The Work of Artist Anthony James


SO…three of my hokey, fun, kiddy- friendly dinosaurs were needed as set dressing for a multi-million dollar dinosaur movie, a movie that was part of a franchise I had loved since JURASSIC PARK back in 1994. So I headed onto the set of ‘JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM’.

Like several movies I’ve been involved with over the years ‘JWFK’ was not being filmed exclusively in an existing studio.  Instead a huge distribution building had been turned into a studio space and before I entered I noticed an unusual construction perched precariously on its right side.  This, I later realised, was the ‘roller coaster’ construction from where Bryce Dallas Howard and Justice Warwick’s characters plunge off the edge of Isla Nublar into its icy coastal waters.  I think at the stage I arrived these scenes were yet to be filmed.  Anyhow, I took a deep breath and headed inside…and immediately got lost.  The inside of the unit was filled with large military vehicles.  These were to be used in the ship leaving the island scenes as Isla Nublar’s volcano erupted.  The problem for me was I had no idea where I was heading and these vehicles were very big! Eventually however I came upon a quiet office area with JURASSIC movie posters adorning the walls.  The very nice people inside took pity on me and directed me right the way around the huge building to its other side, which meant moving the car again and parking somewhere else. Again I headed through the studio, passing pieces of set and the odd large piece of dinosaur.

Now parked up around the other side of the building I smelled the familiar odour of a prop department, the air being laced with a familiar and potent mix of freshly cut wood and fibre glass!

Here I was enthusiastically met by Danny, a really lovely, friendly guy who put me immediately at ease. No mean feat considering how nervous I had got driving down. He knew exactly who I was and began introducing me as CREATURAMA to various prop builders working on the movie.  Apparently they’d had a meeting a few hours prior and had visited my website (incidentally my website crashed after the movie came out due to the amount of hits it took).  We then unloaded my hokey little crew of three cardboard dinosaurs and Danny was very kind and complimentary.  He then decided to give me a tour. Now, I have to be honest here, UNIVERSAL had offered to collect my models from me saving me a round trip of over just under 200 miles, but this is why I’d delivered them, in the hope that I might get to see some of the behind the scenes, so I was thrilled beyond words.

I had a tour of the prop department.  Dilophosaurus’s were being meticulously sculpted (used in the Lockwood Manor displays) and considering how much screen time these guys achieved the work on them was astonishing. Each scale beautifully crafted. Various dinosaurs from the movie were under construction here and the model-making on each was awe inspiring. I was then taken through a large cleared space that was surrounded in huge hanging blacks.  This was where the underwater Gyroscope scenes had been filmed, as filming in water was only part of the filming process.  A gyroscope itself sat on a complicated framework which was used to move the prop through imaginary dark waters…and then there was the awe-inspiring life-sized T-Rex, beautifully crafted, lying in the back of a truck.  Danny showed me it moving and operated several movements including it blinking and its lip curling snarl.  Obviously such a large animatronic would need many more people to operate it properly, but even these small movements were impressively ‘REAL’.

Only the day before they had filmed the Owen and Clare scenes where they had had to extract the T-Rex’s blood…I’d missed this by a day!!!

I had more tour, meeting builders and scenic painters.  It was a wonderful experience, and I know having worked on sets and TV shows in the past that I shouldn’t have been so ‘Star stuck’, but this was ‘JURASSIC WORLD’ and I’ve loved dinosaurs since before I can remember. I’d taken a camera with me, and although I regret not having any photographs of this experience I take any agreement made with a TV or film company VERY seriously when it comes to accidentally letting slip some major plot feature or visual, so the photos I’ve used to illustrate this blog are not my own, so copyright on these belong with those responsible.  All I will say is that these were the models and situations I was shown.

Having been given a nice cup of tea I bid farewell and headed off home, absolutely buzzing, and leaving my cardboard buddies to their fate.

 it was several months before they needed to be collected.  Again I made the long journey to retrieve them, and again was rewarded with a mini tour before heading home with my little stars.

Would they make the movie?  Would they be on screen for any length of time?  There’s no certainty in this industry.  Your work can just end up on the cutting room floor. I had to wait to find out!

… as will you, as I will relate what happens next in my next blog ‘JURRASSIC LEGACY 4’.

Thanks for reading.

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