The prolific screenwriter and filmmaker Thunder Levin has two of the most iconic sci-fi franchises to thank when it comes to his filmmaking career. He credits the original “Star Trek” series with opening his eyes about the magic of TV and films, and the original “Star Wars” movies with solidifying his decision to be a filmmaker as an adult. Born and raised in New York (his father Michael was an influential journalist who worked for WCBS radio and his mother an English emigre), Levin completed his film school work on the east coast before making his way to Hollywood. He resides in Santa Monica, even though he still considers himself a New Yorker at heart.
His breakthrough feature, 2008’s “Mutant Vampire Zombies from the ‘Hood,” starring C. Thomas Howell, led to a fruitful working relationship with the production company The Asylum, for whom he also made “American Warships” and “AE: Apocalypse Earth.” But all of this was merely leading up to 2013’s “Sharknado,” which itself has become not only a pop culture phenomenon but something far bigger–a word that has worked its way into our everyday lexicon used to describe things that have nothing to with films or filmmaking.
He has continued the “Sharknado” experience by writing two sequels to the highly successful (and tongue in cheek) original, “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” and “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, playing Fin and April, must be the unluckiest couple in movie history. In his spare time, Levin is an avid sailor, car enthusiast, and motorcycle rider. As a writer, Levin has also expanded beyond screenwriting and has begun working on novels as well.
In this episode I talk with Levin about how he broke into the entertainment industry and worked his way up to eventually being hired to write the “Sharknado” films.
You can also read a transcript of this episode.
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