. Original genre projects like this are seemingly a dime a dozen in modern Hollywood, so we had to get to the bottom of just how these two storytellers managed to get a studio like Sony at their disposal.
From the guidance of Sam Raimi to the tricky process of choosing which dinosaurs get to make the cut, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods tell all on 65 in our exclusive sit down. As a bonus tidbit, they give us their thoughts on the franchise they started with A Quiet Place now branching out even further with the upcoming prequel, A Quiet Place: Day One – which is set to star Lupita Nyong’o, Alex Wolff, and Joseph Quinn.
Exclusive Interview with directors Scott Beck & Bryan Woods for 65
So this is your first directorial endeavor after 2019’s Haunt. How did you go about conceiving this kind of space survival tale with dinosaurs as your next feature?
Scott Beck: So the idea for 65, and doing a dinosaur movie, has existed I think in our shared brains ever since we were kids – and we’ve known each other since we were 11 years old. But I think it became more of a reality during the opening weekend of A Quiet Place, where we had zero expectations of whether or not that movie would land with audiences. A Quiet Place was something that we wrote in a writer’s room by ourselves, like halfway between our home state of Iowa and LA. We just wanted to write something that we hadn’t seen on screen before.
So with 65, we wrote this because we felt it was kind of unfair that Spielberg had a monopoly over the dinosaur franchise [with Jurassic Park]. We just wanted to see more dinosaur films and we keep saying that there should be as many dinosaur films as there are superhero movies. We came up with this story that actually took place 65 million years ago and doesn’t bring dinosaurs into our current day. Instead, we are transported as an audience back to the day when dinosaurs actually roamed the earth and were the all-powerful beasts that roam the entire lands. That was kind of the impetus behind cracking this idea.
How did Sam Raimi first come on board and how pivotal was he as a producer in this film’s creation?
Bryan Woods: We had done some episodes of 50 States of Fright with Sam Raimi – it was a show on Quibi, rest in peace (laughs). So not a lot of people saw it but Sam was such a great mentor to us on that project. He was so inspiring to talk to, he was so supportive. So he was one of the first people that we brought the 65 script to. He read it, immediately loved it, and sat down with us to basically ask if he could produce the movie. And we were like, “Yes, please! That would be wonderful.”
Sam is just one of those filmmakers – I mean, he’s done it all. He’s done independent movies like Evil Dead, one of the greatest independent movies of all time, and Spider-Man, one of the greatest studio movies of all time. For us to throw our hat in the ring on a studio-level movie like 65, we really needed guidance from somebody who had done it all. So Sam was a great partner.
I feel like you can definitely see some of his influence, like how unpredictable 65 can be with both horror and action. And you guys also kept the dinosaur element secret for so long up until the first full trailer. How do you go about keeping such a huge secret?
Scott Beck: Yeah, keeping the dinosaur element a secret was a huge challenge. Early in the script stage, we tried to keep the script under lock and key. You know, even on set, it was all about preserving the mystery. We were asking everyone to please not be taking any pictures of any dinosaur elements (laughs).
Bryan Woods: The signs on the way to set were covertly named “Barney” as a dinosaur reference and then that started to leak on the web. We were like, “Oh, no. Take the signs down, rewrite them! What do we do? We were too clever.” It was a secret that we really wanted to protect because that’s part of the fun.
Scott Beck: It was one of those things too where our love of movies developed at a point, like in the late 90s where there were all these original movies that weren’t based on anything else. Those would inspire us because we would go to the movie theater not knowing a single thing about exactly what it was outside of the trailer and not knowing the characters from pre-existing materials. So that’s kind of what drove us for 65, we just wanted to do something that felt left of center, totally different, and hopefully unexpected too.
Absolutely, 65 kind of definitely turns the standard dinosaur flick on its head. How would you go about choosing which dinosaurs to include?
Bryan Woods: Normally, screenwriting is agony. We’re normally in pain as we’re spilling our hearts and soul into the page. This movie was a little different. There was like a giddiness. I would call up Scott and be like, “Scott, we need to have a T-Rex – you can’t have a dinosaur movie without a T-Rex. But how are we going to use the T-Rex? And we need to have geysers, this is prehistoric earth!” So there was an enjoyment I think we took on this one, maybe more so than others.
Scott Beck: I think the 11-year-old versions of ourselves knew there had to be at least a T-Rex. But beyond that, it was looking into fossil records from the late Cretaceous period, discovering what actually existed there. There were times during the writing phase when he would text each other news articles about “these fossil structures have just been unearthed and they think it’s a new species.”
We then delivered that during pre-production to our researchers and paleontologist friends and dived into what the science actually is. Then there are so many theories in terms of what dinosaurs looked like and how they behaved. Did T-Rexes move through the forest by themselves or were they actually pack animals? So combining all those theories with the actual science was one of those exciting opportunities and experiments that we had in crafting and narrowing in our dino roster, so to speak.
I love that like the reveal at the beginning where Adam is first passing by the dinosaur bones. Speaking of Adam Driver, having him in this film is huge. Can you talk about the process of getting him on board and working with him?
Bryan Woods: Adam is one of our favorite actors of all time. He’s at the top of his game. He’s constantly challenging himself. When we approached him with this project, we had zero expectations that he would want to be involved. In fact, our first meeting with Adam was via zoom because this was during the pandemic, and we were very nervous and very intimidated because we’re such big fans. He kept looking not at the camera, he was like looking off to the side and Scott and I are like, “Oh, he hates us. He hates this idea. He hates everything.” We didn’t realize he actually just had a camera that was actually different from the laptop camera. So he wasn’t ignoring us. But we were just so nervous.
I think Adam eventually got excited about a different kind of performance for him. This is a movie that doesn’t have a lot of dialogue, we really wanted to strip it bare. We wanted to get rid of exposition, we wanted to build a unique cinematic story that really relies on the things that aren’t said. So Adam activating his physicality both in the emotional scenes and also in the stunt scenes, and using that as a vehicle for the character, was a great challenge and something that we’re so proud of in this film. We’re so honored that we got the opportunity to work with him because the movie really doesn’t work without him, in our opinion.
I don’t think I could see this movie with a different actor, Adam really is the heart and soul of it. So finally I have to ask, with A Quiet Place being your breakout hit, what are your thoughts on the love the series has received and how it’s going to be now expanding with a prequel, A Quiet Place: Day One?
Scott Beck: It’s amazing, we’re so excited that audiences have embraced this series as much as they have. With the new film A Quiet Place: Day one coming out, Michael Sarnoski who’s writing and directing, we couldn’t be bigger fans. When his Nic Cage movie Pig came out, the tonality and the character work in that was absolutely beautiful. It was something that once he signed on, it was exciting because we felt like it was in the same great hands as when we had written the script for the first one and then John Krasinski and Emily Blunt came on board. We knew that was in great hands then as well. So we’re just really ecstatic that A Quiet Place continues to have a life.