*Interview* James Nunn returns to talk about his latest movie, Shark Bait

Hey James, since we last spoke you have done a few more movies. A highlight being One Shot, I have to ask, how challenging was it shooting an action movie in One Shot?

Nice! Thanks for watching ONE SHOT, glad you enjoyed it! It was a super tough challenge, but I love a challenge, and the cast and crew also loved the challenge! I guess there’s a reason that not everybody does ‘one shot’ movies. A lot has to go right in pre-production and during the shoot, it’s kind of like learning a new way of making a movie to be honest, working out the pace of the movie ahead of shooting rather than relying on the edit, because you can’t hide anything with cuts. You need to be very confident in your decisions. Also, from a directors perspective, (and this was a low budget one shot movie vs some recent others), you lose certain elements of control, there simply isn’t enough time to get everything perfect, so you have to take averages into account. Take 8 might have been a specific actors ‘best’ performance, but all the other actors might have been less strong, VS everyone being ‘great’ in Take 6; or something technical like a camera bump might go against a Take, all manner of issues can ruin the sequences, so you pick the best of what you have for that moment in the movie. There was a need to keep a cool head, keep the cast/crew energy up, and keep pushing on. It’s actually a really unique, often tense, fun way of working!

Scott really does seem like one of a couple of action stars of this generation that could pull this off so smoothly, right?

For sure. The movie was written and designed for Scott 7 years ago after we made Eliminators together, and honestly I don’t think there is anyone else who could have done this so perfectly, especially given the parameters of the shoot, budget, time, etc.. he’s amazing! The hardest working man I know. He’s a human special effect!! And as always he really rose to the challenge! I believe he delivered a really authentic performance; and gave viewers an opportunity to not only see his masterful action prowess, but also see a different dimension to him through his consistent and truthful drama performance. It’s one thing remembering 10 pages of dialogue, but twin that with remembering 200+ move fight choreography, we made him do all that, and he nailed it.

Have you guys anymore action movies planned?

Yes!! But I can’t tell you all of our secrets. I think fans are going to be really excited about the next announcement.

Moving onto Shark Bait, what drew you to the script?

The script and the challenge! And, well… Jaws is in my all time top two movies! (Jurassic Park number 1). And who doesn’t like shark movies?! I like making stuff that I would like to watch! Many years ago I was lucky enough to work 2nd Unit on 47 METERS DOWN and get a taste for sharks. So when the opportunity to direct my own shark movie came along I welcomed it, and I liked the simple concept of the script, and the setup ‘set almost entirely on a Jet Ski in open ocean’ – much like One Shot, I knew it would feel like a technical challenge I could really sink my teeth into. As well as, Nicks (Saltrese) script had some good horror thriller elements and some nice scares. It also felt like a good opportunity to champion a strong female protagonist in a fun way. I felt that a strong female lead was a kind of return to what drew me to my first movie TOWER BLOCK. We were so lucky we got a great actress called Holly Earl to play Nat, she’s going places!

Are you a fan of Shark movies?  

Yes, Jaws 1, and 2 (and maybe 3, I love Dennis Quaid), Deep Blue Sea, The Reef, Bait, 47 Meters Down, The Shallows, definitely the ones which are fun but take themselves a little more serious than shlocky.

Were you worried when signing on that this could potentially go awry especially if the special effects weren’t what you envisioned?

Yes, I was to be honest, VFX are hard to get right, even just on ‘simple’ stuff like muzzle flashes let alone if you’re creating an entire creature! Also, being that we’re all used to watching amazing real life documentaries and shark week footage in 4K we all know (or at least think we know) what a real shark looks like. That makes it tougher. I think you possibly get a bit more forgiveness if you do something almost Alien with VFX. That’s it, I’m doing a sci-fi Alien movie next! Just kidding, but maybe one day. Would love to.

You did manage to get some glorious gore on-screen and manage to make sharks menacing again, do you think modern shark movies have lost the gore and suspense and opted for more cheap thrills? 

Thank you. Tough question. I’m glad you found our shark menacing, that was important to us. Honestly, I dont know how to answer this because there are many movies made these days. Especially in the shark genre, and its a matter of audience taste. I guess the shark genre has it’s own sub genres, because half the audience want serious tone and suspense from their shark thrillers, but half the audience want your Sharknado esc Friday night thrills and laughs, (and no judgement, that franchise is hugely successful!) It was a delicate balance for us, you nailed what we tried to do with your analogy. Thank you!

We can safely say that you avoided treading in them waters and have delivered a fun shark movie! Will you stick around with the ‘creature feature’ genre? Or is it back to the action scene?

Can I have my cake and eat it too? Definitely both, and more to be honest. It’s always about the script, if another good shark movie idea comes my way I’m in. Nobody wants to miss the next Jaws! But creatures and action aside, I’d really love a serious toned crime thriller. Like Heat, or Training Day, have you got one of those?

The sharks looked good, was it a mix of CGI and a prop shark? 

Thanks! At a guess 95% CGI. But there are some prop fins which made it through. We actually made a life sized shark head, but it didn’t work… Bruce from Jaws springs to mind… That said, the head would still have required VFX supplementation so it didn’t kill us in production.

When filming ocean scenes, how do you set that up? Is it hours in a massive water tank?

 Well, wow, this is a big question! It’s very technical, which as you know from above, I love! The majority of SHARK BAIT was actually shot on the ocean for real in Malta (although we did use the tank in Malta too, but that’s for when you need to light big, or have big stunt stuff, dangerous stuff mostly, like when our Jet Ski is breached by the great white, or one of our cast is breached… #spoilers). I could talk about this for hours, it might be easier to make a podcast! 100% you need a talented, cast and crew who are up for an adventure on the ocean, because its tough battling the elements – and we were lucky enough on this job to have just that kind of crew!

What’s next for you after Shark Bait?

I have got some very exciting announcements incoming and will share very soon. Best to check/follow my social media instagram and twitter @mrjamesnunn for exclusives.

Thank you for your time, James.

Thanks for having me and thank you for the kind review of SHARK BAIT. Out now in USA, out UK in June! Cheers!