Film Shoot

PADI IDC Skill Circuit 2015

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I was approached by Nat Lefort, who is a course director at Scuba Playa ( ) to produce a complete PADI recreational skill demonstration series.

The great thing about being based in Playa del Carmen is we have access to some beautiful cenotes which are often used as confined water. This proved to be a perfect aesthetic base for the short films, it was a lot of fun to shoot and I thought it was a great change to the other skill videos which are normally shot in pools!

Hopefully the videos will continue to be well received and a help for new up and coming IDC candidates in the future!

Part 1 “Surface Skills”

Part 2 “Shallow Water Skills”

Part 3 “Deep Water Skills”

Part 4 “Skin Diving Skills”

Cave Diving Progression, Film Shoot, Filming Development, ProTec

ProTec Riverrun Cave Shoot

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We went out for the first time to film as a team on a stage dive at Ponderosa on the River Run line. Rob and Patrick took on the roles of models and Toro and I teamed up as film and lighting crew. It was great to work with someone doing my lighting and also acting as my safety diver. For a first time I think we got some awesome shots, it’s not as easy as it looks! I am very happy with the result!

Underwater film and editing by Katy Fraser
Land film and lighting by Toro

Panasonic GH4
Nauticam Housing/7-14mm lens/Wideangle Dome Port
Keldan Lights Luna 4

Film Shoot, Filming Development

Hollis BTR500 drysuit – Behind the scenes

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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.

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!



Film Shoot

TecRec Sidemount config/skill demo

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Introducing Miss Tamara May doing her ‘thing’ demonstrating both recreational and technical portions of the sidemount config/skills demo video we shot a while ago. We were asked to film it for the first ever PADI TeRec instructor development course in India. It was fun working with you as always Tamara!! We are thrilled at the response these videos have had and are looking forward to doing more!


Filmed and edited by Katy Fraser
Thank you to Planet Scuba Mexico for the logistical support and Jonas Samuelsson for getting us involved


Jonas Samuelsson

‘When I had the chance to teach the first TecRec Instructor program in India end of last year I asked dear friends Hollis Ambassador Katy Fraser and Tamara Lelani May at Planet Scuba Mexico to produce a sidemount video and a tool that made it somewhat easier for my students to teach SM config and skill sets. There are of course many ways to config the gear depending on the brand you are using, but it helped me and my candidates so it might help you as well. I would like to thank Katy, Tamara and Planet Scuba for the time and effort. I also would like to thank Temple Adventures in India who organized the logistics in India during the course and of course Robert Scammell who covered for me the first days when my VISA was delayed smile emoticon. The video is free to be use by any PADI Instructors or TecRec Instructors conducting sidemount courses. ’



Cave Diving Progression

Scuba Diver Life: Out of the Light Zone Part I

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The first of a series of articles I am writing for Naida Aly, Scuba Diver Life. With over 1000000 followers on Facebook I am very excited to write for this website. I think it provides a strong platform to write about what I am doing in terms of my cave diving, filming and photography.

Perfect way to receive some great exposure!

Cave Diving Progression

Assisting and Filming

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Recently I have been shooting a sidemount demonstration video for the first PADI tecrec programme in India. Other than that I have been assisting on cave courses and also starting to film in the intro portion of the cave whilst the course is going on so I could get some shots for the cave video I am producing for Planet Scuba Mexico. It is coming together nicely but positioning is very hard on a course as you can’t come between the group and the line but also I can’t be deeper in the cave than the person reeling in and I can’t reel in and film. I also need to adjust my rig so it is more streamlined for a cave environment. I found the best way to shoot is on the turn around otherwise I am constantly filming divers from behind when filming on the dive in. I found the most productive way was to focus on taking scenic cave shots on the way in and concentrating on filming the divers on the way out. I feel I am within my limits taking my camera on these dives as it takes a long time for a new diver to connect to the cave line to begin with so due to time limits and gas limits and intro to cave course has due to the fact your limited to the rule of sixths it all feels very conservative. In December I plan to do stage cave so I have extra gas to allow myself to be a bit more independent whilst cave diving with a camera. Here are some of my latest Photos I took during the courses.

Film Shoot

Cenote shots from PADI shoot

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An old friend Jonas got in touch asking if I would be interested in making a sidemount configuration and skills video for both recreational and technical sidemount. He recently took on a role as a PADI regional manager and was flying to India to do a presentation to help promote the sidemount market there and wanted a video to show people what it was all about. We had 10 days to do the shoot, finish the edit and send it off. Tamara and I jumped in for 4 days of filming in El Eden cenote. The in water skills portion of the shoot coincided with a tropical storm so it was challenging for the first two days because the water levels in the cenote had risen by about a foot and there was strong current which proved a difficult environment to perform demonstration level skills in! However for the final day the sun was shining and after 48 hours of non stop editing lots of coffee to keep myself awake we produced a nice film. PADI is still yet to confirm whether we can out their logos on it and if there is anything they would like adding in and changing but the draft was used for the presentation and Jonas was very happy with the end result which is nice! Here is a short compilation of shots I took but didn’t use in the final edit due to the 15 minute length the film ending up being just with configuration and skills. I felt very lucky to capture a bird hunting underwater which was a first for me and felt it needed to be shown somehow!

