New York is under attack by a Sharknado and only Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and Vivica A. Fox can save the day! I had a chance to catch up with the cast and Director Anthony Ferrante of Sharknado 2: The Second one to chat about the franchises enormous success, the power of social media and taking on those damn sharks in the city that never sleeps. Sharknado 2: The Second One premieres Wednesday, July 30 at 9PM (ET/PT) on Syfy.
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Tara Reid: I think definitely it wasn’t – 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 a – you know, 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 but you were still, like, outside in the city and – you know, it wasn’t like you were acting behind a green screen.
So it was just, you know, filling in the blanks and kind of believing in the director that he promises sharks react to the sharks as well as you’re 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, and Ian had some green screen stuff but Tara’s right, most of the stuff we shoot, 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, like, I think an hour just doing acrobatic things.
I had to do some pick up stuff last year where I was a double for (Bas) and I was in the harness for, like, 20 minutes and I was, like, in pain. So a lot of kudos to Ian for managing those harness rigs.
Ian Ziering: Thanks, Anthony. You know, working in a virtual environment where 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.
So 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: And there were some instances that too – on this movie, like, the first movie was a big learning curve for everybody and while everything worked out and while it all looked great, you know, we learned a lot off of that first movie.
And then you watch everybody in this one, you know, Ian was just doing things, you know, 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.
So it’s – after going through the motions of this stuff you really start understanding, you know, what can be done. And we have a pretty amazing visual effects team in 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.
And there’s some pretty damn impressive shots in this film. So you know, 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: I mean 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. So you know, it was – a great and kind of shocking experience.
And it turned into something wonderful. Now to be a part of the franchise has been incredible. But yes, we definitely, we didn’t know – we got real lucky.
Anthony C. Ferrante: It’s hard with these things. You never – you know, you just try to make the best project possible and, you know, what happened on this thing – you know, 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 know, you get those – you very rarely get those opportunities like that where people just want to embrace you just because you’re there. And that was kind of – it was kind of special. And helped because now we got to make a second movie and 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.
Vivica Fox: Lots of action.
Besides more sharks.
Vivica Fox: A lot of cameos, a lot of cameos. I mean I was really pleasantly surprised how many people wanted to be a part of this film when they saw it. It’s like, famous faces just keep popping up. And it’s just an awesome surprise.
Anthony C. Ferrante: I think the key with the second movie is we want them to – we wanted to kind of amp up what we did – we already did a lot in the first movie for the budget and the schedule. I mean that’s the – I think one of the reasons why it stood out just because we were pushing the budget and the schedule the maximum.
And so 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 – it’s a lot of heavy lifting to kind of make these things look fantastic and don’t have a – you know, we don’t have a $200 million budget to pull it off.
But we have a lot of the imagination from our writers under 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’re 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 go, we have to hide the snow. And that really adds to the look and feel of the movie.
The second thing is – 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. And I think that – that makes this movie look gargantuan and it feels authentic. And 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 it’s own personality itself. So adding the personality of New York into this film really added a magical, you know, element into the film.
A couple 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, gosh, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, and lots more that you have to stay tuned to see.
Anthony C. Ferrante: Judah Friedlander was one of the people that did the – was one of the big Twitter followers that night who’s from 30 Rock and he was writing some really funny stuff.
We kind of became friends with him and he really wanted to be in the second movie and he’s one of – he actually was only hired for one line in Sharknado 2 and I called Judah up and 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 – we combined three characters at the ballpark into one character so we could keep him around a little longer in the movie. But 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.
And so it – I keep calling these movies living organisms because, you know, you have a script but you go on the set and it’s, like, you know, things are changing or you don’t have this truck or you don’t have that and you have to kind of make it work.
You don’t have – 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.
And 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 to you name it, a shark could be there.
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. And the simple explanation on our end is that it’s a Sharknado, it’s like our Frankenstein, our Freddy Krueger, our Jason.
You know, you don’t question Jason getting his, you know, 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. And so I think the thing that we’ve expected is that the Sharknado is our villain and it does what we tell it to do.
So you know, if it shoots through a car (unintelligible), yes, a shark can’t do that but a Sharknado can. So it gives – that opens up the imagination of what you can do and 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: I think that everyone added a certain aspect to their character. I mean that’s what makes characters good, an actor kind of adds their thing on top of it. But we all had a very good rapport with Anthony and 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. So I think every character got to go farther and took risks and, you know, 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 that – about the film that made you want to be a part of it?
