In this post, I am going to share the behind the scenes story of my newest film DEEP BLUE CONNECTION.
I started planing the film in December, cause I knew I wanted to make another film about the ocean, and had to fly somewhere further away and book tickets and accommodations. I did already make a film about the ocean last year THE OCEAN INSIDE US, whilst I was living in England. But it was a struggle to get underwater footage, because the water was just not that clear. So I had to use footage I had already filmed in different places, and stock footage. The only footage in the water I could film there was surf. I did want to shoot everything during the making of the film this time though, so I had to find a good location for my wanted shots.
A location alone would not help much though, cause I wanted to film one person who has a rich knowledge about the underwater-world and a deep connection to the ocean.
A couple of years ago I traveled to Australia and I loved it there, so I was looking into places there, cause I also wanted to film at the great barrier reef.
I researched the topic to have an even deeper understanding of it, I already knew quite a bit from the research of my last ocean film, but still wanted to know more and also more about the ocean life in Australia.
I looked up a couple of potential places and compared them to each other, for example where it would be easier to film, where are good surf spots, good dive spots, potential people to film with.
After I compared a couple of places and potential interview partners in those places, I decided to look further into Byron Bay.
Byron looked pretty much perfect to me, cause there are a lot of surfers, divers, and people who love the ocean and who are aware of the environmental issues we are facing.
In order to film this documentary, I had to get my scuba diving license, so I was looking into dive centers. I also looked through the staff, that's how I found the protagonist. Diving instructor and soon to be marine scientist Zoe White.
As I figured out where I want to film and with whom, I could book flights and accommodations.
I contacted Zoe from Austria already, cause I know organizing with the protagonist can take a long time.
I planned to stay a little more than one month in Byron Bay, so I would have enough time to shoot the film.
Before I traveled to Australia, I already did most of the research cause I already had chosen my locations and the protagonist. I also already did the mood board.
I arrived at the end of January, the first days I did go to some of the locations and contacted Zoe to meet the following week.
I always like to meet the person with whom I am filming and whom I am interviewing beforehand, so there is not that much awkward tension. It is already weird enough for most people to be in front of a camera.
Also, another reason why I like to meet people beforehand is to get to know them better, tell them my vision for the film and often I have to ask if things would work out as I imagined. For example, in this case, I had to ask if the underwater sequences would work as I imagined or if it is not possible to film like that. She is an expert in diving, I am not, I am a filmmaker. Don’t be ashamed to ask your interview partner questions which are important to know to film. Better to ask something you don’t know before, instead of on the shooting day, to then find out your plan is not working.
After I knew more about Zoe, and knew what was going to work from my imagined shooting plan, I could write down the questions, and the fixed shooting plan.
I did send the questions to Zoe, so she could prepare for them, especially for the scientific questions I asked.
I also did draw a storyboard for the film, since a shooting plan is mostly not enough for me, pictures stick better in my memory. When I am shooting alone, especially when shooting alone in the water, I have to remember all the shots I need.
In the second week, I flew to the great barrier reef, to film there. I did go scuba diving with an instructor and did talk to a marine scientist about the reef. Sadly I forgot my underwater light and filter in Byron, probably because my camera back was already more than full, but this had as a consequence that my footage turned out blue.
For those of you who don’t know, the deeper you go in waters, light and colors get absorbed, so everything looks either blue or green. That's what the diver sees, and that's what the camera sees. You can help that with colored filters and lights, which I, unfortunately, both did not bring.
Back in Byron, I started my scuba diving license course, so I could film the underwater footage. I also did train to shoot in the ocean at the beach where I was going to shoot the film sequences. So I knew already where the waves would break, where I had to be positioned and all the struggles which come with shooting in the ocean.
During my stay in Australia, it was raining most of the time, and we had a bigger storm, which made visibility in the ocean not that great. So the filming had to wait till my last week in Byron when the conditions finally got better. We filmed everything in one day. Started off with diving in the morning, interview in the arvo, and surfing in the evening around sunset time. The voice-over was recorded on another day. I could not use the interview sound for the voiceover, because the interview was filmed outside, and you could hear crickets, which did absolutely not fit when seeing footage of the underwater world.
As soon as all the footage is filmed, it gets more chilled again, cause now I did not had to wait for better weather or the protagonist's time anymore. I was very lucky that the protagonist Zoe was a great match for the film, and helped a lot with the planning of the diving cause she works at the dive center. Zoe if you are reading this, thanks a lot, you were great, without you the film could not have turned out as it did.​​​​​​​
The editing took around a week, I did take a couple of breaks from it, so I could go back with a fresh mind, and see problems I could not see before. During the editing, I have spent time in Hawaii, so I also included some clips I filmed there, of Wales and dolphins.
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