Interview

Interview

Exclusive: We Speak With Shark 'Bait' Sharni Vinson

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Bait 3D is set to take audiences where few shark attack movies ever go: the supermarket. This little Australian film takes place as a freak tsunami hits the coast, flooding everything, including a supermarket that houses your typical cross-section of characters. But while the characters think that their biggest problem is finding a way out of the rubble and avoiding power lines that have fallen dangerously close to the water, they realize they have something else to contend with: sharks. The floods swept in a couple Great White sharks, and they are not happy.

We spoke with star Sharni Vinson about working with sharks, life imitating art, and spending months atop grocery shelves.

What drew you to Bait 3D?

At first it was because I was told it was an Australian project. I’ve never done an Australian film before, so I was definitely looking at reconnecting with my nation and spending some time there. I’ve been in Los Angeles for four years now, and all my family is back in Australia, so I am always looking for a reason to get back there.

The script by Russell Mulcahy is out there. I don’t know how he created what he created when he wrote this, but it was so entertaining to read, so I knew it would be a lot of fun to shoot. I’m always looking for projects that will show me a really great time. If you can enjoy your job, that’s a bonus. I knew this was going to be a lot of fun because I knew a couple of the other cast members. I love these people, and I knew that sitting on a shelf with these people for three months was going to be a ball.

Shark movies, especially nowadays, tend to be hokey B-movies. Were you worried that this film would end up being hokier than you thought?

It’s hard to tell what way they were going to go with it. Reading it, it could have been shot completely tongue-in-cheek. I knew that, as an actress, all I need to do is take it seriously. If it happened, and I was stuck in a flooded supermarket, with electrical wires all over, the chance of electrocution, flooding, suffocating, freezing to death... I’d be scared out of my mind! I would have to take it pretty seriously. It actually ended up happening for real. We had horrendous flooding and bull sharks started washing ashore.

No, really?

For real. While we were shooting, Queensland went through these awful storms. We had these floods that came in, and on the front page of the paper, there is a woman standing on her front porch, and the streets are flooded up to her ankles, and there is a bull shark fin in the foreground, going past her in the street. So then you start realizing that this ridiculous storyline that we all laughed at, that we thought could never happen, it actually did happen. Ultimately, it is a light, fun, entertaining movie.

Did those floods happen while you were shooting, or was it something that was more like an inspiration for the film?

It actually happened while we were shooting, which is what was so bizarre. Queensland is known as the Sunshine Coast - it never rains. For the three months I was there, it rained every day except for, I think, five days. 

Did you do all your own stunts?

Absolutely. No one in this movie had a stunt double. I think a [stunt person] rode a jet ski in one scene for legal purposes, but other than that, no one had stunt doubles. There was no need, really. Falling off the shelf was really about as bad as it got. They asked if we were okay with the tsunami stunts, and we all opted to do it. I love action, so I am always the first to put my hand up when it comes to doing my own stunts. We had these amazing huge, huge tanks of water that were like drop tanks. They would open and all this water would just gush out. It was pretty fun because it was just such a rush of water!

Did you have a practical shark or was it all CG?

We worked with three animatronic sharks that were made specifically for this film. We had one that was a full-body, 12-foot shark, then we had a half-body shark, which was just the front half, that was used for ramming. Then we had just the head for close-ups. They really researched sharks, and how their bodies react when attacking. Like when sharks attack, their eyes roll back in their head, so we had that degree of control.

Did you guys have any of those Jaws-like moments where they shark didn’t work?

Like anything built to this degree, you’re going to have technical difficulties. Before we began shooting, when we were in rehearsals, I was there the first time the shark was lowered into the tank. This was when the water was brand new and clear - cause after three months of shooting, it gets murky. I watched it swim for the first time, and it was amazing. The producers and the guys who built it were all waiting with baited breath. There was so much relief when they got it in and watched it swim... it was just so perfect. There were a few days we came in where we were told the shark wasn’t working. No explanation; don’t know why. The computer was down, or it’s just having a grumpy day.

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