Vivica Fox: Well, you know, 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 presently surprised when I got the offer to play Skye. I hadn’t worked with Ian since back in the day with 90210 and 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 and 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 and, man, you guys sold that as such a – it was really – it was a blessing to have you on that film because it just gave us so much more depth.
And those little moments and the things that you guys did – you know, in the middle of the Sharknado we’re doing a little (unintelligible). We’re 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 at it if you don’t care about these characters everything starts falling apart. So we had a really nice mix with everybody.
And Anthony, talk about what do you think it is about Sharknado that’s made it such a popular franchise?
Anthony C. Ferrante: You know, 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, you know, they’re just horror films you have, 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 movie but there are a lot of kids that love this film because it had sort of that 11-year-old spirit.
So I think what happened was that it’s just – there was something silly about the title and it seemed ridiculous but when you saw the trailer it was – it looks like the big studio movie or trying to be. And so I 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 – 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 and they just liked it.
So you can’t – it’s so hard to get something like this and you can’t really take it apart and say it was this or that. It’s just, you know, we somehow – we were this fun little film that people didn’t have to spend $50 million – $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 – it was great.
Ian when you have a movie that is successful, special like Sharknado was, sometimes actors will be, you know, 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. You know, what’s so nice about Sharknado is that it really is not competing with itself and the bar that it set initially is not – you know, one of – you know, that’s unattainable. This was a low budget independent film, you know, a very campy nature.
So really the only way to screw it up would be to change it. And 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. And if people liked one they’re going to love two.
Tara Reid: I agree with Ian exactly. I mean I – he couldn’t have said it better. You know, when I read the first one and (unintelligible) went out to dinner that night with my friends. I was (unintelligible) the script (unintelligible) hilarious. I was – yes, sharks are flying in Beverly Hills and maiming people and (unintelligible) 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. So it’s so funny, you have to do it. So 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, you know, it worked. You know, people really enjoyed it. And then we kind of did the (unintelligible). 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 (unintelligible). He always (unintelligible). He’s very giving actor. You know, if something’s not working he makes it work. (Unintelligible). You just – I like him as a person and as an actor. (Unintelligible).
Ian Ziering: I was very lucky to work with just a talented group. Tara, you know, everyday 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.
You know, we knew we had to get our shots everyday and we did but, you know, because everyone knew what we were up against everyone came very prepared and very, you know, ready to do the work.
And 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. You know, when you’re working with people that understand that, you know, time is money and this film we didn’t have a lot of time.
So because everyone is very professional, everyone came prepared, and we actually – you know, made it happen.
Ian, I saw it 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 – I was wondering, such a odd situation to be showing a film, 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 premier, you know. It’s kind of a surreal experience and keep in mind that this is a TV movie. And the rollout has been in the same fashion that, you know, hundred million dollar blockbusters are brought to market.
The fan response – not just here in the United States but globally has been so overwhelming that this movie is doing something that – you know, the major motion picture studios try to accomplish. But we caught lightening in a bottle and that premier was the first time I saw the entire movie cut together.
So because I’m a fan of the genre, because I’m a fan of the movie, you know, I enjoyed it too. I laughed at it as much as everyone else did. I was surprised and shocked just like everyone else was and 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 get to have chainsaws and all kinds of things to fight these sharks with. Was that just plain fun to be able to do the kind of stuff you ordinarily wouldn’t get to do.
Ian Ziering: Yes.
Vivica Fox: Absolutely.
Ian Ziering: I’ve always been a big fan of (unintelligible) action adventure and Syfy. And 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.
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: It – actually I’ve written a – I directed previously for Syfy and I’ve written a bunch of scripts and there’s a process for writing – for pitching ideas. And (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 I – you know, we both loved the title so much, just kind of tickled us.
So 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, like – they just – it just popped out at that point to them and they wanted to make a Sharknado movie and they paired up with the Asylum and I had just done a film for Asylum called Hansel and Gretel and then it came full circle where I was doing Sharknado.
I mean I always believed in this concept. I thought – you know, I liked the title a lot because it just – it was silly but, you know, you would tell people the title and they would just start laughing. You just start coming up with ridiculous things. And so that was the genesis. And then Thunder came in and wrote a really great screen play and then the rest is history.
So though – just so you know, we started shooting the movie – what’s 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 it was just – no one – no one could embrace what it was initially.
And 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’re telling 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 know, you really – you always look for opportunities that will propel your career and, you know what, 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 – you know, several holes in it that were left to be filled by visual effects.
And 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 (unintelligible) level of visual effects. Was I going to be battling (Sigmund) the sea monster? Is there is (unintelligible) that’s going to be jumping out at me? Is this going to be closer to the Avatar level of quality?
