Saved from a great white shark by dolphins story is sold for movie
A lifeguard who credited a pod of dolphins with saving four swimmers from a circling great white shark has sold the film rights to the story. Canadian producer Alexis Nihon has secured film rights from lifeguard Rob Howes to take the story to the big screen. Mr Howes has signed over audio-visual and merchandising rights for a percentage of the movie's profit.
The movie will be based on the encounter of four lifeguards being saved by about seven dolphins from a 3m great white shark at Northland's Ocean Beach last October. The story created international interest after Whangarei Heads Surf Lifesaving member Mr Howes and three teenagers, his daughter Nicky, Karina Cooper and Helen Slade, who was having her first day on the job, were 100m out to sea on a training swim when seven dolphins herded them together, apparently protecting them from the shark.
Mr Howes has never had doubts that it was a great white. "It glided around in an arc and headed for the other two girls. My heart went into my mouth because one of them was my daughter. The dolphins were going ballistic," he told the Herald at the time. Mr Howes said Mr Nihon, a member of a Canadian investment trust, had to buy the rights from him because the producer wanted to base the film around his experience.
Mr Howes has begun writing a story about his experience. "He [Mr Nihon] already had screenwriters putting together bits and pieces from the media. He thought it would be great to have the real inside story." Mr Howes hoped the movie would be shot at Ocean Beach, but production costs could mean it would be filmed in Florida or the Bahamas, where there is easy access to trained dolphins.
If the movie is made offshore then Mr Howes hoped some of the background scenery could be shot at Ocean Beach. He said Natural History New Zealand was also planning a documentary about the incident.