I recently had the chance to interview director George Popov to talk about his new film Sideworld Terrors Of The Sea, which focuses on creepy nautical urban legends and tales of sea monsters. In this interview we discuss coastal folk songs, exploration and tricky tides. I hope you enjoy.
Q: Why Focus On The Sea This Time Around
GP: We were discussing a vast array of potential topics for future sideworld films even before “Forests” was finished and always one of the main examples for a topic that we were all excited about was the sea legends. It gave you a scope in which you can show potential directions for where the series can go and retain its particular style while enrich the palette with every single one. And also out of all other options we had, it felt like the right continuation from the previous one. They have a thematic relation when you’re talking about these biomes, these vast areas of the world that we have been so closely connected to throughout history.
Q: What Inspired This Sequel?
GP: I really wanted to give a good idea of how varied and diverse our relationship with the sea is, and there are stories and sea legends and horror myths that really capture the vast difference between how gigantic and operatic they can be in some examples and then how emotional and personal they can get in others. So the inspirations for me came from all different angles including reading old sea stories when I was a kid all the way up to, of course, watching many films and frankly a lot of marine art. Some fine examples of which made it into the film in a very beautiful way, which I’m very happy about. Also for a few months my playlist was nothing but coastal folk songs and old sea shanties.
Q: What Is The Strange And Unsettling Allure To People And How Would You Describe The Relationship Between Humanity And The Sea?
GP:In lots of ways that’s the main question we try to tackle in the film. No matter which section we’ll be working on or which story we’ll be telling, the question of our relationship with the sea in its complexity and its duality, would just keep coming up. Throughout history, the ocean has been one of the main frontiers for humanity to explore and the ocean floor today is the final frontier for us, maybe alongside Antarctica, that we have left on this planet. The mystery, the adventure and the danger add to this strange allure we have for it, and until we completely tame and explore all of it, I don’t think that sensation is going away. And I kind of hope we never get to that stage, because I think it will be really sad if the ocean loses all mystery and just turns into another park or backyard for us.
Q: What Do You Think Is Waiting For Us At The Bottom Of The Sea?
GP: I think it is an abundance of new knowledge. There is a lot on the ocean floor that we still know nothing about. Almost every month it feels like, there is a discovery of a new funny looking invertebrate or something else thriving in conditions previously thought very difficult to sustain life. Also in recent times we’ve discovered a lot more about creatures growing to sizes, previously thought to be exclusively reserved for tall tales, like in the case with the Colossal Squid. And if you watch “Terrors of the Sea” we do bring up the question of what else might be there that’s not just pure fantasy.
Q: What Was The First Nautical Ghost Story, Legend Or Tall Tale That You Heard?
GP: I have to think about it. Most likely the literal first one I do not remember but I do remember being very young when I read a lot of the Sinbad tales and remember them being amazing. They captured my imagination with all these adventures on the ocean with mythical creatures and being epic fairy tales. Yeah, so that will have to be it but I do recall being aware of the Odyssey at a very young age so that also could be it.
Q: Do You Have Any Funny Stories From Production?
GP: When you travel around the country to film all these amazing places on our schedule, it’s almost difficult not to have a single day go by without something kind of wacky happening. So yeah, I guess there was, it was funny but also a little bit worrisome, there was this time when we were filming this colony of clams on a cliff side. We did know that the tide was coming in because it was in our schedule, you had to know where the where the tide is at that time of day and how much time we have and everything. But they don’t tell you how amazingly quick that happens, so it can be a problem if you get lost in your shots. And at some point as we were standing on these rocks, thinking that we’re quite a way from the sea with our backs turned towards it. At some point I just fell this water washing my ankles and I turned around. What used to be rocks and a vast beach now was nothing but the ocean and so we had to very quickly evacuate the equipment and ourselves. Trying to navigate what has now become islands that were shrinking very quickly and the whole carpet of sharp clam shells as well in our way. So yeah, that was that was pretty exciting.
Q: What Location Will You Focus On Next If There Is A Third Sideworld Film?
GP: I can’t say much at this point but what I can say is that there will be a third Sideworld, the whole team is very excited about it and we’re working on it as we speak.
Q: Any Words Of Wisdom For Aspiring Filmmaker, Gleamed Whilst Making This Film?
GP:This is the first sequel I’ve ever done and first for Rubicon Films as well as whole, so don’t know yet so I don’t know how much wisdom any of this carries, but I did find the whole experience a lot more liberating than I thought. I think it’s normal for filmmakers to feel a bit constrained when you make something that has to fit as part of a series. If you don’t feel that constraint, you probably don’t worry about your creativity in the first place. Which is a problem. But at the same time the balance of trying to push the boundaries a bit while giving that familiarity is really intriguing. And that every new film gets the opportunity to shine in its own unique way. Are they all going to be all equally successful? Of course not, but by changing the recipe ever so slightly every time you learn a lot more about our audience and about yourself as a filmmaker.
If you would like to check out Sideworld: Terrors of The Sea for yourself then it is available to rent and buy right now on Amazon Prime Video
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