Jonathan N Dixon to crowdfund sharks-and-surfers-movie Grey Fear

02 January, 2016 by Harry Windsor

Director Jonathan N Dixon.


Filmmaker Jonathan N Dixon took some time off after his last film, the 2011 horror-thriller Wrath, to spend more time with his daughter.

He moved to Noosa and took up surfing after a long absence from the waves, and slowly but surely a new film idea began to seed.

"Everybody I went surfing with knew my background in film and TV and would always talk to me about sharks", Dixon told IF.

"Only a year ago, a seven-foot tiger shark hung around for a couple of days. We all got out of the water, but what did we do the next day? Get back in. We take that chance all the time because of a passion for surfing".

"A surfer-and-shark movie has never been done, probably because of the difficulty – because it's a bastard to shoot when you're on the water!" (laughs)

Dixon has decided to rectify that gap in the market, and his new movie, Grey Fear, is about to launch a crowdfunding campaign.

The director decided to go the crowdfunding route out of an instinct that his idea would be diluted by going down the more traditional financing road.

"I'm still represented by William Morris/Endeavour, and they were sending out the script, and most production companies wanted to make it a teenage Shark Night 3D-type thing, which was just crap. I wanted to take it in a whole different direction".

Dixon's film will be about a group of pro-surfers who are also crooks, and fly in to an island to pull of a heist, with the surfing trip as their cover.

So kind of like Point Break with sharks?

"When I heard they were making a new Point Break, that's sacrilege", said Dixon. "This is more of a throwback to 60's and 70's grindhouse, really pushing the envelope. The violence is over-the-top, it's akin to the colourful world of Kill Bill".

He is hoping to to raise an initial budget of half a million. 

"We're shooting in Fiji because of the fantastic tax incentives they have, and we just can't afford to shoot it in Australia. We're trying to raise the budget via Kickstarter, and we've got things going on with sponsorship".

Dixon cast Stef Dawson in Wrath, and Dawson has since gone on to star in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Cleverman. The filmmaker is adopting the same approach this time, casting unknowns as well as enlisting the help of what Dixon calls "a new kind of celebrity".

Renee Somerfield, who Dixon has cast in a small part, is an Instagram celebrity, a bikini model with 1.5 million fans. 

"These days actors carry more weight if they have a substantial social media following, and that's reality, because you've instantly got that fanbase at your fingertips".

The Grey Fear team are hoping for eventual festival play, and are offering various enticements as part of the Kickstarter campaign. Though not, pointedly, a digital download of the film.

"Wyrmwood had a lot of problems with the release and with piracy", Dixon said, "so we're really trying to avoid those pitfalls. You need to leave time for the distributors to get a film out to market".