After the viral success of 2013’s “Sharknado,” Thunder Levin returns to the writing room to pen the sequel, a new disaster adventure set in the streets of New York. “Sharknado 2: The Second One” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday on SyFy.
How did this crazy idea first come about?
Unfortunately, it was not my idea. Anthony Ferrante, the director, was writing a movie called “Leprechaun’s Revenge” and there was a throwaway line of dialogue that mentioned a “sharknado.” It was just a passing line in the movie, and then at some point someone at Syfy decided, “Hey, ‘Sharknado,’ we should make a movie about that.”
What was your first reaction to the movie’s final name?
I said, “What does this movie have to do with the treaty organization?” I thought they said “Shark NATO.” But they said no, a tornado filled with sharks. So they gave me about half a page of notes of what they thought it could be, and I said I think this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen, and if we can make it that ridiculous, I’m in.
What was the process of developing such realistic shark visual effects?
They have just an insanely short amount of time. On “Sharknado,” I think they had 500 visual effects shots. But they had a few people doing for two months or less what a studio film would have a team of people working for six months to a year. The fact that they got some shots that look pretty good is pretty incredible. And admittedly, some of them aren’t pretty great, but that’s just the nature of the movies.
Did anyone on the crew of either “Sharknado” movie ever take inspiration from real sharks for their work?
You know, “Sharknado” started out as a documentary. I don’t understand why people don’t understand that. I’m sure the visual effect guys studied sharks to get the movement and everything. But no sharks were harmed in the making of this film, to be clear.
How was the night of the first film’s premiere from your eyes?
The first movie I saw for the first time the night it aired on Syfy and my Twitter went crazy. It was funny because Ferrante and I didn’t meet until he finished shooting. I just waited until it premiered on Syfy, and of course, everything went crazy. By the end of the night, it was the greatest night of my life; it was surreal. There was Damon Lindelof commenting, Mia Farrow, Wil Wheaton — it was kind of extraordinary.
Were you a part of the planning to make “The Second One?”
Again, this was another situation where I had really no involvement whatsoever. I found out that they wanted the second one set in New York by reading it on the Internet, and I saw the Twitter-chosen title by seeing it announced on the Internet. My subtitle was — I had two; I had suggested “Sharknado 2: Live on Broadway” or “Sharknado 2: The Great White Way” and they didn’t go with either of those.
Are you a fan of the official subtitle?
It’s funny, at first I wasn’t thrilled, I thought it was kind of mundane. But through the process, we ended up referring to it as “the second one” anyhow. You talk about the first one, then the second one. I came to appreciate the title more and more as the process went on. And now it just seems obvious.
How did you best take advantage of the New York setting in your story?
I guess the most obvious answer to that is our use of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. But I’m a New Yorker; for me, it’s the little moments of New York life that appeal to me the most: the cab in traffic trying to get through Times Square. A scene that didn’t end up happening is a scene where Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) is pining for a really good slice of pizza that he couldn’t get in L.A. That’s me, that’s how I feel on a daily basis.
How did the shooting of all of the sequel’s celebrity cameos go?
Most of the cameos were done after the script, so I wasn’t really writing for particular actors. The only ones in the finished film that I wrote for specifically were Matt Lauer and Al Roker. We had a feeling they really needed to be in it from the beginning. I wrote a bunch of other cameos, because we knew we would have celebrities. I wrote a really funny cameo for George Clooney and Brad Pitt, but we didn’t get them. I don’t know how that happened.
Do you have any aspirations for the inevitable “Sharknado 3”?
We have not had any official discussions about that, so anything I say about that is strictly me. I think it needs to bigger, it needs to go international. I need to see a global sharkpocalypse. I wouldn’t mind Paris or Sydney or Rome or Washington D.C. I think we need to spread out a bit.
What makes sharks such convincing enemies?
You know, sharks aren’t the bad guys here. They’ve been sucked out of the home, they get sucked into a tornado only to come crashing down. And then, to be called the only animals in the world to prey on men? That’s why they’re so cranky. I think they’re widely misunderstood in this movie.