Open Water

Based on the true story of two scuba divers accidentally stranded in shark infested waters after their tour boat has left.

  • Starring: Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis
  • Director(s): Chris Kentis
  • Producer(s): Laura Lau, Estelle Lau
  • Screenwriter(s): Chris Kentis
  • Distributor: Lions Gate Films
  • Animal Coordinator: Stuart Cove
  • Release Date: Friday, August 06, 2004
  • Rating: Not Monitored

Featured Animal Action

American Humane's Film & Television Unit did not monitor the independently financed thriller Open Water, filmed in the Bahamas. The Film & Television Unit's work is funded by a grant from the Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund – administered by trustees of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) – which allocates resources solely to cover SAG domestic projects under the SAG/AMPTP codified agreement.

Productions filming abroad do have the option of contracting for American Humane's monitoring services. However, this does not guarantee that the film will receive American Humane's End Credit Disclaimer, since the Disclaimer is awarded exclusively on the basis of animal treatment during production. The filmmakers of Open Water did not request American Humane's services, and since American Humane was not present to witness the extensive animal action firsthand, the film has been rated "Not Monitored."

Why is American Humane concerned?

Comments to the press made by the filmmakers and actors have raised issues of concern to the American Humane Association. Open Water claims to have not used animatronic or computer-generated sharks.

On May 9, 2004, the Los Angeles Times featured interviews of the film's cast and crew. Commenting on director Chris Kentis and his technique of filming at eye level with his actors, Blanchard Ryan says in this article, "He was crazy with the sharks. They were biting his camera cases, and he would bang [them] on the nose and wrench it out of [their] mouths."

Premiere Magazine online has a piece which mentions similar close encounters, and says that the director sometimes engaged in "tug-of-war matches with the gray sharks, who left bite marks on his camera."

In a press release by Lions Gate Films, Kentis says, "We would throw bait into the water to get the sharks to move. But once too many pieces are in the water, the sharks get really worked up, and then the actors would have to get out of the water."

The end of the film contains images of a shark being carved up with its bloody entrails spilling out. Since the filmmakers claim to have used no special effects or computer-generated imagery in Open Water, American Humane is concerned that a real shark was involved in this scene. American Humane opposes any killing carried out for the purpose of filmed entertainment.

In addition, an important benefit of monitoring animal action is increased safety for humans on-set. The alleged baiting of the animals and creating of a risky situation for both animals and humans are not acceptable practices based on American Humane's standards.

How to make sure American Humane is there

The "Not Monitored" rating means American Humane's Film & Television Unit was not contacted regarding animal action in the film and was unable to verify that animals were treated humanely. Films like Open Water typically receive the "Not Monitored" rating because the film's producers did not involve American Humane and may not have followed American Humane's Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media. Because the film industry is vast, American Humane needs your support to better protect animals used in entertainment.

You can help make sure the American Humane Association is there to monitor animal action in future films by:

1) Registering on our website and indicating your interest in "No Animals Were Harmed." ™ The more people who register, the stronger American Humane's impact will be on actors, producers, and film distributors.

2) Choosing to spend your money on films that express a commitment to the humane treatment of animal actors. Before buying tickets, look for the review of the animal action and make sure the film's producers have taken the right steps to ensure animal safety and well-being.

3) Letting your voice be heard. At the movies, stay tuned through the end credits to be sure the film received the "No Animals Were Harmed" Disclaimer. If you do not see it, e-mail your concerns to American Humane at info@americanhumane.org.