Get ready, kids! The “Sumnado of Sharknado” (as Syfy likes to call it) is officially upon us, and right now we have a quick Q&A with Sharknado 2: The Second One director Anthony C. Ferrante to help chum the waters of your anticipation.
Dread Central: Now, over half a year removed from the surprise pop culture quake Sharknado set off, what do you look back upon as being the best/worst aspects of it and the most surprising things to come out of it?
Anthony C. Ferrante: Iâ€™m still surprised that mainstream American embraced it. I remember watching the finished movie about three weeks before it aired. The movie is practically wall-to-wall VFX so this was the first time we saw everything completely together without missing slugs.
There were about three of us in the editing bay, and we were laughing with it and making fun of it. We had a blast, and after it was over, I said that this is the weirdest movie ever and no one would get it. I figured we probably made the greatest stoner movie ever made and maybe, just maybe, in a few years it would become some kind of cult movie. Then it blew up the night it aired and people were laughing with it, at it â€“ they loved it, hated and some didnâ€™t understand what the hell we were doing, which was fine, because people were watching it. You make movies to get a reaction out of people, and we did, which was very satisfying. You can never plan something like Sharknado happening, and it rarely happens to independent horror guys like myself, so Iâ€™m very grateful.
As for the best and worst aspects, the best is the fact that more people know who I am, which has opened up doors and opportunities I would have never had before. I directed a commercial a month after Sharknado hit, and Iâ€™ve never been offered commercials before. There are no real negatives that came of it, though Iâ€™ve noticed more people tell me I suck on Twitter than before, which I find amusing. But thatâ€™s part of the deal when you sign up to be a filmmaker.Â Thereâ€™s no real negative in people knowing your work and loving or hating it. Every filmmaker experiences it. It just means Iâ€™m on peopleâ€™s radars more.
DC: I know a lot of people who watched Sharknado found themselves wondering what Iâ€™m about to ask, so here goes. I understand how lobbing explosives into a tornado filled with sharks would kill the sharks, but why exactly did it kill the tornadoes?
ACF: Well, thatâ€™s a question that I was concerned about in the original script. In the original script, the plan was to kill the sharks by throwing bombs in the tornado, but my logic radar kept thinking, â€œBut wouldnâ€™t you want to stop the tornado as well?â€ So I did some research and wondered if it was possible if a bomb could dissipate a tornado. And actually, a nuclear bomb could potentially do that. So we fudged things a bit for Sharknado. But I added that whole line of dialogue that Baz (Jaason Simmons) says about how you can neutralize a tornado after the research. It was my “Mr. Science” moment in the middle of the movie and was also sort of a self-aware thing where Iâ€™m telling the audience, â€œYes, this is insane and crazy, but there is some quasi-insane fudged science logic to it.â€ Then again, at a certain point, as a director you also have to accept itâ€™s a movie about sharks in a tornado destroying Los Angeles and that there are no rules, except the ones we make up. Itâ€™s a suspension of disbelief. If cars can turn into robots and protect humanity, a sharknado can destroy Los Angeles and New York â€“ just because we say so.
DC: Something I personally found most surprising, almost as ridiculous as the very notion of tornadoes filled with sharks, was the backlash that emerged… the genuine anger and resentment that comes from some by even mentioning Sharknado, many of whom have never even seen it. Much of it seems to have less to do with the movie itself and more about being annoyed it blew up the social media that night, that so many hipsters took an ironic liking to the film, and that it enjoyed any notoriety at all. Your thoughts on the sharknatroversy?
ACF: Good press. Bad press. If it brings attention to the film, itâ€™s all a good thing. How many summer movies come out in theatres that people absolutely hate; yet, they make billions of dollars? I havenâ€™t seen Transformers 4, but everyone tells me they didnâ€™t like it; yet, itâ€™s the most successful film of the summer so far. I think the amazing thing about Sharknado is that we didnâ€™t force people to watch it and we didnâ€™t have a huge marketing blitz for it the first time around. It just happened. It was organic and the audience found us. We had more attention and press than big studio movies that had hundreds of millions of dollars of promotion so a backlash was inevitable. I think the take-away Iâ€™ve been getting from all the hate is that people who have seen it and say â€œItâ€™s so bad, itâ€™s goodâ€ canâ€™t come to terms that they like a movie that is about sharks in a tornado. Weâ€™ve gotten so overly serious with our movies and franchises that having a sense of fun with a silly movie has now become the exception, not the rule.
