[GUEST INTERVIEW] Lawrence Person Interviews Jose Prendes, the Writer Behind SHARCANO and MEGA SHARK vs. MECHA SHARK
Jose Prendes, international man of mystery, was found swaddled in a basket among the reeds at the mouth of the Amazon. Raised by local shamans, Jose learned the magic of language and decided to dedicate his skills to the betterment of all mankind. He trekked to America at the age of 12, on foot no less, and made his home in Florida for a few years. After discovering a cure for the common cold, and losing it among his comic book collection, Prendes decided to abandon Florida for sunny Los Angeles. Upon arriving in the city of angels, he was made the leader of a small group of cinephiles who believed he was the second coming of Shakespeare. Wielding immense power, and a ridiculously awesome DVD collection, Prendes continues his struggle to save the world from the coming peanut butter and jelly apocalypse.
Jose is the writer behind the upcoming film Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark and the novel Sharcano.
Author Lawrence Person had a chat with Jose…
Lawrence Person: For those SF Signal readers who may not have previously encountered the rich Mega Shark oeuvre, can you briefly summarize previous installments in the saga?
Jose Prendes: It will have to be briefly, because there’s not much too it, and I didn’t write the first two films. Basically a Megalodon defrosted in modern times in the first one and fought giant octopus. The Meg survived and fought a giant crocodile in the second film and they blew up together. At the start of my film, a new Megalodon has risen, but the government is ready for it, having been preparing since the first Meg attacks.
Lawrence Person: Whence comes the supernatural strength that allows Mega Shark to leap several thousand feet into the air to bite airliners in half?
Jose Prendes: That’s like asking: Why are the fuck is the Hobbit so damn long? It just is. Makes it more fun. They threw it into the first film, and I decided to call back on it for Mecha, to show folks that my beast can outdo whatever Mega can do.
Lawrence Person: So what is the determining factor for whether a film from The Asylum is released to theaters, on DVD, or on the SyFy Channel?
Jose Prendes: No idea. Not a part of the decision making team. But they all go to DVD, some go to Syfy, and only a few recently have played in theaters, which is a welcomed change.
Lawrence Person: Was Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla a big influence on Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark?
Jose Prendes: Mostly it was King Kong Escapes and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2, which is the one that actually features the government building the Mecha to fight the big G.
Lawrence Person: What is it that keeps drawing The Asylum back to the fertile shark genre?
Jose Prendes: Not sure. Again, not really a part of the decisions making team.
Lawrence Person: So who is going to fulfill the requisite Stunt Casting for Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark?
Jose Prendes: I think “stunt” casting is a bit harsh. The Asylum, for better or worse, casts actors who either have a fan base or they think would be the best personality for the role and is within our budget. Our film stars Chris Judge and Elizabeth Rohm.
Lawrence Person: Viewers have come to expect a certain quality from movies produced by The Asylum. And I believe that quality is best described as “entertainingly ludicrous.” Will Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark meet those expectations?
Jose Prendes: Well, I tried very hard to make something that would move beyond people’s typical expectations from these kinds of films. Me and director Emile Smith worked very hard, despite bizarre script notes, to inject life and humanity and genuineness into a type of film that is usually spat out hastily.
The jaws of hell are about to erupt!
A burnt and half-eaten megalodon shark corpse is found beached. A priest commits suicide. A previously unknown volcano rises from the China Sea and brings about a tsunami that destroys Shanghai. Yellowstone erupts after 640,000 years of silence. A pit in Nicaragua known as the “mouth of hell” begins violently spewing lava.
When Reporter Mick Cathcart and Marine Biologist Agnes Brach set out looking for answers, they never expected to stumble upon the biblical end times. Yet with sharks made of lava shooting from volcanoes to devour anyone in their way, how could anyone deny it?
With the help of a beleaguered priest and a billionaire industrialist, Mick and Agnes scramble to shutter the volcanoes and put down the lava sharks before the whole world burns to a cinder.
Lawrence Person: I see that you have actually written a book called Sharcano, which features “three violently erupting volcanoes that star[t] spewing sharks made of magma.” At what point did you realize that novels based on Photoshop parodies of SyFy Channel movies were, in fact, a commercially viable product?
Jose Prendes: I wanted to write a balls-to-the-wall shark thriller, with no budget or silly script notes in my way to derail it, so I wrote Sharcano. It’s the best possible version of a shark disaster film, because the fx are all based on people’s imagination. All I had to do was write a convincing premise and create characters you could care about and let the lava fly. It was a blast to write, and early reviews have been glowing. I know most people would look at it and laugh and think it’s a joke, but it’s really more than meets the eyes…and so is Mecha.
Lawrence Person: Sharknado was a big publicity breakthrough for The Aslylum and SyFy. Do you think Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark will have the same potential?
Jose Prendes: Let’s hope so. Mecha isn’t as silly on the surface as that film, so we may not have the buzz that they did. But it’s a better film in my humble opinion.
Lawrence Person: When can we expect Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark to be released, and in what form (theaters, DVD, SyFy)?
Jose Prendes: It comes out January 28th on DVD. And most likely Syfy around the same time.
Lawrence Person is a science fiction writer living in Austin, Texas. His work has appeared in Asimov’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, Jim Baen’s Universe, Postscripts, Cross Plains Universe, The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction, The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy, Locus Online (where he reviews movies with Howard Waldrop), National Review, Reason, Science Fiction Eye, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and Rayguns Over Texas. He is the once and future editor of Nova Express, and the owner of Lame Excuse Books. He owns an extremely large collection of SF first editions and makes a mean batch of salsa.
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