GOD­DESS OF THE SHARKS

It all came down to the act­ing prow­ess of Hol­ly­wood’s Blake Lively to make the gutchurn­ing scenes from The Shal­lows roar to life

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - PETER MITCHELL

Blake Lively is stranded on a rock 180 me­tres from shore at a se­cluded surf­ing spot that dou­bles as a feed­ing ground for great white sharks.

She is bleed­ing and a large, fe­male great white is lurk­ing around the rock, ready to snatch the Hol­ly­wood beauty.

Then, sud­denly, in the back­ground there are screams.

The screams are not sup­posed to be part of Lively’s new thriller, The Shal­lows.

They are from thrillseek­ers on a roller­coaster at Warner Bros Movie World, where Lively and di­rec­tor Jaume Col­let-Serra partly shot The Shal­lows in a large tank.

The tank was in a sound stage on the stu­dio’s back lot and close enough for the thrillseek­ers’ screams to in­fil­trate while Lively filmed scenes with the shark.

“So here we are in the tank, scream­ing and fight­ing for my life and then I hear peo­ple go­ing: ‘Ye­haaaaaaaaa!’ from the roller­coaster,” Lively laughed. “So if you hear any­one scream­ing in the back­ground it is peo­ple on roller-coast­ers.”

The Shal­lows was also partly shot on the pris­tine Lord Howe Is­land. The 28-year-old Los An­ge­les-born ac­tor raved about her time there and on the Gold Coast, de­spite the in­tru­sion of the roller-coast­ers.

When the ac­tor was not spend­ing in­tense days and nights on The Shal­lows sets, she was en­joy­ing the de­lights of Aus­tralia with hus­band and fel­low A-list star Ryan Reynolds and their young daugh­ter James.

The cou­ple an­nounced in April that Lively is preg­nant with their sec­ond.

“No-one has ever shot there be­fore which was so spe­cial to be the first,” Lively, talk­ing about her Lord Howe Is­land ex­pe­ri­ence, said.

“It’s just such a pris­tine, beau­ti­ful beach, and some of the best food I have ever had in my life was on this is­land of just 350 peo­ple.”

Lively plays Nancy Adams in The Shal­lows, a med­i­cal stu­dent deal­ing with the death of her mother. Nancy de­cides to go surf­ing at a se­cluded beach her mum loved, but that is when she en­coun­ters the shark, is ma­rooned on the rock and the stand-off be­gins.

Cham­pion Aus­tralian surfer Is­abella Ni­chols was Lively’s ad­viser and dou­ble for surf­ing scenes on the film.

“Blake is very strong, very smart and we needed some­body who could take on the chal­lenge phys­i­cally and men­tally and she did,” Col­letSerra said.

“This is a small movie and we didn’t have a lot of money for vis­ual ef­fects. We had to save most of them for the end of the movie, so we had to tell the story through Blake’s face – what she saw, how she re­acted.

“She’s a bril­liant ac­tress and was ab­so­lutely per­fect.”

Span­ish-born Col­let-Serra said he had lit­tle choice but to shoot on the Gold Coast as it was the only movie stu­dio fa­cil­ity in the world at the time that had a large warm-wa­ter tank avail­able. The di­rec­tor, who made the 2005 hor­ror film re­make House of Wax on the Gold Coast, also knew from that ex­pe­ri­ence he could form a highly skilled Aus­tralian crew with ex­per­tise in shoot­ing in wa­ter. The film’s lo­ca­tion man­ager, Dun­can Jones, first sug­gested Lord Howe Is­land as a po­ten­tial site and, in­trigued by the UNESCO World Her­itage-listed site, Col­letSerra and di­rec­tor of photography Flavio Labi­ano em­barked on a mis­sion.

As their plane first ap­proached the is­land af­ter a 2.5-hour flight from Syd­ney, Col­let-Serra and Labi­ano looked out their win­dows, saw the per­fect beaches and knew they had found their lo­ca­tion.

There were plenty of ob­sta­cles on the is­land, with no mo­bile phone ser­vice, lit­tle WiFi and only 400 beds for guests.

They also faced plenty of rules and re­stric­tions in film­ing, par­tic­u­larly build­ing the rock in the cove where Lively is stranded.

But, to shoot in a par­adise that had never been cap­tured be­fore in a Hol­ly­wood film was worth the ef­fort.

“It’s a lit­tle hid­den trea­sure,” Lively said. “Af­ter this film, ev­ery­body is go­ing to want to go there.” The Shal­lows opens to­day

Blake Lively says she worked hard to get in shape for The Shal­lows af­ter giv­ing birth to daugh­ter James.

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