It was one of the '90s most memorable movie scenes. Whether you were a fan of Deep Blue Sea when it came out 1999 or not, the scene with Samuel Jackson vs. that shark was... well, a classic.
And right off the bat, Darin Scott, who directed the action flick's long-delayed sequel, "knew no matter what we'd never match the Sam Jackson moment," an admission he freely admits during an interview with SYFY WIRE. But the Deep Blue Sea 2 filmmaker still thinks that you might want to break out the popcorn for a fun ride that, while it may not have "Sam" getting eaten by a shark, will serve up a surprise or two of its own.
In Deep Blue Sea 2, the genetically altered sharks are back to go after a new group of misguided scientists, who realize too late that being stuck in the middle of the ocean surrounded by smart sharks is a bad idea. It's even worse this time around, sharks are stronger, meaner and smarter this time around. The film stars Danielle Savre, Rob Mayes, Nathan Lynn, and Michael Beach. Deep Blue Sea 2 is available now on home video.
Scott (Tales From The Hood 2) chatted with SYFY WIRE about developing a new spin on the sequel, filming underwater, and why he's been afraid of sharks since he was a kid.
How did you approach this film?
You want to pay respect to the first one but have some unique elements. And then really have fun with it. We had lots of challenges in making a film recognizable as the Deep Blue Sea franchise while still working within the resources that we had. Not as much time or money as the first one had with the production coming 20 years later, but still getting the same type of excitement and thrills out of it. So basically we're just maximizing our resources and having fun with the story.
We wanted to have a unique element. In the first one the big sharks get into the complex. We would have just been repeating that again if not for the idea that they couldn't get into the complex this time. They break it open and then the baby sharks get in. They're like super-terrorizing piranha. Shark-powered piranha.
That was fun. And it's always fun to have smart sharks.
In Deep Blue Sea, in the first one, I think the sharks had an IQ of about 130. In this one we went for genius IQ. They could figure out things, like what are the stress points to hit on this underwater complex where we can bring it down. But they're brilliant, so they figure it out. Especially Bella, the lead shark.
One of the scenes in the film that literally made me squirm, and it's in the trailer too, is the one where the guy has his hand in the shark's mouth while the shark is sedated.
Oh, great! I definitely wanted to stretch that moment out as long as I could... I'm glad it worked. And it was a play off of the scene in the original one. Because in the original Deep Blue Sea the guy gets his arm bitten off. So I knew that by repeating the beat in this film it would be extremely suspenseful because everybody would remember what had happened before and this guy is up to his shoulder in the shark's mouth. Usually when we screen the movie, there's an audible gasp from the audience.
How much of the shark footage was real?
There's very little real shark footage, and what's there is stock, because everything else is CGI actually. The underground scenes we shot, both underwater in the ocean and also in a large Olympic swimming pool at a university there in Cape Town... We blacked out half the pool, so a lot of the underwater stuff was actually shot there. We had this great team called the Frog Squad who were underwater cameraman that specialized in underwater shooting. So that was very helpful.
The Frog Squad. How cool!
I would set up the actors, tell them what they were going to do underwater, and then the Frog Squad would have the underwater cameramen do it. And I'm at the monitor able to give instructions and have the actors act out things sometimes with models of the sharks. And then with CGI we would put the shark in later.
It's amazing how far technology has come. I remember reading about Steven Spielberg's challenges with Jaws with the mechanical shark and underwater filming.
I read that many times and watched documentaries on it. I'm glad we have the technology.
Things have changed. But it still has to be harder to film on water than on land.
Well, it is. Especially when we did have to shoot outdoors. We were shooting during our summer, which is winter below the equator in Cape Town. So it was the dead of winter and the air was cold and the water was cold.
The poor actors...
It was pretty brutal. We had tanks of warm water that we kept near the outdoor tanks and the actors would go in, shoot a little bit and then have to jump out and sit in the warm water for a while to keep their bodies warm.
If it's fairly cold water, I think you've only got about 15 minutes before hypothermia sets in.
Yeah, I think that was about the rotation. Work. Go heat up. Get warmed up. Put 'em back in the water. I knew how cold it was because when things began I jumped into the water to demonstrate a scene for them. I jumped in and I swam around, and the water was about 50 degrees, maybe 48 degrees. I do it and I'm like, "We're going to kick tail in this scene right?" They're all excited and cheering because the director's in the water and everything (laughs). And then I got out and said, "Piece of cake." And then I went [to get warm] and I said, "It's so cold!" (Laughs)
Luckily I imagine you didn't have to get too close to any sharks to film this.
I was glad about that (laughs). I'm afraid of sharks.
Are you more afraid now than when you started filming the movie?
No. About the same. I've been afraid of sharks ever since I saw Jaws as a kid.
I know! That movie scared most of us.
It changed an entire generation.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I'd just say it's going to be a blast. I hope people sit down with some popcorn. It's a popcorn movie. It's a fun ride. That's what we were trying to do is make a fun ride. Hopefully people if they have a third or a fourth as much fun watching the movie as I did shooting it, they'll have a really good time.
What would you like to tell young film students about starting out in the industry today?
As always, it's a tough industry to get into. But the thing that they have now are tools that they carry around in their pocket that have very powerful cameras. So I would tell them to shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot narrative. Shoot story. Shoot them on your camera. Whatever to practice and build your craft because this generation has the most opportunity to do that of anyone.
Here's a look at Deep Blue Sea 2: