On the Set of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom | Part Three | Moving Deeper into A Fallen Kingdom

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Welcome back to the third and final part of my sit-down with Andy Nicholson – Production Designer on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

If you missed the first part of our sit-down, you can check it out HERE and you can also check out the second part HERE.

Last time, we were talking about the Lockwood Manor museum-style displays which appear in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and we touched on some of the inspirations for the dinosaur choices such as the Dimetrodon and the Dilophosaurus. Continuing to talk about the set design for the Lockwood Manor dioramas, Andy spoke a little about the lighting:

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“We noticed that if you stood inside any of the dioramas because they were much brighter than the room beyond you couldn’t see out, J.A. decided to take the opportunity to explore some of the finer details in the sequence, when Maisie, Owen and Claire are in dioramas and they can’t see whether the Indoraptor is outside - which was nice.”

We also touched on the Mattel model of the Concavenator at one point – with Andy noting how lovely it looks and how accurate it is to the model on the set. We also touched on the LEGO version of Lockwood Manor and how LEGO got some concept art beforehand, alongside some phone calls, to design the Lockwood Manor set. It was nice, as it this point, I could show Andy the LEGO Dimetrodon which features as a little nod in the LEGO set which was cool!

Andy explained that very early on, they knew that the diorama room idea would be an important part Lockwood House.

I remember going to the Natural History Museum as a kid and seeing all the dioramas. They were amazing and incredibly detailed, so I had always wanted to tackle them and it really made sense to try that here. Originally, the Diorama Room was only scripted as containing fossils and skeletons – but once JA and I started talking we developed the room you see in the film. I did a lot of photographic research – including photos of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and studied other museum dioramas in detail. We used scenic artists to paint the backdrops, which was lovely. As much as possible we placed each of the dinosaurs in environments which were authentic for them. The Mononykus were interesting as there has been a lot of discussions as to whether they were feathered, so we used porcupine spikes and added them to the tail to hint at that.

Until a few years ago we couldn’t have done these individual dino dioramas to the cost. But, with a 3D Printer and 3D sculpting software like zBrush we could sculpt the dinos, then print in pieces, assemble and paint them. Each piece of the the Concavenator, for example, took up to sixty hours to print but it allowed us to manufacture one-off dinosaurs at fraction of the price of traditional sculpting and casting. The one dinosaur which we did fully sculpt and cast was the Ceratopsian Skull as it needed to be very robust.

An interesting fact – all of the other dinosaurs in the room (The Skeletons) were hired from a company in Arizona for the shoot.”

I then wanted to change from the grandiose nature of Lockwood Manor, to look more at the other indoor sets – so we chatted a little bit more about the spaces which were used for Lockwood Manor before we then moved onto the other sets – like the DPG office. One interesting thing to note here was the Diorama Room was the same room as the Auction Room – albeit remodelled drastically to appear much different on screen.

“We took the balcony out and filled all the dioramas in with glazed tiles, but if you look at the ceiling at the top of the room you’ll be able to see that it’s the same room. When you’re designing sets you’re always trying to maximise what you can do with your budget, so if you can reuse or adapt something you do. We painted all the woodwork black, changed the floor to concrete and added the large metal door where the original door to the diorama room was. Wu’s laboratory and the Dino-Containment set filled another whole stage.

The DPG office was a completely contrast to this. It was in San Francisco, and it went from a very run-down office in the script to something which was slightly more operable and buzzing. That set was built at a warehouse in Langley which was quite a low space to start with which even with a large scenic backing out of the windows leant itself nicely to our eight foot ceilings, creating a low office space feeling. We made the space look repurposed, but also keep it looking slightly run-down, the DPG didn’t have a lot of money! The background for San Francisco outside was painted. The key feature here was the elevator though, and having an environment which we could use to introduce Claire’s character & replay the gag from the first Jurassic World film.

