UI alumni, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, return to Iowa with new movie, talking dinosaurs and Adam Driver

65 screening and Q&A

The Varsity Cinema, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9, $12

65 screening and Q&A

FilmScene's at the Chauncey, 7 p.m. Friday, March 10, SOLD OUT

65 screening and introduction

Davenport Cinemark at 53rd and 18 St., 7:15 p.m. Saturday, March 11, $11.77

Directors, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck at a special screening of 65, courtesy of Mortimer PR.

For Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, working on their latest $45 million dinosaur movie was reminiscent of their student film days.

“The scope of the film is massive compared to anything else we’ve done, and yet at the same time it doesn’t feel much different from when we were at the University of Iowa,” said Beck, who co-wrote and co-directed 65, starring Adam Driver in a prehistoric, dinosaur-infested Earth.

“You’re basically trying to create art under all these constraints and all these restrictions,” Beck told Little Village in an interview on Tuesday. “Whether it’s 65 or a film we created in Iowa City – it requires you to problem solve on your toes and there’s no better way to do that than to surround yourself with a dynamic team.”

Beck and Woods – whose screenplay A Quiet Place launched them to fame in 2018 – will return to Iowa this week with three screenings of 65.

The first showing is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. at The Varsity Cinema in Des Moines. On Friday, Iowa City’s FilmScene will hold a 7 p.m. showing at its Chauncey location. And finally, there will be screening on Saturday at the 53rd St. Cinemark in Davenport at 7:15 p.m.

Those first two screenings will be followed by a Q&A from the filmmakers. The Davenport screening will be introduced by them.

65 follows Mills, played by Adam Driver, the pilot of a space vestal with 35 passengers. After an asteroid forces a crash landing, Mills and the only other survivor – Koa, played by Ariana Greenblatt – must fight for their lives on the dinosaur-dominated surface of Earth 65 million years ago.

“Adam Driver, who for our money is one of the great actors of our time, seeing what a virtuoso he is with dialogue and explosive performance over the years, we wanted to see his talent as a minimalist and put him in this character of Mills who’s very stoic and says a lot with very little,” said Woods. “It’s us attempting to do minimalism in a maximalist genre.”

Directors Bryan Woods and Scott Beck with Adam Driver on the set of 65, courtesy of Mortimer PR.

Like A Quiet Place and the duo’s 2019 horror film Haunt, the cast for 65 is also fairly small despite its dino-sized scope. Beck described the film as “Roland Emmerich meets Terrence Malick.” But while the film has a b-movie premise, it still tries to explore grief and loss Mills experiences.

Helping Beck and Woods create this latest release was longtime horror filmmaker Sam Raimi, one of the film’s producers.

“It was great to have Sam Raimi … be a mentor throughout the process,” said Beck. “Early on he encouraged us to develop concept art. We story boarded the entire film start to finish, [he] made sure we had all our homework. So we at least had a place to start from in creating the dinosaur sequences.”

One of the more surprising aspects of creating those dinosaur sequences involved hiring Cirque Du Soleil performers. Those performers helped give the actors something to act against in specific scenes, Beck said.

“They had this great articulation and this movement, and we put them inside dinosaur suits,” Beck said.

Directors Bryan Woods and Scott Beck on the set of 65, courtesy of Mortimer PR.

The creation of 65 sprung from Beck and Woods’ childhood enthusiasm with the original Jurassic Park, which premiered 30 years ago. Beck first saw Jurassic Park at a now extinct theater on Brady Street in Davenport.

“I would have seen it in the same theater,” added Woods. “Part of me wonders, who knows, maybe Scott and I were in the same audience that day.”

Beck and Woods have a lot on the horizon. The pair are financing an Iowa movie theater that’s expected to open in May. Known as The Last Picture House, the theater is being built in the 300 block of East 2nd St. in downtown Davenport.

They have an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Boogeyman set to release this summer. This week, they also teased a sequel to Haunt during a Reddit AMA.

But leading up to the release of 65, one question looms larger than all the others.

“Favorite dinosaur?” Woods said. “I’ve got to say any type of pterosaur because of the ability to fly away from danger at a moment’s notice.”

Beck favors the larger-than-life dinosaurs.

“I’ve come to really appreciate the brontosaurus over the years … It’s just a creature that just, it’s hard for my brain to process, and I think it reminds me of why dinosaurs are so magical to begin with. It’s these massive, massive animals that used to walk the very same earth that we that we all walk. And their size and how big they are is impossible to process. And that’s what makes them so so fun and exciting to think about.”

65 is in cinemas everywhere on March 10.