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Nat Geo WILD: From Executive Producer Ashley Hoppin

Shark Attack Experiment: LIVE is as big as it gets.  Middle of the night, off the coast of Africa, no cages, some of the most shark-infested water on the planet. Urine, blood, and your Jaws-infused imagination.  A living nightmare.  I love it.  It was, and is, the brainchild of the suitably twisted Phil Fairclough who is at the helm on this.  The adrenaline is palpable and the message on sharks positive.  Great combo.  I remember when I was first told about it.  Geoff Daniels, who heads Nat Geo WILD, and Janet Vissering, who runs development, told me about the concept.  They paused and said, “…and we’re going to do it LIVE.” Awesome. I’m a diver and have been swimming with bull sharks (the thick-necked linebackers of the shark world) for another show about 10 years ago.  Beautiful, large, intimidating, stunning creatures.  I’m also commercially minded so what better way to spread the good word to people outside the choir about the true nature of sharks and the oceans than a glossy, high-octane live show?

Putting this show together has been an extraordinary dance.  Normally, producers would spend over a year getting such an event together but on this one, just to add to the drama, one of our board members liked the idea so much that he asked us to do pull it together in less than six months. Why not?  We were off and running.  The best part is that everyone involved with this show has the right motivation.  If we can make a sizzling show about sharks then maybe, just maybe, a few viewers will shift their thinking.  Then it’ll all be worth it.

The details on this kind of show are endless.  What if the water temperature rises or falls?  What if the underwater lights are OK but the electronic frequency affects the sharks?  What if the wind picks up and we lose our signal?  What if no sharks show up?  In the end, it’ll be like a well orchestrated Cecil B. DeMille performance: a thousand twirling pieces all moving in unison.

At 6am South Africa time next Saturday (11pm EST) don’t be surprised if the winds off the coast of Durban shift due to the collective sigh of relief from our adrenaline- infused crew.  Can’t wait.

Ashley Hoppin is Executive Producer of Shark Attack Experiment: LIVE on Nat Geo WILD.