And you know, I really just didn’t think that it was going to be what it had turned out to be. But my – at my wife’s behest she said, look, you know, it’s January, you’ve got to make your insurance quota. I get my insurance from the union and having babies are very expensive.
And of course, I want to protect my family, I’m a provider now. So I realized, well, you know what, she’s right. And I thought I was taking one for the team. But then I also thought, well, what the heck, no one’s ever going to see this movie. Boy was I wrong. And my wife doesn’t hesitate to say I told you so now. It’s great.
New York City’s a character in its own. Was there any kind of – you know, did you guys see actually kind of became 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: I mean it was great. It was like a really fun feeling to shoot at home basically. Like, for me, 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 just – it was such an awesome feeling. It was great. The power of shooting in New York City is like – it’s such a strong city and it does have such a personality of its own.
And I really think that it adds such an element to this film and I think when you watch the movie you’ll really see the power of New York City and what the city’s about and how the people really come together when something goes wrong in the city to come together to save it. And I think that shows across the film.
Anthony C. Ferrante: I think that was kind of one of the things in the first movie – at least in my head was that Los Angeles everybody kind of is in it for themselves and, you know, 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 – you know, we’re brothers in arms. I don’t like my neighbor but, you know, 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 but as we were there we started going, you know what, we got to do this. Like, there was never a pizza place in the movie. There was never a bodega and I had never heard the word bodega until I ended up in New York.
I go – 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 that – when I was there in New York for two months. I just loved this place. It’s called Famous Amadeus Pizza. And we shot there.
And that whole scene was – with getting the shark into the oven came from just standing in that restaurant going, we got to do this. So there was a lot of stuff informing us as we were there and it started evolving, you know, utilizing, you know, the various aspects of New York.
I was wondering, from an acting perspective, obviously the film has a lot of humor in it. Do you guys sort of play it seriously in your mind and trying to sort of be this character or do you sort of – are very conscious of some of the lines that are sort of coming out that sort of – definitely will get some laughs from the audience? Do you sort of play it serious or take a laugh with it?
Vivica Fox: I definitely played my character serious and then I think, like, in the moments and what were fighting against and the elements, then the comedy ensued. So I took it very serious that, you know, a Sharknado was coming and we were there to stop it.
Tara Reid: Yes, I mean I think we all had to take, you know – even though the situation seems so crazy. But you had to play it serious because if you didn’t – 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, you know, environment and that’s where the jokes come in, that’s where it gets funny.
So I think you really do have to commit to your character, you know, and also know what you’re playing and being in that situation that you’re in and playing it serious then there comes the humor. So I think that’s really what you – you know, a lot of people did.
Anthony C. Ferrante: And I think one of the other tricks with this movie and there’s a lot of horror films that will be just purposely campy and over the top but, you know, every – I think the key actually to this whole franchise is having everybody playing it straight.
I mean 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 (unintelligible) and Judah Friedland. But even then they ground it. It’s not – I’m making a joke.
We still – that was one of the things when we’d get new people coming in for cameos. A couple 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. And 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, you know, in the reality of the imaginary circumstances if you will, you know, you say and do things that – you know, are appropriate for the actions or the scenario.
But as a spectator, as an observer, you realize how funny they are within that situation. But when you’re dealing with it, you know, you have to act naturally in imaginary circumstances.
But as a spectator you realize that, you know, 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 because you have to suspend this believe to buy into what you’re doing but yet you still have you foot in the real world so it gives you perspective of how absurd this movie really is.
Anthony C. Ferrante: I think a perfect example of 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 Carey 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 and that inherently makes it funnier because it’s so earnest that it’s – and it’s so in the moment.
And I think that’s one of the charms about why people remember that sequence because – you know, Ian – it was the coldest day of the year in LA, which is hard to believe that we had a cold day. And a lot of – we dumped, like, 20 gallons of water on him. He’s freezing to death. He did. It was great. It was awesome.
Anthony C. Ferrante: 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: I don’t think the media – 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.
But yes, 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. And I think that shows.
Vivica Fox: The only element that was kind of crazy was just that it was really, really cold and there were sometimes you would be doing the scene and – boy, I just could not – getting out the dialog could be a little tough. But we would just go warm up and then go back at it again.
And did you all feel a responsibility to a fan base that didn’t exist the first time around?
Vivica Fox: Absolutely, yes. I mean when I heard about the success of the movie – 5,000 tweets a minute – I mean the first time, I was like, wow, okay, people are really, really loving this. And 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.
