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National Geographic Acquires Worldwide Rights To “Playing with Sharks”

Shark fan rejoice. National Geographic Documentary Films announced today the acquisition of the feature documentary Playing with Sharks. This will be a great place to host the film that documents the life of Australian icon, conservationist and filmmaker Valerie Taylor.

Called “visually stunning,” “enthralling” and “gorgeous” by critics after its Sundance premiere Friday evening, Playing with Sharks captures the life of a woman ahead of her time — a true pioneer in both underwater filmmaking and shark research, whose life’s work has become the basis for much of what we know about sharks today. Through remarkable underwater archival footage, along with interviews with Valerie herself, the film follows this daring ocean explorer’s trajectory from champion spear fisher to passionate shark protector. From the birth of cage diving, to Jaws hysteria, to the dawn of cageless shark diving, Valerie became a trailblazing advocate for the ocean’s most maligned and misunderstood creatures.

As a young woman in Australia in the 1950s, Valerie Taylor bucked the status quo, becoming a champion spear fisher in a sport dominated by men. She soon traded in her spear for a camera, documenting the undersea world as never before. With husband Ron behind the camera and Valerie’s willingness to get up close and personal with creatures of the deep, the team quickly gained attention as world-class, pioneering underwater filmmakers. The first ever to film a great white underwater, their shark sequences ultimately became the inspiration for a new novel and soon-to-be blockbuster hit — Jaws — with Valerie and Ron brought on to shoot all the underwater live shark scenes.

 

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The rest is history — Jaws went on to become a cultural phenomenon, smashing box office records and changing the film industry forever.But Jaws had other unforeseen consequences, solidifying sharks in the collective mindset as an underwater monster to be feared and hunted. Valerie would spend the rest of her life working to set the record straight, dispelling the fearsome misconceptions about the toothy predator and advocating for the protection and preservation of marine habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef.

“We couldn’t be happier to partner with Nat Geo Doc Films. It is the perfect home for Playing with Sharks and we know Nat Geo will embrace and promote its important themes of shark conservation and trailblazing women,” said producer Bettina Dalton of WildBear Entertainment. “Dogwoof was with us all the way as both sales agents and investors; they committed to the journey with us from my first pitch to Anna Godas in Sundance 2019 right through to the final deal, which they negotiated and completed with great finesse.”

“It was love at first sight when Bettina pitched Valerie’s story to us two years ago in Sundance and we decided to get involved as funders via TDog Productions (Dogwoof’s production fund),” added Anna Godas, CEO, Dogwoof. “It’s been the most incredible journey to see this film come to life. We couldn’t be prouder to have helped make this project happen and couldn’t have asked for a better team to craft it.”

“I can’t think of a more perfect film premiering at Sundance this year for our Nat Geo Docs Film banner than Playing with Sharks,” said Carolyn Bernstein EVP, Global Scripted Content & Documentary Films for National Geographic. “We see it as a coming home of sorts for Valerie, after she first appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine in June 1973. Valerie’s thirst for adventure and love for marine life jumps off the screen — hers is a truly unique and aspirational story and one we can’t wait to share with audiences worldwide.”

Playing with Sharks is created and produced by Bettina Dalton, WildBear Entertainment, and written and directed by Sally Aitken. It is executive produced by Alan Erson for WildBear; Anna Godas and Oli Harbottle for TDog; and Paul Wiegard for Madman Entertainment. A WildBear Entertainment production, with principal production investment and development support from Screen Australia, it is developed and financed with the assistance of Screen NSW.

No release date has yet been announced, either for theatrical, Disney+, Hulu or for the National Geographic channel.

Will you be watching this new documentary?

Source: WhatsOnDisneyPlus

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.