Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica Fox and Anthony C. Ferrante
It’s Raining Sharks in the City that Never Sleeps
by Ali Speiss
It was July of 2013 when we first heard the name Sharknado. And now they’re back!
Sharknado was a surprisingly popular horror/comedy flick on the Syfy network that premiered last year and starred two well known 90’s actors – Ian Ziering, best known for Beverly Hills 90210 and Tara Reid of American Pie fame. The film was set in Los Angeles, California, after an unexpected tornado hits the region and swoops up some hungry man-eaters. Heroes Fin Shephard (Ian Ziering) and April Wexler (Tara Reid) fight off thousands of killer sharks that are terrorizing LA and it’s residents on the land, in the air and in the sea. Movie over.
After the popularity of shocking Sharknado, there was destined to be a sequel, snarkily titled Sharknado 2: The Second One. Just like the first, Sharknado 2 comprises of a tornado filled with chomping sharks, but this time, New York City is the metropolis under siege. Sharknado 2: The Second One premieres on Wednesday, July 30 at 9pm on the Syfy channel.
Recently I took part in a conference call with some of the stars and director of this massive Twitter hit. We talked about everything from the social media influence to the stars favorite shark kill. Here is what they had to say…
You guys use a lot of blood and guts and other things like that in this movie. Can you talk about kind of working with that and the green screen?
Tara Reid: I think when people see the sharks they think there’s a lot more green screen than there really was. There really wasn’t too much green screen at all in the film. It’s more of CGI, different special effects but not really green screen. So if you were acting with sharks that were coming at you but nothing was coming at you, you were still outside in the city. It wasn’t like you were acting behind a green screen. It was just filling in the blanks and believing in the director. He promises sharks, so you react to the sharks as well as your imagination could make them.
Vivica Fox: And I also like to give credit to our director, Anthony, because he was very descriptive in what was happening and what kind of sharks were coming at us.
Anthony C. Ferrante: Well, Ian had some green screen stuff, but Tara’s right; most of it’s practical. When we get into the green screen, it gets into the more complicated stuff like when Ian’s flying to the sky and everything. Man, Ian is an action star. You put him in that harness and he’s there for I think an hour just doing acrobatic things. I had to do some pick up stuff last year where I was a double and I was in the harness for, like, 20 minutes and I was in pain. So a lot of kudos to Ian for managing those harness rigs.
Ian Ziering: Thanks, Anthony. Working in a virtual environment at first as an actor you’re really doing something that in the instant feels like an action, but once you see the completed movie it’s actually a reaction. What’s nice is when you have a director who can help tell the story, help illuminate what’s happening around you, so you can have trust in the fact that whatever you’re doing is not going to be ridiculous. Your actions are going to be substantiated because it all gets filled in afterwards. It’s all about having the trust.
Tara Reid: Yes, absolutely.
Anthony C. Ferrante: The first movie was a big learning curve for everybody. While everything worked out and it all looked great, we learned a lot off of that first movie. Then you watch everybody in this one. Ian was just doing things, like I’m going to move my foot here and then they can put a shark jumping up at me when I’m on top of the taxi cab. And that’s what we did. We put a shark there. After going through the motions of this stuff you really start understanding what can be done. We have a pretty amazing visual effects team. We shot late February and we just delivered it a few weeks ago. They did over 700 visual effects shots and that was in less than two months. There’s some pretty damn impressive shots in this film. They do a lot of work to make this stuff happen and to payoff all the hard word the actors did on set.
When you went in to do the first Sharknado movie did you have any idea it was going to become this massive pop culture event? And why do you think it has resonated with so many people?
Tara Reid: We definitely didn’t know it was going to become what happened. It was definitely shocking for all of us. We had no clue signing on to the movie that this would be this phenomenon. It was a great and shocking experience. It turned into something wonderful. To be a part of the franchise has been incredible. But, definitely, we didn’t know. We got real lucky.
Anthony C. Ferrante: It’s hard with these things. You just try to make the best project possible. What happened on this thing, it’s lightening in a bottle. We didn’t tell people to show up and make it a Twitter phenomenon. It just happened. And that’s kind of cool. You very rarely get those opportunities like that, where people just want to embrace you just because you’re there. That was kind of special. And helped, because now we got to make a second movie. We got to make a bigger and better movie after that. So it’s fun.
What can we expect from the second movie?
Tara Reid: More sharks.
Besides more sharks.
Vivica Fox: Lots of action. A lot of cameos. A lot of cameos. I was really pleasantly surprised how many people wanted to be a part of this film when they saw it. Famous faces just keep popping up. It’s just an awesome surprise.
