GREY FEAR: Interview with Jonathan N. Dixon

Since the release of Steven Spielberg’s JAWS in 1975, horror movies surrounding sharks in the water—especially in the last 10 years—have grown to epic proportions. Most recently, titles like Sharknado and just about every Shark vs. (ridiculous monster hybrid thing here) have moved away from the realistic fear surrounding the simple pairing of human and shark meeting in the shark’s domain.

Just launched last week on Kickstarter, Grey Fear, intends to get back to the basics and back to chilling audiences with spinning the shark and man tale of horror with something a little more on the realistic side.fb6b1b0c-5d53-4c6f-aeb5-18f5adb7288a

“Grey Fear follows a close group of pro-surfers searching for an adventure off the beaten track as they fly into a cluster of islands in the south pacific. There they discover a secluded break and once in the water several great white sharks that begin to ravage through the stranded group. Now they must endure unimaginable horror in an epic battle to survive if they are to even make it out of the water alive.”

The writer and director of Grey Fear, Jonathan N. Dixon who is with Mystery Road Pictures based in Australia, is familiar with the beautiful Pacific beaches that have some of the most frequent shark sightings in the world. Yet, they aren’t just any kind of shark sighting. Australia is well-known for frequent visitors of Bull, Tiger, and the granddaddy of the ocean, the Great White. “Being a surfer, I try to get in the water most days,” says Johnathan, discussing the subject of the film’s inspiration.

“On this particular afternoon, I’d stayed that little longer as the sets were too good to miss. I keep an eye on swimmers in the water when the move past us for fear of hitting one of them with my fin. There was one particular swimmer that I’d seen go past me and then at the far most edge of the break he got out of the water and onto the rocks. Needless to say he was in a panic and screaming and that’s when we saw it moving towards us, a 4 meter Tiger shark. That time in the water where I was paddling out seemed like an eternity because the reality is you can’t paddle faster than a shark! It then dawned on me the next day that I had never seen a surf/shark movie ever done.”

Looking to Kickstarter to help make this film successful, Dixon will be shooting 360 degree behind the scenes footage so backers will be able to get the whole picture of the film in the making. Yet, Dixon and Mystery Road Pictures (the production house behind the film) don’t just want to get the support from horror fans, they want to create something to spook deep respect for the eating machines of the ocean.

“Most shark movies currently in the marketplace are unrealistic and slapstick to a degree. Put yourself in the water with a Great White or a Tiger and there’s nothing comedic about it. You have to respect that when you enter the water you’re entering a wild environment…even though we are not necessarily on their menu, one curious bite can cause horrific injuries that are unfathomable. Grey Fear will take the audience to a point where they have never been before…the onscreen makeup FX will leave people gasping for air. The fear will cause nausea and the probability of never getting in the water again.”

Tanner FlynnWorking with Dixon on this film is an eclectic collection of talent, all stoked to be involved in a shark horror picture that seeks to blow all others out of the water in terms of blood, guts, and realistic terror. The stellar list includes William Emmons (Terminus, Wrath, INXS) will be producing and portraying the character, Tanner Flynn. Bianca Bradley (Wyrmwood) as Jewel North. Paul Warren, an experienced Australian Director of Photography, and Luke Polti, who has worked in the special effects industry on films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Crawlspace, and upcoming film, Gods of Egypt.

“The concept to them was intriguing and the chance to film in exotic locations with surfing and Great White Sharks, cocktails and a diamond heist? Who wouldn’t want to be involved! Luke Polti and I worked together when we were video store clerks back in the day and have always wanted to collaborate on a project together.”Jewell North

With the key production lineup set and the Kickstarter going full steam ahead, Dixon plans to scout filming locations in Fiji once the picture is funded so that they remain on schedule to shoot beginning June of this year.

However, there is more to the film than provoking or creating new Thalassophobics (fear of the ocean) or Galeophobics (fear of sharks). Historically, shark movies have created a type of over-reactive fear of the mysterious and deadly creatures. Spielberg’s JAWS changed public ideas about the Great White, turning it into a man-eating machine that was hell-bent on destroying human beings innocently frolicking in the water.

A Hammerhead lays among Black Tip sharks. via: source
A Hammerhead lays among Black Tip sharks. via: source

The real relationship between humans and sharks has been a bloody one. Although 2015 saw well over 100 bites around the world last year—the largest number seen in quite some time—more than 200 million sharks are killed, a vast majority of them intentionally for the shark finning and other shark-based products. While some places in the world follow the ethical fishing practices for sharks—like Australia and the Gummy shark—shark deaths can be attributed to illegal practices, trophy sport, and fear. In the wake of human impact on sharks in the water, the most endangered of those (other than the Whale sharks for other reasons) are the Dusky shark, the Basking shark, Hammerhead, and the Great White.

The impact his film could have is on Dixon’s mind and his goals for the film should encourage horror and shark fans to support their efforts even more.

A Great White returning to the depths. Photo by Elias Levy
A Great White returning to the depths. Photo by Elias Levy

“We are against the culling of Great Whites and want to work towards educating people on tagging and the complete ban of shark finning.  This is something that I’m very passionate about and have been in contact with a nonprofit organization called White Tag. We are looking at not only contributing to their cause, but having all crew wear the White Tag hats and shirts on set. This, along with the comprehensive behind the scenes footage that we will be posting every week will help create awareness to our audience.”

The movie concept promises lots of blood, and hard-hitting grindhouse horror, something that the horror world needs a lot more of. Check out the Grey Fear project on Kickstarter now and the links below to follow along with the film, as well as get some information on shark statistics and how you can help to prevent the horrific reality of human impact on these beautifully dangerous creatures.

Grey Fear Kickstarter
Grey Fear Official Site
White Tag
Anti-Shark Finning
Shark Project
OCEARCH Shark Tracker



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