Stars of the SyFy cultural juggernaut "Sharknado" joined Hollywood's best and brightest for a midnight screening gala Friday. Michael Welch ("Twilight"), Richard Grieco ("21 Jumpstreet"), and "Saved by the Bell's" Mr. Belding, Dennis Haskins, were all in attendance as well as the film's director, Anthony C. Ferrante.
Ferrante is used to using the web to generate interest in his films. "I was manning the Facebook page and we created a little 'Sharknado' army, so we just thought we were going to get the horror fans." But it quickly grew beyond his control. "I couldn't keep up with it; it just blew up. I knew we could engage people, but I didn't think it would be what this was. It was appointment TV which you don't get anymore, but we didn't organize it."
He credits his small-town upbringing with some of the film's success. "Every movie I've done has always been set in a small town; this is the first movie I've done set in Los Angeles." In fact, Ferrante wrote the bar scene to give it a small-town feel. "I want you to like the characters because the rest of the movie they're just running around going 'Ahhhh!' And so when we sat down and did the scene, we just workshopped it. There was a script, but I encouraged everyone to improv." Which is what sets it apart, perhaps, from similar fare. He revealed, "My favorite review commented on how much they liked [the bar] scene because it felt like you knew who these guys were and I think that's what made it special."
[GIFs: 10 of Pop Culture's Best Sharks]
Though his name will likely forever be associated with sharks, Ferrante doesn't really have a history with the beasts. "I was never a big shark fanatic. What was exciting was how can we do things with sharks that haven't been done before." It was the thrill of the new that drew him in. "Without the water, you've got all this stuff and that's when we decided let's shoot them out of the sky, let's slice them in two."
There have been rumors that Tara Reid wouldn't be back, but Ferrante chalks it up to people just looking for a juicy story. "I still think the heart of the movie is that everybody likes the family dynamic. If I had my way, I'd try to find a way to shoehorn everyone because I think they're just fun people."
So, "Sharknado 2" is already greenlit. Are there plans for more? "I think it's endless. I think the hardest thing we're going to have with Part 2 is we're going to have to live up to Part 1." Any ideas for topping Ian Ziering going into a shark? "The one thing I've been joking about but now I'm getting sold on is doing a shark-ferno thing with a skyscraper where it fills up with water and sharks."
"We'll come up with something, we'll figure it out."
Additional reporting by Lia Haberman.