65 – A Character-Driven Dino Drama

“The 12-year-olds in us always wanted to write a dinosaur film,” says Scott Beck and Bryan Woods took the world by storm with their original screenplay of A Quite Place. Now they step up as writers, directors and producers for 65, where a pilot is stranded on Earth 65 million years ago and has to fight for survival in a hostile world riddled with dangerous prehistoric creatures.

Woods and Beck are an ideal match as a team, they have been best friends since the sixth grade in Iowa. I interpret them as Scott being the left brain and Bryan being the right brain. They’ll look at each other and they don’t have to say anything – they know exactly what the other is thinking. They work brilliantly together and balance each other,” says Zainab Azizi, who heads up Raimi Productions, and produces 65 with Woods and Beck alongside Sam Raimi and Deborah Liebling.

“The 12-year-olds in us always wanted to write a dinosaur film,” says Beck. “True human emotions are coming through the screen in the most powerful way. We love genre filmmaking – going to a movie theater on a Friday night with a packed audience and seeing a movie that plays us like a piano,” says Scott Beck, who, with partner Bryan Woods, writes and directs the new film 65. “Horror, suspense, action, adventure – that’s the sweet spot for us. And what we love even more is to combine genre with a heartbeat – characters you really love.”

“The stories we love are always cinematic,” adds Woods. “It’s about the experience of what a movie brings – the visuals, the performances, the music, the marriage of all of these different capacities.”

“For us, writing and directing are the same thing – it’s all storytelling,” says Woods.

Paradoxically, Beck says, it’s because they are both writing and directing that they are less bound by their own screenplay. “As a director, you can open up to any good idea on set, whether it’s from your DP or your VFX Supervisor or one of your actors,” says Beck. “You can mix it up, right up in the last moment when you’re ready to call ‘action.’”

Scott Beck and Bryan Woods

That dynamic is especially evident when working with a talent like Adam Driver, says Woods. “He always has so many great ideas about his character,” says Woods. “He really challenged us to think about scenes from the point of view of each of the characters, and filter the scenes through those lenses.”

In 65, Adam Driver plays Mills, an interstellar pilot transporting a large group of passengers through space, when an accident kills all of his passengers but one – a young girl named Koa, played by Ariana Greenblatt.

What Mills and Koa don’t know is that the planet they have landed on is our own Earth – 65 million years ago. As they begin their epic journey toward their only means of escape, they are hunted by vicious packs of dinosaurs that stalk them across a dangerous landscape.

“What captivated me the most about 65 is the core of the film, and that is the father-daughter type relationship between Mills and Koa,” says producer Sam Raimi. “Koa is a bold and intelligent young woman who challenges Mills. Together, the pair protect and fight for each other. Even though Mills initially rescues Koa, it’s really Koa that saves him. It’s a really beautiful tale.”

Producer Zainab Azizi agrees. “Who doesn’t love a great dinosaur film?” she says. “Scott and Bryan found a way to bring that kind of excitement to the screen in a way we haven’t seen before.”

For Adam Driver, the chance to play a character whose physical battle to survive mirrors his emotional battle was impossible to resist.

“It had room for thoughtful characters and big overall themes, while being extremely entertaining. When families go as a group to see the same film in a theatre, it’s a special thing to be a part of.“

Liebling says that as they did with A Quiet Place, Beck and Woods’s approach makes the team unique as filmmakers – delivering movies that feel unique. Their sensibilities allow them to take advance of motion pictures’ unique ability to show Driver’s expressive face as he portrays a range of emotions that goes beyond words. “It’s a different way of telling stories than we typically get on the big screen,” says Liebling. “There’s very limited dialogue. There are primarily two actors in the movie. And yet it’s a very, very tense movie with so much going on.”

“It’s about all the things cinema does best – visuals, sound, music, performance. We’re very inspired by silent filmmaking, and leaning on those basic principles of cinema – using these minimalist tools to tell a story on the most epic scale possible,” says Woods.

The other classic lesson that Beck and Woods take is in building suspense. “We had a mantra: ‘it’s about what you don’t see,’” says Beck. “That was very instrumental on A Quiet Place, as it was instrumental as we grew up on movies like Jaws. The whole movie has been built on that mantra – the idea that there’s something dangerous and mysterious out there in this environment that Mills and Koa will have to engage with. We’re using sound design, we’re using the camera, we’re using production design to suggest what’s out there, and only at the right moment will we startle the audience.”

“Scott and Bryan have created some beautiful images – shots I haven’t seen a director come up with before,” says Liebling. “It’s not the way they teach it in film school, with traditional coverage. It transports us into their experience.”

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Filmmakers Scott Beck & Bryan Woods (Directors / Writers / Producers) burst onto the Hollywood scene with Paramount Pictures’ A Quiet Place, based on their original screenplay. The critically acclaimed box-office smash stars Emily Blunt alongside John Krasinski, who also directed. Certified Fresh with a score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film earned over $340M at the worldwide box-office and was #1 at the domestic box-office for 2 weeks. Beck & Woods serve as Executive Producers on the film in addition to co-writing the screenplay with Krasinski.

A Quiet Place was named as a Top Ten Film of 2018 by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review. Beck & Woods’ script earned them the Saturn Award for Best Writing, alongside Best Original Screenplay nominations from the Writers Guild and the Critics Choice Awards, and was named one of the year’s ten best scripts by The Tracking Board Hit List. Variety went on to name Beck & Woods to their annual 10 Screenwriters to Watch list.

On deck for the duo is The Boogeyman, based on Stephen King’s iconic short story. They wrote the screenplay and serve as executive producers on the film, which is in post-production for 20th Century Studios and Hulu, with Rob Savage directing. The short story, first published in 1973 and later released in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift, followed a man who has recently lost all his children to a creature lurking in the closet. King himself gave his endorsement of A Quiet Place, tweeting that the film “is an extraordinary piece of work.”

Other credits for the filmmakers include 2019’s acclaimed thriller Haunt, which they wrote and directed for producer Eli Roth, Sierra/Affinity, Broken Road Productions, and Nickel City Pictures. The film had its world premiere as the opening night film at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, then its international premiere at FrightFest in London. Momentum Pictures released Haunt in theaters on Friday, September 13, 2019. The film was the #1 most watched movie premiere on Shudder.

Beck & Woods are also co-owners of The Last Picture House, a specialty cinema and social lounge with 35mm capabilities. The movie theater is located in their hometown of Davenport, Iowa, and will open in 2023.