We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them five questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
Field Director Mark Dalio: This video was part of the OurBlue Planet digital campaign that we at OceanX coproduced with BBC Earth, which brings to life the incredible stories, videos and photography from the unbelievable world of the blue planet and the scientists, researchers, crew and filmmakers who explore it every day.
For Blue Planet II, we took a BBC team where no one had gone before: 1,000 meters beneath Antarctica’s ocean. This was unexplored territory that plays a central role in our planet’s life cycle. Called “the lungs of the deep,” it is the source of oxygen-rich waters that bring life to deep oceans all over the world yet there have never been manned submersible dives into these depths before. At 1,000 meters down, despite the extreme cold, we found a sea floor literally crawling with life and were able to study an ecosystem central to the planet’s lifecycle, producing oxygen-rich waters that flow throughout the world.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
MD: One of the things that surprised us was just the amount of life that was at the bottom. With such nutrient dense water we were able to find a much more vibrant sea bottom than what one might think in regards to Antarctica. One of the charismatic creatures we encountered was the Antarctic sunstar which we nicknamed the Death Star. It was absolutely massive with 50 arms that were raised into the air to catch krill as they passed by. It was a strange and wonderful world that was like taking a page from a Dr. Seuss book.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
MD: I hope to bring a much needed voice to the oceans in order to help galvanize the public’s interest in what lies below the surface by exciting, informing and inspiring audiences. With this film I hope to be able to open people's eyes that there is still so much more to be understood and explored in our oceans and that we have only scratched the surface. I think by combining charismatic science stories with the power of media it has the ability to proliferate, create conversation, inspire change and truly shift our culture. We have seen how media can shape the way people think, what they think about, and how they act which is why the work we do with OceanX is to help harness that transformative power in our efforts every day. I believe by invoking a human connection to the oceans, we can build a global community deeply engaged with understanding, enjoying and protecting them and I hope that this film will play a part in that.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
MD: There are definitely technical challenges that come into play - when we were in Antarctica, we had to make sure camera batteries didn't freeze and that our subs could handle the extreme cold.
We’ve never had the submersibles in water that was so cold, and on one of our first dives, the camera teams and producers saw some condensation that was worrying—they didn’t know if it was a leak or if it was truly just condensation. Orla Doherty, one of the producers, was asked to taste it to see if it was salt water—then they’d know that it was a leak. She tasted it, and there was a leak. Luckily, they were able to bring the subs back up, check some of the valves, and fix the problem. But it was scary at the time. It was something we absolutely didn’t expect, given that we’d never filmed in super-cold water before.
What drove you as a filmmaker to focus on our oceans and marine life?
MD: Growing up near the coastline in CT, I developed a deep connection with the water. After studying film and working with National Geographic in L.A., I saw the unique need for and value in merging my two passions of filmmaking and ocean exploration, and wanted to create a media production company with the singular focus of exploring and broadcasting the story of our oceans for the world to consume.
I founded OceanX Media with the mission to educate, inspire, excite and connect the world to the ocean through captivating media content and storytelling. Many people think that we know everything there is to know about the oceans, but in reality only about 5% of the oceans have been explored and documented. At OceanX, we are trying to bring a much needed voice to the oceans in order to help galvanize the public’s interest in what lies below the surface by exciting, informing and inspiring audiences utilizing captivating stories around the scientists that we work with.