This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2010-02-25 — sourcemeta

Source: Scan, Frontier Magazine, issue 7, page 10
Author:George Ivanoff
Copyright:Archiving permitted by author

Ocean travels

As “Ocean Girl” moves into its fourth season, George Ivanoff paid them a visit.

The fourth series of “Ocean Girl” is coming and in keeping with the progression of the previous three series, it has an even greater SF content.

In Series 1 (13 episodes) we were introduced to Jason (David Hoflin), Brett (Jeffrey Walker) and the other residents of ORCA, an underwater research establishment, and also to Neri (Marzena Godecki), the mysterious “Ocean Girl” of the title who swims like a fish, telepathically communicates with a humpback whale named Charlie and lives on a deserted island.

In Series 2 (13 episodes) we discover that Neri is in fact an alien from The Planet of Oceans, and that she has a younger sister named Mera (Lauren Hewett), who is also living on Earth.

In Series 3 (26 episodes) Neri, Jason and Brett find the spaceship in which Neri came to Earth and aboard it they discover Kal (Jeremy Angerson), a boy from Neri’s planet who has been kept alive in suspended animation. Neri also discovers that part of her mission on Earth is to locate the nine pieces of the Synchronium, a powerful device sent to Earth 20 years earlier and designed to return harmony to the oceans.

The fourth series, currently in production, begins with the mysterious appearance of an underwater Pyramid close to Neri’s island home. This is the beginning of a very SF driven story in which the true nature of Neri’s mission to Earth is revealed. The Planet of Oceans is dying, its waters choked by a red viral tide. The inhabitants’ only chance of survival is to emigrate to Earth, a planet they have had contact with since the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs. It is Neri’s mission to use the power of the underwater pyramid to prepare for the emigration.

The peaceful move to Earth, however, is threatened by the renegade Malakat (George Henare) who is planning to melt the polar ice-caps and then launch an invasion. Events are further complicated by the intervention of PRAXIS, an international organisation charged with alien investigation. Setting up their base of operations at the ORCA research establishment, it soon becomes clear that they will use any means necessary to repel the alien threat.

Episodes 1–13 of the new series are being directed by Mark DeFriest and episodes 14–26 by Colin Budds. These directors both worked on Series 3 with the same arrangement, while Mark DeFriest also worked on Series 1 and 2.

Executive and Creative Producer for the series is Jonathan M. Shiff, head of Jonathan M. Shiff Productions. “Ocean Girl” is based on a concept conceived, researched and developed by Jonathan and his staff. He and his company have produced a number of children’s series including “Kelly”, “Kelly 2”, “Secret Animals” and “RAW”, a teenage magazine series commissioned by the Transport Accident Commission. Combining live action and animation the “RAW” segments have won awards in numerous festivals worldwide including the 1995 Melbourne International Film Festival, 1995 Sydney International Film Festival and the 1994 Uppsala International Short Film Festival (Sweden).

Jonathan, formerly a practising Solicitor, holds a Graduate Diploma in Applied Film and Television from the Swinburne Film and Television School, and has worked on a number of productions including “Carson’s Law”.

Series 4 will be the first series of “Ocean Girl” without Story Editor Peter Hepworth, who conceived and developed the storyline for the first three series. His shoes have been filled by Keith Aberdein.

Location filming for “Ocean Girl” takes place in Port Douglas, Queensland, while interiors are shot in Victoria. It has a fairly substantial budget for an Australian series ($7.8 million was spent on Series 3), with much of that going on special effects. One of the major effects is the life-size section of a humpback whale constructed by Robotechnology at the Warner Roadshow Movie World Studios. The 700kg whale is used in open water situations and these shots are then combined with footage of actual humpback whales. Other effects for Series 4 will include ORCA and the underwater pyramid.

As well as screening on the Ten Network in Australia, “Ocean Girl” has had a great deal of success overseas. The series has screened on the BBC, Family Channel in the UK and ZDF in Germany, while Tele Images/ITI distributes the series to French-speaking Europe and French-speaking Africa. Its biggest success, however, has been one the Disney Channel in the USA, where the series has been a number one rating program.

If Series 4 continues the “Ocean Girl” success story, then we’re likely to see Series 5 go into production, which is not only good for the Australian industry but also for Australian followers of quality science fiction.