Netflix’s Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous isn’t just about six kids having fun with dinosaurs. There’s terror, pain, suffering, even death. The showrunners said they couldn’t do a Jurassic World series any other way, even if it’s supposed to be for kids. After all, the command came from Steven Spielberg himself.
“When Steven gave the okay for the project, when he gave the final sign-off, his marching orders were, ‘Don’t do the kiddy version,’” showrunner Scott Kreamer told io9. “‘It needs to feel like it’s Jurassic Park. It needs to feel like it’s Jurassic World.’ And we went for it.”
io9 recently talked over the phone with showrunners Kreamer and Aaron Hammersley about the inaugural season of Camp Cretaceous. It’s the first Jurassic World animated series and the latest journey into the dino-fueled franchise—which continues with Jurassic World 3: Dominion, currently in production. Taking place during the events of the first Jurassic World, the first season centers around six young teens attending the inaugural weekend of Camp Cretaceous, a kids summer camp on Isla Nublar. It doesn’t take long for things to go awry, and the kids find themselves on the run from swarms of carnivorous dinosaurs—with nary an adult to be found.
“In all the films, it’s the kids are the side characters who need to be rescued by Alan Grant, Owen Grady, or an adult,” Kreamer said. “So the whole idea is: Let’s put kids in the center of the story. Let’s cut off adult help. Let’s make them have no one to count on but each other. And really, that’s just the entire impetus for this story, is let’s empower the kids and see what happens.”
Kreamer and Hammersley joined the project after it had already been greenlit, and once they were onboard the pair resolved to make a kids show that didn’t play it safe (something Spielberg wanted too). They yearned to make a kids show that would give younger audiences the freedom to experience and understand danger, like the Jurassic movies do. The showrunners took inspiration from films where kids face actual peril—oftentimes without an adult, gadget, or superpower to help them out. Not-so-coincidentally, this ended up being a lot of classic Spielberg works, including E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Goonies, and obviously the original Jurassic Park.
“I think that you couldn’t really do a Jurassic story without having those elements of putting people in real danger. Because otherwise, if you don’t have that, it’s not going to feel like a Jurassic Park or Jurassic World film. So to us, it was it was really just kind of keep in line with the world that they’ve already created,” Hammersley said.
Camp Cretaceous earns its place in the “actual peril” category, as well as its PG rating. While Kreamer and Hammersley insisted the series never display blood or gore onscreen, there are still times where things get intense. Sometimes, the teens even watch other people be eaten by dinosaurs.—it may not be bloody, but it is violent, and that can be a lot to handle. Hammersley said it was about letting young characters be in peril instead of always making things feel safe—and trusting the audience to understand what all of that means.
“The world does have all of these elements to varying degrees, and I think that we may not do kids a service by sheltering them from all of those things. And I think it actually opens up your world in allowing for more stories to be told if you can incorporate those themes into your stories,” Hammersley said.
“We definitely try to make this something that a parent could enjoy it, too,” Kreamer added. “Like Aaron said, I think if you have a kid who’s watching this—especially watching it with their parents—it can also open up some really good discussions, I think, and really good communication between the two. And maybe raises issues or questions that wouldn’t normally be talked about.”
When asked whether there’s an age range for kids to watch this show, Kreamer said it depends on the child—and if any parents are uncertain, they can watch a few episodes first and see how they feel. That said, if a kid has already seen Jurassic Park or Jurassic World, they’ll likely be fine with this one.
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous debuts on Netflix September 18.
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