Anthony C. Ferrante: The key with the second movie is we wanted to amp up what we did. We already did a lot in the first movie for the budget and the schedule. I think one of the reasons why it stood out was just because we were pushing the budget and the schedule the maximum. We pretty much had the same kind of schedule in this one and we were trying to do twice as much as pushing as we did on the first one. So it’s a lot of heavy lifting to make these things look fantastic and we don’t have a $200 million budget to pull it off. But we have a lot of the imagination from our writer Thunder Levin, from our cast and from our crew and producers and Syfy to let us play in this playground.
One of the best things that Syfy said… there were actually two great things they said when we were developing. One, they started saying, “Well, we’ve set it in summer but any weird weather when you’re shooting in February, make it part of the story,” which liberated us. So we didn’t have to hide the snow. That really adds to the look and feel of the movie. The second thing is that, they said, “We want you to shoot this movie in New York. Shoot it in New York. We don’t want you to go to Canada. We don’t want you shoot in the back lots in LA. We want to shoot in New York.” That makes this movie look gargantuan and it feels authentic. I think that’s what makes this one really special, because we’re right there in the thick of New York.
Tara Reid: And I think New York City has its own personality itself. So adding the personality of New York into this film really added a magical element into the film.
A couple of minutes ago you mentioned the celebrity cameos that are in this film. Can you name a few of them?
Vivica Fox: Sure, we had Matt Lauer, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, and lots more that you have to stay tuned to see.
Anthony C. Ferrante: Judah Friedlander was one of the big Twitter followers that night who’s from 30 Rock and he was writing some really funny stuff. We became friends with him and he really wanted to be in the second movie. He actually was only hired for one line in Sharknado 2 and I called Judah up, going, “I don’t want to waste you with one line. If we can give you a bigger part would you do it?” He’s like, “Of course.” So we actually combined three characters at the ballpark into one character, so we could keep him around a little longer in the movie. A lot of the film was we would get calls, like, the night before going, this actor’s available, let’s put him in the movie. And like, okay. And then suddenly you’re writing something for that actor.
I keep calling these movies living organisms because you have a script, but you go on the set and it’s like things are changing. Or you don’t have this truck or you don’t have that and you have to make it work. You can’t pawn off not getting what you did that day on Day 70 because you don’t have a Day 70. So it’s always: Here we are. This is what we got. Let’s make some magic. That includes we have a new actor that showed up and we don’t have a part. Let’s write a part for them because I always wanted the cameos to be integrated into the film, not just be somebody random that gets killed. Not that we don’t do that, but I wanted as much as possible to give all these people characters.
In the first film you put a shark pretty much everywhere you could think of. So for this film, where else can you put a shark?
Tara Reid: I mean they could go anywhere. Sharknado is, you know, wherever it comes. So they could go anywhere from inside hospitals to the Met Stadiums to subways to the street. You name it, a shark could be there. The Empire State Building.
Anthony C. Ferrante: I think the misnomer about Sharknado is people get hung up on the fact that sharks can’t exist in a tornado and tornados can’t do what they do and all that stuff. The simple explanation on our end is that it’s a Sharknado; it’s like our Frankenstein, our Freddy Krueger, our Jason. You don’t question Jason getting his neck chopped off half a million times and then getting shot and getting back up again and all that stuff. That’s part of the mythology. Sharknado is our villain and it does what we tell it to do. If it shoots through a car window… yes, a shark can’t do that but a Sharknado can. That opens up the imagination of what you can do. We were able to do a lot of crazy stuff because we were freed by the fact that we could do anything.
I was wondering if you each could talk about if you added anything to your characters that may not have originally been scripted for you.
Tara Reid: Everyone added a certain aspect to their character. That’s what makes characters good, an actor adds their thing on top of it. We all had a very good rapport with Anthony. There was something that we thought was missing, a character, something that we could add on to the character, we found that place, which was exciting. Every character got to go farther and took risks. You’ll see it. It worked.
Anthony C. Ferrante: We also softened your character, didn’t we? We softened Tara’s character in this a lot too because we wanted to see the relationship between you and Fin.
Tara Reid: Yes, that’s true.
Vivica, what was it about the film that made you want to be a part of it?
Vivica Fox: Well, I was saying, “Wow, I need a little bit of Syfy in my life. And action.” And wham, there came Sharknado 2. I was really pleasantly surprised when I got the offer to play Skye. I hadn’t worked with Ian since back in the day with 90210. Tara, we had known each other for many, many years. So the opportunity to work with both of them – and hearing the major success of the first Sharknado – it just seemed like a win-win situation for me.
