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By Rob Barrel, Nai’a, Fiji

What a great combination: a New Years cruise in Fiji and the chance to work alongside a world class filmmaker!

Many of us are aspiring underwater filmmakers. I have a huge library that I’m sure includes some magnificent footage, except that it is buried among 200 uncataloged tapes growing moldy in an old Pelican case. There are a few who have done much better, and one of the best is hosting a natural history filmmaking seminar during next year’s New Year expedition (2010/2011).

Meet Mark Shelley, a founder and the executive director of Sea Studios Foundation, a non-profit team of filmmakers, scientists and social entrepreneurs, united by common passion to inspire a healthy and sustainable future. The producer of many award-winning films, Sea Studios Foundation is best known for the National Geographic prime-time series, Shape of Life, and Strange Days on Planet Earth.

During ten days aboard NAI’A, Mark will team up with his mentor, retired Monterey Bay Aquarium Senior Scientist (and co-founder), Steve Webster, to conceive, write, shoot, edit and present a short natural history documentary. Mark, with more than 30 years experience making ocean films for global broadcast, will focus on the story, shooting and editing while Steve, who is allegedly the reincarnation Doc Ricketts, will help with the story and critter biology/natural history. Everyone aboard is invited to jump right in and learn the ropes from the masters. We’ll build the videos the first seven days and share them the last three.

I say “we” because I’m so excited about this opportunity that I have sent the Cruise Directors away on holiday so that Cat and I can run the trip. We’ll have three aspiring actresses aboard too, our 5 and 6 year-olds and Mark’s 10 year-old. It’s gonna be fun!

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