Interview Jose Prendes of “Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark”
Posted on January 25, 2014 at 8:00 am
When you were growing up did you enjoy watching a lot of scary movies?
Oh yeah. I was an only child. God bless my parents, they did not give me limits so I could watch Freddy and Jason and all that stuff. I definitely grew up in that. “Jaws” was one of my favorite movies and up to this day it has left a lasting impression on me. I’ve been a huge horror movie geek for a long time.
There are many kinds of scary; what do you think is the scariest?
You know, it really depends on the material and the director, the script and stuff like that. I find, I am not so much scared by slashers, things like that. I think the supernatural movie is what terrifies me, this stuff that we don’t know – the unknowable I think is always frightening. The haunted house movies get me. Monster movies not so much. Definitely stuff that changes the world around you. It changes it in a way that you’ve never seen before; that’s the kind of stuff that really, really takes me by surprise, really impresses me and leaves me with that eerie feeling. I think it’s actually hard to scare me because I think I’ve seen it all but if a movie can put me on a ride that have never been on then that is something I always look forward to.
What do you think about the recent trend of air quote-type scary or meta-type scary where it is sort of making fun of scary stuff at the same time that it is scary?
One of my favorite horror movies of all times is, definitely I think is the birth of that, “Scream.” I love that movie. I think it is a brilliant script. I don’t think anyone has been able to do it as well. Horror is losing its feet a little bit especially nowadays when everyone knows how movies work. With the advent of behind-the-scenes and all the special features on DVDs, we know how movies work and we are all little bit more savvy so it’s a little trickier to get people. I am not a huge fan of the meta-horror but I can’t say I am not a huge admirer of the grand daddy of the meta-horrors.
Tell me about “Mega Shark versus Mecca Shark. How did that project come together?
It is from the studio that did Sharknado. And mega shark is one of their biggest franchises. There are two other movies; Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and I think the second one is Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus. Before “Sharknado,” that was their big claim to fame series.
After “Sharknado,” the producers came to me and I was looking for something to do and they said basically give us two giant sharks fighting each other; and that’s pretty much how they and I came together. I wrote this script in about, with rewrites and everything, in about two months or so and then it was a quick production turnaround time with those guys.
Everyone tunes in to see the giant sharks fight with each other but you have to have some dramatic interest in it too. So, how did you go about creating the human story?
Yeah, actually that’s the tough part. As a writer, that’s the kind of stuff that you really want to do because people might come and watch the movie in a tongue-in-cheek way or just for laughs. But, if you can give them believable characters and characters that you like, human beings, then they will stick around and they won’t just come for laughs and things like that. So that’s kind of been a big thing for me, to kind of deliver that kind of movie but still have somebody that you really care about. And that was the toughest fight in pre-production. You try to get little character bits here and there but eventually it’s an effect movie so it’s a big monster brawl type of thing and at the end of the day you have to kind of understand that and find a way to sneak in little hidden character bits that people will catch and go, “oh, that’s kind of interesting.” Again, I wasn’t directing so I couldn’t little touches to the performances but me and the director were really on the same page building unique and honest characters.
How closely do you work with the effects people?
Well, it’s tough because of the effects part is the last thing that goes into the movies. So, the producers would say, “We have a limited number of effects shots.” Let’s say for example you’ve got 200 effects shots which means now in this script, I have to be careful with how much action I put that involves CG and things like that.
And, it becomes tough especially if you have to cut character stuff and they still want nonstop action but you don’t have enough effects shots to cover all the CG effects action so it’s sort of a struggle. And, at the end of the day I think we try to limit as much as possible but still deliver a shootable script.
We usually go over the effects shots but that’s okay. On kind of a tight budget it’s really difficult to shoot the works and go all Michael Bay with it because that’s not a luxury that you have.
Part of me wanted to play with that, like, “Hey let’s have fun with this. We are not making something that is super serious.” Sometimes that was a battle because the producers wanted us to take it seriously. That’s the kind of product they want and in short, you’ve got to do your best. That’s why when people kind of comment on these movies and they say, “Why did it seem so joyless?” And it’s just because they didn’t want any joy.
But they don’t want to make it campy.
Campy is the word they use a lot but it’s hard to avoid camps when it’s about two giant sharks.
Let’s go from one extreme of your being one part of a big project to the other extreme where you have total control; that’s when you write a book and you don’t have to worry about the budget and you don’t have to worry about the producers and you get to do whatever you want to do. So, talk to me a little bit about your book, Sharcano.
You hit the nail on the head. That’s the main reason I wrote it. I was working on Mecca and in the back of my mind I was like, “Man, it’s been a while since I wrote a book and I really miss it, just that freedom and not having to worry about budget for effects shots count and all that stuff.”
I found these amazing publishers Curiosity Quills Publishing and I pitched them an idea and they were like, “How about we do Shark-Cano and it’s the apocalypse and these three super volcanoes erupting, the world is in danger, there is lava and ash everywhere and then sharks from hell start erupting from the mouth of the volcano and they are made of magma and it’s just going to be this big shark on shark fight?” They flipped for it and that was the reason I wanted to do it. I wanted to tell a movie like a horror movie. I want to tell a story like “Sharknado,” or something like “Jaws,” but there were no restraints and I could go Michael Bay with it. That was the fun part of it, just letting loose that imagination.
So, the movie is for people that like that kind of experience but I wanted to show what it would be really be like if someone shot the works and did the most effects shark story ever and that was the idea.
And do you have anything else coming up that we should be sure to mention?
I am in pre-production on a sort of a metaphysical serial killer movie called “The Divine Tragedy” and we start shooting that next month and I have another book coming out in March called Elementary. It’s Sherlock and Watson as 12-year-olds in boarding school in England and it’s very Harry Potter but instead of wizards, they are detectives.