Hi reddit!

I’m J.A. Bayona, director of the new film A Monster Calls, which opens in theaters everywhere today! I’ve also directed The Impossible and The Orphanage and am now working on the upcoming Jurassic World.

Ask me anything!

Watch the trailer for A Monster Calls: https://youtu.be/8q-7trUd8Vw

Proof: https://twitter.com/FilmBayona/status/817109597202817027 https://twitter.com/FilmBayona/status/817397192365395968

EDIT: Thank you so much for all your questions, I really enjoyed this! I invite you all to discover A Monster Calls. It's a very emotional journey, life-affirming experience, and I hope something that will stay with you for a long time. So, thank you much!

Comments: 332 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

think_long202 karma

Who was in charge of deciding to use M83 for the trailer? They deserve a raise.

filmbayona173 karma

That was the marketing at Focus Features. I think they did a great job telling a complicated story into a trailer. The trailer looks and sound very exciting.

TheTrueLordHumungous177 karma

How do we know this is really you and not your twin?

filmbayona179 karma

Haha! I should've taken the picture with him. We are together right now as it's a big holiday in Spain.

j_harrisson90169 karma

Hi, I am a big fan of all your work, and I am looking forward to A Monster Calls. I am also very excited that you will be directing Jurassic World 2.

In a world where dozens of sequels and blockbusters are made every year, how do you ensure that a sequel to a franchise remains original and fresh?

filmbayona139 karma

I think that's always the challenge - finding the balance between what people are expecting and what new things can surprise the audience. The first time I was told the story for this new film, I was surprised. I think it's a perfect Jurassic Park film and a sequel to Jurassic World.

GerryRock104 karma

Happy new year Mr. Bayona! How was working with Liam Nesson? He was sometimes on set or he just did voice recording sessions? And about Jurassic, please tell me we will see at least one animatronic raptor, I love those robot creatures. Saludos amigo.

filmbayona138 karma

Gracias! Happy New Year to you too! It was amazing. He was always on set. We did the whole motion capture with him so it was never just having the voice but the performance as well. Even when we were just shooting the voice, we had three cameras on him to capture everything.

TomCollinsEsq80 karma

As a 36 year-old man who has lost several close family members to cancer and was bullied as a child, during what percentage of this movie will I just be low key sobbing? Because it looks like a solid 65%+ from here.

filmbayona124 karma

I think crying is a healing experience. I love to cry in the movies. This film gives you the chance to release all that. I've been talking to a lot of people in similar situations and for them, the film has been really helpful and I've been proud of that. In making The Impossible, I spoke a lot to victims of tsunamis, it was very helpful for them. I think if this movie helps you at all, it'll be the most rewarding thing for me.

Lord_Kristine69 karma

I think you're amazing. What is your favourite color?

filmbayona103 karma

Green! I never thought about the question before.

zoidar56 karma

How did you guys decide on casting Felicity Jones for the role of a cancer stricken mother?

filmbayona128 karma

When I thought about her, Theory Of Everything wasn't released yet, she wasn't as popular, but I was so interested in her performance in Like Crazy. I needed a young British actress to play a mother without losing a sense of beauty. She had to go through physical deterioration, but I wanted to keep a sense of beauty. More than a sick person, for me, she was always the mother. For me, I was so impressed with her performance.

zoidar25 karma

Thank you for the great answer! Interesting that you noted that The Theory of Everything wasn't released yet when you had her in mind. Like Crazy is a darn great film and her performance there is spellbinding so you guys aced the casting. Do you consider working with her and/or Lewis MacDougall again, probably in a smaller film after Jurassic World?

filmbayona36 karma

Sure! I think I would love to work with all the actors I've worked with in my career. I spend a lot of energy working with them on set, and I've been lucky enough to have a great experience with all of them - so of course I would work with Felicity and Lewis. Lewis is an amazing actor, he has a great future ahead of him, he's going to do great. He's definitely going to be a big name in the future.

FueledBySin47 karma

Is liam neeson a nice person? I want to believe he is.

filmbayona83 karma

Yes! Very nice, very tall. I'm kind of short, and it's always opposing to be next to such tall actors. But he's a very, very nice guy.

