The writer/director talks about his new horror film which uses real crocodiles
Writer-director Andrew Traucki is definitely not a director who's willing to let CGI do all the work. For his new film, Black Water, which is based off a true story of survival in Australia, he used all real crocodiles for the movie. I recently emailed over some questions to the filmmaker, and here's how he responded.
You said that you used all real crocs in the film and that one called Stumpy ate a camera. How many did you actually use, and were there any other mishaps like the camera incident?
Andrew Traucki: Well I got chased by a 12-footer on land! Luckily he was a bit tired and the wranglers managed to get him before he got me. No other mishap was as dramatic as almost have a croc eat your $20,000 camera for lunch but the week was very dramatic because we were never sure we had the footage we needed! How many crocs did we use, about ten.
The way you have the crocs slowly emerge from the water is a very creepy element to the film. Is that how the crocs actually surface naturally, or did you have some sort of rigging or training to acheive that effect?
Andrew Traucki: That scene was inspired but a true account, two woman where on a rock in a waterhole and a croc just rose up in front of them so they can definitely do that. As to how we did it, that was a drugged (we had a qualified zoologist drug the croc - don't try this at home) 14-foot croc that (co-writer/co-director) David (Nerlich) and I were pushing up and down in the water. It's very spooky being next to a top level predator. All my instincts were saying get the hell out of there.
How did the cast initially react when they were told that you were using actual crocodiles?
Andrew Traucki: Everyone thought that was a cool idea.
You said that this was based on a true story of survival in
Australia. Can you elaborate on that true story, and how faithful is this movie to their story?
Andrew Traucki: Everyone seems so sceptical of that title, based on true events. There are lots of real stories about crocodiles attacking humans in Australia because as the film states the croc population is increasing in Northern Australia, and so is the human population. The story that inspired Black Water was one that involved two teenagers being stuck up a tree in a flooded river because a crocodile that killed their friend came back, and kept circling the base of the tree. That premise is the basis of the film. We have altered the characters and some of the events.
The part where the crocodile actually leapt out of the water to try to get to Diana Glenn's character really threw me for a loop. It was quite effective, but is that actually physically possible for crocs to do?
Andrew Traucki: Yeah they sure can leap. If you go up the top end of Australia there are plenty of tours where they make the crocs leap a long way out of the water. Their tail is all muscle that's what gives them their lift.
With such a small cast of basically only three characters, it must have been a more intimate sort of work setting. What was it like working with Diana Glenn, Maeve Dermody and Andy Rodereda?
Andrew Traucki: They were all fantastic. Working in a swamp for 3 weeks, I didn't want any prissy actors that were going to be complaining about mud and the conditions. These guys were so solid. In my eyes they are all stars!
This was your feature writing and directing debut alongside your co-writer/director David Nerlich. How far back have you known David and what made you both want to make this your first film?
Andrew Traucki: I have known David a long time. Well this is our first film because it's the first one we got the money for.
Do you have anything lined up for the future that you can tell us about?
Andrew Traucki: I do have lots of things lined up and I'll let you know about them when they are greenlit.
There have been a few crocodile movies released recently like Lake Placid 2 Pack and the Australian film Rogue. What do you think sets this film apart from films like those?
Andrew Traucki: I can honestly say that to me this is the first croc film that isn't cheesy and stupid. I watched a lot of croc films researching Black Water and they all suffer from really bad looking crocs, usually unbelievable animatronics or CGI. Terrible plots. In other words they are unbelievable. Black Water is constantly praised for being realistic, scary and hard hitting. Just look at the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It delivers.
Finally, do you have any personal tips about what to do when coming across a crocodile?
Andrew Traucki: Don't.
You can find Black Water on the DVD shelves now.