DC: On the other hand, Syfy may have actually overplayed their hand pushing Sharknado even harder in the days and weeks that followed premiere night. Any concern that Sharknado may have already been run into the ground and get treated as little more than a passing fad by the time the sequel airs?
ACF: I never thought the interest would have lasted this long. After the first couple of days of media attention, I expected it to die down, but it never stopped. And when we were shooting The Second One in New York, people were mobbing us like we were shooting the Avengers 2 or something. Itâ€™s amazing the amount of publicity Syfy is doing, and itâ€™s necessary because weâ€™re no longer an unknown quantity that people discovered. Weâ€™re now a franchise and theyâ€™re treating it like that, which for a filmmaker is amazing because it means more people are aware of what youâ€™re doing. I think all we can do is make the best movie possible and itâ€™s up for the audience to decide if theyâ€™re going to show upÂ and decide if it lives up to the first movie.
DC: I know you canâ€™t go into any real details at the moment regarding what we can expect to see in Sharknado 2: The Second One, but do you feel any real pressure to up the ante this time around to deliver something even bigger and better, improve upon the original, even while (Iâ€™m assuming) working with about the same low budget?
ACF: We definitely were working with a similar budget and shooting schedule and an accelerated post schedule. We delivered both of these movies in less than five months with over 500 VFX shots. Weâ€™re trying to make [something similar to] $200 million studio blockbusters for the cost of their craft services budget â€“ and thatâ€™s one day of their craft services budget. With the success of the first Sharknado, we needed to do even more, and we did a lot the first time around. We also had tons of great landmarks in New York to use as a backdrop so that was exciting. Coming from horror, you usually shoot in one location â€“ itâ€™s a spooky house or hospital. Here, thereâ€™s a whole city to play with so to me the sky’s the limit. Early on we came up with some pretty great setpieces that all ended up in the final film. You really have to just make what you think is the most entertaining film possible, and itâ€™s up to the audience to decide if we pulled it off. The Second One was even more complicated than the first because we were shooting in extreme weather conditions in New York during the winter, but we made it a big part of our story.
DC: Why do you think sharks have become such staples of b-movies in recent years? We got mega sharks, snow sharks, Sharknado, Sharktopus, Ghost Shark, just about any loony scenario and/or mutation of sharks imaginable. Why sharks?
ACF: Everyone is afraid of sharks… well, almost everyone. Jaws is also a huge landmark movie for so many people. We all secretly want to make Jaws, but no one is going to able to touch that film. Even movies without sharks in it use Jaws as a template. Remember Dante’s Peak? I think the recent trend of loopy shark movies is a way to diffuse the threat. â€œSharks are scary, but you can laugh at them too.â€ Someone told me their grandchildren were terrified of sharks until they saw Sharknado and then they werenâ€™t afraid of them anymore. So Jaws made people afraid to go into the water, and Sharknado made it okay for people to go back into it.
DC: Given recent events and cable television’s love for ripped-from-the-headlines scenarios, are you sure you shouldnâ€™t be working on a movie called â€œPolar Vortexâ€ instead; albeit with the frozen hurricane filling the sky with ravenous polar bears that give new meaning to the phrase â€œbiting coldâ€?
ACF: I think Iâ€™ll leave these other hybid weather/animal movies to other people for now. Sharknado was lightning in a bottle for me so why try to reinvent the wheel with something new when you can do a sequel in New York instead?
In Sharknado 2: The Second One, a freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a “sharknado” on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites â€“ and only Fin and April (Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, returning from the original) can save the Big Apple.
Kelly Osbourne, Judd Hirsch, Andy Dick, Judah Friedlander, Vivica A. Fox, and Mark McGrath also appear in the Syfy Original Movie, which promises cameos by the likes of Perez Hilton, rapper Biz Markie, Salt-N-Pepa’s Pepa (aka Sandra Denton), Robert Klein, and professional wrestler/Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle.
Anthony C. Ferrante returns to direct a screenplay by Thunder Levin, who also wrote Sharknado.
Sharknado 2 premieres on Wednesday, July 30th, at 9 PM PT/ET, just a little more than one year after the original Sharknado aired.
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