Posted January 21, 2011 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Features
 
 

Director Andrew Traucki


The terrifying ‘The Reef’ DVD hits UK shores on Jan 24. It is based on the true story of five friends who set out on a pleasure sail along the Great Barrier Reef
but when their boats capsizes they are left miles from land. Deciding to
start to swim to safety they soon realise they are being hunted by a great white man-eating shark. It stars Damian Walshe-Howling, Gyton Grantley and Adrienne Pickering. Director, writer and producer of The Reef,
Andrew Traucki, takes some time out of the water to talk to Alex Moss.

This is your second film, after Black Water, dealing with man-eating beasts, what is it that draws you to these subjects?

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.

Like your previous film Black Water (photo below), The Reef presents us with very real footage of the animals, how do you set about getting this?

With a lot of patience and a certain amount of stupidity!

Unlike all previous shark films its clear that most of your shark footage is real, was there ever a point where your actors where in danger?

Yes, there were times they were in danger. One of them even trod on a Stone Fish and spent a day in hospital on morphine. The DVD comes with a making off where you can see how we did all the shark filming.

The film is effective due to the limited use of the actual shark, was this something you set out to do or was it a result of budget?

This was a deliberate decision, indeed I had more shark shots in the film but cut it back. I am a strong believer that suspense in a thriller and that’s what I consider The Reef to be, is much more about anticipation than overt action. I am a big believer in the Stephen King quote, that the monster behind the door is much scarier than the one you can see.

How accurate is the film to the true-life tale it is based on?

It’s very accurate in terms of the broad brush strokes ie a boat did go down on the great Barrier Reef in Australia and the people on that boat did try to swim to shore and were stalked by a very big shark. So yes it is based on true events.

You wrote, directed and produced The Reef, is it hard balancing all three? Surely at times the producer side of you tells the director side that there simply isn’t enough time or money?

Yes it is a hard balancing act but one that ultimately is very helpful. By the time I’m directing I’m pretty much not producing anymore, it would just be too hard. Directing a film is a hugely taxing and exhausting job, especially when directing a film like The Reef which is all on the water. I am producing whilst I write which is great because I know that the script will doable and I resume producing once I have finished filming and go into post.

The saying goes that reality is stranger than fiction, seeing as you like to base your films on actual events is this important to you?

I think there is an advantage to basing a film on true events in that it makes it more credible and easier for an audience to relate to, as long as it remains “real”. No matter what sort of drama I am writing I am always trying to make it feel real within the parameters of the world I have created. I don’t want my stories to feel fake and pretentious.

The casting is crucial to having us believe in the reality of the situation, how hard was it to find the right actors to flesh out the characters?

Casting is always crucial but even more so in a four hander like The Reef. I spent a lot of time casting and thankfully it paid off I think the cast of The Reef are wonderful, not only are their performances great but they worked tirelessly under very difficult conditions.

The concept of the film is very primeval, what is your greatest fear?

I surf, so on a cloudy day with not many people in the water I can manage to scare myself about big bities in the water. On a more mundane, daily basis I guess my greatest fear is the fear of dying not that I wake up every day and think I’m going to die today but just that you know in the end we all have to go.

The key question of the film is, ‘What would you do in this situation?’ so what would you have done?

Well the traditional wisdom is to stay with the boat, however I have read accounts where the people who stayed with the boat were never found whilst those that swam were rescued. That’s kind of what I like about the peril in both Black Water and The Reef, neither decision ie stay or go is a good decision, you’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place. Personally, I kind of think your destiny is in your own hands so I think I might have swam, gulp.

The Reef is out on DVD on 24 Jan.


Marcia Degia - Publisher

 
Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.