Anthony C. Ferrante: We also changed the character a lot when you came on board. I was so thrilled when you came on board, because we were allowed to do an idea that we had early on of making the Skye character Fin’s high school sweetheart. Because we were trying to show this reuniting of Fin and April, but we wanted an obstacle. Man, you guys sold that. It was a blessing to have you on that film, because it just gave us so much more depth. Those little moments and the things that you guys did – in the middle of the Sharknado – doing things that you don’t expect someone to do in Sharknado 2. I just love that. I love that dynamic, because at the heart of it, if you don’t care about these characters everything starts falling apart. So we had a really nice mix with everybody.
Anthony, what do you think it is about Sharknado that’s made it such a popular franchise?
Anthony C. Ferrante: There’s a lot of theories about it but I think that a lot of genre movies – and I’ve done a lot of them as a director, writer, they’re just horror films – you have a base audience. You know there’s a certain amount of people that are going to watch them whether it’s DVD, on Syfy, BluRay, on demand, whatever. There’s that core audience that will seek this stuff out. We had a core audience for this movie, but somehow the mainstream became attracted to it. We had the sports community embracing us and we really didn’t have any sports elements in the first movie. We had families getting together, watching it with their kids. We did not set out to make a kid’s movie, but there are a lot of kids that love this film because it had sort of that 11-year-old spirit.
What happened was that it was something silly about the title and it seemed ridiculous but when you saw the trailer. It looks like the big studio movie or, trying to be. think people were – wanted – we were daring them to watch it to see if we could fail and yet we kept delivering every ten minutes with some big action set piece. So I think it was a lot of different things. We just got a lot of different people. It’s a bipartisan movie, the left and right both embraced movie. There is nothing that anybody could pick apart in it. They just liked it. It’s so hard to get something like this. You can’t really take it apart and say it was this or that. We were this fun little film that people didn’t have to spend $50 at a movie theater to go take their family to. They get to watch it in the privacy of their home and they had a blast. They made fun of it. They loved it. They hated it. I mean it was just great.
When you have a movie that is successful like Sharknado was, sometimes actors will be reluctant to do a sequel. Did you guys have any second thoughts or were you on board from the get go?
Ian Ziering: I was on board right from the get go. What’s so nice about Sharknado is that it really is not competing with itself. The bar that it set initially, that’s unattainable. This was a low budget independent film, you know, a very campy nature. Really the only way to screw it up would be to change it. The brilliance of Sharknado 2 is the fact that it’s more of the same. It’s a similar formula but it’s a different experience. Similar situation in a new environment. If people liked one they’re going to love two.
Tara Reid: I agree with Ian exactly. He couldn’t have said it better. When I read the first one and went out to dinner that night with my friends, I told them I thought the script was hilarious. I was: Yes, sharks are flying in Beverly Hills and maiming people and jumping out of pools. And my friends are laughing so hard. They’re like, are you kidding me? This is amazing, you’ll have to do this. It’s so funny, you have to do it. The next day I called my agent and I’m like, all right, let’s do it. And never knowing it would become the phenomenon it did but it worked. People really enjoyed it. Then we learned from the first one and I think made it even better.
What did the two of you like about working with one another?
Tara Reid: I love working with Ian. He’s very giving actor. If something’s not working he makes it work. I like him as a person and as an actor.
Ian Ziering: I was very lucky to work with just a talented group. Tara, every day showed up. We got all the shots we needed to have and had all the fun that was possible working in the constraints. Vivica, another consummate professional. We knew we had to get our shots everyday. We did but because everyone knew what we were up against everyone came very prepared and very ready to do the work. That left us at the end of some days with some extra time that it would allow Anthony to get some bonus footage, to get some shots that really were gifts. So it’s great when you’re working with people that understand that time is money. This film we didn’t have a lot of time. Because everyone is very professional, everyone came prepared, and we actually made it happen.
Ian, I saw at the screening they had at the Beverly Hills a few days ago, you really seem to enjoy yourself when you’re there. And it was such a odd situation to be showing a shark film, next to a swimming pool with people who have never seen it before. Can you kind of describe your experience that night? What did it feel like to you as you were watching that?
Ian Ziering: I felt like I was at a big Hollywood premiere. It’s a surreal experience. Keep in mind that this is a TV movie. The rollout has been in the same fashion that hundred million dollar blockbusters are brought to market. The fan response – not just here in the United States but globally – has been so overwhelming. This movie is doing something that the major motion picture studios try to accomplish. But we caught lightning in a bottle. That premiere was the first time I saw the entire movie cut together. Because I’m a fan of the genre, because I’m a fan of the movie, I enjoyed it too. I laughed at it as much as everyone else did. I was surprised and shocked just like everyone else was. Then at the end of the film I was really happy, because it’s a really good movie.
You get to do action hero things that people don’t usually get to do. You have chainsaws and all kinds of things to fight these sharks with. Was that just plain fun to be able to do that stuff?
Ian Ziering: Yes.
Vivica Fox: Absolutely.