The key focus here was to contrast to what Claire was doing before – so the DPG office needed to reflect a charitable organisation that was just getting by, with half the space falling into disrepair because they didn’t have the high-end budgets of the Masrani corporation. We also wanted it to emulate a functional office – so it had a lot of areas like a break area, computer desks, etc. It was important to structure the office around the script and what needed to happen in the space.”

We discussed the bunkers which we saw constructed in Hawaii. I asked why these buildings had a slightly older, more run-down feel to them, I was interested as to whether this was a conscious decision which Andy and his team had made:

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I liked the idea that there are service tunnels running throughout the island and that they have been a part of the infrastructure since Jurassic Park. When Jurassic World was built, they upgraded some of this so that it could work as part of the new park.

“The idea was we weren’t saying whether they were from Jurassic World or Jurassic Park. They have elements of architecture from both. I liked the idea that there are service tunnels running throughout the island and that they have been a part of the infrastructure since Jurassic Park. When Jurassic World was built, they upgraded some of this so that it could work as part of the new park. The transition of time was also important on Main Street. We needed to show that time had passed since Jurassic World and events had occurred! A lot of the damage you see – such as the Monorail – has been caused by caused by the volcano’s the seismic activity. There is a lot of damage, much more than could be caused by something like say, a rampaging T-Rex.

However, that does not explain the movement of the hotel complex on the far side of the lagoon from Main Street. That was a conscious decision. We evaluated how many times you see the hotel complex in Jurassic World – and we then decided to move it slightly to allow us to create the gate. This was important as we had decided against sending the Mosasaur down a tunnel but rather gave it direct access to the ocean through the gates. Design-wise I took inspiration from the original Jurassic Park gate, but on steroids! I also used the Three Gorges Damn and the Panama Canal as reference for the gates themselves and the new waterfront section for the park. Because we were shooting all of the opening Main Street sequence at night we were able to work with bold shapes and the more dynamic elements of the buildings, rather than have to worry about details. At night, in the rain, you just wouldn’t see them.”

I asked Andy how he tackled the difference between creating static locations, like the buildings we see on main street, to a mobile location like the interior of the Arcadia.

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I looked at the US Military vessels which have well-decks to house and deploy armoured personnel carriers, landing craft and hovercraft. I liked how these decks could be flooded and thought about using that idea as a way to get vehicles on and off the Arcadia. The truck-stunt sequence was developed and the rest of the space was used as you see it (although we never used the flooding idea). We re-arranged the trucks a couple of times to create the illusion of a much longer ship interior that we had space on stage. The exterior of the Arcadia was carefully designed as well – it had to feel capable of high speed considering the journey it needed make in the time. But I didn’t want it to feel too Science Fiction in nature. I looked at the bow-forms of high-speed vessels that transport crew to Oil Rigs and started there.

We did originally have some shots written in for the engine room, and the bridge, but eventually we just had the sequence with the T-Rex and Blue, so we only needed the big cargo bay. We thought it would make sense to use big shipping containers for the transportation for the dinosaurs here as well – as it isn’t exactly a legal operation, so it made sense that the antagonists transporting the dinosaurs would want something a little more covert. We made sure to do research here to make sure that the dinosaurs would be able to fit in the containers and cages we had designed for them in the film. I imagined children being driven home from the cinema, noticing a container truck drive past them, and wonder whether there was a dinosaur inside! Considering the transportation also influenced the choice of the big Russian cargo plane seen at the end of the film –  it flew in from the Ukraine. We really wanted it to look like it would belong to a villain or a least be heading somewhere a bit dodgy.”

We then moved on to touch on my favourite location – which was the Jurassic World perimeter fences. I loved how rugged and utilitarian they felt – but I was never quite sure if they were part of the old park infrastructure, or were a temporary haven for Wheatley’s crew.

