Dangerous Waters Director John Barr On The Tactical Training Required To Make Movie Magic



  • Dangerous Waters, a thrilling film about a young woman’s fight for survival, is now available to watch in theaters and stream On Demand.
  • The film features a talented cast, including Odeya Rush, Eric Dane, Saffron Burrows, and Ray Liotta.
  • Director John Barr discusses the tactical training and behind-the-scenes work that went into creating the film, as well as his collaboration with Eric Dane, who was inspired by his work on Euphoria.

Beginning on Friday, October 13th, Dangerous Waters will be available to see in theaters and stream On Demand. The thriller centers around 19-year-old Rose who is coerced into going sailing with her mother and her new boyfriend, Derek. When a ruthless attack on the boat results in tragedy, Rose is forced to work with a near stranger to ensure their survival. However, the more time she spends with Derek, the more Rose begins to question his true intentions.

John Barr is the director of the film in addition to being a co-writer alongside Mark Jackson. He has decades of experience in the camera and electrical department and also serves as Dangerous Waters’ cinematographer. Barr’s previous directorial projects include Blood and Money and His Lover. Odeya Rush leads the thriller as Rose, with Eric Dane, Saffron Burrows, and Ray Liotta rounding out the main cast.

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John Barr chats exclusively with Screen Rant about the tactical training required for the film and how Eric Dane’s work on Euphoria inspired his casting. This interview was conducted during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, but the movie has an interim agreement with the union for adhering to .

John Barr Talks Dangerous Waters

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Screen Rant: I don’t want to give anything away, but this film is full of twists. Did you have everything planned from start to finish, or did some of these events end up in the script as you were developing the story?

John Barr: There are new ideas from the first script for sure, just because there are different locations and different layers to the script than there was originally, but it’s the same premise for sure. A young adult going on this crazy journey and having to overcome unsurmountable obstacles and doing it.

The film opens with Rose pretty battered up and about to recount what happened to her. We know right away that she’s going to make it out of this situation, so I’d love to hear what went into that creative decision.

John Barr: It’s really interesting because that moment wasn’t originally in the script. When we were editing and everything, they wanted to get to the end of the first act quicker, which, obviously, inherently, cuts down on a lot of things that you want to learn about the people in the beginning of the film. So having that element in the beginning, asks a ton of questions right out of the gate. It gave us a little bit of breathing room to develop relationships and all of that before we get to the end of the first act.

How much time did you actually spend on the water? I was assuming the cabin scenes were a set, or at least filmed close to shore, so I’d love to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on that.

John Barr: We shot everything practically on the boat. We didn’t do any builds, which I thought was important to give the actors the feeling of being on the water the whole time. You’re right. A lot of those moments were tied at the dock or close to the anchor or something like that. But the majority of the sailing stuff was done practically. We were out at sea. It was intense but amazing. I think it helped Odeya and Eric and Saffron really experience it and be completely honest with the characters.

How were the night shoots? Did being on the water cause any additional complications?

John Barr: I think a lot of the night work we actually did inside a marina. We had to be kind of strategic with the night work because, obviously, we needed to have areas where we could put lifts with lights, so we shot a lot of those in marinas, and we would paint out backgrounds with VFX. It gives you the sensation that you’re at sea, but you’re really not.

Where did you shoot the scenes on the island? The location was beautiful.

John Barr: It was stunning. It was in Samana. There’s a little peninsula in the northeast of Dominican Republic. We shot it up there. It was incredible, so beautiful.

I really enjoyed the mother-daughter bond in the film. Rose adored her mom from the beginning. Did you have a larger backstory for them?

John Barr: It’s illustrated in the story how Rose lost her father and Alma lost her husband when she was very young. I think that, inherently, can go one of two ways. They can both be the victim of something like that that happens, or they can be their best selves and recover. With the support of Alma, and raising Rose to be an amazing young woman, I think that creates an incredible bond between a mom and a daughter.

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How does your background in cinematography help you in the director’s chair during a film like this?

John Barr: I shot the film as well. It helps so much on so many levels. In pre-production, I’m able to decide locations without another DP with their input. I’m able to figure out what time of day to shoot things without somebody else’s input. All of that can be ironed out well in advance of ever being there with the actors, so I think it’s huge. When we’re doing single camera stuff, I operate. I’m in there with the actors, and I can direct them quietly while we’re in a moment, so there isn’t somebody 20 feet back watching a monitor yelling direction. It’s my process. It’s not for everybody, but it works for me, and I think it works for the actors as well.

This is a very stunt-heavy film with a lot of hand-to-hand combat. Can you talk a bit about all the work that was put in behind the scenes to achieve the desired outcome?

John Barr: Before Odeya flew to DR, we had her do tactical training with firearms because there was no live fire on our set. I wanted her to really have the sensation of how guns worked and felt and sounded, so she could react properly to it, which I think she does. She’s completely believable, in my opinion. We had her do fight training as well in L.A. When she got down there, Nick Benseman, our stunt coordinator, who’s amazing, would go to the locations, the cargo ship, for instance, and we would block out before shooting. We would have Odeya there with her stunt double Sonja, and we would work everything out, so when we got to the shooting, it all made sense for everybody and there were no questions unanswered.

I’ve been a fan of Eric Dane’s work since Grey’s Anatomy, and I’ve always enjoyed seeing him play such a wide variety of roles. How was collaborating with him on this project?

John Barr: It was amazing. He’s a pro. He’s been doing it for so long. He’s so recognizable. In Santo Domingo, we’re out for dinner, and you can tell what type of fan is walking up to him—either Grey’s Anatomy or Euphoria. From 20 feet away, we would guess. He’s a great guy. I love him. He’s a friend now, and he was great to work with. I think what really inspired me to approach him was his work on Euphoria.

I think what he does with that character and how much is buried within him and how it comes out and evolves throughout that series is incredible. I think it’s stuff he’s never done before. It was just mind-blowing. Having him on the film and able to create the Derek character was amazing. There are a lot of highs and lows with him and he nails it.

The main cast is small, but you ended up with a lot of actors. How was the on-set experience?

John Barr: It was incredible. The way that we approach these more action-based films is, with the help of Nick, we cast stunt guys and stunt women to play these roles. We’re never having to double them within the scene, and they can actually help the actress or actor, Odeya, for instance, in the fight sequence really perform to the highest level. It’s a really good strategy. Suza Horvat, a producer on the film, was instrumental in that. She did that on our first film together, and it worked incredibly well on this one, as well.

What are you hoping to do next? Are there any other genres you want to dive into as a director?

John Barr: We’ve already written the script for the next film, and we’ve scouted locations already. I think once the SAG strike lifts we will start casting and start getting the next one going. It’s definitely action-based. There’s also, too, a mother-daughter, female-centric protagonist, and there’s a lot of action in it.

About Dangerous Waters

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A sailing adventure spirals out of control in this tightly wound survival thriller. 19-year-old Rose (Odeya Rush) lives a tough, small-town life in Florida with her single mother Alma (Saffron Burrows). Their luck seems to take a turn when Alma’s new businessman boyfriend, Derek (Eric Dane), whisks them away on a sailing adventure to Bermuda.

While at sea, Derek’s “business” is revealed to be less than legitimate when their boat is attacked by savage villains, set on fire, and Alma is viciously killed. Distraught and persecuted by Derek and The Captain (Ray Liotta), Rose unearths a primal instinct of survival and a terrifying need for vengeance. She will not yield until those responsible for her mother’s murder are dead.

Dangerous Waters is currently available in theaters and On Demand.

Source: Screen Rant Plus