Discover The CGI Secrets Behind Blake Lively’s Shark Blockbuster The Shallows

VFX maestro Scott E. Anderson reveal all about the film of the summer.

Blake Lively in The Shallows
Shark attack Blake Lively in The Shallows. Image Picture Sony

The seminal Hollywood shark movie is, and will always be, Jaws. The 1975 horror left a lasting impression on film, even if the special effects left a little to be desired.

For all heart-pounding action and white-knuckle tension, the movie is also synonymous with a pretty laughable rubber shark prop. 40 years on though, everything’s changed.

Blake Lively’s summer blockbuster The Shallows proved to be one of the most entertaining films of 2016, and right at the heart of the movie was an incredibly realistic shark constructed entirely using VFX.

Blake’s performance and the state-of-the-art effects made The Shallows one of the most entertaining movies of the summer.

To find out more, loaded spoke VFC, the man who headed up the design team and created the most terrifying shark since Jaws.

loaded: Where do you start creating a CGI shark?

Anderson: “I think with any project, you’re balancing a creative desire with what the director needs and what the story needs.

“[We did] A lot of research into sharks; what they do, how they swim, how they attack and what their habits are.”

loaded: The shark is a sympathetic creature in some ways. How did you envision the creature?

Anderson: “This is a shark being a shark. It wasn’t being malicious, really it had been antagonised by humans. It wasn’t really going out of its way to attack. [Blake Lively] just wanders into its food chain.”

loaded: How pleased were you with the results?

Anderson: “I thought the movie was a lot of fun. I think sometimes some of our Summer films become a little overblown these days, and it’s a little bit ‘you can do everything, so let’s do everything’. This to me was a little refreshing step into a good fun popcorn film. If you popped into the theatre you’d be happy to see it. If you pop it into your DVD player you’d be happy to watch it. If you’re scanning channels and it comes on you’d be happy to watch it.

loaded: How much have VFX changed the way films are made?

Anderson: “I think visual effects has become as much a part of the filmmaking as using a camera. There are almost no films these days that don’t have some degrees of visual effects…

“We’ve reached a point where nothing isn’t doable. We can do anything in visual effects given enough time and money.

“So that side of things where effects has gone mainstream, and changed genuine filmmaking – that’s one path.”

loaded: You must see plenty of films where the CGI has been overused and ruined as a result?

Anderson: “Yeah, it happens a lot. I won’t name names. You know, I always say to a director, “the better the script, the better my work.” Really, we’re all trying to fit into the same vision. The stronger your story, the more places to anchor your effects into.

loaded: Are there any specific qualities that actors need to have now when working with heavy use of VFX?

Anderson: I think from a performers standpoint, it’s open up the range of what actors can do. Take Blake – throughout all the action, she’d have her interior monologue going and really show that to the audience through the performance. The reaction of all the audiences I saw it with was really with her all the time, and that’s a testament to her.

The Shallows is out now on Blu-ray and DVD and Ocean’s Descent is available on PlayStation VR Worlds.

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Loaded staff writer Harry Fletcher has covered news, sport and entertainment for several major websites across the UK. Follow him on Twitter at @Harry__Fletcher.