Wednesday, December 29, 2010

AT and T - Out of the Box, Way, Way Out

We have fielded a lot of calls for production support with sharks over the years.

Usually shows have been pre-pitched and our crew are there to provide safety, site support, and of course the sharks.

Not so with AT and T.

The production company we were working with this year had been tasked with providing promo spots for shows on AT and T's U-Verse. Shark Divers was tapped to provide the show spots featuring sharks from the ground up.

The kind of stuff we love to do because this gave us the chance to get creative. Really creative.

For a long while I had been toying with the concept of a "Jesus Walk" for a shark show host. Basically the creation of a unique and compelling visual to keep the audience through the commercial break.

The Jesus Walk had never been tried, and never in the middle of the Caribbean. The walk itself was a technical marvel, two eight foot sheets of ballistic plexiglass over twin steel beams for support, with 1500lb of flotation on each end.

The concept, done right, would have the show host "walking on water" with a chum bucket surrounded by sharks. The show hosts absolutely calm demeanor, juxtaposed with the swirling sharks just under his bare feet would be the actual visual. Shot by the camera team just at the surface to capture the sharks and the show hosts every movement.

A show host who walked on water with sharks? Now there's a visual.

When it comes to shark shows these days few really consider the 3D environment they operate in. I like to look at the total environment as a visual canvas. To that we also added a red Victorian couch, same visual, except the show host would do the intro sitting on top of the water on the couch, casually tossing huge chunks of dead fish to snapping sharks while speaking to the camera.

Absolutely classic stuff, and totally out of the box.

We had one of the shortest lead times on record for this shoot and I went to my A-Team for the deployment. The crew of the MV Kate and Scotty Grey, Scott Cassel for dive safety and underwater photography, Richard Theiss for topside and underwater photography and Luke Tipple as the show host.

We had five days for the build out and four days to shoot, the final result was seen this summer on AT and T's U-Verse and with the additional "visual canvas ideas" we threw in, AT and T were very happy with the end result.

After 30 years of shark programming it is time to start rethinking how we engage the audience with sharks. The days of bite meters, snapper cams, and show hosts who shout their way through man made near disasters are played out. There's a whole new world of shark programming out there, you just need some vision, a tight crew, and as it turns out a way to acquire ballistic plexiglass when 99.9% of the stuff is currently in Iraq.

How we got our hands on sixteen feet of BP is another story for another time. Suffice to say, once you say "Go" to our crew, they get the job done.

Next shoot concept, "Undersea Undertakers."

Patric Douglas CEO

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