Interview: The Reef’s Andrew Traucki

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True story, real sharks and The ABC’s of Death

Director Andrew Traucki is back in familiar waters. Tapping into the survival horror sub-genre he mined in Black Water, except he’s steering away from the crocodiles of that film and focusing on sharks this time in the highly effective The Reef, hitting DVD and Blu-Ray this week from Image Entertainment.

Drawing from true events, the film concerns five people who venture out on a boating excursion, only to find their boat torn apart by a reef, leaving these folks stranded in shark-infested waters. The film can be repetitive; however, Traucki does a deft job of generating omnipresent tension with the combination of a real scenario and real sharks. Gulp!

Shock spoke to Traucki about the film via phone.

Shock Till You Drop: In a sub-genre such as this, it’s difficult to deliver on something we have never seen before. What was the key to making this fresh for you and what was it that got you excited about the project?

Andrew Traucki: That was huge from the start, because there have been so many bad shark movies out there. [laughs] I just believed in getting to the truth and focus on the reality of it. I certainly wanted to avoid all of those “sharksploitation” films. It was definitely my intention to go realistic and shocking. I thought about it this way: If I was in this survival situation, what would I do? I love playing that game myself. What would I do, what decisions do I make? The film came out of that thinking.

Shock: You shot the film using real shark footage. A good idea, for sure, but how difficult did that wind up being in terms of meeting your shooting schedule? I can’t imagine it was an easy task to capture a Great White shark on camera when you needed to.

Traucki: It was very difficult, in fact, we brought someone in just to concentrate on shooting the shark to get it right, because we had a tight schedule. It’s also very risky. I went down with another camera man and we shot some sharks. They’re wild animals, so one day they would be there and the next day they wouldn’t, they were just very random. The footage I storyboarded with footage I hoped I would get wasn’t there, so we had to spend a lot of time re-thinking and re-storyboarding so we could make it work. It was a deep part of the film. [sighs] It was just nuts trying to get, but in the end, I think it worked really well and I’m happy we got it in the can.

Shock: On top of that, you’re shooting on the ocean. Always a challenge, too.

Traucki: Very difficult. [laughs] I said to myself repeatedly, “Don’t you ever do this again.” We were under the elements and at one point we got flooded out by a downpour. We didn’t do any of this in a tank, we were out there. So the cloud cover would change, the swell would change, we’ve got expensive camera gear in the water and people would freak out because it’s getting wet. That was hard. Then our lead actor was stung by one of the deadliest fish in the world, so we had to rush him to the hospital and he was on morphine for a day. Being in the water for 10 hours a day, bodies start to wrinkle, the whole crew looked like that.

Shock: Then it wasn’t difficult to get your actors to register fear then?

Traucki: You throw some people in the water – especially where we were filming which had a lot of fish activity – any little splash would spook them out. That came naturally to the girls, especially.

Shock: So you’re going to stay on land for your next film?

Traucki: Very much so.

Shock: You’re involved in this project called The ABC’s of Death.

Traucki: Yes, I got the letter “G.” They asked me to do this project and I was like, “Oh, yeah sure.” [laughs] Not sure what I’m going to do for it yet, but I think it’s a cool project.

Shock: How has the reaction been to The Reef? Have you kept people away from the water?

Traucki: Oh yeah, especially friends. I live in Sydney, Australia and we tend to surf, and I’ve got all of these sharks we filmed in my head. But I’ve had friends who have come up to me saying they can’t watch the film because they love swimming too much. It’s getting into people’s heads, which is cool.

Source: Shock Till You Drop

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