Recently with the help of good friends Tamara May (from Dive Like a Ninja) and (Marielle Pronk) from Sirius Diving, I went about filming, modeling, directing and producing a shoot for the new Hollis BTR500 drysuit.
In April I returned from a trip to England and South Africa and when I arrived back we had a time frame of 10 days for the shoot as both Marielle and Tamara were due to leave. I had been running over how I would like the film shot while I was away and after spending some time with BBC Cinematographer Sean Leslie in Cape Town and showing him my past work, we discussed how I could take my filming to the next level.
I got the opportunity to visit AFDA film school where Sean lectures in Cape Town. I spent some time with his second years watching them colour grade a current film project they were working on. I got to see how they filmed the movies and all the camera angles and came to the conclusion that having a story line with any project, even if I am just shooting diving equipment makes a film so much more interesting.
The story line I wanted to follow for this shoot was a transition from what Tamara and I both were into who we are now. I wanted to promote the Hollis gear but in a more artistic way than I usually do, by the story line being the main theme and the gear being promoted through us kitting up and diving it. Working with Hollis is great, the team is fresh, young and open to so many different ideas and projects, they have been totally in support of everything I am trying to do and achieve in my career and helping me as best they can every step of the way.
The film starts with a kind of search through the jungle and dry caves to correlate with all the twists, turns and adventure a career in the technical diving industry has taken us on. I am so lucky here in Mexico because there is so much natural medial to play with. Aesthetically the shots are beautiful and combined with the chiffon skirts we were wearing the light and the wind enabled us to use it to add another dimension to the intro of the video.
This artistic theme fed over into the underwater portion. I wanted to create an ‘Alice falling down the Rabbit hole’ vibe when we reached the water and jumped in with both feet, symbolising that we both have really given it everything since we started. A free diving portion entailed which was pretty challenging for me to say the least. There was so much laughter while both of us were trying to be graceful at the same time as holding our breath.
I wanted to portray a stripping away of certain aspects of femininity and material attributes in the form of dropping jewellery and undressing. We have both lived out of a back packs for long periods of time and constantly moved around the world trying at the same time to stick to a budget. You really do have to give up a lot of the things you held on to in a past life, be it fashion/make up, home comforts, and earning enough to buy absolutely everything you want. There is rarely room for it when beginning to live a life devoted to diving. Buying new diving and camera gear, doing courses and paying rent pretty much takes up most of the monthly budget and to be honest it makes me so happy I wouldn’t change it for the world. I overlaid these images with film of us beginning to gear up in the drysuit and other Hollis gear as we were taking off our clothes and jewellery. This acted as the kind of exchange of lives I was explaining before. The film then moved into us diving. Up until this point we had shot film of us very separately, as we didn’t really know each other until we met in Egypt over a year ago now, although we were in places at the same time before hand but just never crossed paths.
Diving with Tamara is awesome, we have this synchronicity that I am yet to find in another diving buddy and I wanted to show this in capturing our descents and some skill sets in unison. It took several attempts to get it perfect, trying to place video lights perfectly and figuring out where we wanted to shoot to get the background and lighting right. It however, mainly came down to the fact I was still figuring out my weighting with some new gear and also Marielle went away for a few days during this time and we spent a whole day in Chikin Ha cenote with my housing mounted to a tripod doing helicopter turns and other skill sets in front of the camera only to come home and find we were too high in the shot! So we had to do that again the next day. This in particular really made me appreciate how beneficial delegating to a second camera person is, especially when your trying to play the roles of director, model and camera person yourself!
This shoot, once post production is finished, is probably going to be one of the strongest pieces of work I have done and it was honestly so much fun to do. Working with the girls is great and all of us having fairly open minds allowed us to come up with more ideas to make my idea grow to be even better.
This is a video of some shots I didn’t use in my final film, some out takes but mainly to give people an insight into what goes on behind the camera and how much fun we have!