Anthony C. Ferrante can't escape that other shark movie directed by that other guy.
Not that anyone confuses the Sharknado franchise with Jaws, or Ferrante with Steven Spielberg, even after directing all four schlock-tacular Syfy channel movies. His fifth, Sharknado: Global Swarming, debuts in August.
That's one more than the Jaws franchise. Four more than Spielberg, but Ferrante isn't counting. He's just proud that since 2013's phenomenal debut, his Sharknado movies are mentioned in the same breath as Jaws, for better or worse.
"It's an honor but it's also kind of ironic," Ferrante said by phone from Los Angeles. "The weird thing is that you have this Jaws franchise that is the crown jewel and we just kind of dismantled 40 years of terror with one silly movie...
"One guy told me: 'Jaws made my kids afraid to go into the water and Sharknado made it okay for them because they could laugh at sharks.'"
Ferrante visits Tampa on other shark business. He'll attend Friday's 10 p.m. screening of Sharknado at Tampa Theatre, conducting a post-show Q&A. On Saturday he's a speaker at Shark-Con 4 at the Florida State Fairgrounds, also taking questions.
Someone, sometime this weekend will drop the J-word. Ferrante's good with that. As a former entertainment journalist, he understands the hook. Ferrante even interviewed Spielberg a few times, years before Sharknado, making no contact since.
The filmmakers sort of crossed paths in 2015 when Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! filmed at Universal Studios Orlando, when the theme park still included a Jaws exhibit.
"We did have to ask (Spielberg's) Amblin (Entertainment) to use it in the movie," Ferrante said. "They gave us permission, which to me is the closest thing to touching the feet of Spielberg."
Ferrante isn't a one-trick shark, with a couple conventional thrillers to his credit. However, none have drawn attention like the Sharknado series that, with its worst debuts, pulls nearly 3 million viewers.
"The most important thing as a filmmaker is that people see your movies," Ferrante said. "Whether they're making fun of them or enjoying them or whatever, they're talking about it. That allows you to grow."
Maybe into a Marvel or DC gig?
"I'd be game for that," Ferrante said. "The great thing about Sharknado is that it opened the door for people to look at me in a different way: 'Oh, he can handle visual effects, he can handle humor.' And there's still drama and actors acting in these movies when there aren't sharks flying around."
For now, Ferrante enjoys keeping Syfy's fin-in-cheek franchise swimming. Global Swarming expands the preposterous ichthy-meteorological danger worldwide under the patriotic tagline: Make America Bait Again.
"I always go back to what someone said about the first movie: It's a movie that doesn't know you can't do that" Ferrante said. "We're still living up to that mantra."
FERRANTE'S FAVORITE CLIPS
As the dorsal fin steering Syfy's Sharknado franchise, director Anthony C. Ferrante knows his schlock. We asked Ferrante to comment on his favorite moments from the first four movies, and a hint of what's coming in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, debuting in August.
Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) jumping with a chainsaw into a flying shark: "That actually was the defining moment of Sharknado, that said: Okay, we're willing to go anywhere... This is not your typical shark movie. We're willing to embrace the silly."
Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)
"We're in New York, so it's a combination of two things: (Fin's) big speech on the fire truck followed by him slicing the shark in two in slow motion. That's just another one of those really, really cool, fun moments."
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015)
"Sharks in space. We went there. That would have been a whole movie itself in another franchise."
Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016)
"The thing I love about four is Tara (Reid's April Wexler) becoming a superhero. I don't think people expected us to do that... to take her and see that evolution was a cool thing."
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017)
"To be able to film in London and Italy, you know, Trevi Fountain and London Bridge, it adds authenticity, which is what we've tried to do since Sharknado 2."
Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.