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‘Open Water' DVD to Offer Education on Sharks, Water Safety

1 Nov, 2004 By: Fred Topel

Most independent filmmakers don't spend a lot of time thinking about DVD plans. It's hard enough just to obtain financing and manage a production with limited resources.

Director Chris Kentis and producer Laura Lau, who spent a month out in the ocean shooting Open Water (due Dec. 28) with digital cameras, decided to make some extra features about the film's subject matter, to supplement the little material available on the making of the film itself.

“There are two features that we're going to be putting in there,” Lau said. “One of them is about shark conservation. It's about educating the public about sharks. That's very important to us.”

Though the film portrays the struggle of a couple stranded in the ocean after a scuba diving expedition leaves them, the sharks are not the villains. They are just a natural force to contend with. Director Kentis thinks sharks get a bad rap in the media.

“The history of sharks — regardless of how fairly you try to portray them — their place in movies always comes down to being killers,” Kentis said. “What I find really interesting is National Geographic did a little piece on us — we were part of Shark Week, and I actually haven't watched the shows in a while. I used to be a real fan of the Shark Week shows because I know the idea was to educate. I was really blown away when I tuned in to Shark Week, and everything was, ‘Jaws of death and blood and kill and blood.' Then they'll throw a little thing in that says, ‘Most species of sharks, of 400 different varieties, only four or five are killers.’

The water safety feature is relevant because the scuba divers in the film are stranded with as little knowledge of how to survive as most viewers would have.

“Our characters don't know what to do,” Lau said. “They're not experts. They have no idea what to do. It's like any of us.”

The water safety segment tells viewers “what to do if you are in this situation, how you can prevent this from happening to you,” Lau said.

Distributor Lions Gate asked the duo to create one filmmaking feature that informed viewers about how they shot in the ocean with no crew outside of themselves and the two actors.

“Chris and I literally made this film entirely ourselves from the beginning,” Lau said.

Kentis added, “We didn't know anything. Anybody can say you're excited about the idea of making a digital feature, but we didn't know anything about the cameras or any of this stuff. We really had to figure out the best equipment. Sound was really important, getting the right mics. We had to learn how to be crew people. So it was a real education.”

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