Get ready, Sharkaholics. Tonight’s the night that The Asylum’s Sharknado 2: The Second One takes the world by storm — a storm filled with nature’s deadliest predators! Director Anthony C. Ferrante’s sequel to last year’s surprise hit Sharknado premieres tonight on Syfy at 9/8c, and it’s stuffed with more celebrity appearances than you can shake a shark’s tooth at — including stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica Fox, Kari Wuhrer, and Mark McGrath, as well as cameos from Andy Dick, Judd Hirsch, Kelly Osbourne, Judah Friedlander, Wil Wheaton, Al Roker, Matt Lauer, Kelly Ripa… Truly, the list runneth over. We caught up with Ziering, Reid, Wuhrer, and Ferrante last week and they told us what went into making a very big film on a very low budget.
On building a better Sharknado…
Anthony Ferrante: I did low-budget horror films, where you’ve got one location and you’re limited, which is great, and I like that. But with the Sharknado movies they give you more toys. They go, “Hey, do you want to shoot on a boat? Do you want to build a set?” You get these opportunities to do things that are a little different. It gets me excited. We knew we were gonna shoot on a boat from the first movie. But it just gets written as “Boat gets pulled up into tornado.” No, it needs to be a whole sequence if we’re gonna go out on a boat. I want to do an action scene on a boat, so that’s where that evolved.
If you look at what we did with Sharknado compared to the other Syfy Channel movies, there’s no difference in budget or schedule. It’s just that Asylum let us do more, we had a great crew, and we were overly ambitious, and it’s crammed with stuff. It doesn’t follow their normal structure, because a lot of times the production companies that are doing them don’t have the time or the resources or their scared. Asylum wasn’t scared. As long as we came in on budget they were fine.
With the second movie we knew we just had to up the ante. We had to do more. And because it was in such close proximity to the first movie, the mindset’s still there. We kept coming up with cool ideas. The opening plane sequence is something I pitched from the very beginning. And it remained the same, everybody loved the idea. They never wavered. I wanted to destroy the Statue of Liberty’s head. There were a few other things that I knew we needed to do. We put the ending of the movie at the beginning of the movie, which is dangerous. [Laughs] Because most Syfy teasers are two to three minutes. They let us do a twelve minute teaser, and we still have an ending. The last twenty minutes of the movie are insane.
There’s an expectation, but a lot of people go, “Oh, there are weird cuts and edits in the first movie.” The problem was we were shooting a weather-related movie in Los Angeles, where there’s no weather. It’s sunny. So we had to shoot down or shoot off the side. We were always hiding that fact, because otherwise it would have been a visual effect. So it’s gonna cost us money if we show the sky. We had to be very strategic. With New York, we have Manhattan. We’re shooting up instead of shooting down. We have bad weather. We have all these beautiful buildings. It opens it up and makes it an amazing movie that way.
Tara Reid: New York has it’s own personality. It really works to the film’s advantage.
Anthony Ferrante: The limitations and the stress on both films are the same, it’s just that we treat these as living organisms. You go with the flow. With a studio movie, if you can’t get something on the first day, you’ll get a day 94. We had eighteen days on this movie. You go out on set, you have twelve hours, you need to make sure you get everything you can, because you’re never coming back. You have to make it work. So I just wanted to make sure that the fun was there, that the audience had fun.
Ian Ziering: Working in twenty days, trying to shoot a film, is a Herculean task all in itself. So we had to make sure we got all the shots we needed to complete the movie. Any extra daylight in our day was just bonus shots we were able to accomplish. We had a project to make and very little time to be able to make it happen. So you woke up every morning, jumped out of bed and got psyched for a very rigorous day of shooting.
Anthony Ferrante: By the time you get to the end of the first movie, you know where we stand; you know what our philosophy is. So it allowed us to go into this one with a sense of humor. And the sense of humor is still character based. There’s comic relief like Judah Friedlander or Judd Hirsch. But all the other characters are still playing it straight. And the humor, if they have any, is coming from how they react to the situation.
On the state of Fin and April’s relationship…
Ian Ziering: Fin’s still trying to get her back.
Tara Reid: She and Fin are getting close. They’re working things out. You know how when you break up, you get back together and there’s a make-it-or-break-it time…
Ian Ziering: He’s been dealing with his newfound fame, and what he learned from fame the first time cost him his family. So he’s trying to stay away from the spotlight now. Because he’s trying to get his family back.
On the new cast members…
Ian Ziering: The new cast – Mark McGrath, Vivica Fox, Kari Wuhrer – enables us to add more layers to Fin. It helps in character development when you learn more about him.
Kari Wuhrer: I play Ian Ziering’s sister, Ellen. He had this whole incredible experience in LA with that Sharknado, and he decided that he’s gonna go back to New York and reconnect with his family, and I’m married to his buddy from his high school days [Mark McGrath]. He was not very happy I married the guy who was the big player. So we’ve sort of been estranged, but he’s come back to New York to reconnect with his family, myself and his niece and his nephew. We’re New Yorkers, probably from the Bronx and we moved to the suburbs and now we’re back in New York. So there’s a little bit of gravity to the film.
On playing action heroes…
Kari Wuhrer: My character does get a lot of the action in dealing with the sharks, but she uses her wits more than her brawn. She’s really trying to protect her daughter from a crazy shark invasion.
Ian Ziering: Fin’s a good mix between Bruce Campbell’s Ash and Bruce Willis’ John McClane.
Tara Reid: Before, April was scared of everything. Now she wrote a book – How to Survive a Sharknado. So now, even though she dresses in leather, she’s tougher and stronger and more of an action figure. She’s way more fun to play. [Laughs]
Sharknado 2: The Second One premieres tonight on Syfy at 9/8c.