The series has become a must-see event every summer and if what we heard from the movie’s composer is accurate, a 4th film is already in the planning stages. As we get closer to the July 22nd premiere date, we got to speak with the film’s Director about the film. I want to thank Anthony for taking the time from his busy schedule to answer our questions.
How did you get into Directing and what would you say was your big break?
Directing has always been the ultimate goal. I knew when I was in sixth grade I wanted to make films, it was just of matter of how to break in since I didn’t know anyone in the industry because I lived in a small town in Northern California. So I started writing movie reviews and watching as many movies as possible. I went to film school and then started to work on films once I moved to Los Angeles. My big break was writing and directing my first film BOO. The producer, David E. Allen saw my short films and some second unit directing I did and took a big leap of faith and gave me an opportunity to make a spooky little haunted hospital movie and that opened up many doors.
What type of genre films influenced you growing up and what would you say are your favorites?
I always leaned toward the scary films – ghost stories in particular. Like most horror geeks, John Carpenter was a huge influence. He really showed what you could accomplish with low budgets and creative ingenuity. THE THING remains one of the greatest modern day horror movies, and almost all the creature effects in that film were done practically. I also love David Cronenberg’s work – it was always edgy, unpredictable and prescient. Just look at VIDEODROME. He saw the future of what we were going to become in the 21st Century. People didn’t get that film when it came out, but now, it makes total sense. I also am a big fan of the Val Lewton produced thrillers of the 1940s/1950s. THE CAT PEOPLE, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, THE LEOPARD MAN – all those movies show you how to create suspense and atmosphere. And those scare sequences in those films hold up better than many horror films coming out today.
With a new film and a new locale, what can fans look forward to in this latest chapter?
The great thing about the SHARKNADO movies, you can keep them fresh by continually doing different genres within the universe and we definitely do that this time out. I keep saying we’ve crammed four different Sharknado movies into one and I think we’ve succeeded with that. The Washington stuff is WHITE HOUSE DOWN with sharks. You have Fin and the President shooting at the sharks like they’re terrorists. It was one of the first ideas I pitched and it was definitely fun to do a DIE HARD-like sequence in the middle of a SHARKNADO. We also bring back Nova (Cassie Scerbo) who we all loved from the first movie. She definitely brings an added coolness to the film, because in many ways she’s the female version of Fin – if not a little crazier and a bigger thirst for shark blood.
What can you tell us about the action in this film as the chainsaw scene in the first film set a real tone for the series.
I think you just have to keep coming up with cool things both for the audience and us, as filmmakers. What keeps it fresh for us. There are certain cornerstones you have to hit, because this is an established franchise. You know there will be sharks, tornados and chainsaws – but it’s how you put them all together each time that keeps it fresh.
Sharknado has been a huge success in every sense of the word, what do you have planned this time out and how do you balance moving the series forward yet giving fans what they expect?
I think if we just did the same movie each time, we would all get bored, but the new locales and new playgrounds really open up the different type of action you can do. Washington D.C. was heaven – much like New York, you think it’s going to be impossible to do things, like filming at Liberty Island or Times Square in NY, yet we made that happen. And in Sharknado 3, we have Ian Ziering RUNNING past the White House and past all the major monuments. It was crazy. Universal Orlando also gave us a chance to do a theme park Sharknado attack which was fantastic too. They literally opened the doors to us and let us do some crazy stuff that most amusement parks probably would have freaked out about. It really ups the ante and gives the movie a whole new palette to play with.
To what do you attribute the continued success of the series?
It’s tricky, because I think there are a whole bunch of different reasons. Most importantly, I think the movie, despite all the shark violence in the film, there’s this wholesomeness to it. It’s an old-fashioned family values movie and families watch it – kids included, which is astonishing for a film like this. Kids are obsessed with this film. Also, the people that save the day is a family and a family man. It’s not the military. It’s not scientists. It’s the DIE HARD / John McClane thing – the everyman is the hero. The concept plays big into it, because it’s a crazy idea and catchy idea, but without it being grounded with a hero (and heroes) you could relate to, I think it wouldn’t have been as successful. I also think people are starved for something fun that doesn’t take itself seriously. It costs so much to see a summer blockbuster at the theater – especially if you have a family, so you have to be choosy. We attempted to be a summer blockbuster but on a McDonald’s budget. We don’t have 100 days or $200 million, but we don’t let that stop us from trying to be overly ambitious. I think the cameos draw people in too. And it’s now become a summer event. I think if we failed to deliver on SHARKNADO 2, the franchise may have been over. People were gunning for us on 2, because how do you follow up 1? Yet we start the movie off with this huge plane sequence attack – a 12 minute teaser – most Syfy movie teasers are two or three minutes – and we hooked the audience. The thing I heard form many critics is how could you hate us after that opening – it was as if the ending of the movie was at the beginning and we still had a huge ending on top of it.
