Ian Ziering is an actor best known for his role as Steve Sanders, one of the main characters on the popular television series Beverly Hills, 90210. Since then he’s starred in several tv shows, films and has even appeared on Broadway. In recent times Ziering is better known for his role as Fin Shepherd in the incredibly popular Sharknado franchise.
With SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO due to air later this month, fans can look forward to watching Ziering as he uses the tools at his disposal to face off against another menacing waterspout as it rains sharks on Washington DC and Orlando, Florida. Tara Reid and Cassie Scerbo will return and joining them this time are Bo Derek and David Hasselhoff.
So in celebration of the upcoming premiere of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No our very own Jon Dickinson sat down with the man to discuss the film, his involvement with Celebrity Apprentice and his outstanding philanthropic adventures.
SCREAM: Hi Ian. Thanks for taking the time to talk to Scream: The Horror Magazine.
Ian Ziering: Hey, no problem Jon.
Are you surprised that Sharknado has become such the cult success that it is today?
You know what? It doesn’t really surprise me. I’m a big fan of the genre and regardless of being in Sharknado I think it has the perfect ingredients. It has a fun cast and I may be partial there… and it has a great story. It has the right amount of conflict with sharks in tornados pitted against an ordinary man who has to go to some extraordinary lengths to do what he has to do in order to keep his family safe and together. It’s a family movie… *laughs*. I know it’s funny to say that but when you look at all the facts, it’s true that it is a movie about a family’s struggle to survive. That’s the reality that it is grounded and from there… all sharks break loose.
Did you hesitate before accepting the role of Fin?
Absolutely. When I first read the script I was told they were going to start filming the following week. Something told me that something had fallen out or that something was missing from this project. So that was the first thing to raise an eyebrow and I read it knowing that this was going to be something inexpensive and seeing how many holes there were in the script that were going to be filled with visual effects I had my doubts. I was very concerned and I thought this was going to be one of the most cheesy and campy science fiction movies and I didn’t think that it would propel my career in the right direction and I thought it would do the complete opposite. After getting halfway through the script I told my wife of my concerns and with my daughter in her arms and my other still inside her stomach she said “You need to go to work!”. As an actor I get my health insurance from my union and every year I have to make so much as an actor to get the top tier coverage so when she said that I was forced to agree with her. As a husband and a father I am also a provider and sometimes I have so much fun doing the things that I am doing that I lose sight of the fact that I do this for a living. I’m very lucky to do this as a profession but I love what I do so this was really one of those times where I wasn’t loving the material so I had to take one for the team.
Well it was a wise decision to make. We are now three movies in, where does the story pick up in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No?
The story picks up in Washington D.C. but I’m not going to tell you why as I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Suffice to say we start our story in Washington D.C. at the White House where somehow a Sharknado forms and rains down sharks on the White House and fortunately Fin Shepard is there to save the day.
Great stuff. I understand the action in Sharknado 3 takes place in a number of different locations. What challenges did this bring to the production?
We had a lot of different locations. We filmed in Washington D.C. and we filmed in Orlando, Florida. We also filmed at Cape Canaveral which is fifty miles south of Orlando which is the home of NASA and that’s a bit of a hint as to where this movie eventually goes. It presented some issues because we worked on a very short timeline and the travel to these locations takes time and money which is what could be spent shooting and adding to the overall quality of the movie and its content. So when you are working on a science fiction movie you would normally have a James Cameron budget and you know all your sets and locations are all going to be purposely built for that particular movie. With Sharknado we had to use what was available and hope that we had access to these locations. We couldn’t build our own sets so we had to shoot where we could take advantage of. So there was always a challenge there and quite often because it is a low budget it lends to itself having this campy nature because there is no time or money to invest in hours of rehearsals or hours of set design or even the cutting edge of technology. But what’s nice is that they use technology that was cutting edge ten years or fifteen years ago that still exists but it is not utilised. So because the equipment still exists the license to use it becomes less expensive and this makes it available to productions that don’t have the budget to spend on the latest tech. It’s still great but it’s not Avatar but this also lends itself to the camp nature where you will see a shark flying. It’s a give and take experience.
What was it like to team up again with your Sharknado family for a third time?
It really was great. Tara Ried is such a doll. She works very hard on this movie and her character has a lot going on in this one, that’s for sure, but Tara came to work and delivered every day. She made it fun to work with her. She has a great sense of humour and is always fun to be around. Cassie Scerbo is back, she was in the original Sharknado… She’s a treat to work with and she is very professional. She also brings an element of sex appeal to the movie. Also working with the same writer and director helped us to maintain the integrity of the movie and help deliver a project that is equally, if not more, entertaining than what we have had before.
How was it working with Anthony C. Ferrante in particular?
Anthony C. Ferrante, our director, is masterful in delegating where the emphasis needs to be placed. He takes Thunder Levin’s script and tells a story that is executed perfectly as he has the ability to see the full movie whilst we are shooting each scene. He knows exactly what he needs in the shot and what he absolutely needs to have to propel his story ahead and the actors as well to elevate the material. He’s great to work with.
Considering the fun you have had whilst shooting the films would you like there to be further Sharknado sequels?
