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
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.