Pswii60one42 karma

What made you want to take on Jurassic World 2? How much freedom do you get directing a large franchise film like that?

filmbayona66 karma

I've always been in interested in doing a big film in Hollywood. I've been a big fan of Steven Spielberg. I grew up up watching the Jurrasic films and so the stars aligned.

AguilaReal1640 karma

Hi, I'm a massive fan of all your previous work! In The Orphanage, The Impossible and A Monster Calls, family has always been a central theme. Will this be the case in the Jurassic World sequel?

filmbayona46 karma

I think there's a lot of heart in the Jurassic movies. I think that's one of the reasons I love these movies, they're full of adventure, but you have great characters. I think that we are really pushing for that in this new film. It's going to be a great adventure, very exciting, much bigger than the first one, but we really want to bring back a lot of heart to the story.

pablobravo4432 karma

Hi, I´m eighten year old and i´m from Spain. I´m currently studying something that is not related with making movies but i would like to work on making movies as a director, what are your advises for me?

filmbayona54 karma

I think you really need to want to do it. It's such hard work to make a film, so you really need to want to do it. If you have doubts, try it. It's a very tough job. But if you want to do it, try it non stop. Because even though it's very hard, it's also very rewarding.

Popo098728 karma

What did you learn from the shooting of A Monster Calls? And do you have any advice for young filmmakers?

filmbayona58 karma

The stories from a book isn't easy to turn into a movie. It was a learning experience from me. I wanted to be faithful to the story but also making it work as a movie.

shredthecat28 karma

A bit of a weird one, but I saw A Monster Calls and noticed that the Huddersfield Giants rugby team got a special thanks in the end credits and I was curious as to why?? Did they contribute to the film somehow, or just to do with the area the film was shot in??

Really enjoyed the film too. The watercolour animations were done fantastically.

filmbayona46 karma

Conor had some slacks with the Giants rugby logo, so we had to ask for permission - and that's why it's in the credits!

boomboxpinata23 karma

can you throw some feathers on those dinosaurs? they look naked. thanks.

filmbayona28 karma


Dane1818 karma

What would be your dream film to work on?

filmbayona75 karma

The first movie I saw in my life was Superman. I was three years old. The first memory I had was Christopher Reeve flying in the suit. Directing a Superman film would be great. I always wanted to be Superman. That's the film that made me want to become a director.

keiranfoord18 karma

For startes thank you for being loyal to the book, it is rare that a film is what we get in the book. A second is... Can I come and work for you?

filmbayona23 karma

Haha! Sure! I love the book. That's the reason I decided to make the movie. In the same way, Patrick had to make the book his own, I had to make the movie my own and Patrick understood that. We worked together in trying to accomplish being as faithful to the story as much as possible but also bringing my vision to it. Patrick and I worked very closely in doing that.

chargingblue14 karma

Did you try to make the character design similar to Groot on purpose or? Serious question, from an outsider who had no clue about the movie, I thought it was Groot.

filmbayona50 karma

If you go on the internet, you will see so many character that look like our monster, or look like Groot. Because the tree is such an important symbol in so many cultures, all cultures have characters that have a man that looks like a tree, or a tree that looks like a monster. If you read A Monster Calls, you will see that there are beautiful drawings, and the character is already defined in those drawings. That was made before Guardians of the Galaxy. We did 200 concept designs, and at the end, we decided to go back to the book and keep the face as human as possible. That allowed us to get the maximum performance from Liam.

freeall11 karma

I've seen the trailer to A Monster Calls many times which I normally never does. But it's quite beautiful.

How do you feel as a director when you watch the trailer of one your movies? Do you sometimes feel like they are over/under-selling it? Not sure how much you are involved with making, or signing off on the trailer.

filmbayona17 karma

That's a very interesting question. I see the trailer as a promotional tool to sell the film.

pm_me_your_molars10 karma

I just bought the DVD of "The Orphanage" though I've seen it before. Such a fantastic film! Realizing that you've directed both makes me even more eager for A Monster Calls.

Are you at all interested in making more Spanish-Language films in the future?

filmbayona17 karma

Yes! I'm planning a Spanish-language movie right after Jurassic, and I'm very excited. I'm dying to start work with Spanish actors.

DisabledGrandma8 karma

What's on your perfect sandwich?

filmbayona23 karma

There is a very simple ham and cheese sandwich that in Spain we call "The Bikini". That's my favorite.

