If you are having Sharknado withdrawals, then head to the theater this Friday to catch an even more epic tornado in Into the Storm. The movie takes place in the city of Silverton, where in a span of a couple of hours the city is destroyed by the most furious tornadoes they have ever seen. While most people run for cover, storm chasers and wannabe YouTube celebrities run toward the pending disaster, testing their limits for a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Who survives this massive tornado? You’ll be surprised.
Recently we caught up with the cast at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about the filming of the movie and their experiences with tornadoes. First up we had Max Deacon, who plays Donnie, Alycia Carey, who plays Kaitlyn, and Nathan Kress, who plays Donnie’s younger brother, Trey.
How did you keep up the tension and momentum of [things] with water being blown round and all that stuff?
Nathan Kress: Fortunately it was very easy because none of it except for the tornadoes themselves were fake. All of it was practical effects, which was miserable at the time of shooting but it really kept us in it. We were living it. We didn’t have to fake having things blown into our faces because they were actually happening. By the time we went home at the end of the day we had to pick things out of our teeth and shampoo all the garbage out of our hair so we could do it all over again tomorrow.
Max Deacon: There were some difficult days but everything you see that is happening to us in the film actually happened. They tried to do a tornado but… well, it’s CGI but everything that happened to us happened. We were moaning about it in the last few weeks but it was an amazing experience. Really made the performance easier.
Alycia Carey: We all bonded so much especially in that tunnel sequence. We spent a week..
NK: We spent 3 weeks in that tunnel
AC: It really pulled us all together.
Any experience with tornadoes?
NK: I’m from [California], none at all.
AC: Australia, no experience with tornadoes.
MD: I’m from London, England… rain?
Your character was always with a camera, in a situation like that would you keep filming?
NK: Realistically probably not but there’s several motivations for both characters to keep filming. The movie starts off with Donnie and Trey doing a time capsule for our school at dad’s request so we happen to be filming as this tornado rolls into town. I think my character specifically has a duty to document this thing that is going to affect this town forever. But at another point in the movie he gets another motive, which any teen boy would respond to, which is $3,000 and that is kind of his new mission, an amateur documentarian and hooks up with the storm chasers.
Next we had Sarah Wayne Callies and Arlen Escarpeta.
Did you get hit with anything during filming?
Arlen Escarpeta: I was wearing shorts, and I remember running at one point and thinking, “What is stabbing me in my calves?” and it was literally tiny little pieces of leaves.
Sarah Wayne Callies: You realize that something is coming at you at 100mph no matter what it is, it’s gonna sting. Sarcastic tone; actors suffer soooo much.
Neither of you have lived in tornado areas?
SWC: I’m from Hawaii, we represent the exotic portion of the interview.
AE: I was born in Belize, they are known for hurricanes and flooding.
SWC: There were a couple of hurricanes when I was growing up. My only tornado experience was driving cross country. I got stuck in one, on the road. You know what’s really funny… I did several hundred interviews at Comic-Con and they all asked if I had been in a tornado and I would say no. But then my husband calls me the following day and he went “Baby, I’ve seen these interviews, why aren’t you talking about Tuscaloosa in April 2011?” I completely blocked it out. Completely. And even when we were shooting the movie, I had no [recollection] that I’ve been in this thing. My brain just shoved it in a box and put it in the back of the attic. My husband reminded me that I was stuck in that thing.
Following the actors, we spoke to the screenwriter, John Swetnam, who also wrote Step Up All In, which also comes out this weekend.
Do you have any firsthand experience with tornadoes?
Swetnam: In Tennessee there are tornadoes all the time. We’d have eight or nine siren warnings, it was crazy. So I knew immediately how to do it, it wasn’t like I was fascinated with tornadoes. It was that they wanted to do a tornado movie with some kind of POV, to get into the middle of it. I just knew what to do. Literally, the first script I wrote in four days or something. It was just like, boom, I could tell the story, it wasn’t like “I must make a tornado movie.” It was more like, “I must eat! So I’ll write this tornado movie.”
What’s been the response from moviegoers so far?
Swetnam: I’ve already gotten a lot of hate mail like, “You hack! You stole Twister.” But it’s not like that at all. Just because it involves tornadoes, it’s not the same. If that were the case, you couldn’t make more than one basketball movie or different World War II movies.
If they hate you, you must be doing something right.
Swetnam: Exactly, and I’ve got lots of haters! So I must be killin’ it. When Todd said he wanted a POV/found footage movie, the first thing I though was YouTube, because I’d seen a bunch of clips of actual tornadoes. When I wrote the script, I put pictures of what each looked like on the page. Then, on the next page, I’d have five roped tornadoes, and a picture of that would be on the following page. Every tornado [in the movie] was based on an image from YouTube. The pictures sold the movie. The writing did not do it. The young audience I write to see things differently now. When I see a fight scene in my head, it’s not (trained fighting) like you see in the Bourne movies. It’s a sloppy thing on YouTube like World Star Fights, non-professionals hitting each other.
What do you think of the finished film? Is it what you imagined when you were writing it?
Swetnam: It’s so much cooler than I though it would be. Normally, you write a movie and you have this vision in your head and it turns out not nearly as good as your vision, but this one turned out way cooler. It’s not so much found footage, but it’s more POV. Every camera can be explained. You can explain them but people don’t care anymore. When I wrote the script, I think I had 70 cameras in the script. It would be like, “Security camera. Cut to this.” I thought people needed to be reminded that it was all from the camera’s viewpoint. Then, Steven Quale just edited it to make a great movie. You didn’t need to explain which camera it was.