If you've ever wanted to experience the thrill of swimming with the sharks without the risk of dismemberment, then you might want to take the plunge with Open Water 3: Cage Dive, which is in theaters and available On-Demand and on Digital HD beginning August 11th from Lionsgate. For our latest Q&A feature, we recently caught up with director Gerald Rascionato and star Joel Hogan to discuss the making of their new water-centric movie.

Gerald, the found footage approach to this story makes the viewer feel like they’re swimming with the sharks. How did you go about filming the first-person POV shots?

Gerald Rascionato: I wanted the film to look authentic, but I made sure to get a Sony hand-cam that had a very good self-stabilizing lens. Even though the film is shot POV, I didn’t want the footage to look too shaky like in some other found footage movies. I also got an underwater casing for the camera, but I had to modify the casing because there wasn’t one made for the model handy-cam that I wanted with the best stabilization. The intense shark attack scenes were all mapped out beforehand with storyboards and the visual effects team, but it was made to look like it was all happening for real.

What was the shooting schedule like for Open Water 3?

Gerald Rascionato: It was pretty brutal for those of us who got sea sick. We went out with a boat in the ocean for 10–12 days shooting the open water scenes. We had at least four separate shoots like that. As anyone can imagine, it was difficult shooting in the ocean because there isn’t a lot you can control. A lot of the scenes were shot over and over again until we got it right. For most of the water shoots, we had a diver to keep an eye out for real sharks because we were shooting in the actual ocean without any nets.

Where did filming take place on this project?

Gerald Rascionato: The film was shot in a few locations. First beginning in Los Angeles and then we flew to South Australia to do the real shark cage dive. After that we flew to Queensland, where the water was a little warmer, to shoot the open water scenes.

Did you encounter any challenges from filming in the water as opposed to a land-based shoot?

Gerald Rascionato: It was a little difficult treading water the entire time while holding the camera. I was in the water filming with the actors. I was concerned a lot for continuity of the sky and the changing water conditions inside of a scene, but it all worked out fine, thankfully.

When you look back at your time making this movie, is there a particularly funny or memorable moment that stands out?

Gerald Rascionato: The moment that stands out not only from the shoot but also in my life, is when we finished filming an open water scene with the actors and they swam back to the boat. I stayed in to capture some B-roll footage of a ship in the distance. After I got the shot I suddenly felt this eerie feeling being the only one left in the water. Everyone else was back on the boat by now. I swam back to the ladder and I called out for someone to take the camera so that I could take my flippers off to climb up onto the boat.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp tug on the bottom of my right flipper, pulling my leg. I looked down and saw a large black shadow in the shape of a shark. I was paralyzed with fear and screamed for my life. The shadow came closer and closer to the top of the water. Suddenly, it burst out of the surface on top of me and it was Pete Valley (Greg, the Australian cousin in the film) playing a prank. I was still screaming out of joy that I was alive. I experienced a shark attack without the actual attack. It was a moment that will stay with me forever. Quite frightening when you have sharks on the brain.

Do you have any favorite shark movies that influenced or inspired you while making Open Water 3?

Gerald Rascionato: The main one has to be Jaws, of course. It’s not only a great shark movie, but also one of the greatest films ever made. Other inspirations include the previous Open Water films, Deep Blue Sea, and The Reef.

With Open Water 3 Cage Dive out now in theaters, VOD, and Digital HD platforms from Lionsgate, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?

Gerald Rascionato: I am so excited about the future. The hard thing is containing myself and focusing on one thing at a time because there are so many movies I want to make. Fortunately, my taste in film ranges further than just the horror/thriller genre. It’s too early for me to speak about a particular project, but I can say that anyone who likes films made by Spielberg, Cameron, and Zemeckis, particularly from the ’70s,’80s, and ’90s, are going to love my films.

You can find me on IMDb and my contact info (if you are a member) and I’m on Facebook. I’m the only Gerald Rascionato out there. I look forward to sharing my movies with the world.

Joel, the found footage approach to this story makes the viewer feel like they’re swimming with the sharks. What was it like acting with that approach to the camerawork?

