According to Director Chris Kentis and Producer Laura Lau, the desire was to create a film that would "take" the audience into the water. "We made this film because we found the actual incidents upon which the movie is based to be important and moving stories," Kentis says. "Like most great stories, this one is based on a rare occurrence – that’s one of the reasons it’s so shocking and special."
"Open Water" is based on real events and follows a vacationing couple scuba diving in tropical waters who are mistakenly abandoned in the middle of the ocean. As the hours pass, the couple realizes they are not alone as a shark’s fin breaks the surface.
"The film was developed and shot differently than most feature films," Lau points out. "With the advent of digital technology, we decided we wanted to make a digital video feature. We felt the story would benefit from the aesthetic of digital video, which impacts a sense of realism. The intent was to capture the feelings that we felt when we read about these true stories."
Unlike previous movies that involved sharks such as "Jaws" and "Deep Blue Sea", "Open Water" does not use special effects or computer generated images. Instead, actors Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis spent over 120 hours in the water amid a variety of sea life, including real-life sharks, which give the film its chilling authenticity. Every scene in "Open Water" with a shark was shot on location in Nassau, Bahamas.
Both active scuba divers themselves, Kentis and Lau worked together with industry professionals to insure the film’s accuracy. "We wanted to make the film as real as possible, so we hired an actual dive boat. When the instructor is providing a dive briefing in the film, it’s an actual real dive briefing," Kentis says.
According to dive industry professionals who have screened the film, "Open Water" is successful in its desire for authenticity and accuracy. "I felt like I could have been on the dive boat with them. It was that real," said one dive industry pro after viewing the film.
"We knew right from the start that we wanted to work with live sharks. Safety was paramount for us, so we worked with Stuart Cove in Nassau, who is one of the few people in the world who works with sharks in film production," Lau explained. "We could not have made this film without the help of professionals in the dive industry. We hope that our film will get people to think about being better, safer divers," she added with emphasis.
"Open Water" premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and will debut in limited release on August 6, 2004 with a wide release in the United States on August 20th.
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