We need a bigger shark

Marc Fehse on trash cinema, zombies, Nazis and making Sky Sharks.

by Jennie Kermode

Sky Sharks poster
Sky Sharks poster

As shambling post-human zombies take a well earned rest, sharks are fast becoming the number one stars of the B-movie world. Sky Sharks looks at what happens when geologists in the Arctic accidentally awaken an army of flying zombie sharks ridden by Nazi supermen who are bent on world conquest. According to director Marc Fehse it has everything genre fans want: "flying sharks, Nazi zombies, nude girls, a lot of action and blood, nonsense and good looking CG FX and real blood FX," so there’s no need to see more than one film. Although the film is still in production, we spoke to Marc for an early insight into what else viewers can look forward to.

"I drank too much!" he exclaims when asked how the idea for the film came about. "First, I asked my brother what he thought about this idea sharks could live in the sky. He said ‘Shut up!’ In Cannes I talked to my friend and producer partner Yazid and he said ‘this is a brilliant idea,’ so we drank more and worked on the idea. At the end we had a lot of good ideas. Two days later we gave our ideas to Mr. Morel, our scriptwriter, and he also loved the idea and wrote in four weeks the first draft of Sky Sharks. Later we met in Germany at our film festival Cinestrange and worked again on some Ideas, till we had the final way to do it. Some weeks later we got the final script and we started shooting in November for the first 25 minutes."

Finding inspiration was easy, he says. "I love shark movies, I love zombie movies with and without Nazis, I like horror and splatter and really well written comedies." Regarding sharks specifically, he adds "The mother of all Shark Movies is Jaws. And I think everybody saw that one. I was a child and was totally impressed by seeing this movie in our holidays. After this movie I didn't want to go into water anymore and my family and me had a holiday by a sea!"

The film industry loves sharks too, he notes, and he sees the endless rip-offs of Jaws as culminating with Asylum’s work. "When you love trash movies you love Asylum movies…and you love to see more absurd variations of them."

Asked how he found the right cast, he initially claims to have kidnapped them, but subsequently retracts this and admits he just asked. "Most of them liked the Idea and wanted to play an opposite to those characters they normally play...so also for the actors it is fun!"

Nazi zombie shark riders
Nazi zombie shark riders

Films like this hinge on special effects so it’s important to get them right. Sky Sharks uses a mixture of practical effects and CGI. "The Big Sharks were made digitally but the blood FX and the masks etc. are real handmade. First I discussed what I’d love to have, then we’d talk about the budget and then we’d discuss what I can get for it." He smiles. "But in most cases I got what I wanted to have."

Marc agrees with the suggestion that digital filmmaking has been really important in allowing independent filmmakers to be more creative. "Many good directors get now the chance to realise their ideas. I started out in a time where filmmaking costs so much – too much, that we needed to get a bank credit…or we shot on video and everybody said 'Good Ideas, but bad looking quality!' – yes, it is very good that we went digital!"

There are few areas of filmmaking that he hasn’t worked in, having falling in love with film t an early age. "I studied production design and made since my childhood movies. First on Super 8 and then on video. In 1999 I moved to L.A. to work there on several film productions, on set and in post. Later, back in Germany, I founded my movie production company Marctropolis, which I run with my brother Carsten. He is our author. From that day we produced a lot of commercials for VW, Siemens, Universal, the German Television Stations like ARD, ZDF, PRO 7 etc. and documentaries and full feature movies like Sex, Dogz And Rock N Roll, The Power Of Soul, Spores and now Sky Sharks."

If all goes to plan, Sky Sharks will be released in mid 2017, though Marc hopes to take it on the festival circuit first because it’s "a party movie". And as for his longer term career ambitions..?

"To make the world better…no…we have so many ideas and so many final scripts that we’d love to realise as many as we can and as our health lets us. Also we give many things back. So we let young people learn the job and we run a film festival and we’re releasing movies from other filmmakers. We love to be a part of this crazy industry!"

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