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Sharknado 2: The Other One stars Ian Ziering, Vivica A. Fox and Judah Friedlander joined director Anthony C. Ferrante at Comic-Con International for a panel discussion that covered everything from the first movie’s success to the benefits and problems of making a low-budget film to their hopes for the franchise’s future.
Ziering explained that, at the beginning of the sequel, his character Fin is learning to deal with his newfound celebrity after saving California for the sharknado.
“He kind of lost his family because he got caught up in fame, so he is trying to rekindle and reconnect with his wife,” the Beverly Hills, 90120 veteran said. “At the beginning of the film, we find them together but somewhat estranged. They are heading to New York City because she is on a book-signing tour for a book she wrote called How to Survive a Sharknado, something Fin is not happy with. They are also going to visit his family.”
Friedlander said he was excited to join the project. “When I saw the first one, I live-tweeted it. I’m a fan of Syfy movies,” he said. “It was an interesting combination of different genres — action, drama, comedy. That’s very hard to do, to get the right tone. I still don’t know what the secret ingredient is. I hope I got it right. When you do low-budget, you really have to use your brain and think on the spot. You’re trying to figure out how to get through the scene and get it done that day. There’s something about that energy, that passion, that love that shows up on the screen that a big-budget film sometimes misses.”
Ferrante added, “People don’t realize that we shot this movie in only 18 days. The budget for our entire movie in the budget of craft services on the Superman movie for just one day. So if you come out on the set and are told, ‘We don’t have this, we don’t have that,’ you can’t say we’ll worry about it on Day 700. You have to figure it out on the spot, and there’s a living energy that comes with that. We have over 700 visual-effects shots. We started at the end of February and delivered it at the end of June. I dare Superman to pull that off. Yes, there are rough edges, but there is an innocence and an energy. We improvised.”
The director said one such improvisation occurred with the casting of Friedlander: His character originally had just one line, but when the comedian was cast, lines intended for three other characters were used to expand his role and keep him around longer.
At that point, a trailer was screened, earning enthusiastic applause from the audience.
“Let’s face it, this is a very serious movie about the important subject of climate change and the damages it can do,” Friedlander joked. “The film is about unity and strength, and how people come together to defeat sharks.”
“I could never understand why people were laughing at our film,” Ferrante added. “It’s a serious film.”
“It is a serious film,” Friedlander said.
“It’s a love story,” Ziering offered.
“People get so hung up on, ‘Well, sharks can’t be in tornadoes, tornadoes can’t go on land,’” Ferrante said. “Well, cars can’t turn into robots, so live with it. Sharknado is basically this — it’s not sharks. It’s not a tornado; sharknado is our villain. It’s like Jason, it’s like Freddy. Jason comes back in every movie, and whatever our screenwriter Thunder Levin comes up with, we will do. It is what it is. We can destroy subway cars, we can destroy New York City. That’s the fun part of this movie.”
Ziering said he’s appreciative of the first film and what it has done for his career. “This movie is going to launch in 90 countries within a 24-hour period,” he explained. “That’s something a lot of major motion pictures can’t do. But through the television medium — through the power of the science fiction fan — we’re creating our own bar. So to be a part of this digital, low-budget film, it just changes the game, and I’m just proud to be a part of it.”
Ziering also addressed the challenges of acting in front of a green screen. “You need to commit to the material,” he said. “I was apprehensive going in, I had some trepidation. The direction I was given was, ‘Run and jump and dive to avoid sharks. They’re everywhere! They’re all around you!’ You have to trust. That’s an action for me. I have to trust that they are going to paint in the sharks that are going to take my action and turn it into a reaction.
“When you’re dealing with a low-budget environment, you don’t know if you’re going to get a Sid and Marty Krofft effect or a James Cameron Avatar effect,” the actor continued. “When I finally saw the first film, I relaxed. It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. When Sharknado 2 came along, knowing how quickly technology advances, I was all over it. We have this one scene where I’m jumping on the backs of sharks in a complete green-screen environment. I jumped here, I jumped there, knowing no matter how crazy I’d act, they were going to make it plausible.”
The panelists were asked what they would do if handed $100 million and given months to shoot a Sharknado movie.
“It would be a global threat, international level” Ferrante replied. “We would make the $100 million look like $500 million.”
“I would like to see a sharknado in Paris,” Fox said.
“I think one thing is for sure,” Ziering said. “Anywhere there is a coastline, there is a possibility of a sharknado.”
An audience member asked whether there was a possibility of a Sharknado feature film. Ferrante said Syfy has done a terrific job of branding the series and foresees a long future of annual TV movies. “I think to stay true to what we’ve created, it almost has to stay on TV,” he said.
The question that drew the biggest reaction from the audience came from a young man who said, “You’ve explained several times that you don’t really care about the science or the believability, but as a nerd, I need to know: How many sharks are there in the average ‘nado?”
“Let’s just say there are about 300 sharks in the average ‘nado,” Ferrante replied to laughter from the crowd.
He also nixed the possibility for a crossover with any of Syfy’s other B-movie franchises. “I think we need to keep it pure,” the director said. “If we start adding other things to the sharknado, like horns or tentacles, it takes away from the magic of it. I think as long as you can continue to tell stories with action set-pieces, this thing can go on forever.”