Great White Director Martin Wilson on Breathing New Life Into the Ocean-Based Horror Film

For so long as people have been venturing out into the ocean, individuals have been afraid of sharks, figuring out that we’re of their area and that any flawed transfer may include disastrous outcomes. Again in 1975, Steven Spielberg took the phobia to a brand new degree together with his adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws, which set the usual of what could possibly be completed in shark-themed thrillers. Filmmaker Martin Wilson, nonetheless, rose to the problem of discovering new methods to discover tales set on the water, together with his new movie Great White not solely honoring what Speilberg completed, but additionally discovering new views and themes to discover to craft a wholly new expertise. Great White hits theaters, On Demand, and Digital July sixteenth.

In Great White, a blissful vacationer journey turns right into a nightmare when 5 seaplane passengers are stranded miles from shore. In a determined bid for survival, the group tries to make it to land earlier than they both run out of provides or are taken by a menacing terror lurking just beneath the surface. The movie stars Katrina Bowden (30 Rock, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil) Aaron Jakubenko (Tidelands), Kimie Tsukakoshi (Riptide), Tim Kano (Neighbours), and TeKohe Tuhaka (Love and Monsters, The Lifeless Lands).

ComicBook.com caught up with Wilson to speak about creating the movie, the challenges of the shoot, and capturing the spirit of the journey.

great white movie martin wilson director interview
(Photograph: Shudder/RLJE Movies)

ComicBook.com: You are in Australia now and also you grew up in Australia. I am in America, so my connection to sharks is completely different than somebody from Australia. Rising up, what was your connection to those fish?

Martin Wilson: Nicely, in Australia, we’re an island, we’re surrounded by water in all places, and we go to the ocean quite a bit as a result of it is scorching. So there’s at all times a lurking hazard of nice whites. It is enormous right here. Individuals get taken year-round, so there’s at all times that risk. And you are taking your life into your individual arms while you go within the water. It is simply the way in which it’s. It is virtually an accepted factor. It is a fairly radical mind-set, however I imply, the possibilities are slim, nevertheless it’s there. It is at all times there. There’s at all times the joke within the water, or somebody doing the Jaws theme.

You point out Jaws, and that is not solely a seminal shark-horror film, nevertheless it’s one of many biggest films of all time, I’d say.


When it got here time to inform your individual shark-horror film, what had been the issues that you just wished to honor about that subgenre and what had been the issues that you just actually wished to do in another way to set this film aside?

That is an superior query, Patrick. I feel you do not exit to retread Jaws. It is inconceivable. It is the very best watermark. It is one of many biggest films of all time. It is certainly one of my favourite movies. It is timeless for me, timeless.

For me, although, while you’re doing a movie on the water, action-adventure, and you have got 25 days, what do you do? You return to all of your heroes, all of your favourite filmmakers, your Hitchcocks, your Steven Spielbergs, your John Carpenters, most of these guys. Dr. George Miller [from] Australia. They simply understood low-budget filmmaking and suspense. And that is what you do. You are making an attempt to screw with individuals’s expectations, suspense-wise, preserve that going. And, hopefully, you obtain that.

The purpose of distinction is a extremely good query, as a result of while you have a look at the movie, I suppose we had been showcasing Northern Australia, tropical Australia. The panorama within the ocean for me was a giant character within the film with a decent, small forged. However how do you broaden that? How do you elevate the style? So I used to be pondering, “Okay, let’s take a look at the panorama, let’s take a look at the ocean.”

Tropical Australia hasn’t actually been represented in a shark movie earlier than. So you have obtained that. It is stunning, it is beguiling, it is epic. It is the shoreline. Then the water, it is so stunning and welcoming. What lurks beneath? What is going on on underneath there? So you could have all of these parts after which you could have the sense of local weather change, what’s occurring to the setting. And I wished to provide character, a sound-theme ingredient to the ocean. We used a number of whale cries, that are very unhappy and ethereal. And it is like, what have we executed to the ocean?

There is a scene the place Joji throws, absentmindedly, simply chucks a bottle, a plastic water bottle into the ocean. And that is a bit of second the place we’re saying, “Have a look at what we have executed.” The whole lot’s out of whack, which suggests the sharks aren’t these loopy monster villains. They’re motivated. Their consuming patterns and the whole lot else, their setting has been shuffled and moved misplaced. In order that they’re performing out of their normality, in order that’s all motivated. There’s all these parts of … I attempt to give some extent of distinction. And, in fact, getting these nuanced characters that you just care about on a raft, like Hitchcock’s Lifeboat. So that you’re making an attempt to have all these parts.

For those who had been in a position to do, say, a triple function, the place Great White was one of many movies on this triple function, what do you assume the opposite two films could be to essentially assist individuals get within the mindset of your movie?

Nicely, I suppose it is going into what your tastes are and what will get you excited within the cinema or no matter. All these movies I spoke about are claustrophobic in a manner and filled with suspense and set at midnight, like The Factor, or like Aliens, or most of these films, the place … They are not shark movies, they’re suspense/thrillers. They’re survival thrillers.

