An exclusive interview with "Snow Shark" director Sam Qualiana.
"We're gonna need a bigger bobsleigh..."
Over the years, there have been several perfectly good reasons to keep out of the water of any appreciable depth. The cinema has shown us that there oceans, lakes and rivers can contain gill-men, crab monsters, pirhana (some of those little buggers even FLY), not to mention huge white whales, giant octopi, crocodiles, alligators, snakes, aliens, slime monsters and mutations of all types, shapes and sizes. Oh, and then we have sharks. There’s an excellent reason to get out of the damn water. Surely nobody who ever saw Jaws can feel truly comfortable - then there’s movies like Adrift and Black Water - there’s really no wonder I never learned to swim, nor have any intention of doing so, despite living in a coastal town.
But those sharks - damn, they’re getting bigger and badder in films like Mega Shark and even cross breeding in movies like Sharktopus.
But now - you’re not even safe on land. There’s a good reason to avoid snow, that has nothing to do with frostbite, hypothermia or just slipping on your ass. There’s Snow Shark!!
Yes - you read that right.
It’s an incredible concept, and bodes well to be one of the funkiest B movies ever to be committed to film and a goofy, fun treat for all of us who love bizarre monster movies. It’s the brainchild of director Sam Qualiana, who kindly agreed to an exclusive interview for this site.
Robin Pierce: Let's kick off with some background.
Sam Qualiana: I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. My family moved to NY when I was young. I've always wanted to make films growing up. I had a very active imagination. In 1998 I got my first video camera and made my first short film with my friends and family. It was a horrible Alien movie! But it was the start of some 90+ short films we made from there out. It wasn't until the last couple years where I stopped making "just for fun" films with friends and got serious into the structure of them.
After screening one of my shorts No Road Out at Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival I won and award for "Filmmaker to Watch" and gained the respect and interest of a large community of local filmmakers. I had already acted in many films, mostly that year. Travelling everywhere from Indiana, West Virginia, PA, and Virginia. But I never realised right here at home in Buffalo there was a HUGE community of filmmakers. Since then I've lent my hand in many of their projects.
I had a couple of short films already filmed but in post-production. Swamp Squad of the Dead (Mostly an experimental film to test out my new equipment) and Like Icarus, Quickly Falling (Still working out some bugs in the SFX). After I got Swamp Squad out of the way I decided to take a break on Icarus until I could get an upgrade on my computer. So I decided to re-boot one of the short films I made 7 years ago, Snow Shark.
The original was incredibly cheesy, but in my mind a clever idea! So I thought I'd make it another short film. I was a little nervous at first and when asking people if they wanted to be in it I would kind mumble out the words "Wanna be in a movie about a killer shark... that moves around in the snow?" The whole concept was laughable if taken completely serious, but that's the beauty of it, it takes its self serious about the idea for a completely ridiculous idea. Right away the buzz started getting huge! Everyone wanted to help and be a part of it. It was overwhelming so I said the heck with it, let's try and make this a feature!
I always have been a HUGE fan of B&W monster flicks that had REAL creatures in them and didn't rely on doing the whole thing in CGI. There is something far more scary about something that you know is real and can touch as opposed to something that you know isn't actually there. There's just something that makes CGI to me not scary.
RP: Who are your influences?
SQ: I have been very influenced by Roger Corman, I love his work. Clive Barker also is a huge influence, especially Night Breed! I love character development. A lot of horror films lack that but Clive can make you feel sympathy for even the monsters. John Carpenter is also one of my idols. He has made some of my favourite films of all time!
RP: Why choose horror over any other genre?
SQ: I chose Horror because I love horror films. I have a very extensive collection of horror films and will give any of them a try. As a kid I was always terrified of them and wouldn't watch anything but once I got into my teens I finally faced my fears and watch the one that scared me the most Child's Play, and yes my older brother actually paid me money to stop being a wimp and watch it. I couldn't even glimpse at Chucky without having nightmares before that. After seeing it and actually enjoying it, I became obsessed with the genre and wanted to see everything! Horror films are fun, they have a huge following of dedicated fans. To me they bring more creativity and imagination than a lot of other films. In the realm of horror your boundaries are limitless.
RP: Let’s get to the meat here - let’s talk about Snow Shark. There’s quite a bit of buzz about it particularly on Facebook, where I first heard of it. What’s it all about?
SQ: The breakdown of Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast goes like this:
12 years ago during a scientific expedition 3 animal biologists stumbled upon a great discovery that ended in tragedy. Whatever killed them has awoken and now the legend of the Ancient Snow Beast could prove to be more than just a legend!
We are early into production so we haven't filmed a lot yet, but we are moving along pretty smoothly. We've had a great time on set so far. This is the first time I've got to direct a lot of the cast and they are very awesome! Jason Beebe, who I worked with in CRIMSON: The Motion Picture (another local production by Ken Cosentino) was only supposed to be in one scene in the film seeing as I really wasn't aware of his talent because we both played small roles in CRIMSON. But after having him on set his performance was great and I added more scenes in the script for him. He not only acted, but he helped out behind the scenes as well as took most of the BTS photography throughout the day. That is the best part of the cast and crew so far, not only do they act, they help whenever and wherever they can.
RP: A shark that can move about in the snow ? You’ve definitely got the concept for a cult movie there, but in the film’s tone, are you serious or are you playing it for laughs?
SQ: The script is written to be taken completely seriously. Every character, even when delivering laughable lines, will be 100% serious about what is going on. That doesn't mean I expect people not to laugh. Honestly it's made to be funny in a very serious fashion. That's what makes it funny.
RP: We've had Mega Shark, Sharktopus, a whole slew of mutant shark movies recently, any idea why the sudden upsurge in giant mutated shark monster movies? Are we seeing a new trend?
SQ: I wouldn't say that with all the Mega Shark, Ultra Dolphin and Croc-a-Dino-Turtlesaur movies coming out had anything to do to inspire me. As much as I am such a sucker for all of them and buy before watching them (laughs). I just really wanted to re-boot something I worked on before and with all the wonderfully miserable snow were getting, why not do Snow Shark?
RP: I understand you’re still in the process of raising the money to complete the project. How’s the funding drive going?
SQ: We're raising funds on Indiegogo.com. This is a pretty hard thing to do for a lot of filmmakers but it's moving a long pretty nice so far. It's a great way for fellow filmmakers who want to be a part of it to lend their hands in the project and even get credits in the film! We're offering lots of rewards. DVDs, Producer credits, a walk on role and more. It also helps fans connect with us that want to be a part of the film. Check it out here.
RP: What comes next, after Snow Shark ? Any other projects lined up?
SQ: When Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast is finished, I am in talks with Jonathan Moody about directing a Sasquatch vs. Yeti film. We need to work out some funding details to get that afloat. I also have "my passion project" which is a feature length vigilante film which I am keeping very hush hush until I get it started. John Renna, my SPX guy and the mastermind behind the film IT'S IN BACK is working on a film called The Wrong Guy which I will be helping out with too. I have lots of other films I plan on acting in throughout the year as well and I am always ready to do more!
My thanks to Sam for taking the time out of his busy schedule for the interview. As the filming progresses, there'll be updates directly from Sam right here, along with some behind the scenes photos, so keep checking back.
In closing, one small advisory - keep away from the snow!
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