Teaser screenings of ‘Ocean Vet’ series
Excerpts from seven episodes of Ocean Vet starring the late Neil Burnie will be screened over the next two months at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.
The series, which has attracted interest from some of the world's major networks, including Discovery Channel and National Geographic, had to undergo a major re-edit by gassProductions following the death of veterinarian and ocean activist Mr Burnie in November last year.
However, now the majority of the work has been completed, including narration by Hollywood actor Michael Douglas and the employment of an impersonator to complete some of Mr Burnie's underwater pieces to camera vocals. The team is preparing local audiences for the full premiere which is due to be screened at BUEI early next year.
Mr Burnie's research partner Choy Aming will give a short introduction to the series during the teaser screenings while gassProductions managing director Andy Smith will discuss the complications that followed after the death of the show's central character.
Mr Smith told The Royal Gazette: “The networks were all geared and ready for it but we had to pull it off the market because of what happened to Neil and a big amount of work was needed.
“We didn't have any of Neil's narration and we didn't have a lot of his underwater pieces to camera but we did have recordings from a GoPro on his wrist so we could understand what he was saying and we could replicate that with an impersonator in the UK.”
Speaking of the show's potential reach, Mr Smith added: “Cineflix, the distribution company, is ready to deliver it to its regional offices around the world and then it will go out to the networks. There is really good interest from so many major networks around the world — there are over 60 countries on the list.
“The next thing will be whether people like it — the networks will take a punt and then the public will decide whether it is something they enjoy to watch which I am sure they will.
“Then Ocean Vet could be the start of another major project going forward that will include gassProductions and Bermuda.”
Mr Smith said there were many highlights people could look forward to including close-up footage of Mr Burnie untangling a commercial fishing line from the jaws of a 15 foot, six-gill shark.
“It is quite astonishing,” said Mr Smith. “It was true Neil Burnie-style.”
Each episode of Ocean Vet focuses on a particular species in Bermuda's waters including sharks, whales, turtles and rays.
Mr Aming, who set up the Bermuda Shark Project with Mr Burnie a decade ago, said: “I want to tell everybody what happened and how it affected us but also how we had to go forward to finish it all off.
“As tragic as Neil's death was, we were able to finish it as close to what we anticipated as the original as we could — that was the saving grace. It is probably the best legacy we could think of for anybody but particularly him because his persona is really captured on screen. Millions of people will get to see him for five hours at his best.
“It feels fantastic now that we are coming to the home stretch and is it bigger and better than we expected. The only obvious downfall is that he is not here standing up cracking jokes with me.
“The torch was passed to us and we were happy to take it to the finish line but Neil's presence is large and irreplaceable. It is a bittersweet victory.”
Proceeds from the first screening this evening will go towards the Neil Burnie Foundation for marine research and education, as well as the BUEI's education fund.
• For dates and times of screenings contact BUEI on 292-7219.