ThomYorkesEvilTwin7 karma

What's your favorite movie? Big fan.

filmbayona15 karma

Superman. It's the first one I saw in my life and defines my whole career.

AmericanHigh6 karma

What filmmakers inspire you?

filmbayona14 karma

Lots of them. I was lucky enough to grow up watching lots of movies on television - I watched a lot of American, European, Spanish movies. My favorites are probably Roman Polanski and Steven Spielberg.

whizzer06 karma

I saw A Monster Calls last night and thought it was incredible, with beautiful direction in particular. Where do you start with a film like this? What is it like filming with a CGI creature?

filmbayona8 karma

It's always about the scene. It's always about trying to find out what the movie is about and how you're going to go about it. In the case of The Impossible, it took us a year trying to figure out how to shoot the tsunami. For this one, it was about 6-7 months figuring out the monster. One of the first things I did was to try to find the reality within the story. We had to define more of the reality in the movie. We worked with various companies to create the creature.

autovonbismarck5 karma

How influenced are you by Guillermo Del Toro? I'm sorry to say that a recent review I read called your movie "A tacky knock off of Pan's Labyrinth".

filmbayona12 karma

A lot. Not only in terms of the movies, but also in terms of the relationship that we always had as friends. I consider him as a mentor, I learned a lot from him on a human aspect. I really admire him as a director, but I admire him more as a human being. And of course, I love his movies, and I love the way he approaches storytelling. I think we all share a love of fantasy, and we embrace the idea that's in A Monster Calls, about how fantasy gives us a better understanding of reality, more than reality itself.

panion884 karma

Do you prefer work in Spain or usa?

filmbayona17 karma

I've never really worked in the US before because my first three movies are financially independent. Jurassic World will be my big Hollywood film in the US.

b_steel4 karma

Hey! I have a couple of questions for you:

  1. Were there any personal experiences that you can relate to in the plot of A Monster Calls?

  2. Can you tell us anything about Jurassic World 2, or have you been sworn to secrecy?

Edit: The new movie looks great, by the way. I'm not sure when it's coming out in Australia, though.

filmbayona12 karma

You always try to find a personal connection with the story somehow. I think the fact that Conor loves drawings, that reflects my own childhood. Also, the way that Felicity wants to be an artist, but she couldn't make a living, that's the same story as my father. He was never able to make a living because he came from a humble background. There's a lot of my father in Felicity's character.

EWintereye4 karma

Hello! What steps did your team and yourself take upon approaching this project and adapting it for the big screen? Where there some parts from the book that had to be shorten/toned down for the film? And what were some similar works in film that helped you and your team bring the vision of the film to life?

filmbayona8 karma

It was about finding the architecture because it's a very complicated story to put on the screen. I think that Patrick did a great job in writing the script, but I somehow had to visualize that, and it wasn't an easy task. We had so many different subject matters, we had to find the right structure and visualize the inner world of Conor. I had this idea that Patrick loved the idea of making Conor an artist, so by doing that, I'm able to visualize his inner world and his stories that you see in the film.

Cuatemochilas4 karma

Señor Bayona do you feel that a horror/thriller film is the easiest way to start off a film career. Was that the reason why El Orfanato was your first feature?

filmbayona6 karma

It's a very interesting question. I never did The Orphanage as a plan to have a big career. I always loved horror. Having said that, a lot of young directors in Europe start with horror. I think somehow horror movies is very easy to travel all over the world and they're great films. If you like horror and want to do a horror film, there's a big audience around the world.

readysetgowait4 karma

Hey there!

Thank you for making a film that crushed my heart, even much more than the book did, although I love both forms of the story.