Ian Ziering: I’ve always been a big fan of action-adventure and Syfy. The fact that I’ve gotten to play an action hero in a science-fiction movie is really the best of both worlds. I’m a very lucky person.
Anthony, what was the genesis of Sharknado for you to begin with? Did it start with the title? Does it start somewhere else and you stumbled on to the title?
Anthony C. Ferrante: I directed previously for Syfy. I’ve written a bunch of scripts and there’s a process for pitching ideas. Jacob Haren and I, my occasional writing partner, we had pitched a whole bunch of titles to them many years ago, one of them was Sharknado. Nothing happened with it, but both loved the title so much, just kind of tickled us. When I wrote a leprechaun script for Syfy, it was called Leprechaun’s Revenge and now I think on DVD it’s called Red Clover, I put a reference to a Sharknado in there. They were trying to cover up the leprechaun stuff and they go, “We don’t want to have what’s happened that town over, remember, Sharknado, they never lived that down.”
And the Syfy team, it just popped out at that point to them. They wanted to make a Sharknado movie. They paired up with the Asylum. I had just done a film for Asylum called Hansel and Gretel and then it came full circle where I was doing Sharknado. I always believed in this concept. I liked the title a lot because it was silly. You would tell people the title and they would just start laughing. You just start coming up with ridiculous things. So that was the genesis. Then Thunder [Levin] came in and wrote a really great screenplay and then the rest is history.
Just so you know, we started shooting the movie called Dark Skies because when they tried to go out to cast, film and everything, when they put Sharknado on it nobody wanted to do it. You couldn’t get anybody interested in this film because no one could embrace what it was initially. Then of course, the actors were about ready to kill me when they found out that it might be called Sharknado. But they love me now, right?
Ian Ziering: Exactly.
Tara Reid: Yes, now it’s all good.
Ian, I barely remembered this, you told a story about signing up for the original movie. You got a feeling about it but because your wife said you needed to work to be sure that you had insurance coverage. Is this a true story? And if so…
Ian Ziering: That’s an absolutely true story. You always look for opportunities that will propel your career. I didn’t have the vision and foresight to see what the potential of this movie could be. I was reading words on a page that had several holes in it that were left to be filled by visual effects. Typically what you’re working with within a low budget environment are very rudimentary visual effects. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be dealing with a high level of visual effects. Was I going to be battling Sigmund the sea monster [an old Saturday morning TV show]? Is this going to be closer to the Avatar level of quality? I really just didn’t think that it was going to be what it had turned out to be.
But at my wife’s behest, she said, “Look, it’s January, you’ve got to make your insurance quota. I get my insurance from the union and having babies are very expensive. Of course, I want to protect my family. I’m a provider now. So I realized, well, you know what, she’s right. I thought I was taking one for the team. Then I also thought, well, what the heck, no one’s ever going to see this movie. Boy was I wrong. My wife doesn’t hesitate to say “I told you so” now. It’s great.
New York City is a character in its own. Did you guys see the city actually become a character itself during filming?
Anthony C. Ferrante: Yes, you mean New York itself? You’re talking about New York becoming a character? Is that what you’re asking? Yes, no, I mean definitely. I mean I’m not a New Yorker. I think Tara and Ian are from New York, correct?
Tara Reid: New Jersey, but I went to high school in New York.
Ian Ziering: Yes, I’ve lived so close to New York and going there everyday, yes.
Tara Reid: It was great. It was a really fun feeling to shoot at home, basically. All my friends still live there. I have so many memories on each one of the streets, because I still walked going to school. So for me shooting that was such an awesome feeling. It was great. The power of shooting in New York City is, it’s such a strong city and it does have such a personality of its own. I really think that it adds such an element to this film. When you watch the movie, you’ll really see the power of New York City and what the city’s about. How the people really come together when something goes wrong in the city to save it. I think that shows across the film.
Anthony C. Ferrante: I think that was one of the things in the first movie. At least in my head. Los Angeles, everybody is in it for themselves. Disaster strikes, we got to get our cars and get out of here. In New York, it’s like when the crap hits the fan it’s like everybody is brothers in arms. I don’t like my neighbor but together we’re going to fight whatever this thing is. Thunder’s from New York, so he had brought a lot of iconic graphic stuff. As we were there we started going we got to do this. Like, there was never a pizza place in the movie. There was never a bodega. I had never heard the word bodega until I ended up in New York. We got to put a pizza place, we got to put a bodega in. So the sequence that was a hardware store, we split it between those two places. We ended up shooting at my favorite pizza place when I was there in New York for two months. I just loved this place. It’s called Famous Amadeus Pizza. We shot there. That whole scene, with getting the shark into the oven, came from just standing in that restaurant going, we got to do this. There was a lot of stuff informing us as we were there. It started evolving, utilizing the various aspects of New York.
