Director Anthony Ferrante: "I figured five people would show up on Twitter, and four of them would tell me how much I sucked"
So you've only made one movie – a cheapo “B” (or less) thriller for the Syfy network called “Boo.” And they like it so much they ask you if you'd like to do another, about a freak tornado that hits Los Angeles, raining down thousands of killer fish.
You say yes, and the next thing you know, your cheapo thriller — starring “Dancing With the Stars” types like Ian Zeiring and Tara Reid — is a social-media sensation, drawing only 1.4 million viewers but generating 5,000 tweets per minute during its initial airing. (Even Mia Farrow tweeted that she was watching it.)
The result: two more unscheduled airings that drew, respectively 1.9 million and 2.4 million viewers, with a sequel already greenlit. At midnight Friday, a special showing will play on more than 200 screens nationwide. And the network is even rolling out "Sharknado" merchandise.
What's it like? That's what we asked "Sharknado" director Anthony Ferrante — who may or may not be returning for the follow-up, even though he has some ideas for it. Ferrante, whose previous work for Syfy was the horror movie “Boo,” talks about the sequel, Zierling cutting himself out of a shark and his pet project “The Key,” which he hopes will star David Bowie.
Where were you when “Sharknado” premiered?
I was with my family and some friends, and we were watching the first 6 o'clock showing. I was going to tweet and do running commentary, and I figured five people would show up and four of them would tell me how much I sucked. There's 50 comments, and suddenly it's like 100, and it just didn't stop. And someone else was on an iPad going, “Mia Farrow just tweeted she's watching the movie!” And then it was Damon Lindelof, and Joe Biden's wife. It just got bizarre!
And the aftermath?
After it was over, I was kind of like, “Crap, something just happened here.” It doesn't make any sense. I just know we're still talking about it three weeks later, and it's my little movie that I thought no one would get.
Talk about your cast. They're the perfect C-list players.
The cool thing is that Tara and Ian got it. Ian was totally on board. As we went through the process of the movie, he just wanted to do more stuff. “I'll rappel down the Sixth Street Bridge for you, you don't have to use the stunt guy.” It's like, “You've done that before?” “Yeah.” “You trust that bridge right there?” “Sure!”
Also read: 'Sharknado' Swag Coming to a Store Near You
Ian let us dump gallons and gallons of blood on him. Name an actor who is not going to sit there and complain. We needed Ian to go into the shark, and he was going to be on a wire rig. He was fine with it.
Was he fine with cutting his way back out again?
Cutting out of the shark is an actual shark thing we built, the center of it. So it's actually fleshy, I think it was made of silicon or something, and they chainsawed their way out. Ian births himself out of this shark vagina kind of thing. It was nuts.
What about doing effects on however limited the budget was.
The producers say it's one to two. There's a lot of costs, like they have an in-house digital effects company, so it's hard to tell. We shot in 18 days. IMDB says a million. It's probably between one and two.
Your previous SyFy movie was “Boo.” A horror flick?
That I wrote and directed. We made it independently, and they acquired it. It did really well, and that's how I started doing more stuff for them. It was my first film and I wanted to do something that was very scary. We threw the kitchen sink in on that. That's a little special to me because it was my first movie.
And how long did it take to convince you to do ‘”Sharknado”?
Sharks in a tornado, why not do it? It makes total sense. If you're 11 years old and somebody says, “Hey, want to make a movie about sharks in a tornado and we'll give you a million bucks to go do it?” You're gonna go, “No, I'm gonna go make ‘The Queen’ with Helen Mirren?” You're 11 years old, you're gonna go, ‘F— yeah!’ You get to ride on a little boat, you get to jump in the water.
Was that the high point of the shoot?
I was on a Kodiak in the water driving with the camera guy toward a fishing boat. And everyone else is vomiting on the fishing boat. It's like, “We're on the cool boat cause it's actually balanced, and we're not vomiting.” You get to be a kid. You get to have someone chainsaw his way out of a shark, and you're doing it live on set. That's fun.
What can you tell us about the sequel?
There's no script. No one's been hired. They just started talking to people about it. The key to me coming back to the movie is: Are there a bunch of ideas that I want to do? And there's definitely a lot of ideas, especially if they want to do it about New York. The people on Twitter are coming up with a contest to name the sequel.
What would you imagine a sequel might include?
Like, I want to do a building like “Die Hard,” but it's like a sharkferno with water filling up with sharks, and Ian has to get out of this building.
So what's next for you?
It looks like I'm going to be doing a commercial in the next couple of weeks. In terms of on the studio level, everybody's asking what projects do you want to do, or “Here, we have this thing. Are you interested? We want to package you with this.”
It's opened up the doors; now I have to make decisions. Last week I had five or six meetings, and next week I have another six. I can only do one movie at a time.
Tell me about “The Key,” your pet project you hope to get made.
It's about a girl in high school who has some kind of power unlocked. If ‘Pretty in Pink’ was directed by David Cronenberg.
Who's your dream cast?
I want David Bowie in it. There's a role in the movie, and he's the only guy I want. There's a musical tie in the story. It has to be someone who's a musician. It has to be someone who's a great actor, and David Bowie's the guy.