Andrew Traucki

Based on a true story, The Reef is the latest entry into the “shark movie” school of horror that has already brought us films such as Open Water and AdriftThe Reef comes from Andrew Traucki, director of the Aussie killer croc movie Black Water that, like his latest effort, was also based on a true life story. I recently got a chance to speak to Andrew to discuss all things shark movie, and just why he’s so fascinated with true-life horrors…

1) The Reef is the second film you’ve directed which is based on a real-life event. What’s the appeal?

I am a true survival tale junky. I love imagining what it would be like to be in a survival situation and wondering what I would do. It just so happens that we have lots of bities and nasties in Australia so many of the survival stories I am familiar with feature large wild animals.

2) Are you afraid of being typecast as either a) the true-life story director or b) the creature-feature director?

You get type cast very quickly in this business but no I’m not afraid. All I have to do is do a film which is true-life or doesn’t have a creature in it and I won’t be the creature feature guy anymore, well assuming it’s a good film.

3) Was the juxtaposition between the gorgeous visuals and the grisly events in the water a conscious decision, or a “side-effect” of the location?

I like the idea of hell in paradise. You know every seems so beautiful and amazing but in fact….So I intentionally tried to make everything as beautiful as possible before the film turns dark.

4) How difficult was it to film on location?

It was extremely difficult. They say never work with animals, children and water, lucky I wrote the baby out of the film (joking). It truly was hard we were in the water for 5 weeks, 10 hours a day 6 days a week, the human body really isn’t built for that. Also this wasn’t shot in a tank but out in nature. Due to the changes in weather the schedule changed every day. It was gruelling.

5) I’ve read an interview recently where you criticize CG in movies – I take it you didn’t use CG in The Reef?

I think I would have been criticizing CG when it’s badly used to make crap looking villains. I’m certainly not against CG when it’s used well but yes we didn’t use it in The Reef.

6) How do you think The Reef compares to your previous film Black Water?

It’s kind of hard for me to judge my own work; it’s up to the audience really. I’m pretty happy with both films, The Reef does feel like a step forward which is good, it feels slightly bigger and hopefully more tense and suspenseful.

7) Obviously when people talk about shark movies they always reference Spielberg’s Jaws. Why do you think that has held up so well, and do you think modern shark movies can compete with such a classic?

Jaws was based on a best selling book and was the first time a shark movie had been seriously made by a major American studio. It was made very well and as such it has become a landmark film, that I think is why it has pretty well stood the test of time. No modern film can compete with Jaws, it was the film that started the blockbusters, indeed it wasn’t so much a film as a phenomena. I certainly wasn’t trying to compete with it. I was trying for a new take on the man in the grey suit.

8) What’s next? Do you plan on sticking to true-life horror for your next film?

Well if anyone has a real life thriller I’d be interested to hear from them but currently I am developing a range of films, none of which are true-life horror.

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