I just wanted to see if you had anything to add.
Ian Ziering: Yes, you know, in making Sharknado 2 there was a certain – there was a greater amount of ease about it because where I didn’t have the experience of what was possible, you know, after seeing what they were able to accomplish – what the visual effects artists were able to accomplish, what Anthony was able to do with the script, you know, going into Sharknado 2 I had a higher level of trust.
So it was a bit more framing and enabled me to not have to worry about – gosh, am I going to look ridiculous doing this?
You know, I would do it no matter what but I had a greater amount of trust knowing that, you know, 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 C. Ferrante: I think there are people – go ahead. Go ahead.
Do you feel more pressure the second time?
Anthony C. Ferrante: Yes, no, I think there’s a pressure just as a filmmaker. I mean I’m hard on myself, you know, I beat myself up everyday trying to pull this stuff off. So I mean there’s a pressure, it’s more on – you know, I want – 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, like, three years in between making the movie. I mean 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.
So you know we were still kind of – at least (unintelligible) saying it felt like we’re still making the first movie. But there was other things too, you know. We wanted to – one of the things that bothered me about the first movie was the geography. You know, I wanted to make sure if we were in New York that we were steadfast with the geography.
You know, we have a lot of discussions about the Sharknado moment and 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 lightening 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 and 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.
So it’s a tricky balance but I did – you know, again, 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. And it was in the script long and then when we turned in the rough cut it was long. And then let us have this 12 minute teaser before we even get to the main credits.
And that was the trust that they gave us and let us kind of – you know, play – have fun in our little playground. So I think our biggest enemies are ourselves because we want to do bigger and better and greater things. And so we’re always kind of 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.
So you know, 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 and all the training you’ve had that you’re bringing to the table to accomplish that.
You know again, 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, you know, no one’s questioning the validity of it while they’re watching it, which it helps you escape.
So you know, 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 strictly just – like stunt double 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. You know, it really wasn’t too crazy. I mean jumping down a few stairs or – you know, the toughest thing was dealing with that chainsaw. It must have been a 45 pound chain saw.
And you know, rather than swinging it through the air, you know, I would steady it and let the sharks fly through it this time because the thing is just – it’s a monster. But then also, you know, having to pull the chain start on it, you know, that’s not easy to do either, to turn that sucker over took a lot. You know, I had to keep that going.
So it was – you know, dealing with the chainsaw was a bit of a challenge but, you know, we did it a couple of times and we took the best shot and moved on.
Anthony C. Ferrante: That whole thing with them on the fire truck was – you know, 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 and I brought the chainsaw up to see if it was even – if he could hold it up.
And I could barely hold the thing up. Again, props to Ian for being – 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.
For a lot of people your introduction to them was Independence Day, which is also famous science fiction, fantasy, disaster film. (Unintelligible) you felt that Sharknado in a way was like a blast from the past?
Vivica Fox: Definitely the physicality. I mean instead of this time running from aliens I was running from sharks and – or trying to kill a shark. So – like I said, I wanted to get some Syfy and some action back into my life again and I got Sharknado 2 and be careful what you asked 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, A, that it was on a tight schedule; B, that it was in February; and C, at the time Mayor De Blasio did not have a commissioner in place for film and television so you had to sort of – I don’t know, I’m curious to how that fit into too.
Anthony C. Ferrante: I wasn’t aware of the commissioner thing. You know, the thing for me – I mean one, everybody hated me on set because I enjoyed the cold and because, you know – the day I left for New York it was, like, 85 degrees in Los Angeles. This was in January and I was wearing shorts and I went to New York and it was freezing and I loved every minute of it except for one day.
So I loved the bad weather. First movie we were shooting in blue skies and so 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. And that was very frustrating as a filmmaker because you’re always – you know, we got to shoot this direction, we got to do that, we can’t show that.
And in New York, I was able to take the camera and point it up and shoot all these beautiful buildings and shoot, you know, this amazing city. And I’m…
Vivica Fox: Go ahead.
Anthony C. Ferrante: And you know, I fell in love with the city there. You know, Los Angeles, I’ve shot a few movies here but 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, you know, got – 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, you know, 100 days. We had 18 so, you know, on the last few shootings we had two hours of Liberty Island, you know, an hour on the ferries going over there. We shot at Wall Street.
We shot a bike chase. We shot (unintelligible) from Howard Stern. We shot a make up effect and that was a 12-hour day, you know. 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.
And 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. And that was the fun part about shooting in New York is that we had a great crew too. There was a crew that was with us.
Even though we were moving at, like, 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.