As per my question, what's your favorite part in the book that you wish you put more emphasis in the final output of the movie?

filmbayona15 karma

I would have loved to have Lily in the film. The story had so many layers and subject matters so we had to trim it in editing room. We had great scenes with Lily. She was played by a great British girl. We're going to include her in the DVD extras. I loved the scenes but unfortunately, sometimes you have to take things out in the editing room even if you love it because it just works better.

klevenisms2043 karma

hi, what's for suppeR?

filmbayona10 karma

Nothing. I ate so much during lunch. I think I'm going to skip my supper. It's a holiday in Spain so I was with family earlier.

xthetalldudex3 karma

I really liked the music in AMC -- what was it like working with Fernando Velazquez on the score?

filmbayona6 karma

Fernando is a great guy, a great composer. I really admire his ability to create beautiful melodies. I always start to work from the melodies. When you find the melody, you have something to tell the story without using the words. That's always more transcendent than anything else.

myrevolutionisover3 karma

Who are some of your favourite artists?

filmbayona6 karma

I listen to a lot of scores from movies since I was a kid. The first one I ever bought was the score from ET when I was a kid. However, I love all sorts of music. I have various stuff on my ipod.

Part-Time-Hero3 karma

Saw it last night! Went it not sure what to expect, came out with a broken heart! Bravo sir! How do you get over that initial hill of starting a new project?

filmbayona5 karma

For me there's always a spark. It could be that you respond emotionally with the story. For Jurassic, I always loved the films but typically there's always a spark that leads to starting the films.

Hunter_Of_Flames3 karma

How difficult was it for the crew to find a good younger actor like Lewis, and whereabouts did you look?

filmbayona3 karma

Connor was such an important piece of the story. We did an extensive audition and we saw thousands of tapes of child actors. We spent 3 months looking for Connor. At the end of the day, we narrowed it down to 5 kids and my instinct told me Lewis was the right one and in the end, I was very happy with his performance.

Leroypi3 karma

You may have been asked this already but what gift you into film and what do you try to get out of every movie you make?

filmbayona7 karma

I think of myself as a member of the audience. I never do something without putting myself as a viewing member so I have to respond emotionally to it. So every movie I make, I try to be an emotional experience so it's worth the two hours of your life.

demafromua2 karma

Really excited for A Monster Calls. What would you name as the strongest part of the movie?

filmbayona3 karma

My favorite scene is the last one. From the very beginning, I wanted to have life-affirming/hopeful ending. I struggled to find what that'd be. I had this idea that Patrick loved...that you'll see in the film. It's one of the things that I've shot that I'm most proud of. It's a simple scene but very emotional. It was everything I was looking for to finish the story.

SickleClaw2 karma

Is your name pronounced 'Bayona' or 'Bae-yona'?

filmbayona4 karma


MatrimPaendrag2 karma

Hola! I just saw the film last night in London and it was fantastic. My sister cried a LOT (she's 30 btw, not a kid).

How was it working with Lewis MacDougall? Genuinely one of the best child performances I've ever seen.

And are you a Barca fan? Or maybe Espanyol?


P.S. I cannot lie; I also cried

filmbayona3 karma

Barca, Barca, Barca. Always Barca!

qqri2 karma

Is there extra meaning in the family photos or it's up to interpretation? Thanks!

filmbayona3 karma

It's interesting to discover that it's the grandfather, who is played by Liam Neeson. For me there's a lot of space for interpretation there, and those small details give a bigger meaning to A Monster Calls.

Ballistrophobia2 karma

I'm going to see your film tonight! I actively avoid movie trailers because I don't like having plots spoiled for me, so besides the names of the actresses, some critic reviews, and the title itself I know nothing about your movie. If you had 15 seconds to plug or summarize your movie before I go see it tonight, what would you say about it?

What do YOU want the audience to know before seeing your film?

filmbayona4 karma

It's great to not see the trailer before but I understand it's hard to not see a trailer before you decide a movie. When the last Indiana Jones movie was released, I tried to not see a single frame of the film and I was very happy about that decision.

keiranfoord2 karma

Have you read any books that you have thought of adapting?

filmbayona7 karma

Yes but I'm not going to tell you haha. I don't want anyone to steal my ideas, ;)

dramaislife172 karma

How is it working with such young and new performers? And what advice would you give to young people just starting out?

filmbayona5 karma

It's always great to work with such young actors as Lewis or Tom Holland in The Impossible. There's something very refreshing, since making a film is a whole new experience, and you can tell how important it is for them. I learn a lot working with kids on set - the way they approach the character, it's always very refreshing. I've always had a great time.

crash_tactics-1 karma

Is it a good movie?

filmbayona3 karma

I think you should try to figure out yourself so go to the movies and watch it :) When I was in film school, I never told my students if a movie is good or bad but they should see it for themselves.