The central conceit for the film sees the gang (Joe, Charles, Cary, Martin, Preston and Alice) making a Super 8 zombie movie.
Abrams decided early on not to write a formal script for the 8mm film, but to let it emerge organically from the imaginations of his cast.
The gang film several scenes for their movie during the first half of Super 8, starting with the train crash, and then using the wreckage and military presence as backdrop to scenes to add 'production value' - micro-auteur Charles' obsession.
"I just watched how JJ directed, and transferred it all into Charles," says Riley Griffiths. "He told me all about Super 8 cameras and how they work, and that he had one as a kid. It was pretty cool."
The director is full of praise for the actor. "Riley had never been on a set before, so it was a big challenge for him, but he came in and was amazing."
Producer Bryan Burk was also impressed: "They had an amazing knack for filmmaking. What I'm excited about with Super 8 is that young people might see it and be inspired to go and make their own movies."
With the 8mm film in capable hands, JJ turned his attentions to crafting a character driven, human film into the kind of thrilling adventure he'd grown up watching.
To do that, he turned to an old idea, one that has served him well through the likes of Lost and Cloverfield...