Characters welcome

Colorado-born filmmaker Scott Beck digs deeper than dinosaurs on prehistoric ‘65’

Adam Driver in 65, premiering March 10 in wide release. Photo courtesy Sony Pictures.

Scott Beck might have only lived in Colorado for the first year of his life, but the Centennial State has left an indelible mark on the career of the 39-year-old writer and director. 

And what a career it’s been. Alongside his filmmaking partner Bryan Woods, Beck co-wrote the hugely successful 2018 thriller A Quiet Place, set in a post-apocalyptic world where blind monsters have an acute sense of hearing. The pair are now following that up with 65, a sci-fi action thriller starring Adam Driver as an astronaut stranded on Earth 65 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed.

“The origins of 65 date back, to a certain degree, to June 11, 1993, when I saw Jurassic Park in theaters for the first time,” says Beck, who co-directed the film. This was a time in Beck’s life when he was constantly traveling between Colorado and Iowa, where his family moved when he was just a one-year-old.

“My roots go back to Colorado through my parents. They lived in Aurora and Denver. My mom worked in downtown Denver. It became a really important place for our family,” recalls Beck, who was born in the Mile High City. “It was a place we would return to every year to see family. It still holds an incredible place in my heart.”

On these long drives from Iowa to Colorado, which went from rolling hills and cornfields to the rugged natural beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park, Beck felt like he was in another world. Considering the unique cinematic worlds he has created with 65 and A Quiet Place, it’s not hard to see how the Colorado backdrop on these journeys of his youth subconsciously acted as inspiration.

“It was always kind of inspiring to see that in the background. I remember when I was five years old, wandering out into the Colorado wilderness on different mountain trails, finding old mine shafts,” Beck says. “The landscape captured in my mind at that early age fueled my imagination. I always wanted to write movies that captured that raw wilderness.”

Expressing this thought, Beck is suddenly jolted into a memory that highlights just how inspirational his annual excursions to Colorado really were. He was six, just a few years behind his big sister, when the pair first got their hands on their parents’ VHS camera.

“The first movie we actually made was called Rocky Mountain,” he remembers. “I’m just realizing how it seeped into my conscience.”

Scott Beck (left) draws inspiration from his Front Range roots in the writer-director’s latest blockbuster, ’65.’ Photo by Mario Jennings.

‘Sweet spot’

Beck met Woods when he was 11 years old. They quickly started using their Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker action figures to create their own stop-motion movies together. Soon, they were coercing their friends to star in their short films. In 1999, when the pair were 15, they became immersed in more character-driven fare, like Magnolia, American Beauty and Fight Club.

“That opened my eyes to a further dimension of cinema and how I could make this into an actual career,” he says. “I felt laser focused at that point.” 

In college, Woods and Beck decided to become a filmmaking team, bringing together all of their inspirations — which now included everything from the films of Francois Truffaut to Michael Bay.

“With both 65 and A Quiet Place, we wanted to make a really exciting rollercoaster of a movie that’s a great night at the theater. But the concept alone is not what keeps people engaged. We want to find the truth of the characters,” he says. “65 is a story of grief as much as it is about fighting dinosaurs. That combination is our sweet spot. We want a movie that engages us from a cinephile standpoint, but also has a deeper layer beneath the surface that hopefully connects with audiences.”

Achieving these goals has become even more complicated in the current cinematic landscape, where superhero movies, sequels and stories based on existing intellectual properties have dominated the release schedule. After the huge success of A Quiet Place, Beck and Woods had meetings about working on Marvel, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars movies, while they were also asked to be involved in A Quiet Place Part II.

But Beck says they were always drawn to making an original story again. “The fun of A Quiet Place was writing that by ourselves, not for a studio. We were excited to do that again with 65. We came out of our writer’s retreat with the final script and said, ‘This is the movie we’re excited to make.’ It wasn’t based on any IP. That made it a hard sell,” he says. “But we always want to take a bold swing and create something new for audiences they don’t entirely know what to expect.” 

ON SCREEN: 65 debuts in wide release, including Century Boulder (1700 29th St.), on March 10. 


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