Production wraps up on new, film-length film, with sneak preview to be unveiled on Staniel Cay as part of book launch for ‘Pigs of Paradise: The Story of the World-Famous Swimming Pigs’
When Pigs Swim™, the groundbreaking film that helped spark a tourism phenomenon, eclipsed more than two million unique views earlier this month, as filming begins to wrap up on a new, full-length sequel.
The film was first commissioned by Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc., in the early months of 2014. At the time, the swimming pigs, while known to some tourists, had not yet broken through as a mainstream attraction. Located on an isolated, inhabited island The Exumas, an archipelago of 365 islands and cays, the swimming pigs had splashed around in relative obscurity for decades.
That changed when Nicholson, along with his Director of Communications, Jeff Todd, hired director Charlie Smith to cast a spotlight on the attraction through a 15-minute feature film.
“Years before, I helped create a second colony of pigs near Emerald Bay, simply to make it more accessible to tourists not wishing to be out on the boat for an entire day,” Nicholson said, who is the largest owner at Grand Isle Resort.
“So even then there was an understanding the pigs had some popular appeal, but we had no idea it would blow up the way it did.”
The film premiered at the Bahamas International Film Festival in December 2014. From there, the rest is history. Media outlets started covering the pigs, Exuma and Grand Isle with regularity, from ABC’s The Bachelor (2016), to NBC’s Today Show (2016), to Angry Birds (2015), the popular mobile game franchise.
Meanwhile, footage from When Pigs Swim™ was incorporated into countless publications and viral videos that went around the world, reaching millions worldwide. Droves of celebrities shot selfies of themselves on the island, followed by legions of their followers and fans.
Another major development was the participation of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, which placed the film on their websites and promoted the attraction through global marketing campaigns. For the first time, hotels began advertising and featuring the swimming pigs as well, and soon, colonies began sprouting up on multiple islands, with other islands looking to cash in on the craze.
“None of this would have been possible with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism,’ Todd added.
“They saw the potential immediately, And now, the swimming pigs have become synonymous with the destination, in many respects.”
Meanwhile, as the original When Pigs Swim™ begins its ascent to three million views, a new film is in the works. With the title still to be announced, this movie, more than an hour long, will do a deep dive not only into the origins of the swimming pigs, but also their amazing ascent in popularity beginning in late 2014.
“I want this sequel to really tell the whole story,” said Smith, who was the host and founded Electric Air years ago in Nassau.
Its debut this October will coincide with the release of the much-anticipated book Pigs of Paradise: The Story of the World-Famous Swimming Pigs, distributed by Skyhorse Publishing in New York. Author Jeff Todd (pen name T.R.Todd) will travel to Staniel Cay on August 31st for a book launch in collaboration with Impulse Yacht and Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where the first preview editions will be unveiled to guests.
Smith will also screen a 10-minte preview of the new movie. So while it might be hard to imagine, the swimming pigs may not have quite reached their peak in popularity. The best is yet to come.
“The swimming pigs capture the imagination,” Todd said.
“It has really become more than an attraction. The book looks at these pigs as animals, in all of their cultural complexity. I truly believe it would not have caught on the way it did if it was an island full of chickens. What is it about the pig and those crystal clear waters? I think the swimming pigs present an opportunity to challenge how we think about pigs, but also animals in general, and how we think about them. It allows us to look at something in a completely new way.”