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Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis Discuss "Open Water"

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Blanchard Ryan Daniel Travis Open Water

Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan star in "Open Water"

Photo © Lions Gate Films
Updated July 26, 2004
If you thought “Jaws” was the ultimate shark movie, prepare yourself to be scared silly by “Open Water.” Loosely based on true events, “Open Water” follows a couple who hastily decide to go on vacation and plan on getting in some scuba diving while relaxing away from the stress of work. Long hours and grueling days toiling away at a thankless job look more and more appealing as the couple’s accidentally left behind when their dive boat heads back to shore.

Starring new talents Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis, “Open Water” is one of those movies that stick with you long after the credits roll. In this one-on-two interview, Ryan and Travis provide a little insight into the making of this thriller.

INTERVIEW WITH BLANCHARD RYAN AND DANIEL TRAVIS:

How quickly did the sharks show up on scene while you were filming? Is it true they threw tuna out close to you to get the sharks to hang out?
BLANCHARD RYAN: We went to this location where we knew that the sharks are, and pretty much as soon as they turned off the engines some of them started to show up because they were used to the boats coming and feeding them. Which is not good for the tourist trade, but that’s not our problem. You don’t want to go out there to go skinny dipping and all of a sudden you’ve stopped your engine and all the sharks show up. I think that’s sort of alarming. But in any case, then we started throwing tuna over the side to make sure the sharks would stay nearby and then we just jumped in.

DANIEL TRAVIS: It’s the only way to get them. If we needed a crossing shot, we needed to have a shark pan one way or the other. That was the only way to direct them.

BLANCHARD RYAN: [Director] Chris [Kentis] would throw a chunk or piece of tuna and then they would all come. Chris would make sure that we were here and he was standing with the camera. If the sharks were [away], he’d throw the piece of tuna [in between us and the camera] to make sure the sharks would pass in front of the camera.

That sounds crazy. What was your diving experience prior to making the movie?
DANIEL TRAVIS: I’d been diving but I got certified for the film. I grew up in the Great Lakes so I was a cold water diver.

No sharks…
DANIEL TRAVIS: No sharks in fresh water, so yeah.

BLANCHARD RYAN: I’d been certified before but it was sort of like one of those wimpy resorts courses. I’d dived six or eight times before, but Chris and Laura [Lau] made sure I got a really thorough certification.

Had you heard stories like this before where people were accidentally left while diving? Was this story at all familiar to you?
BLANCHARD RYAN: I had heard stories.

DANIEL TRAVIS: Yes, I had heard it.

Why do people still dive?
DANIEL TRAVIS: It happens but considering the size and the scope of the dive industry, it happens relatively rarely. I mean people have accidents jumping out of planes too, but they still dive. Percentage-wise, it’s relatively safe. That’s one of the things you have to consider. We do these sorts of adventure vacations and you are taking a risk, and you have to sort of remember that.

BLANCHARD RYAN: We as Americans, we always think we’re so cocky. “Well, I’m going to go down to some third world country and I’m just going to go on these excursions.” And there are no regulations. There’s nobody telling these people what to do. They could borrow their brother-in-law’s boat and write ‘scuba’ on the side and go out. It’s not like they’re being monitored by the government or like there’s any rules or regulations. They can do anything they want, drive you anywhere they want, and behave any way they want.

Our whole thing about this is that we love scuba diving and none of us would have been interested in the film if we hadn’t loved to dive. We love the animals, and the sharks were so powerful and beautiful. But you know, you are in another element and if you can be a little bit more careful, you should try and pick a company that’s reputable, that’s associated with PADI or NAUI or one of the big dive industry relationships that they can have, and make sure that you have safety equipment with you. God forbid anything does go wrong. And just be a little more careful. Everyone says, “Don’t you feel guilty people aren’t going to want to scuba dive?” I’m like, “Well, I won’t feel guilty if they scuba dive more safely.” You know what I mean? Like I certainly don’t want to turn anyone off of the sport but, on the other hand, people should be more careful.

DANIEL TRAVIS: It’s an amazing experience. This film is meant in no way as a deterrent at all. I got hooked on diving.

Really?
DANIEL TRAVIS: Oh yeah. I’ve been back since. I’m fascinated by it and a complete convert.

BLANCHARD RYAN: It’s so much fun. It’s great.

PAGE 2: The "Open Water" Script and Reactions from Diver Publications

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