We reached out to Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin to ask them five questions about the experience of making their film.
What inspired the story?
The idea of an over exploited 'wild fish-less’ ocean was incomprehensible. That the ocean could die in our children’s lifetime is too much to fathom. That is why the filmmakers made Ocean Warriors. We wanted to do a crime series with action on the high seas - we wanted it to be an adventure, a thrilling ride that involved and stimulated the audience instead of preaching to them. We wanted people to see how daring and exciting it can be to try and save the ocean. We wanted them to see young activists with boots on the deck, not lecturing about it, but doing it. And we wanted to show that you can win!
Describe some of the challenges faced while making the series.
Too many fishermen are chasing too few fish. We are taking fish out of the ocean faster than fisheries can replace them. More than three quarters of the world's fisheries are in a state of collapse. We wanted to tell an international crime story with real life sleuths and activists who are fighting to save our oceans. The production challenges were daunting, but nothing compared to the challenges we'll face if we don't stop those plundering and murdering our oceans. Centuries of belief that the ocean’s resources were infinite and our callous disregard even when faced with collapse have brought us to the brink of an environmental catastrophe. We continue to overfish and destroy the very system that supports life. Ocean Warriors, this six-part documentary series, took viewers to the frontlines of the battle to save our planet’s first ecosystem, the origin of all life on Earth.
How do you approach storytelling?
We worked with established groups like Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace as well as individuals like Jim Wickens, Michael Markovina and JD Kotze. The decision was made to go for an editorial weave with one ongoing series story, the chasing of the Interpol Purple notice listed outlaw vessel the Thunder. The epic chase for the world's most wanted poacher ending in a surprise no one saw coming became the spine of the series. Finding the balance between the ocean science and the verite scenes was our challenge. If you capture the true characters on the frontlines and all the dramas they face, so that the audience is fully engaged, then you can offer them the follow up materials that enlist, educate and advocate. The idea is to get their hearts beating then open their minds, this was our goal. Unlike farming, ranching or mining, the tragedy of the ocean, the commons … the fishermen do not sow it, hoe it, or grow it, seed it, feed it or weed it. There’s only massive extraction of the fish, and to many of the fisherman, fish are money swimming through the water.
What impact do you hope this series will have on audiences?
Ocean Warriors weaves multiple stories of courage, conflict and change, from the Antarctic’s remote Southern Ocean, to the coral reefs of Tanzania and the vast tuna fisheries of the Western Pacific. We set sail as a global coalition of activists, campaigners, scientists and investigative journalists prepared to stare down poachers, tear up illegal poaching networks and bring the outlaws to justice. We hope our series causes a new awareness to the dire state of the ocean.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
The big idea for us was to serve ocean conservation as entertainment and not medicine. The direct-action activists in Ocean Warriors deliver adrenaline and high octane adventure in their fight to save the ocean. They put their lives on the line and filming this struggle was meaningful.
Anything else you want people to know?
"Our oceans are earth’s lifeblood, providing us with the air, water and food we need to survive. Sadly, they are in crisis due to climate change, pollution and illegal over-fishing. Ocean Warriors profiles the stories of the dedicated women and men who are taking up the charge to protect our oceans for future generations and is a call to action to join the cause,” said Robert Redford, Executive Producer of Ocean Warriors.
“The challenge of restoring ocean health has never been more urgent. Our oceans are complex living systems that help feed millions, mitigate climate change and even yield lifesaving medicines. I am proud to collaborate with Robert Redford, Animal Planet and Brick City TV to bring awareness to this critical issue and inspire people to change the way in which we care for our oceans. While our oceans may appear infinite, ocean life is not. We must act now to save it.” Paul G. Allen – Executive Producer of Ocean Warriors.