Spot on ‘Aquateam’ show like winning the lottery

Spot on ‘Aquateam’ show like winning the lottery
by Kirk Starratt/The Advertiser
View all articles from Kirk Starratt/The Advertiser
Article online since October 9th 2008, 11:11
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A Kingsport teen says it was sort of like winning the lottery. He answered an open casting call last fall and wound up getting one of eight spots in a new show being produced by Arcadia Entertainment of Halifax called Aquateam. There were about 800 applications received as part of the open casting call.
Fifteen-year-old Joseph Huyer Upton said his mom read about the open casting call last
November in the provincial paper. With her help, he put together a resume and sent it in. A few weeks later he was called to Halifax for a screen test and to answer questions. He was then invited to a starter scuba diving session to see how he would perform on camera.
Soon after his parents received a phone call to let them know he had been chosen. They waited until after supper that night to tell him. He said he couldn’t believe it. He almost laughed. Huyer Upton made three trips this summer to tape episodes for the show, ranging from a week to two weeks at a time with week-long breaks in-between. The Aquateam explored underwater in exotic locations in the Bahamas, Key West, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and the British Virgin Islands.
As part of their challenging “Aquamissions”, the diverse team, made up of five girls and three boys, all from Nova Scotia, became certified open water divers, documented shipwrecks, surveyed historic sites with marine archaeologists, repaired coral reefs and dove with sharks, turtles, rays, sea lions and dolphins.

Searched for lost treasure
They searched for lost treasure, discovered underwater caves, experienced night dives and “drift” dives, investigated the infamous undersea “Road to Atlantis”,
experienced underwater crime scene investigation and even worked as marine mammal trainers.

Huyer Upton recalls there was conflict among the team members with the “Road to Atlantis.” Seven thought it was man-made, but he thought it was a natural rock

He visited the Norman Islands, the basis of the book Treasure Island, and dived in the caves where, in the book, treasure was discovered.

Huyer Upton recalls doing a nature dive in an ocean pool closed off by rocks. There were sea turtles, stingrays, huge “groupers” and other animals in the pool. He got to feed the sharks through a Plexiglas barrier. He even went to a shark nursery and helped tag a baby shark and take measurements. “I had never felt a shark before,” he said. “I was expecting it to be slimy, but it felt a lot like sandpaper.” Huyer Upton said you just sort of get used to having cameras rolling on you all the time. A lot of effort goes into working on your performance skills and trying to improve. Some of the young stars tended to get a little silly on camera, especially as the days progressed, but Huyer Upton said eventually you don’t even remember the cameras are there. He said the entire production crew was very cool and talented. “It was the best summer job I ever had,” he said. “I made great, life-long friends.” Huyer Upton ended up getting about seven hours of bottom time overall. He said the entire experience was very surreal. Going into the production, he had no on-camera experience.

“I’ve never seen myself on camera before,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.” Proud but fearful at same time Constance Huyer, Joseph’s mom, said the hotel accommodations were very nice and it was sort of like living a celebrity lifestyle, even having people carry their bags for them.

Huyer said she was very proud, but fearful at the same time. The young stars would be picked up in the morning and the parents weren’t allowed onsite for most shoots. She worried about him diving with sharks as she spent the days hanging around the swimming pool at the resort with the other parents. However, she said she made life-long friends as well and recalls being amazed getting to see Joseph perform as part of a dolphin training episode. Huyer-Upton said he learned basic signals to get the dolphins to perform their tricks and he performed with the dolphins in a live show. He was carried across the pool by the dolphins.

There will be 13 to 15 episodes of Aquateam produced. They will air on YTV and Discovery Kids at some point during the coming TV season. In the meantime,
Huyer Upton and the other stars of the show have some voiceover work to do as part of post-production.

Huyer Upton said perhaps the most difficult part for him was being away from his father and brother for six weeks. His father was busy and couldn’t go along, but
he called every night and kept in close touch. In addition to diving, Huyer Upton is actively involved in football, badminton, volleyball, indoor soccer, hockey and his school stage and jazz bands.

Arcadia Entertainment is a television production company in Halifax with a special interest in ocean-related documentary programs. They have produced specials
and series for Discovery Channel, National Geographic, History, Vision, CBC, Life, IFC, Historia and Z TV. Their programs have been broadcast in over 140
countries in 26 languages.

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