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Rocklin student manages to swim with sharks

Video makes semi-finals in Shark Week video contst
By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Swimming with the big fish is all about survival. “It’s a very intense feeling, going from local high school contests to national Discovery Channel contests,” said Justin Pugh, 18, a semi-finalist in Discovery Channel’s Shark Week video contest. Pugh’s video was named one of the top 16 entries by the Discovery Channel earlier this month. Through online voting, Pugh’s video advanced to the top eight. As of last week, it was in the top four. The top two videos will be televised during the channel’s national Shark Week series. In the 30-second video, Pugh is driving the “Shark Mobile,” which briefly chases a scuba diver down a street to a couch where three boys are seated in front of a television, preparing to watch Shark Week. The Sierra College student wasn’t fishing around for ideas when he began work on the video. He had envisioned the project a year ago, but just as a fun idea to generate views on YouTube. Once he discovered the contest, Pugh decided to take the idea into a more competitive setting. Construction of the Shark Mobile took four days, Pugh said. Although high temperatures kept melting the glue on the Shark Mobile, he lucked out on the day he shot the video. It poured rain on the following day. The Shark Mobile is named Bruce after Pugh’s favorite shark in “Finding Nemo.” He says Bruce reminds him of people who put forth their best efforts to break bad habits. Pugh remembers directing neighborhood plays and talent shows when he was age 8 and starting to direct at age 12 when he got his first video recorder. Two years ago, Pugh and his friends created a film At this point, Pugh estimates he has 80 videos on YouTube, all of which have more than 100,000 views. Outside of being a film aficionado, Pugh is a marine nature lover. He derives his interest in aquatic life from the movie, “Free Willy,” which he credits as his greatest inspiration because the film positively shaped his perspective on life. Watching Shark Week has also become a family tradition, he said. Their annual trip to Donner Lake coincides with the television show. Pugh also remembers watching the documentaries with his younger brothers late at night. The Pugh brothers and Shark Mobile crew, along with the Rocklin Wave Swim Team, were featured Monday morning during a live interview on Good Day Sacramento. Pugh’s video was also shown. His advice for those interested in filmmaking? “Creativity can get you a far way,” Pugh said. “Pursue your originality and throw it out there for viewers to bite on and get hooked. Maybe you'll even reel in a shark one of these days.” He urges people to vote for his video because he is an Eagle Scout looking for community unity and also because he does not remember the last time Rocklin was on national television. Voting for the semi-finals (http://www.sharkweekchallenge.com/tournament) ends at 9 a.m. on Thursday.