Arts blog: Colin Trevorrow’s new movie is a treat for sci-fi geeks everywhere

Director Colin Trevorrow. Picture: Getty
Director Colin Trevorrow. Picture: Getty
Share this article
Have your say

EVER since Disney made the surprise announcement that its acquisition of Lucasfilm would result in three new Star Wars movies, it seems as if every director currently working has had to officially deny their involvement to prevent rumours from gaining traction.

Just ask hitherto little-known indie filmmaker Colin Trevorrow. Returning home to Vermont late last month after promoting his debut feature Safety Not Guaranteed at a film festival in Stockholm, the 36-year-old suddenly found himself the subject of fervent media speculation when cryptic comments he’d made over the summer in relation to a remake of Disney’s cult 1986 sci-fi film Flight of the Navigator (on which he’s since had to confirm he’s working) were suddenly pounced upon by over-eager bloggers and attributed to Star Wars – Episode VII.

“It was a little bit surreal,” recalls Trevorrow of all the spurious detective work going on. “I didn’t buy into my own hype so it didn’t actually change anything about my daily life, but ultimately I wanted to put a stop to it because it was starting to get out of control.”

Specifically, he was frustrated that an off-the-cuff remark in which he vowed to make the then-unnamed project “not suck” was subsequently transformed online into the headline: I Will Make Star Wars Not Suck.

“That’s a pretty loaded comment,” chuckles Trevorrow. “I didn’t say it in reference to [Star Wars] at all, though I stand by it in reference to Flight of the Navigator…”

Tenuous as his connection to any new iteration of George Lucas’s sci-fi saga may have been, Trevorrow (who grew up in Oakland with Skywalker Ranch almost on his doorstep) has no problem discussing the impact of the original trilogy on Safety Not Guaranteed; indeed, the main character even directly references it.

This is Kenneth (Mark Duplass), a lonely soul who places an advert in a local paper for a time travel companion and attracts the attention of a young magazine intern (Aubrey Plaza) whose boss wants to write an article about him.

“The Star Wars references are there as a very specific reference to the generation that Kenneth comes from,” elaborates Trevorrow. “Part of what we wanted to do was create a character that really represented these guys – I being one of them – who were never quite able to let go of their childhood.”
The result – inspired by a genuine classified ad that Trevorrow optioned the way you would a novel – is a low-key comedy/drama with deliberately ambiguous sci-fi overtones, in which time travel functions as a nifty metaphor for the way we all go back-and-forth in our minds imagining how things might have been different had we made alternate choices. “That was actually the appeal of the story,” says Trevorrow. “Memory and regrets and all these things are our own personal ways of time travelling internally, so this felt like a way to get inside the emotional needs that time travel could satisfy in all of us.” 
• Safety Not Guaranteed is in cinemas from 26 December.