The film has a lot of humor in it. Do you guys play it seriously in your mind? Are very conscious of some of the lines that are coming out that will get some laughs from the audience?
Vivica Fox: I definitely played my character serious. Then I think, in the moments [we] were fighting against [sharks] and the elements, then the comedy ensued. I took it very serious that a Sharknado was coming and we were there to stop it.
Tara Reid: Yes. Even though the situation seems so crazy, you had to play it serious. If we were playing it laughing the whole time, then the storyline wouldn’t even make sense. It’s by taking it serious in such an absurd crazy environment, that’s where the jokes come in. That’s where it gets funny. You really do have to commit to your character, and also know what you’re playing. Being in that situation that you’re in and playing it serious, then there comes the humor. So I think that’s really what a lot of people did.
Anthony C. Ferrante: There’s a lot of horror films that will be just purposely campy and over the top. I think the key actually to this whole franchise is having everybody playing it straight. Ian has some very funny moments in the movie and lines, but they’re character driven. They’re reactionary. The only people that are allowed to be funny are your comic relief characters, which are like, Judah Friedland. But even then they ground it. It’s not, “I’m making a joke.” That was one of the things when we’d get new people coming in for cameos. A couple of times they would come in and they’d be over the top when we were rehearsing. And we’d be like, “No, no, no, it has to be played straight.” You can be as funny as you want, but you have to be in character and take the situation seriously. I think that’s part of the charm. I mean Ian, you kind of agree, right, with…
Ian Ziering: Absolutely. Even though the situations are absurd, in the reality of the imaginary circumstances – if you will – you say and do things that are appropriate for the actions or the scenario. As a spectator, as an observer, you realize how funny they are within that situation. But when you’re dealing with it, you have to act naturally in imaginary circumstances. As a spectator you get to enjoy the fun of it because you’re a witness. You’re not there experiencing it. So in that dichotomy, that’s where really the joy of the movie exists. You have to suspend disbelief to buy into what you’re doing, yet you still have you foot in the real world. It gives you perspective of how absurd this movie really is.
Anthony C. Ferrante: A perfect example is what Ian did in the first movie – when he chainsawed his way out of the shark. There’s two ways that could have went. You could have went the Jim Carrey route where it’s like, I’m laughing it up. Or you do what he did, which was literally committing that he just was inside of a shark. That inherently makes it funnier, because it’s so earnest and it’s so in the moment. That’s one of the charms about why people remember that sequence. It was the coldest day of the year in LA, which is hard to believe that we had a cold day. We dumped like 20 gallons of water on him. He’s freezing to death. He did. It was great. It was awesome. Remember all those towels and then water we had to pour on you right away after.
Ian Ziering: Brutal.
Tara Reid: That’s horrible.
Did all the fan and media attention change the way you approached or viewed your jobs going into the sequel? And also, what was the vibe on the set like the second time around?
Tara Reid: It was exciting that the first one was such a hit, but I don’t think that changed how we performed, or affected us any way like that. We were hoping to make another good fun film that people would enjoy. The vibe on the set was great. I mean we got lucky, everyone truly got along in the movie and had a great time with each other. I think that shows.
Vivica Fox: The only element that was kind of crazy was just that it was really, really cold. There were some times you would be doing the scene and boy, getting out the dialogue could be a little tough. But we would just go warm up and then go back at it again.
Did you all feel a responsibility to a fan base that didn’t exist the first time around?
Vivica Fox: Absolutely, yes. When I heard about the success of the movie – 5,000 tweets a minute the first time – I was like, wow, okay, people are really, really loving this. They’re going to be looking forward to the second one. So we wanted to deliver and make it bigger and better.
Anthony C. Ferrante: And I think the hard part was… go ahead, Ian.
Ian Ziering: Yes, in making Sharknado 2, there was a greater amount of ease about it. I didn’t have the experience of what was possible after seeing what they were able to accomplish – what the visual effects artists were able to accomplish. Qhat Anthony was able to do with the script. Going into Sharknado 2, I had a higher level of trust. It was a bit more framing and enabled me to not have to worry, “Gosh, am I going to look ridiculous doing this?” I would do it no matter what, but I had a greater amount of trust knowing that Anthony is completely capable. Knowing that the visual effects artists are going to make all my actions substantiated by whatever shark it is that I’m being threatened by. To make what initially was an action into a very realistic reaction. So I had a lot more fun because I wasn’t ill at ease.
Anthony, do you feel more pressure the second time?