And I just had a – I had a great experience in New York. I loved everybody that we worked with and I know that that’s – everybody says that but it was fantastic. I’d love to shoot in New York again.
And 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 different – that was the thing that 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: I think – you know, 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 and how it’s coming at you so 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?
And 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. And you really see the difference and a lot more sharks and it works.
Ian or Vivica, do you have any thoughts on that?
Vivica Fox: Well, you know, 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 and I was just really, really grateful that I started working with Ian and he was, like, so into it.
So he was – it was really easy to see. He’s taking this serious, we’re doing this serious. And then the director, Anthony, was just so wonderful and descriptive in what was going on and what kind of sharks were attacking us and the elements. So that helped me out a lot.
Ian Ziering: Just, you know, working in a virtual environment where there really is nothing there. You really have to trust in the director, you know, and Anthony was the one that, you know, 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.
You know, 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, like, jumping and spinning and, you know, there’s one where I actually did a handspring off of one of the rocks. We didn’t use it in the movie but, you know, I had total trust in what was happening knowing that whatever action that I was giving forth was going to make – 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. You know, people would go, what do you want to see in the next movie and you would come up with some, like, totally ridiculous thing.
The whole – what I call the towering sharkfurno thing where you have the water below and the fire on top of the building and they meet in the middle, that was – I think I was talking to a radio – someone on the radio about that. It was like, we could do this and then it suddenly is in the movie.
You know, and I – you know, 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.
You know, we just thought – we just thought it was kind of a fluky thing. You know in this business it’s like you get your 15 minutes and it’s up and Sharknado just kept going and going. You know, 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 and that’s – that was kind of the cool part. But, you know, I think the good thing that happened with the Twitter is that we got validity from a lot of different people, even if they were making fun or poking fun at us, you know, everybody had a good time. So it shows that there was a bigger audience watching what we’re doing.
So there is an obligation and you couldn’t just do the Sharknado 1 over again. You really did need to amp it up and make bigger and better and greater sequences. I think that emboldened us and allowed us more freedom to kind of push things a little further than we could have in the first movie.
I mean we definitely pushed the maximum but in the second movie – I mean 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, were any of you – 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.
So do you think that there would have been a sequel to Sharknado if there wasn’t social media involved?
Tara Reid: No, probably not. I mean social media is really what took it to the next level of social media with Twitter and getting 5,000 tweets per minute and then just kind of exploded. So because of social media it really advanced it and took it to a worldwide level that we just weren’t expecting. So 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 (Megashark) franchise and they’ll – 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.
I think they would have – it would have been, you know, Sharknado, you know, Goes to the Beach or something, you know, 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 (unintelligible) sharks.
Ian Ziering: I think you’re thinking – you’re asking the really deep questions and this is not a deep movie. This is a movie that – just enjoy to know you’re going to have an hour and a half of just 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 – you know, that we’re studying in the – we’re going scuba diving and swimming with sharks or anything like that. It’s more of the imagination of imaginary sharks being there. And this, you know, responding to them. But it’s not – we don’t get into details. It’s not like National Geographic or anything.
Anthony C. Ferrante: Yes, I mean it’s – there’s not much, you know, research you can do because there’s no such thing as a Sharknado except in our films. So you know, you do look at – like I went and – 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. But 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, I mean – mine’s 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. You know, 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.
And 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, you know, 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, you know, swinging a chainsaw through the air is a little bit more challenging. So 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.
But this time I did it backwards. And 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. They did – that was one of the – that’s probably one of my favorite kills in this movie that – the animator, (Dennis) who did it, just – he originally did one pass on that where it was just kind of similar to the first movie and he got obsessed with the anatomy of a shark.
And he found a half shark, like a plastic one that showed the full anatomy. And he used that as his inspiration so you get that really clean thing. And he just made a beautiful moment out of that.
Thank you, Ian and (Dennis).
Ian Ziering: You know what I just teed it up, he’s the one who hit it out of the park.
Vivica, Tara, do you have a favorite?
Tara Reid: I mean I just think so many – I think really, the best kill of sharks is Ian’s. I mean he has the strength and he just – he really gets them good. I mean he’s awesome at it. And with the chainsaw, I mean it doesn’t get really any better.
Anthony C. Ferrante: Well, you (unintelligible). You get cheers for that moment that – 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. And then on top of the Bells Tower Vivica’s character pulls out a sword and slices one in half and it’s – you know, the women become very heroic. Give them the right tools and they – they’re bad asses.
Anthony C. Ferrante: Yes, no head trimmers for Tara this time.