Colin Trevorrow knows the power of cinema firsthand. Having grown up on the sci-fi and spectacle of '80s and '90s movies, he made his directorial debut with Safety Not Guaranteed, a winsome indie sci-fi romantic comedy about a would-be time traveler. That movie so impressed Steven Spielberg that Trevorrow was hired to reboot the franchise that he idolized as a youth: Jurassic Park.
Trevorrow co-wrote and directed 2015's Jurassic World, successfully relaunching the franchise more than a decade after the original trilogy had concluded. Now, the filmmaker is back helming the third film in the second trilogy with Jurassic World Dominion. Through it all, Trevorrow never forgot the fact that he could be inspiring the next generation of filmmakers.
"I think a lot about kids who are discovering science through these films and filmmaking through these films," he tells A.frame. "It's something that happened to me and to so many other young people at the time that are now paleontologists and filmmakers. So, I take that into great consideration. I don't make these movies solely for children, but I do make them with children strongly in my mind."
Below, Trevorrow shares five of the films that have inspired him throughout his career.
Written and Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Whiplash is a new addition. And I put that in there because it set the bar for me within my generation of filmmakers. He's actually quite a bit younger than me but we came into filmmaking at around the same time. And when I saw what Damien did with that movie — and I would say Ryan Coogler's films are another one — I just witnessed the bar being set extraordinarily high. I was honored to be a part of their generation and yet also try to figure out my place in it, recognizing it was going to be different.
Whiplash, beyond being an extraordinary movie and something I can watch all of the time and will watch endlessly, it just really defined for me that there's still room to push forward. There are new ways to tell a story, and ways to surprise an audience, and new kinds of films to be made. And people your age are doing it, so pull it together.
Directed by: John Frankenheimer | Written by: George Axelrod
The Manchurian Candidate is the movie that I watched with my headphones on in the library at NYU, like so many other filmmakers and writers did. I worked at a video store before that where I watched a lot of films, but there's a very special relationship that we all had in the late nineties with those little monitors in those cubicles with those headphones. We all watched so much.
And that movie is just bananas. It's so gloriously bananas. It does things with story that have so deeply inspired me in what to reach for. And how something can shock and surprise in ways that aren't about jump scares or any of the ways we traditionally expect to be shifted in our seats that way. That movie is such a ride for something that is ultimately just people talking in different rooms. But it's, like, one of my favorite action movies – because of how crazy it is.
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis | Written by: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
It seems obvious, because it's the greatest movie ever. I was nine when I saw it. My parents took me to the Rockridge Theater in Oakland, California, and I remember exactly where we were sitting. It was just amazing. I loved Indiana Jones and Star Wars and E.T. and all those movies I'd seen already, but [Back to the Future] made me realize that you actually just make your own set of rules when you're telling a story, and then, you adhere to whatever set of rules you make. It was thrilling. I've seen it endless times – and it's arguably perfect.
Now that I work with Frank [Marshall] and I've been able to talk to Bob Zemeckis a little bit and all these people who were just icons to me when I was younger, I've asked enough of my nerdy questions. They all tend to have the same answer. And it's not, 'We carefully constructed this thing that we knew would work in a certain way.' They were like, 'We were just doing what we thought would be good, and we couldn't believe people liked it!' There's such a loose, casual vibe to the way they talk about how they made it. It's not that they didn't have a studio and people they needed to have a relationship with, it's just that they were doing something that was so genuinely new. Because of the way movies were then, we weren't so IP-focused. I don't think we had that word, right? No one said IP in 1985. So that part of it — that they were making the new myths and they didn't even know it — and they were doing it so casual, that was cool.
Written and Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore
It's sentimental favorite, but something that I think really encaptures the beauty of mentorship. Anyone who is a young person with a dream — it doesn't have to be filmmaking — but everyone has had that teacher, somebody that came into their life and picked them up and made sure they didn't go in the direction that they maybe were going to go, and sent them in another direction that led to wherever they are. It's something that's so beautiful, but also so relatable. Everybody has that moment where somebody changed their path and led to the life that they live, and I love that story.
Directed by: James Frawley | Written by: Jerry Juhl and Jack Burns
The Muppets, I think, taught us how to be. They taught us what's funny. They gave us a sense of, honestly, mild disrespect for authority. Anytime the Muppets are given an assignment, I guarantee it's going to end in chaos. And yet, there's a beauty behind it. There's an earnestness behind it. What Jim Henson and Frank Oz and Jerry Juhl did during that time was so singularly beautiful. And the message of The Muppet Movie is that you're going to be more satisfied doing it together. Get your friends together and go do the thing. Don't be all alone out there. And that's definitely inspired the way that I've approached my life [and] the way I work with people. It's just more fun when you do it together.