The fences had to feel like they were keeping something BIG out. In Jurassic Park, the wire fencing was big and electric, but I felt we needed to update this for existing Jurassic World infrastructure. We used a sturdier design and one that would work with many different sizes & species of dinosaurs. This was a contrast to the Jurassic Park T-Rex paddock, which was designed with large gaps as obviously, it was only expected to hold the T-Rex. I also wanted the gate to be is setup like an airlock, and once they enter the space between the gates and the first gate shuts behind them, it suddenly becomes serious! They are heading into the wild parts of the park. It makes a big impression and has a sense of scale and helps with the sense of fear & suspense.”

One set we hadn’t touched on at this point was the secret, almost Sci-Fi-esque laboratory, which is where we see Doctor Henry Wu for most of the film.

“The idea behind the lab was that it was the same space that Lockwood and Hammond had used when they first cloned dinosaurs. The space had been kept on after Wu went to work with Hammond, with Lockwood continuing to work there on his own projects. As Wu had then returned I designed the lab to look refitted with more high-tech elements for their development of the Indoraptor. We brought back a few key JW props such as the incubators as Wu had then returned with some of the tech he used in Jurassic World .

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We were also able to use the Lab to introduce sequences like Owen training the Baby Raptors. For that location, we used a very small space which utilises a mural inspired by the mural which is on the wall in the Visitor’s Centre from Jurassic Park. The Mural in Jurassic Park has two species of dinosaurs on it, but we removed them for the backdrop of where Owen trains Blue. It was fun, we got to make it feel like a mesh floor in a Zoo, and we also got to think about the toys that the Baby Raptors would play with (we used toys for BIG dogs!). JA & Chris shot many different & very funny takes of Owen training the Raptors with  Blue biting his arm.”

I asked Andy what his favourite set or location had been on the film.


“Well – there all so different, I don’t think I have favourite! A lot of work went into the Diorama room to get it looking right. It was also nice that the Diorama room had so much functionality within the script. I also was happy with how well the transformation to the Auction Room worked. The auction room was inspired by a crazy Victorian house I visited near Nottingham that has an underground ballroom, complete underground two elevators for carriages. It was a fascinating, eccentric building! We decided to make the Auction room feel like a repurposed underground carpark (or ballroom) which had been quickly re-purposed to host the auction.

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The Dinosaur Containment and Lab set had a lot of work which went into it to make it feel like something which could have many different functions to it. There was a lot demanded from it, so it had a lot of functionality within the scene. Owen’s log cabin was a simple set but fun as it had a lot of direct input from Chris Pratt – who is very much an outdoors man!

I was very happy with how the Arcadia turned out as well.”

We finished our chat by talking a little bit about the Stygimoloch. He mentioned how it was fun getting to destroy the set with Stiggy – and we spoke a little about how popular it was. I also took the opportunity to show Andy one of the Mattel versions of Stiggy – why not! I then asked Andy if, to finish our chat, he could offer some feedback for anyone looking to get into a similar role in the film industry.

“Having a background in architecture was beneficial for me, but a lot of it is learning on the job and being really interested in films and art in general. There’s a lot of drawing involved – so it’s important to have a knowledge of draughting and maybe teach yourself some of that. The real important thing is embracing opportunities and learning as much as you can. Get hands on with software if you can, embrace it and learn how it works.

Whatever the scale of project you work on it will teach you a hell of a lot. Getting into the industry can take a long time, but if you’re committed to what you’re doing and you’re willing to listen and learn you’ll do well. There’s rarely a boring moment, it’s usually enjoyable, always educational & an interesting way to make a living. I worked on Jurassic for fourteen months, and then moved onto Captain Marvel - a completely different Design challenge! It really highlights the variety this job can offer.”

Wow – what an incredible discussion about Andy’s experience working on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. It was an absolute privilege getting to talk to Andy, and I really, really appreciate his time.

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I hope you have all enjoyed this three-piece behind the scenes look, and please make sure you are following Andy on Instagram and that you check out his website to see the full portfolio of incredible films he has worked on.

As always – stay tuned to The Jurassic Park Podcast for more great dino-themed content soon!


Written by:
Tom Fishenden