47 Meters Down – Exclusive Interview with Yani Gellman

47 Meters Down is a nature’s revenge thriller about a pair of pretty divers who get trapped far beneath the surface in shark-infested waters. Sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) decide to go down in a shark-observation cage while on vacation in Mexico, in spite of some reservations about the lack of safeguards on the for-hire boat. When the cable attaching them to the vessel snaps, Lisa and Kate sink and end up trapped at the bottom of the ocean. Their air dwindles as bloodthirsty great whites circle their cage. Meanwhile, they are cursing the sweet-talking, good-looking young man who got them into this whole mess in the first place: Louis (played by Yani Gellman).

We caught up with Gellman at the press junket, and here’s what he had to say about his experience working on 47 Meters Down.

Dread Central: How do you like the movie?

Yani Gellman: I haven’t seen the film. Just a few clips here and there. I’m actually looking forward to seeing it with an audience. When we were making it, I wasn’t exactly sure how they were going to pull it off, because so much of it happens under the water. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a film where so much of the drama takes place underwater. A tremendous amount of work has been done in post to make this world and environment look as real as it does. I’m just totally stoked to see what it’s like with an audience and to see what they do. We filmed a couple of different endings, so we’re not exactly sure how it ends. There is one in particular that we really like, so we’re hoping they went with that but we won’t know until we see the film. [But] usually if I’m in a horror film there’s a good chance I die…

DC: Who is Louis, and what’s his role in getting the girls into all that danger?

YG: I’m a bit of a canary in the coal mine. I go down with my other boat hand, Santiago, to sort of test the equipment and show that it’s safe. We go down and there’s no incident. We come up and it’s time for the ladies to go in, and that’s where the story kind of takes a turn. I’m guilty really of just trying to make time with Mandy Moore’s character and getting them out onto the boat to try and show them a good time. If anything, I’m guilty of sort of a love crime.

DC: Where are the horror aspects of the film, and what sets it apart from, say, The Shallows?

YG: What was cool about this film, instead of having a haunted house kind of thing, we had almost the old haunted creaky boat. And the ocean, instead of that kind of door you go into – in a horror film you say don’t go in there – there’s this great scene where you’re saying goodbye to the girls in the water, and everyone’s like, ‘Don’t go in there,’ because you know something is going to happen. But of course, they do.

DC: You’re not trapped in the cage with the sharks, but you have your fair share of being in the water.

YG: Well, we never went out swimming with sharks, but we did take a scuba diving training course. Matthew [Modine] has done a lot of diving but I am kind of new, this was one of my first times scuba diving. I got a bit of a taste for it, just enough to know that it’s something I’d love to continue doing. It’s just a whole other world down there. You’re almost on an alien planet, because of the colors. Every element takes on new meaning, whether it’s hearing your own breath or feeling your heart beat or communicating with other people. It really makes you appreciate these things we take for granted up here on land, and you can’t be anything but changed by going down there. Your appreciation for marine life just goes through the roof. It really opened my eyes to how important and fragile those environments are and how much we need to do in order to protect them.

DC: Your locations were really amazing. What did that feel like, as opposed to being on a set?

YG: Amazing. It’s this huge, beautiful, clean saltwater. Out into the horizon you see the ocean so it seems like you are connected to the sea, so it’s like the most incredible infinity pull you’ve ever been in. The boat scenes we did [on the dock] but we also went out on the ocean as well, and did scenes out there too, which was more challenging because the waves don’t stay still. Right when you want to get a shot done [the boat rocks] but we had great fun in the Dominican Republic. We were staying in this great town, a nice little seaside community. It was lovely, and we had an amazing time. I think the ladies had a much more challenging shoot out in London because they spent so much of their time actually submersed under the water, and that’s a very difficult way to shoot a film.

DC: Have you seen Jaws, and if so – are you a fan?

YG: Oh yeah, I saw Jaws. It was probably one of the first films I ever saw and I was truly terrified. It probably did instill, in all of us, a fear of sharks growing up. It takes a while and some exposure to the ocean to realize that sharks are not our enemy and that they’re an important part of the ocean and the sea’s ecosystem. We are in fact the danger to them. I actually grew up in Australia for a few years of my life, and there was always this fear that if you swim out too far you’re going to get eaten by a shark but no, they’re more liable to be more afraid of us. They’re looking for different forms of food and only when they mistake us for a seal or something else will they attack. You have a much higher chance of being killed by almost any other means than getting eaten by a shark. But I think why these films are scary is because of that fear of the unknown: this is their domain and we’re trespassing. That’s why it becomes so scary.

47 Meters Down is in theaters June 16, 2017.

Directed by Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door), the underwater thriller stars Mandy Moore (“This Is Us,” A Walk to Remember), Claire Holt (“The Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals”), Yani Gellman (“Pretty Little Liars,” “The Young and The Restless”), and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, The Dark Knight Rises).

47 Meters Down comes out June 16th.

On the rebound after a devastating break-up, Lisa (Mandy Moore) is ready for adventure while on vacation in Mexico. Even still, she needs a little extra persuasion when her daring sister, Kate (Claire Holt), suggests they go shark diving with some locals. Once underwater in a protective cage, Lisa and Kate catch a once in a lifetime, face-to-face look at majestic Great Whites. But when their worst fears are realized and the cage breaks away from their boat, they find themselves plummeting to the bottom of the seabed, too deep to radio for help without making themselves vulnerable to the savage sharks, their oxygen supplies rapidly dwindling.

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