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‘Open Water’ filmmakers: Stupid or crazy?

Low-budget film used actual sharks instead of special effects

How stupid is this?

Cruise into the ocean off the Bahamas, chum the water with bloody tuna, attract 45 to 50 sharks, and jump in for a swim — all to shoot a low-budget movie.

“Open Water” rolls into theaters this Friday with a tale of two divers, a husband and wife, stranded in the ocean and surrounded by sharks with only their swim fins, scuba tanks, life jackets and each other.

And, oh yeah, the husband Daniel wields this six-inch scuba knife to fight off the sharks. Like, that would help.

The movie was made on a low budget, $100,000, by filmmakers Chris Kentis and his wife Laura Lau. They used hand held digital cameras to tape real sharks swimming around the two actors acting scared, which wasn’t too hard for Blanchard Ryan who plays the wife, Susan.

“I didn’t know how I was going to step off the boat because they don’t get out of the way. You have to step right in on top of them,” said Ryan, “It’s not something that, instinctually, you think is a good idea.”

Uh, duh.

Daniel Travis, who plays the husband, also named Daniel, was first to jump in and called the movie “a fascinating project to work on.” Can he can get some therapy, please?

“Open Water” is being billed as “The Blair Witch Project” at sea because it is more ghost story than shark thriller. Whether it can win audiences like 1999’s haunting “Blair Witch,” which scared up more than $140 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices, remains to be seen.

Lions Gate Films, which acquired the film at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival for around $2 million hopes so.

One thing is for sure, “Open Water,” is just as creepy.

Sea vulturesThe real sharks don’t gobble people like the mechanical one in “Jaws.” They sort of circle Susan and Daniel, kind of like sea vultures. Their fins flip atop the rolling waves. They bump the pair and kind of nibble at their swim fins.

But “Open Water” is not really about divers getting lost at sea, Kentis said. It tells a tale of how people react when trapped outside their normal environment.

“In the vast scheme of things, we are very tiny and this is kind of a reminder of that,” said Kentis.

On land, Susan and Daniel are predators — business people with well-paid jobs. Neck high in saltwater, they are prey for jelly fish, barracuda and shark.

To say exactly what happens would give away too much, and the filmmakers want it that way.

“It’s much more about having the audience ask themselves what they would do in this situation,” Kentis said.

Suffice it to say, two people — by the way, both pretty darn good looking people — bob around the water. They try to flag down passing boats or swim to buoyant buoys. They bicker and gripe, hug and kiss, puke and pee. They have to, of course, but fouling the ocean really angers the sharks.

To bring in the element of nature, Kentis and Lau spend time with shots of the sky and sea.

Storms blowing in and out. The wind whispers, the water ebbs and flows. Then...

What is really scary is that stranding divers is rare, but not unheard of. Kentis and Lau decided to make the movie after reading the tale of Tom and Eileen Lonergan who were abandoned at the Great Barrier Reef in 1998 and never seen again.

In April, a boat of Boy Scouts plucked a hitchhiking diver from the waters off the southern California coast.

Kentis said he was stranded on a dive, but he was picked up after about 15 minutes. It gave him more time to snorkel.

Lucky guy.