Anthony C. Ferrante: No, I think there’s a pressure just as a filmmaker. I mean I’m hard on myself. I beat myself up everyday trying to pull this stuff off. There’s a pressure, more you can’t go into the second one and just be okay. You have to be better than okay. You have to be good, great, whatever you can do to make a better experience. I think the benefit of what we did on this one is that we didn’t have three years in between making the movies. We literally blew up in July, started talking about the sequel in August, and the script was being developed, and we were shooting in February. We were still at least saying it felt like we’re still making the first movie. But there were other things too, you know. One of the things that bothered me about the first movie was the geography. I wanted to make sure if we were in New York that we were steadfast with the geography.
We had a lot of discussions about the Sharknado moment. I kept saying, “I don’t think we’ll ever be able to achieve what we did in the first movie with it going into the shark, that was lightning in a bottle. But we could provide a whole bunch of other really cool moments.” So if we can come up with ten or 12 great moments, maybe one of those will stand out. We’ll be lucky and some of those will be the new Sharknado moments. Or maybe there’s just enough stuff in this that they won’t even question it, they just have fun. It’s a tricky balance but we had more confidence going into this that we could take chances and risks and do things.
Another thing that Syfy and Asylum wanted to do is they have a 12 minute teaser. Most teasers for Syfy and Asylum are about two and three minutes long. It was in the script long and then when we turned in the rough cut it was long. They let us have this 12 minute teaser before we even get to the main credits. That was the trust that they gave us and let us have fun in our little playground. I think our biggest enemies are ourselves, because we want to do bigger and better and greater things. So we’re always striving for that, but I had a blast making the movie. I loved it.
How do you prepare both physically and emotionally to actually battle a Sharknado in New York?
Ian Ziering: Well, you have to put yourself in that imaginary circumstance. I mean if you’re going to have a compelling performance, you have to act naturally in that imaginary circumstance. Although there is no sense memory, there’s really no way to get in touch with it, that’s where you have to have trust and draw on all the experiences that you’ve had as an actor. All the training you’ve had that you’re bringing to the table to accomplish that. It’s working with the team of people that you have around you, Tara, and Vivica, and Mark, who all helped elevate the material to the point where no one’s questioning the validity of it while they’re watching it, which it helps you escape. That’s how you prepare. You do the best you can, but when you’re working with others that are towing the rope with you, it just makes your job that much easier.
It seems pretty physical though. You didn’t have to do any training ahead of time just to prepare that you weren’t getting hurt? Or was it stunt doubles or anything like that?
Ian Ziering: I wish there was…
Anthony C. Ferrante: Ian doesn’t have a stunt double.
Ian Ziering: It’s only because there was no money in the budget for a stunt double. It really wasn’t too crazy. I mean jumping down a few stairs. The toughest thing was dealing with that chainsaw. It must have been a 45 pound chain saw. Rather than swinging it through the air, I would steady it and let the sharks fly through it this time because the thing is just a monster. But then also, having to pull the chain start on it, that’s not easy to do either. To turn that sucker over took a lot. I had to keep that going. Dealing with the chainsaw was a bit of a challenge but we did it a couple of times. We took the best shot and moved on.
Anthony C. Ferrante: That whole thing with them on the fire truck, I was a little nervous because it was really cold. So before I even let Ian get up there I climbed up there to see if it was steady. I brought the chainsaw up to see if he could hold it up. I could barely hold the thing up. Again, props to Ian for managing to be on top of that thing, give a great speech, and then also hold that up for a long enough time for us to get a great shot. There’s a lot of stamina involved in that.
Vivica, for a lot of people your introduction to them was Independence Day, which is also famous science fiction, fantasy, disaster film. Have you felt that Sharknado in a way was like a blast from the past?
Vivica Fox: Definitely the physicality. Instead of this time running from aliens, I was running from sharks or trying to kill a shark. Like I said, I wanted to get some Syfy and some action back into my life again. I got Sharknado 2. Be careful what you ask for, because I definitely got it. But I had a blast making this film.
Anthony, what was it like filming in New York? I know we’ve had a lot of questions about New York, whether New York landmarks or cameos are going to get shark bait if you will. But I’m curious your thoughts about shooting in New York, especially, that it was on a tight schedule; that it was in February; and at the time Mayor De Blasio did not have a commissioner in place for film and television. I’m curious to how that fit in too.
Anthony C. Ferrante: I wasn’t aware of the commissioner thing. Everybody hated me on set because I enjoyed the cold. The day I left for New York it was, like, 85 degrees in Los Angeles. This was in January and I was wearing shorts. I went to New York and it was freezing. I loved every minute of it except for one day. I loved the bad weather. First movie we were shooting in blue skies. Most of the movie, you’re shooting the camera down and you’re trying to hide things, otherwise there’d be more visual effects shots. That was very frustrating as a filmmaker because we got to shoot this direction, we got to do that, we can’t show that. In New York, I was able to take the camera and point it up and shoot all these beautiful buildings. Shoot this amazing city. And I’m…
Vivica Fox: Go ahead.