Filmed and edited by Katy Fraser

Diver Tamara Lelani May

Music by CloZee

Logistics and facilities provided by Planet Scuba Mexico

Cave Diving Progression

El Eden on Issac’s Cavern Guiding Internship

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Markus and Issac decided to do some more training on cavern lines as part of Issac’s Cavern Guiding Internship so I went with them to get some more footage of El Eden. The Internship I think is a great concept, the aim is for you to become a good guide. Here in Mexico even the cavern systems are relatively quite complex and to jump in from doing full cave and start guiding I think is quite a bold move if not perhaps an irresponsible one. The courses is to help you learn the main lines and how to go about correct safety briefings and procedures, the ‘do’s and dont’s’ if you like of mexico cavern guiding. A lot of my friends want to get into the diving world, however the unknown is always a factor. It’s quite often that after doing instructor or dive master qualifications abroad you are left with the hard job of finding work and guidance as to how to obtain visas to do everything properly and on top it tends to be a long tedious process leaving you feeling somewhat lost.

We arrived at the site around 12 so the beams of light were at their brightest cascading through the mangrove roots in a beautiful array of colours, silhouetted to that backdrop were the two divers moving gracefully in trim. We were completely alone so I had so much room on shot angles on this dive, there was no frustration that usually entailed spending the dive cursing recreational divers for ruining my shot and it really beat the other cavern dives for that reason, this was really something to see and was a pleasure to shoot.

The question is on this dive do I credit Markus as a model or a personal trainer?I have been so used to filming cenote tours and how easy it is to keep up with divers when they have open toed Cressi fins on, that when I went to film two technical divers who are pretty decent when it comes to the art of propulsion, stopping to take a shot and then trying to get in front of them to take a different shot while they were trying to continue with the dive started off as a pretty challenging fitness work out and then quickly became the worlds hellish underwater marathon! There were so many beautiful shots EVERYWHERE! We talked about communication before the dive and went through all the shots, however I wanted to try to disrupt the dive as little as possible as Issac was trying to learn the lines, but once in there that shot list grew exponentially and so after spending the first portion of the dive finning around like a crazy person I resorted to stopping them and actually taking the time to position the shot correctly and I am very glad I did 🙂



Cave Diving Progression, Film Shoot

This is why we dive cenotes!

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Planet Scuba Mexico Cavern Video

Filmed and edited by Katy Fraser



After 20 hours of long editing I completed the first of a series of promotional films for Planet Scuba Mexico. The video is a compilation of several Cenotes. I wanted to fill the video full of my best shots over a series of dives to create a strong representation about what people will see when they come here. This gave me time to review footage and plan which cenotes I needed to go back to and get different angles etc. Initially I went out on everyday tours with recreational divers to get an idea of the lines and places I thought I could get the best shots and took film on the fly and ended up with some usable footage. I then went back with Markus and Issac to certain places where I felt I needed more time or a shot needed some set up to fill in the gaps.

Filming in the cenotes is still very new and I have so many ideas about ways to creatively light the caverns to capture them more successfully as they are very dark in places. My video lights attached to my camera only works up to a point before the ISO is screaming or I am just left with too much darkness in my shot. This will be something I will practise in the next week so I can then apply it to filming the caves which will be my next project!

What I love about the diving here is that massive variation of dive sites, this video barely scrapes the surface of all the beautiful dives here so I look forward to making cavern video 2,3,4 +,  it will be hard not too!

Cave Diving Progression

Casa Cenote final shoot

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Casa Cenote is an incredibly photogenic dive site, although fairly unchallenging it was still very satisfying to take my camera here as part of getting the final shots for the Cavern promotional video. Issac came along to both act as my model and also continue to train on his twinset. In comparison to filming with a buddy or people you know as opposed to the cavern tours I found I got much more rewarding footage, it’s easier to encourage the diver to interact with the camera and the dive is based around the shoot as opposed to shoot being based around a dive which is difficult because it feels as if your in a constant rush to get shots and not become separated from the group. As I am diving more in the dive sites here I am beginning to learn the lines, this also makes a big difference on the tours as I know the places I can get shots and which angles to shoot divers from so it’s not all just fins in my viewfinder. Knowing the site I feel gives room for more creativity.

Now I am on the final edit for the cavern film which is exciting!