On July 11 of this year, a made for television film really made a splash.
A terrifying, destructive splash.
During an interview with The Wayne Independent on Wednesday, Levin opened up about his inspiration for the hit movie, Sharknado.
Set in modern Los Angeles, writer Thunder Levin set out to take a realistic concept and add in the outlandish. Levin was approached by production company The Asylum to give his thoughts on a film called Shark Storm. He originally turned them down, saying that he felt there were enough shark movies in circulation.
Around a month after the original pitch, the company came back and said they "really wanted to do a movie called Sharknato, and I asked what sharks had to do with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization," he said. "Then they said, 'No, Sharknado!, and handed me around half a page of notes."
Levin said that while the movie was "the most ridiculous thing" he had ever heard of, he told them "Of course I'll do it."
Levin says the first draft of the film "took about a month" to write, and centered around what really happens when rain hits Los Angeles.
"I started with a realistic scenario of 'What would happen if LA was his by a hurricane?'" The answer is that "the streets would flood and start to fill up with water. Then I logically added in sharks and tornados."
Levin also said he was originally slated to direct the spinning shark fest, but instead chose to direct his science fiction film AE: Apocalypse Earth.
"I had to choose, and my heart really lies in straight science fiction/action adventure films."
Levin to the bridge
"I can trace it all back to Star Trek (The Original Series)," he said. "As a very little kid, I wanted to grow up and work on the Enterprise."
Levin added that after watching the moon landing, he "knew that actually being a real-life astronaut did not appeal to me." But, he still wanted to get to the Enterprise, and a book of how Star Trek was made would help him do just that.
"I got a book called The Making of Star Trek, not something you'd read at three years old," he said. "The very first picture in that book is a bunch of studio techs working on the bridge of the Enterprise. I realized that there was a way I could work on the Enterprise."
Twenty-years and a degree from New York University later, Levin is faced with the massive response to what he dubbed as "the little film that could."
Page 2 of 2 - Levin says the buzz around the film started in November of last year with the release of the poster. He realized that "the marketing department was going to have just as much fun with the movie as we had making it." The poster, depicting sharks flying from a tornado, simply reads, "Sharknado. 'Nuff said."
One thing about the film Levin thinks resonates with audiences is that "it doesn't take itself too seriously. We wanted to have fun with this, and that's what has sort of caught on."
With viewers being bombarded with high budget blockbuster films, this made for television movie became a hit from the viewers.
"It's become this amazing, crazy phenomenon," he said, largely thanks to social media forms like Twitter.
So, does technology and social media affect a film's performance? "If it was just a movie without Twitter 30 years ago, it would have built slowly." In today's techno-saturated audience, Levin remarked entertainment is changing. "We are in a strange, new era of more interactive entertainment."
Levin says another interesting fact about the film is nobody could have predicted the massive response viewers had.
"The reaction has been nothing short of stunning. Nobody could have predicted it or engineered it. People have decided that this was going to be a must-see thing," he said, adding that "it's sort of refreshing."
When Sharknado premiered, it pulled in 1.37 million viewers, which is below the average 1.5 million viewers a Syfy original movie typically has.
Despite this, the film became a trending topic on Twitter causing a publicity spike. Syfy decided to show Sharknado again and pulled in 1.89 million viewers, a 38 percent increase. It's third showing got 2.1 million viewers, which set a record for the most watched Syfy original movie encore in channel history.
The success of film even prompted a theatrical release in 200 theaters nationwide.
At the premiere, Levin said more and more press requests kept coming in. "We had to make the red carpet three times as long to fit them all in. The news vans were lined up down the block. It was just bizarre and surreal and amazing and wonderful."
With the massive success of Sharknado, a sequel has been green lit by Syfy. "I can confirm it will take place in New York City," Levin said. Beyond that, audiences will have to anxiously wait to see how angry, flying sharks manage to take a bite out of the big apple.