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Q&A: 'Sharknado' Writer Thunder Levin
Sharknado is a terrible movie. It was an assault on common sense, good taste, brain cells, and television itself. And it was probably one of the best movies to air on SyFy this year!
Sharknado is just the latest in a short line of D-List films churned out by The Asylum film studios, the same company that has brought us other "hit" features including Atlantic Rim, Jack The Giant Killer, 200 M.P.H., American Battleship, and more.
The films are not bad movies masquerading as good -- they know they are bad, but that’s what makes them good... Get it? Good!
I had the chance to talk with appropriately-named writer Thunder Levin, the man behind the now cult classic Sharknado.
YH: As a screenwriter myself, I’m always interested in how fellow screenwriters come up with their story concepts. Did you wake up one day and say, “I got it! I’m going to write a story about a shark-tornado!”?
TL: In all honesty, the concept came from SyFy via The Asylum. They had the title and half a page of notes, which I read and told them it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard of and I’d be happy to write it as long as I could have fun with it.
YH: The film is now a cult classic. But let’s be honest, did you think the film would be this much of a success?
TL: Who could have predicted all this?! It’s incredible. I knew it would be a fun movie, and once I saw the poster and realized the marketing campaign was going to have fun with it too, I figured we probably get some good buzz. But I never imagined it would blow up like this.
YH: Would you have done anything differently if you had the chance to go back and do rewrites?
TL: That’s an interesting question. Honestly, I was pretty happy with the script. What I do wish is that I could have worked with director Anthony Ferrante when he was shooting the film. For production reasons (as always happens on a low budget film), he had to make cuts, condense some things, and change others, and if I’d been available, we could have collaborated on those. But I was in Costa Rica directing the science fiction (but not SyFy) film AE Apocalypse Earth, and was basically lost in the jungle the whole time Sharknado was being filmed.
YH: Is there going to be a sequel to Sharknado? If so, what would it be about, and what are the chances of me getting in on this action as a co-writer?
TL: Syfy has announced there will be a sequel set in New York, and they’re asking fans to submit their suggestions for a title. So who knows?! 
YH: How many scripts do you think you write in a given year? And out of those scripts, how many are produced?
TL: Well, that depends on how many I get hired to write! In the early part of my career, I wrote a lot of scripts that haven’t been produced yet, but in the last few years, I’ve been mostly focused on paying work. For the economics to work, a low budget movie has to be written pretty fast. For example, I finished the first draft of the Asylum film 200 M.P.H. in ten days! One of my spec scripts, a science fiction epic that I hope might find some new life now, took seven years of research and three-and-a-half years of writing!
YH: Out of everything you have worked on, what was your favorite project and why?
TL: The science fiction epic I mentioned is probably my favorite thing I’ve written. I love the characters, the scope, the heart, and the subject matter. I’m hoping that, with the attention I’m getting from Sharknado, that there might be a chance to get it produced now. As far as asking me to pick my favorite of my produced projects, well, that’s like asking a parent to tell you which of their children is their favorite!
YH: If you could write any feature film with an unlimited amount of money, what would be your dream project and who would you want to work with?
TL: The science fiction epic I mentioned would be it. And if it got made, I’d love to have George Clooney be the star. I wrote the lead with him in mind.
YH: Any words of wisdom you would like to give to aspiring screenwriters?
TL: If there’s ANYTHING else you can imagine yourself doing for a living, do that. If not, then never, never, never give up.
If you haven’t got a chance to watch the flick, don’t worry, SyFy is airing re-runs, so check your local listings. In the meantime, follow Thunder on Twitter and check out the now-iconic trailer below!
- Felix Kay, YH Staff