Anthony C. Ferrante: And I fell in love with the city there. Los Angeles, I’ve shot a few movies here. I haven’t really spent a lot of time in New York and haven’t shot anything prior to this in New York. So every day it was like I was a kid in the candy store. It was like Tinker Toys. We got to shoot at Liberty Island. We got to shoot in Time Square. We got to shoot all around the city. Now on a normal movie you might have 100 days. We had 18, so on the last few shootings, we had two hours of Liberty Island, an hour on the ferries going over there. We shot at Wall Street. We shot a bike chase. We shot a scene from Howard Stern. We shot a make up effect and that was a 12-hour day.
We were told that we could shoot in the heart of Time Square but you can only have, like, a crew of eight. And you only had two hours. Most people would go, “No, I can’t do that.” And we’re like, okay, great, we’re going to shoot in the heart of Time Square. Let’s do it. We don’t really think about the limitations. We embraced it and made it work. That was the fun part about shooting in New York. We had a great crew too. There was a crew that was with us. Even though we were moving at an insane pace, they were with us. And that goes with the cast. You can’t make these movies unless everybody’s on the same page. The moment someone isn’t on the same page it all falls apart. I had a great experience in New York. I loved everybody that we worked with. I know everybody says that, but it was fantastic. I’d love to shoot in New York again.
Did you have a lot of people in the different communities come out and see you, watch you film?
Anthony C. Ferrante: Yes, that was the thing. We were talking about the difference. We had paparazzi everywhere. No one cared we were making the first movie. This one, you had to shoot around the paparazzi and the fans.
Was there some way you could describe how you prepared to react to the sharks as you encountered them the first time, either in the original or for Vivica in this movie?
Tara Reid: In the very beginning, we didn’t know exactly what the sharks would look like and how good the special effects were going to be. So it was a lot scarier. You really just had to trust Anthony that these sharks were going to be there and the size of the shark. How it’s coming at you, you weren’t really sure. Am I looking at the right place? Am I doing it right? Is it a big shark? Is it a little shark? Then once we saw the first one and what a great job they did it really gave you all the faith to just trust him completely in the second one. You really see the difference and a lot more sharks and it works.
Vivica Fox: Well, I had done some green screens before with Independence Day. Then I had done a lot of training when I did Kill Bill. So the action stuff for me wasn’t difficult at all. I was just really, really grateful that I started working with Ian and he was so into it. It was really easy to see. He’s taking this serious. We’re doing this serious. Then the director, Anthony, was just so wonderful and descriptive in what was going on. What kind of sharks were attacking us and the elements. So that helped me out a lot.
Ian Ziering: Just working in a virtual environment where there really is nothing there, you really have to trust in the director. Anthony was the one that set up the situation. “Don’t worry, this looks like just a couple bumps on a green screen log but these are actually going to be sharks that you’re going to be stepping on the backs of as you run across the street.” In the first movie, I would have had a little trepidation in doing that. But seeing what they did in the first one, having an opportunity to do this, jumping on the backs of sharks in the second one, well, we did it once, we did it twice, and I said, “Anthony, let me have a little fun with this.” So in the third and fourth takes I’m jumping and spinning. There’s one where I actually did a handspring off of one of the rocks. We didn’t use it in the movie, but I had total trust in what was happening, knowing that whatever action that I was giving forth was going to be made to look as a very realistic and appropriate reaction.
Anthony, I’m curious with the reaction, particularly on Twitter of the first movie. Did any of the comments that people were posting or tweeting have any impact on how this second film developed, the story line you took, or ideas that you may have put into it?
Anthony C. Ferrante: Not necessarily. I think a lot of stuff actually came out when we did a lot of interviews with people. People would go, “What do you want to see in the next movie?” and you would come up with some totally ridiculous thing. What I call the Towering Sharkferno thing where you have the water below and the fire on top of the building and they meet in the middle. I think I was talking to someone on the radio about that. It was like, we could do this and then it suddenly is in the movie. A lot of this stuff came from just talking with people about crazy ideas. Wouldn’t it be funny if this and that? But the Twitter followers, I looked. No one really thought at that moment, even when it was blowing up, that there was going to be a sequel. We just thought it was kind of a fluky thing. In this business you get your 15 minutes and it’s up. Sharknado just kept going and going. We aired and then we aired again and got better ratings and got better ratings and went theatrical and went international.
