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Exclusive Interview with AGE OF DINOSAURS Director Joseph Lawson!

If you're an Asylum fan, Joseph Lawson needs no introduction. But in case there are a few newbies aboard - welcome - here's the rundown: after a few years in charge of The Asylum's VFX department, a reign that produced the best visuals in the studio's 15-year history, Lawson added Director to his resume, standing at the helm of two of The Asylum's most talked-about films of the last couple years - Nazis at the Center of the Earth,and Clash of the Empires (nee Age of the Hobbits). After tackling robo-Hitler and lilliputian warriors, Lawson now turns his eye to prehistoric terrors amok in our modern world with the fantasy-disaster flick Age of Dinosaurs, starring Treat Williams (Hair, Deep Rising, Everwood), Jillian Rose Reed (Awkward, Weeds) and the always-awesome Ronny Cox (Robocop, Total Recall, Beverly Hills Cop 1 & 2). In advance of the film's release next week, Mr. Lawson was kind enough to spend a few minutes discussing his work with Committed:

COMMITTED: What can you tell us about the story of Age of Dinosaurs?

JOSEPH LAWSON: The story of AoD is that a father and daughter who definitely love each other though they've grown apart since the death of the mom must re-establish bonds and repair their relationship. With Dinosaurs. Okay, a LOT of dinosaurs. It's a pretty ambitious film with a number of threads including a harried police chief, the president of Geneti-Sharp who must reconcile his drive to save his company with what he has wrought, his minions and team plus a few other characters who each deal with their own fates in the face of a dinosaur herd... plus a particularly driven and vengeful Carnotaurus named Larry. I think folks will find a lot to have fun with in this movie. There are also a lot of homages to keep an eye out for, just like my previous flicks (Clash of the Empires and Nazis at the Center of the Earth).

C: Your last film - Clash of the Empires - had you traveling to Southeast Asia to shoot; where did AoD shoot, and how long of a shoot was it?

JL: Age of Dinosaurs was a 15 day shoot in Los Angeles and at East L.A. College, then a couple of days on a ranch out on the way to Pasadena. It was nice to be close to home even though the production was so tight on the heels of Clash of the Empires it was a real challenge to be prepared in time  Fortunately, everyone had the same goal... to make the best dinosaur film we could with the time and resources we had. I feel the film looks like we spent a LOT more time shooting than we actually did and that's a credit to everyone in production.

C: What drew you to the project?

JL: I've always enjoyed dinosaur films where characters have to work things out while being chased. When the film showed up on our schedule I hoped it would be possible to direct though we have a lot of other excellent directors who were also interested. For whatever reasons the producers... thanks, gents... let it fall to me to get done. The other thing is that I was able to eke out from the first draft enough potential for emotional impact that it made it a good match for my sensibilities as a storyteller. In the director polish rewrites we added more interplay between father and daughter. Then on set there was a great chemistry between Treat Williams and Jillian Rose Reed and a genuinely magical moment that still brings tears to my eyes. Getting to work with Ronny Cox was also an amazing joy, an absolute gentleman on set and incredible to learn from (along with Treat). Overall, the fact that I was blessed to do a bona fide dinosaur film with such a great and motivated cast, crew and post teams made all the challenges worthwhile.

C:  What kind of rad VFX can we expect?

JL: A lot of dinosaur shots, a lot of chomping action, some smart dinos, some not so smart dinos, the obligatory Asylum helicopter destruction or two, some shots that I think are among our best. David Michael Latt said epic, big so we did our best to deliver. He actually joked that our trailers are supposed to only be two minutes and the one for AoD was going to be 14...  and that the trailer Brian Brinkman did was great and the movie actually delivered on the promise. I hope folks watching it will feel the same. Overall, it's great work from modeler Ken Brilliant, animators Dan Peters, Steve Clarke and John Karner with great VFX from Sasha Burrow, Aaron Witlin, Paul Knott and compositors Aine Graham and Derek Serra. I'm also thrilled with the sound design from our sound teams and Chris Ridenhour's score is just the right music for a JP 3.5 wannabe.  ;-)

C: Were there any dinosaur movies you grew up loving, and did they have any influence on AoD?

JL: Valley of Gwangi, King Kong, ALL the Jurassic Park films.... anything where genuinely animated dinosaurs or great practical puppet work were the visual effects, not lizards with cardboard on the back. In the credits we say thank you to all the pioneers upon whose shoulders we humbly stand as filmmakers and visualists.

C: What's on the horizon for you? Any new projects in the works?

JL: Nothing concrete at the moment... a possible bigger budget science fiction actioner in the near future. They're also letting me write and hopefully direct a World War 2 movie in 2014 that could harken back to all the epic films I enjoyed growing up like Patton, Von Ryan's Express, Battle of the Bulge, The Great Escape... and, of course, always with a heart at the soul of it.

Age of DInosaurs hits DVD and Blu-Ray this coming Tuesday, May 7th. From the sound of things, we'd all be damn fools to miss it.

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