Looking back what attracted you to the series and do you feel any pressure this time out from fan expectations?
It was a concept Jacob Hair and I came up with and we originally pitched it to Syfy. I loved the title so much, I put it as an in-joke in a script I was writing for Syfy called LEPRECHAUN’S REVENGE (aka RED CLOVER). That’s when they decided they should make the movie, so when I was attached as director, it was a no brainer because I already loved the idea. With any film, there is pressure to top what you’ve done before. I think, if anything, the pressure is keeping the movie fresh and doing different types of things within the established framework. If anything, we have tons of fans who have massive expectations. And if we can’t top what’s been done before, we could lose them. So we’re always trying to find bigger, bolder and crazier ways of building our SHARKNADO beast.
What did filming at Universal present to you in terms of challenges as well as rewards as that must have been a crazy shoot.
Having the park open its doors to us was fantastic. It made it feel like we were officially legitimate, because we had access to so many things at the park. Everyone on staff there we worked with there were incredible. The staff and executives wanted us there and really gave us leeway to do some pretty incredible things. I don’t think that could have happened without the success of 1 or 2. We were treated like a studio blockbuster movie the entire time we were there – both with support and resources, even though we’re still technically a low budget movie.
Celebrity cameos are a fun part of the series, do you ever have issues with not getting people you want or having people want to be involved but not being able to make it work?
When every single role in the film is filled by some kind of cameo, there’s nothing to complain about. There’s tons of people on our wish list, and I think it would have been great to have Bill Murray as our President, but that’s also a pipe dream because by the time he would have considered or agreed to do it, we would have already made three other SHARKNADO movies.
When we got Mark Cuban, it was just as cool and added a whole other legitimacy to our film. I think the way we had cameos show up, some time literally that day, was as big a surprise for us as it will be for the audience. It makes it fresh and fun – especially trying to find ways to integrate them in the film so it feels natural as opposed to forced.
How have the returning characters evolved for this outing and what new aspects were you looking to bring in turns of their personalities?
I loved having Cassie Scerbo’s character Nova back. She’s a crazier version of Fin. She’s always been damaged and now, after the events of 1, she’s out for even more shark blood. I also wanted to continue the ever-evolving love story between Fin and his family, particularly April and his daughter. It makes the film more relatable when you ground it with family. I also love the evolution of April. Tara really delivers and it’s great seeing her opposite Bo Derek who plays her mom.
Should you get the chance to do a future film in the series, what would be your ultimate setting and storyline?
I keep thinking we’ve somehow run out of ideas, and yet there are still ideas to be mined from the franchise. I don’t think there’s any ultimate setting or storyline. After you see SHARKNADO 3, you’ll see what I mean, but we always joke, the last frontier is making this a global and international problem which would really give us a much bigger sandbox to play in, but I think there are many different things you could do that are outside of the box too. It all depends how people react to this one.
What do you have upcoming that fans can look forward to after Sharknado?
As far as SHARKNADO related stuff, I wrote the ARCHIE VS. SHARKNADO comic book which comes out July 22. It was great to write, because it takes in the same time frame as SHARKNADO 3. So it was like doing a mini-movie on top of 3. My band Quint also has two songs on the SHARKNADO 3 soundtrack album – “(The Ballad of) Sharknado)” and a brand new song “Crash”. I’m also co-writing a new film called SESSIONS, a quirky romantic-comedy with music playing a big part of the story.
I’m also attached to two potential TV projects that are currently in development – TOMMY TESTOSTERONE, a really quirky SHARKNADO-like take on the superhero genre that I’m doing with Timothy Hopkins and I’m also working with Matthew Lesher, Insight Entertainment and Torrey DeVitto on adapting the HELL’S BELLE novels by Karen Greco into a TV series. And there’s discussions about revisiting my first film BOO with producer David E. Allen.
SHARKNADO has broken up so many doors for me, and I’ve been given so many new opportunities both within and outside of the horror/sci-fi genre that this franchise has really been a fantastic gift.