So we just kept talking about it. That was the cool part. The good thing that happened with Twitter is that we got validity from a lot of different people, even if they were making fun or poking fun at us. Everybody had a good time. It shows that there was a bigger audience watching what we’re doing. So there is an obligation. You couldn’t just do the Sharknado 1 over again. You really did need to amp it up and make bigger and better. Greater sequences. I think that emboldened us and allowed us more freedom to push things a little further than we could have in the first movie. We definitely pushed the maximum, but in the second movie we go for broke a lot of times. That last 15 minutes of the movie, I could never image selling that to anybody on the first film.
Sharknado 2 and its predecessor, they’re obviously highly campy movies. And Ian had kind of hinted on this earlier, did any of you have any misgivings about participating in the film with such a preposterous storyline? Did it, you know, that it might hurt your career afterwards?
Tara Reid: Not at all, not at all. I thought it was a wonderful opportunity. The audience has really embraced it, loved it, and they’re looking forward to the sequel. I didn’t think of it as career suicide or anything like that. I looked at it as a wonderful opportunity to work with a great cast and awesome director.
Do you think that there would have been a sequel to Sharknado if there wasn’t social media involved?
Tara Reid: No, probably not. Social media is really what took it to the next level. With Twitter and getting 5,000 tweets per minute and then just exploded. Because of social media it really advanced it and took it to a worldwide level that we just weren’t expecting. It had a huge impact on the film.
Anthony C. Ferrante: I think Asylum might have done something. They might have done a sequel, but it wouldn’t have been on this scale if it didn’t blow up. They have the Mega Shark franchise and if they have a little bit of a following on these things they’ll do sequels, but I don’t think it would have been on this grand scale. It would have been Sharknado Goes to the Beach or something, and that would have been the second movie. But this gave us a different platform because it was a big deal. So we could do more and we could push it.
Did you guys learn anything about sharks from this project?
Anthony C. Ferrante: No, we learned a lot about flying sharks.
Ian Ziering: I think you’re asking the really deep questions and this is not a deep movie. This is a movie to just enjoy. To know you’re going to have an hour and a half of pure entertainment and have fun. If you’re going to ask the deep questions, then you know what, you should see The Notebook, because this is not like that.
Tara Reid: Yes, I mean it’s definitely not something that we’re studying, going scuba diving and swimming with sharks or anything like that. It’s more of the imagination of imaginary sharks being there. Responding to them. But we don’t get into details. It’s not like National Geographic or anything.
Anthony C. Ferrante: Yes, there’s not much research you can do because there’s no such thing as a Sharknado except in our films. There was a Las Vegas exhibit with sharks that I went to before the first Sharknado, because I just wanted to watch sharks move and everything. I didn’t do much research on the second one. I think we pretty much knew we threw all logic out the window.
What’s your favorite shark kill out of both of the movies?
Tara Reid: Wow, mine is Ian’s.
Ian Ziering: Yes, I like the shark kills most where I anchor myself to the ground and allow the sharks to literally pass through the blade. That’s something that I did in the first movie, where it was completely unrehearsed and Anthony has us running through a parking lot. He says, “Okay, I need you to jump around and there’s going to be sharks flying out of the sky so leap and jump and dodge sharks flying.” I didn’t know what to expect, but knowing that they would probably paint in the appropriate reaction there’s one moment where I just got on one knee and I raised the chainsaw into the air and they hit it out of the park. They had a shark fly through that. In the second one, working with a chainsaw that is 45 pounds, swinging a chainsaw through the air is a little bit more challenging. When I stood on top of the fire truck knowing that there was a shark flying at me I thought this would be another great opportunity. This time I did it backwards. Anthony says, “What the hell are you doing? It looks so phallic.” But when we painted the shark in, it’s such a beautiful kill. It really is.
Anthony C. Ferrante: It is a fantastic moment. Yes, we called if the phallic shot. Wow, it was great. That’s probably one of my favorite kills in this movie. The animator who did it, he originally did one pass on that where it was just kind of similar to the first movie. He got obsessed with the anatomy of a shark. He found a half shark, like a plastic one that showed the full anatomy. He used that as his inspiration, so you get that really clean thing. He just made a beautiful moment out of that.
Ian Ziering: You know what I just teed it up, he’s the one who hit it out of the park.
Tara Reid: Just so many. I think really, the best kill of sharks is Ian’s. I mean he has the strength and he really gets them good. He’s awesome at it. And with the chainsaw, I mean it doesn’t get really any better.
Anthony C. Ferrante: You get cheers for that moment when you get your moment this time. There was cheers for that. So you…
Tara Reid: That’s true. I have a good kill in this time too.
Ian Ziering: The girls really step up. I mean Tara gets her own saw blade to wield and she takes out a shark really very valiantly. Then on top of the Bells Tower Vivica’s character pulls out a sword and slices one in half. The women become very heroic. Give them the right tools and they’re bad asses.
Anthony C. Ferrante: Yes, no head trimmers for Tara this time.