Joel Hogan: It was very liberating in most ways. It allowed us, the actors, the freedom to acknowledge the camera, look into the lens, handle the camera, speak directly to whoever may watch the footage being captured, etc. Whereas in a conventionally shot film, you have to completely deny the camera's existence.

You’re swimming a lot in the film. Were you an avid swimmer before coming onto this project? Was that part of the auditions?

Joel Hogan: I had the great fortune of growing up in a particularly beautiful part of Australia, not far from the ocean and surrounded by pristine rivers and creeks, so I have always been an avid swimmer. My second-cousin, James Roberts, is actually on the Australian Olympic swimming team!

Showing our strength as a swimmer was not a part of the physical audition process, but if one of the actors auditioning had been a particularly weak swimmer, I'm sure it would have affected their castability for the lead roles, as we had to spend so much time filming in the actual ocean, in somewhat dangerous conditions.

Were there any particular challenges or rewarding moments from being in the water for most of the shoot?

Joel Hogan: One particularly challenging moment was during the start of our open ocean shoot, while we were filming off the back of Captain Pablo's boat, Amazon. We were filming a scene where there was a lot of debris floating around in the water. This debris was made up of different plastic and wooden objects that were attached to multiple fishing lines and tied onto the back of the boat. Us actors had to then swim around amongst the debris while performing a short scene with dialogue. We kept getting our hands and feet tangled up in the fishing line, all while trying to swim against a strong current. I even ended up cutting my foot on some sharp plastic, which started to bleed, making it even more treacherous being in the water.

When you look back at your time making this movie, is there a particularly funny or memorable moment that stands out?

Joel Hogan: A particularly funny moment for me was when we were doing the shark dive in South Australia. Gerald, Megan, Josh, and I were all about to go underwater in the cage for 45 minutes straight, where we wouldn't be able to speak to each other and needed to come up with some "very clear" underwater hand signals so Gerald could direct us through the scenes we were about to shoot.

Before climbing into the cage, we all stood around and came up with the hand signals that Gerald was going to use with us. We all agreed on them and jumped into the cage.

Now underwater, we went through and filmed the first scenes we had discussed. But, then Gerald started making very indistinct hand signals describing the scenes he wanted us to do next. We all looked at him and his new, unestablished, highly elaborate hand signals, completely puzzled. Megan, Josh, and I all shrugged our shoulders, letting Gerald know we weren't sure what he was trying to communicate with his improvised hand signals. Gerald then started playing underwater charades with us, as he floated around the cage bumping into the sides, trying to act out what he wanted us to do for the next scene. Bubbles were going everywhere as we were all cracking up, laughing at Gerald's struggle to direct underwater and his "throwing out" of our prearranged hand signals.

What was it like collaborating with director Gerald Rascionato?

Joel Hogan: It was nothing but an absolute honor and adventure working with and being directed by Gerald. He is an extremely kind, dedicated, talented, generous, and fun person to be around and work with. He is an intensely ambitious man on a mission, with a very clear vision of what he wants in his head, but is also able to adapt to any changing conditions or suggestions.

He is on his way to becoming one of the great filmmakers of his generation. What he has been able to accomplish with this film, being his first feature, just goes to show that he is a force of nature that will continue to achieve whatever it is he sets his mind to. I am forever grateful to be a part of this experience with him and look forward to the many more that will come.

Were there prosthetic sharks or fins in the water for the actors to react to, or were they added in digitally after filming?

Joel Hogan: There were no prosthetic sharks or fins used in this film, it was all either real Great Whites or CGI, done by the amazing visual effects team, Important Looking Pirates.

With Open Water 3: Cage Dive in theaters and available On-Demand and on Digital HD beginning August 11th, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?

Joel Hogan: I am just about to finish shooting a very cool crime thriller, currently titled Chameleon, written and directed by the amazingly talented Marcus Mizelle, in which I play a young man who seduces and takes advantage of wealthy women in and around Los Angeles.

I am also writing and producing several other feature film projects at the moment, which I look forward to sharing with you all in the coming years!

Readers can feel free to find me on:

IMDb at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3187567/

Instagram @joelahogan

Twitter @JoelAHogan

Facebook at Joel Hogan.

Thanks for all the support everyone, love to you all, from Joel!

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.