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Gerald Rascionato p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. For this issue, director Gerald Rascionato talks about the making of Cage Dive, a thriller about three Californians who find themselves stranded at sea and circled by great white sharks. It's a first person, found footage genre movie: it's like Jaws except you're in the water with the sharks. I saw Cage Dive along with a few other great movies at the recent Gold Coast Film Festival.

Cage Dive is a tense movie from the start. When three young Californians decide to go cage diving among great white sharks, it’s pretty clear something is going to go horribly wrong. Sure enough, while the trio are in the cage filming the sharks, a freak wave sinks their tour boat. Brothers Josh (played by Josh Potthoff) and Jeff (Joel Hogan), and Jeff’s girlfriend Megan (Megan Peta Hill) find themselves stranded at sea surrounded by lurking great whites. The fact that the sharks are unseen for most of the film adds to the terror. The sharks do appear from time to time, via some very good cgi, but the director doesn’t overdo it with the jump scares.
The story is set in South Australia, but the movie was actually filmed in Hervey Bay “far out in the ocean”, said the director, Gerald Rascionato. For the scenes where the three main characters were stranded in the water, Mr Rascionato climbed into the water with the actors. He said he was always the first in and the last out of the water, because if a shark attacked anyone on the film he didn’t want it to be the actors.
And he said that sometimes he would stay in the water after the actors had climbed on board their boat. This was so he could get a long shot of some boat he’d seen on the horizon: for the scenes where the three characters are stuck in the water and hopelessly stare at a boat in the distance.
Josh Potthoff plays a character called Josh who films the action in the story. He piggybacked the director in the water while delivering his dialogue, to create the effect that the character Josh was doing the filming.
The film is expertly shot and edited. There is fine acting all around. To find actors, like Pete Valle who plays the Australian cousin of the tourist brothers, the director put an ad on StarNow. He said people applied and there was a rigorous auditioning process in Queensland then NSW. He wanted actors who could improvise and who believed strongly in his vision.
Mr Rascionato joked that as well as director, he was producer, cinematographer and caterer for the movie. He wrote the film but other writers like Stephen Lister brought in ideas and co-wrote. He didn’t like editing, although he liked sitting with the editor and telling them to take out frames or whatever. “I’m definitely a director, right down to the bone. I’m a real actor’s director.”
For advice, the director Gerald Rascionatio said: “Grab a camera, get in a wetsuit and jump in the ocean.”
The film has been picked up by Universal in Australia and Lionsgate, a US-Canadian company.

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– copyright Simon Sandall