20th Aug2013

Interview: Richard Moll & Griff Furst talk ‘Ghost Shark’

by Phil Wheat

ghostshark

Last Fourth of July, teenager Christy Bruce disappeared from a high school beach party. Her severed arm washed ashore a day later. Drunken sea captain Blaise Shaw became a hero to the small seaside community of Harmony after killing the great white shark that was deemed responsible, but the Christy Bruce murder was no shark attack. Blaise turns to ghost hunter Ava Conte, who is skeptical but intrigued by his ghost shark ramblings. With preparations for a massive July 4th celebration rapidly approaching, they soon find themselves embroiled in a conspiracy of sex and murder involving the town’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens. Unprepared to contend with a Ghost Shark that can hunt on land, sea, as well as anywhere there is enough water or rain to sustain its phantom form, Blaise and Ava must uncover the truth about the towns dark past or fall victim to the Ghost Shark.

Ghost Shark premieres in the US on the Syfy channel later this week and anticipation of its debut we got to chat with one of its stars, the legend that is Richard Moll and the films director, Griff Furst.

I was wondering if you guys could each talk about how you got involved with the film.

Griff Furst: I was involved in this film from the ground up really. My partners and I at Active Entertainment met with Tom Vitale and his team over at Syfy and we kind of collectively came up with the title Ghost Shark first, and then after that we went into several different variations on the story that would eventually become Ghost Shark. So, that’s kind of how it all started for us.

Richard Moll: Well, the way I got involved was like this. The phone rang one day and they said, “How would you like to come down to Louisiana and do a movie called Ghost Shark?” And I said, “Well, let me think about it. Okay.” That’s how I got involved, and it was actually my maiden voyage to Louisiana, so there was a pleasure in that. It was a pleasure meeting and working with Griff first.

His father, Stephen Furst, I’ve known for a long while. I don’t know Stephen very well, but I believe he guested on Night Court and of course we know him from Animal House and he was a contemporary of mine on the NBC lineup with St. Elsewhere, because that was going on when Night Court was going on. And I think we might also have worked in a film in the former Yugoslavia, just to show you how far back we go, an NBC Movie of the Week, I think he may have been in that as well.

Could you talk about what you found challenging about your role, Richard?

Richard Moll: Avoiding snake bite, I think, would probably have to be number one on that. But, you know it was fun. It was challenging. I don’t know. It was an emotional rollercoaster. I worked hard on that and I hope I didn’t freak everybody out getting into the various moods, but that was challenging. And, you know just keeping one’s energy up and giving your best every time you could; that’s challenging too. But there’s also a real sense of fun with it because of the type of film it is and the people you were working with and just the excitement of being in Louisiana around Baton Rouge and getting to visit New Orleans one day. They treated us royally at NOLA, you know that wonderful restaurant there…

With the summer and the big Sharknado hit from Syfy, how do you feel like Ghost Shark stands compared to the natural-occurring phenomenon of Sharknado?

Richard Moll: Take it, Griff. Run with it.

Griff Furst: Oh, I think Sharknado was a – it was – I think it’s a nice lead-in for Ghost Shark, I do. Those guys are good friends of ours—the Syfy original filmmakers—It’s very incestuous. So, I worked with that writer and that director before and we’re all kind of rooting for each other, so were all very pleased to see Sharknado become the Twitter phenomenon that is has. And, at the end of the day, they’re very different movies. It’s a very different group of filmmakers, even though we’re all friends, but you know I think they compliment each other nicely.

I don’t know if there’s ever been a Ghost Shark before…

Richard Moll: Actually, when I was trying to find it on the computer I think there was a Ghost Shark film, of all things, out of Australia, I believe. Did you hear about that one, Griff?

Griff Furst: Yeah, somebody sent it to me. There’s a Ghost Shark fan page on Facebook, and I got a link from somebody that said, “Hey, great minds think alike. We made a movie called Ghost Shark,” back in to 2004 or something. And I lost the trail and it was kind of amusing, but they had no shark in their movie. Theirs was like an invisible shark. So, that’s the only other Ghost Shark, or paranormal shark, that I’ve ever heard of. But, I don’t think there’s ever been a full-length, real feature made about a Ghost Shark, until now that is.

And so, I’m assuming that we just don’t have to be afraid of the water, from what I’ve seen. So, the ghost shark can pop up at just about anywhere?

Richard Moll: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Griff Furst: I think Syfy nailed it when they released the trailer with the tagline, “If you’re wet, you’re dead.”

Richard Moll: Yes. I haven’t taken a shower since then. You were talking about the other film, Sharknado, which I enjoyed watching. It was really nicely produced and nice values and everything, and totally believable. But anyway, you know it is kind of incestuous because we realized the producer of that film, Anthony Ferrante, and I worked a long time ago in Romania doing another Syfy project called Headless Horseman. So, there’s another tie-in with all of those folks; just wanted to get that in there.

So there are a lot of awesome deaths in Ghost Shark but which one is your favorite?

Richard Moll: I don’t even remember the deaths. I know mine’s the least favorite because it means I won’t be in the sequel, so that’s the way I look at it. What do you think, Griff, favorite death?

Unless you did a prequel?

Griff Furst: Yes, there’s always the possibility of a prequel. We – Richard and I were actually just talking about that. I’ve lived a lot of deaths and I like a lot of them. I think I probably like the deaths in the montage because they come so fast and in consecutive order. I don’t want to give the specifics of any deaths, but there is a montage somewhere about midway through the film where a bunch of people get it right in a row, so I quite like that moment.

Richard Moll: Maybe it’s a bit of an homage to The Godfather, you know?

Griff Furst: Totally.

Richard Moll: Remember that…

How did you come up with the concept of Ghost Shark?

Griff Furst: How did we decide which direction to take the story?

Yes.

Griff Furst: Before we actually settled on the story that you have seen, there were three very, very different ideas for it. So, we knew what we wanted the villain to be when we first came up with the idea, but we weren’t too sure about the story. So, we worked together with Syfy for probably about six months just on the treatment phase and came up with three different stories. And finally the third one, the guys at Syfy thought we nailed it, and we proceeded with the screenplay from there.

So, it was a bit of a lengthy process, but it was definitely for the best because the stories were very, very different before we actually nailed the right one. So, it was just a little bit of trial and error, and they were all good stories, but finding the one that was perfect took a little doing.

Okay. And what was the snake story that you or Richard mentioned earlier?

Richard Moll: A snake story? Did you mention a snake story?

Wasn’t there something about being afraid of being bitten by a snake?

Griff Furst: Oh, that was just the actual shooting conditions. In the film, when you hear a character say, “Watch out for snakes,” that was kind of our inside joke because the place was filled with snakes. So, we shot about two weeks after Hurricane Isaac came through and it brought a lot of water inland and made our beaches a little more swampy than we had hoped, and the water moccasins were quite fond of our set. So, we had people in boots with rakes and shovels trying to scare snakes away as best they can, but yes, we were dealing with a lot of snakes on the set.

Richard Moll: That or a small alligator. I don’t think it was a bad as we like to paint it. We like to get melodramatic about things, but there were a few swampy areas and you wanted to be careful where you’re planting you feet, but when you’ re going at a dead run through the swamp, it’s hard to make those choices sometimes at midnight. But anyway, it was fun…
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Ghost Shark premieres on the Syfy channel this Thursday, August 22nd, at 9:00pm

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