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David Michael Latt has no shame. The 48-year-old cofounder of The Asylum, a film studio in Burbank, California, that produces quickie, nano-budget fare such as Airplane vs. Volcano (starring Dean Cain and Robin Givens) and Transmorphers (starring no one), knows exactly what you think of his movies, and he doesn’t care. “These films are meant to be entertaining,” he says. “And I think we succeed at that, for good and for bad.”
Best known for a delicately wrought character study called Sharknado (starring American Pie’s Tara Reid and Beverly Hills, 90210 third banana Ian Ziering), Asylum makes a big return in July with Sharknado 2: The Second One.
This story first appeared in the June 2, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The first Sharknado warned viewers of a little-considered side effect of global warming—namely, that tornadoes could rain sharks upon unprepared coastal populations. It burned up Twitter for months, even gaining the attention of Mia Farrow, who joked that she watched the film in the company of Philip Roth.
For the latest installment, which is set to air on Syfy, the bloody action is relocated to New York City, a move that will doubtless be explained through some tongue-in-cheek exposition uttered by Reid and Ziering, who appear with a Towering Inferno–worthy cast that includes Billy Ray Cyrus, Andy Dick, Perez Hilton, and Biz Markie.
M talked with Latt midway through postproduction.
M: What were the loose threads in the first Sharknado that you felt you needed to bring into the sequel?
David Michael Latt: When logic’s thrown out the window, there are no loose threads. You just make up your own threads. I think the loose threads would definitely be character-driven, where you’re focused on the next step in the relationship between Fin [Ziering] and April [Reid]. Are they still together?
M: How can they not be together, having survived that sharknado experience?
D.M.L.: In tragedy, you pull together. You have strong emotions because of the experience you’re sharing with the person in a really dramatic moment. We definitely had the question of, Was the kiss they shared a passionate, we’re-together- forever kiss, or was it a kiss of “we survived a moment, and we still have to work out issues”?
M: Exactly how many minutes did you contemplate that question before starting to write the script?
D.M.L.: I think twenty seconds.
M: How long do you generally spend shooting and
doing post on a film?
D.M.L.: Sharknado 2 is a little different because there was so much worldwide attention on that movie. We have to exceed the expectations of the audience. We’re spending a lot more time, on every level, on this movie, putting a lot more effort into the film than we normally do. Our production schedule is about four weeks. Our post is a couple months, if not a little bit more than that. We’ll be putting this thing together minutes before it’s on air, I think. It’s all hands on deck.
M: Was it hard, emotionally, to mount the sequel when Sharknado got overlooked for so many awards?
D.M.L.: Hey, we were nominated for a People’s Choice Award! Look, our films are meant to be enjoyed with some popcorn and some beer. They’re made for a very specific audience, which is everybody.