We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them five questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
Martin Dohrn, Producer and Director: As a film maker who has spent a significant amount of my filmmaking time in the dark, the worldwide prevalence of utterly entrancing bioluminescence was always apparent. I realised that bioluminescence was a significant part of nature rather than a minor scientific curiosity, and that there were enough spectacular examples to tell the story of living things that glow, in a way that had never been achieved before.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
MD: Bioluminescence is a huge subject, touching on almost every realm where life can be found, and so finding a clear thread through hundreds of papers, eyewitness accounts and subjects that were actually possible to film, took years of investigation. For a subject so little known, it was hard to raise funding, but after many years of persuasion and arm twisting, Terra Mater Factual Studios came on board and supported us. The images themselves also needed cameras and previously untried filming techniques, to record pictures in light levels where the human eye can barely see.
How do you approach storytelling?
MD: David Attenborough's presence in the film allowed us a greater licence to stray from the tabloid and into a scientific world while keeping the feel of the show popular and accessible. This gave us freedom to use evolution, function and habitat to connect seemingly different kinds of bioluminescence. David Attenborough's presence on screen also helped to give scale to what might have been otherwise quite abstract images.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
MD: I hope that people will be able to understand that the daytime world we inhabit is just one realm of life, and that a few people will be motivated to discover a whole new planet Earth.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
MD: To be on the ocean at night under a clear starry sky, watching as the wake of the boat creates spectacular light trails, that are then framed by a pod of ghostly, cavorting dolphins, lit only by the light they create as they cut through the water, has to be one of the most magical experiences of my life.
MD: We are making a series about the seven living big cats, their prehistory, their history, their present and future, for CuriosityStream. We are also making a film about a giant ant supercolony with David Attenborough for BBC and Terra Mater.
Why did you pick David Attenborough to be the on camera host telling this story?
MD: David Attenborough of one of the few people who have ever presented a film about bioluminescence in the past, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the subject made it easy for him to convey genuine understanding of the story. His presence in the film allowed us a greater license to stray from the tabloid into a scientific world while keeping the feel of the show popular and accessible. David Attenborough's presence on screen also helped to give scale to what might have been otherwise quite abstract images.