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Island sets were filmed for The Shallows

The Shallows on locationLocation manager Duncan Jones talks to KFTV about the sets built on a remote Australian island for shark attack movie The Shallows.

The film stars Blake Lively as young surfer Nancy who becomes stranded on a rocky outcrop just 200 yards from the shoreline of a remote Mexican beauty spot after a rogue shark attack.

Given that the story for The Shallows is driven by the geography of the location, the production team decided to build a rocky outcrop and a separate steel buoy as sets in the shallows of Lord Howe Island 600 miles east of Sydney. 

The decision was driven in part by the availability of water tank facilities for weather-specific ocean surface shots at Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland.

“We needed a beautiful tropical beach, complete with palm trees [for the location filming element],” Jones tells KFTV. “A sense of remoteness, isolation and without inhabitation. 

“[The story called for] a rock in the ocean set at a specific distance from the beach that was tidally affected, yet safe enough to have Blake Lively work on. Where the water was warm and safe so we could film all day. And have a fantastic surf break. All of this had to happen on one location where we could frame it all in a single wide.”

The rocky outcrop was built in shallow water 300 metres from the beach in a place that would be affected by the ocean swell. A central challenge was building the set with minimal environmental impact as the area was within a Marine Park Zone.

Shallows rock set

“Our work had to be surgically precise to install a steel frame and 60 tonnes of concrete blocks to ensure no environmental damage occurred, whilst building a structure that could cope with the harsh watery environment,” Jones tells KFTV. 

The steel buoy was also a build of several tonnes and had to withstand the battering of the ocean as well as the physical demands of rocking and tipping within the specific requirements of the story. Once again, careful precision was involved to minimise the environmental impact.

Nine commercial divers spent three weeks building the underwater components of both sets.

“We made the most of the natural wonder of the island,” Jones says. “It is truly a magical location and well worth all the hard work and effort to get a crew there.”

For more on filming in Australia see our production guide.

Images: Columbia Pictures.


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