That is what Great White is. It is a survival thriller. What goes on within the parts? You have a look at movies like The Gray, for instance, with the wolves. There are all most of these movies which might be epic survival thrillers. What would you do as a human being put into these extraordinary circumstances? That is very a lot what this movie was about.

Rising up in Australia, being an Australian filmmaker, I really feel like there’s one thing completely different that I can not essentially level out, as a result of I am in America, I am used to American filmmakers telling tales about these animals. You talked about showcasing Australia as a panorama, however is there one thing you discover that American filmmakers do with shark films which might be completely different from what you need to do?

I feel everybody’s obtained a special perspective, do not they, as filmmakers, and all of us look in direction of the folks that have made movies earlier than you. And what are their methods and the way do they do stuff? Then you could have your individual upbringing and your individual data and your individual, I suppose, distinctive have a look at the world since you develop up someplace completely different.

You are making an attempt to emulate the perfect components of all these different filmmakers and what they’ve executed with shark movies. And there is been two actually good ones. Clearly, Jaws. Then you could have The Shallows, which I assumed was actually good. That was shot in Australia. Then you could have 47 Meters Down. These two have been fairly good shark movies, I reckon, and fairly good on the manner they use the digital camera within the water and people low-lens issues. In fact, Spielberg arrange all of the stuff with the legs dangling. That is an expectation, in a manner. However when you do it okay, then you definitely get by means of it. As a result of it does, let’s be trustworthy, it does construct pressure.

It is a actually fascinating query. What are the completely different views of filmmakers? You have a look at say The Highway Warrior, which was referred to as “Mad Max 2” in Australia. The top sequence, which is an unbelievable finish sequence, a visceral, what Hitchcock used to name “pure cinema.” That’s an Australian have a look at an motion movie on the finish. It has been copied so many instances by different filmmakers, but that was Dr. George Miller, an incredible filmmaker. He actually is aware of the craft backwards, an unbelievable filmmaker.

I used to be these forms of guys as nicely. I used to be Duel. What an incredible film that’s for me to observe time and again. The suspense that Spielberg simply wrings out of that. And I encourage each filmmaker to observe the DVD, behind the scenes, the place Spielberg does an interview. It is simply an interesting have a look at how he did that in 12 days or no matter, simply superb. He talks about how he had Hitchcock on his shoulder when he was making that.

I’d say that the methods through which Nice White actually exhibits restraint in exhibiting the titular shark, it is vitally harking back to Jaws, within the sense that it isn’t essentially concerning the shark, it is concerning the people who find themselves making an attempt to outlive the shark and their dynamic. Was there a lot evolution of those characters or the story from the script, when you discovered the performers? Or was it just about what the script was on the web page being dropped at life for the film?

As a result of we knew we had 25 days, we knew we needed to actually drill down on these characters and preserve evolving them. Proper right down to while you’re capturing, and I am certain this occurs on a regular basis, however I used to be so aware that these guys needed to … They needed to have one thing to play, as a result of it helps you working with the actors. In the event that they’re getting immersed and concerned within the characters, within the story, you are solely going to get a greater film.

So I used to be working with Michael Boughen on the script, the author. After which I wrote a bunch of bios and questions and deep, again histories for the characters. And people parts, they preserve seeping into the characters and seeping into the script as a lot as I may. So these intervals the place they’re simply on the raft, we had these, I suppose, actual fears and actual feelings come by means of. And that regardless of hating Joji, [I wanted it] to really feel like the whole lot he did was motivated by one thing. It wasn’t simply, “Oh, we’d like a villain.” You understand what I imply? As a result of it is a lot extra attention-grabbing if these reactions and these behaviors are based mostly on his personal fears and traumas.

We have talked about just a few completely different shark movies and shark franchises and, one thing like Open Water obtained a bunch of sequels, Deep Blue Sea obtained a bunch of sequels. 47 Meters Down, that obtained sequel. Narratively, it is simpler to see, “Okay, super-smart sharks. That is how we proceed this Deep Blue Sea narrative.” In the case of Nice White, for instance, may you see a Nice White 2 or an growth of this idea? And what do you assume that may be? What would that core ingredient of your movie, how may that doubtlessly be replicated with a follow-up?

Nicely, you by no means say by no means when individuals do these forms of … when these franchises seem. And also you get it, you perceive why they do it. So perhaps, into the longer term, if the market calls for that and the producers go ahead with one thing else, which is an effective way, too, for instance. Perhaps it is based mostly across the two … I am not going to provide away how the ending works and the way you progress ahead with that. I’d construct it on how the movie ends and goes additional in the event that they had been to ever do this. However, I suppose you by no means say by no means. And it is at all times as much as these guys, they usually can take it ahead.

Hey, I do know among the characters are usually not too far off from an island. As an example they land on an island and it seems it is Mad Max: Fury Highway. And you may collaborate with Mr. George Miller and you bought an image.

Oh yeah. I really like your pondering, Patrick. Good work, man.


Great White hits theaters, On Demand, and Digital July sixteenth.

This interview has been edited for size and readability. You may contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.



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