Not since Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) took the-shark-as-monster to a cinematic high-point (and turned the exploitation film into a tentpole Hollywood blockbuster tradition in the process) has the shark been so monstrously omnipresent on film. They’re everywhere. Swarming in their thousands (Shark Swarm), harassing folk lost at sea (Open Water), being genetically enhanced by scientists who should know better but who persistently refuse to watch horror movies (Deep Blue Sea, Dark Waters), getting hybridised into Sharktopi (Sharktopus), coming back as phantoms (Ghost Shark 2), awaking from prehistoric sleep (Megalodon, Dinoshark), growing into Godzilla-sized menaces and fighting assorted giant monsters of other species (Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus), even taking to the air (Super Shark) — the list is enormous. Monster-shark movies have pretty well-turned into their own subgenre. But where do they go from here?
The answer’s obvious: the sea is all very well, but taking to the land is an obvious next evolutionary step. True, Sharktopus walked on land using his cephalopodic legs, as did Super Shark, but consider how much creepier it would be to see the shark’s characteristic fin skimming toward you across the ground. Sharks swimming through the earth? Sounds good to me. A new film, Snow Shark, may not do exactly that, but having the selachimorphic monster swimming through snow is a splendid intermediary step!
Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast (US-2011; in production; dir. Sam Qualiana)
A team of animal biologists stumbles upon a great discovery that ends in tragedy. Seven years later, locals begin to disappear. In the present, a new team of cryptozoologists seeks the truth behind the legend of the Ancient Snow Beast.
Filming has begun in Buffalo, in a snow-bound environment that would try the patience of any film crew, let alone a shark. But writer, director, cinematographer and actor Sam Qualiana is happy with the progress they’ve made. “Production has gone smoothly so far,” he said. “It’s been rough with the cold weather and trying to keep snow out of the camera lens, but we’ve had a pretty good setup so far to prevent the snow from ruining any shots. I’m hoping to have [Show Beast] filmed before May and ready for the festivals soon after.”
Sam Qualiana on location with Jason Beebe
Taking the lead from low-budget king Roger Corman, Qualiana (who received the Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival’s “Filmmaker to watch” award last year) began this feature film project with a title, a poster and a teaser (above), even before he’d finished the script, let alone begun the casting. He sees the film as a cross between Jaws and Carpenter’s The Thing.
“I always have had a fear of sharks,” says the 24-year-old filmmaker. “Not a lot of things scare me, but sharks terrify and fascinate me at the same time. I can’t go very far into the ocean without turning around and even swimming in a lake gives me the willies. No other creature has freaked me out so much. Crocodiles never even bothered me and they can go on land and water. But the thought of a shark on the land seemed like something insane but horrifying to me. It was going to just be a short to re-boot something I had made years ago but all the buzz and support I got made me turn it into a feature.”
With a cast that includes (apart from Qualiana himself) Jackey Hall (of Chainsaw Cheerleaders and Trick or Eat fame) and a includes a number of actors who have appeared in assorted low-budget genre flicks lensed in Buffalo recently, such as Michael O’Hear, Robert Bozek, Chris Wroblewski, and John Renna (who is also contributing special make-up effects).
Jackey Hall as Daphne, getting ready to cheer
CJ Qualiana as Sheriff Donald Chapman
Trying to convince the Snow Shark to come out for a publicity shot
Actually, Qualiana has no intention of letting the shark reveal itself ahead of time. “We’re going to keep what the creature looks like a secret until people see the movie,” he commented to the Backbrain. “Keep the suspense and anticipation up as much as we can. It’ll be worth the wait!”
Preparing to brave the elements
Re-considering braving the elements
Lots more first-day production stills and cast photos can be found on the film’s Facebook page.
Like many other micro-budget filmmakers, Qualiana is attempting to bolster his budget through the online fundraising organization Indiegogo. “We have started a fundraiser on Indiegogo.com where we are asking for a goal of $3,000 to put towards helping fund the film,” Qualiana commented. “It’s a great way to get in touch with other independent filmmakers and fans that want to help support the film even if they can’t be around to lend a hand.”
- Sources: Sam Qualiana; Press release. Info via Avery Guerra. Text by Robert Hood.
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