You know what? I’m going to leave it up to the audience to pass judgement on that. When there is a clambering for a particular project there is a way to get it done. Sharknado is a movie that has become popular by the public. It’s not just the public in the United States, this is a global movie. Where are you right now?
I’m in the north of England.
Okay. I’m talking to you as you’re sat in your office in England. I have a day of international interviews lined up that reads like it is a list of the United Nations. There is such an anticipation for this movie on a global plain that not many bigger budget pictures are able to match in terms of buzz and excitement. Sharknado 2 had over a billion Twitter impressions. These major motion picture studios have spent millions of dollars to hopefully have the secret sauce and more often than not they miss it. Our movie Sharknado has got it and for whatever reason it is it has got it. The Science Fiction fans are one of the most supportive audiences and Sharknado clearly pays off for those fans and what is exciting is that the movie has spread over into mainstream entertainment. This is why it has become cultish.
I agree. Sharknado has become part of summer. It’s a summer event that fans like myself have been looking forward to.
Yeah! It has become a summer event. It’s a very lucrative franchise for the SyFy network which has affiliates in ninety countries around the world. So in those ninety countries and with the Asylum (the production company behind the franchise) they can get licenses in the other countries that don’t have the SyFy network.
Over the years there have been many different types of Sharknado merchandise and collectables that have been snapped up by fans of the franchise. I hear that you have your own clothing line that was inspired by Sharknado, is this true?
You know what? In everything I do I am passionate about it. I feel that if I am passionate about it I can be successful. With what I have learnt about myself doing The Apprentice, I have now focused those abilities on my own efforts. With anything unshared success is failure so I have created Chainsaw Brands which to me the chainsaw in Sharknado, in terms of my character development, is a tool that Fin would use to overcome problems. After speaking to a successful businessman who just so happens to be a good friend of mine, we were talking about branding and it was after watching Sharknado 2 that I saw Tara’s commercial for her perfume and I thought it was brilliant. For me I couldn’t just do one thing and I learned from taking part in The Apprentice that I should look for duplicative models that you could put a spin on and do what makes it successful but a little bit differently. So my friend and I sat down and we asked ourselves if we had a brand, what would it be and so a chainsaw is very much in the same place where my mind is right now. I am connected to it from the movies but in life I look at the chainsaw not as a power tool but as an instrument of empowerment to make a breakthrough. So if I was going to have a brand I would like it to resonate with that exact statement so I thought why not call it Chainsaw Brands? So we went with it. At the time I was being immersed in Disney cartoons with my little daughters watching the Neverland pirates all the time with their pirate flag showing the skull and cross bones so I figured the logo should be a pair of crossed chainsaws. It’s an edgy graphic and I like it so we sought out a graphic artist who could bring my vision to illustration. We had this really cool graphic and we put it on a number of different things to see what would work. We started out originally with sportswear. I’m in the gym all the time and I go through gym clothes quite often so I’m always looking for quality clothes that I could work out in. We looked for a nice mix of athletic wear that is great to work out in so we started with some hats and t-shirts. We gathered quite a bit of traction online and we do ship to England by the way so be sure to check out chainsawbrands.com as we are now branching out into apparel. As I have said I believe that unshared success is a failure and to further my philanthropy we have a signature line and the signature line of the chainsaw clothing a portion of the proceeds will be donated to others to help people in need. The signature line comes with a tag that I have personally signed which makes it a little bit more than just a regular garment. It could be a collectable for people who may want to collect this and I’m sure there are people out there who want that. Ultimately it lets people know that a portion of the proceeds are going to other people and that’s what I am about.
That’s a really awesome thing you’re doing. Have you always been a philanthropist?
Yeah. When I was young I was motivated by glory. I would do commercials and the kids in school really responded to that and thought it was cool. As I became older I became more motivated by achievement and I wanted to do things that I hadn’t done before. I wanted to grow. I wanted to learn new things. Now that I’m a father and a husband, I understand that I have this celebrity capital and I am now motivated by contribution. I feel the best use of that capital is to spend it by doing things that will benefit other people. So from Sharknado becoming a global brand and with my work with ChainsawBrands.com there are a lot of people that are potentially going to be helped by this. So this is the entire purpose behind Chainsaw Brands, to break though and to take it to the next level. This isn’t just capitalism but it is social entrepreneurism.
Great. Well I hope it continues to be a successful venture for you. Are there any other projects that you are involved in that you would like to talk about?
Yeah. I have launched a website called celebrityhideaways.com. Again, I found a duplicatable model and have put my spin on it. There are a lot of travel websites out there that are widely successful so I figured that, as I have been so fortunate to travel around the world and treated to so many unbelievable experiences, everyone should know about these places. You know, the ultimate experiences that people read about in the tabloids about where celebrities are going and what they are doing so celebrityhideaways.com is the perfect travel website to learn about where all these things are for you to visit. So yeah this is a duplicatable model that I have put my spin on. This is what I learned from taking part in The Apprentice.
Ian, good luck with Sharknado 3 and everything else you have planned.
Well thanks man.
We would like to thank actor Ian Ziering for taking time to speak with us about the film. Be sure to check it out when it premieres in the US on 22nd and here in the UK on DVD from November 23rd.
In the meantime we’ll leave you with the latest trailer for the film:
Words: Jon Dickinson (@marvelguy)