We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them five questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
Directors Sharif Mirshak and Noé Sardet: Our series Plankton Chronicles had recently been published online. Christian Sardet and Parafilms had produced 13 short episodes, exploring the beauty of marine life adrift in currents.
Meeting Tierney Thys then kickstarted a series of creative collaborations. Deemed “first TED talk ever given by a fish”, Secret Life of Plankton actually launched the TED-Ed platform in 2012.
Our team is still united by love and fascination for the underwater world.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
SM and NS: Filming predation and odd behaviors in macro is very challenging. Plankton is collected in the ocean with fine-meshed nets and usually filmed in a lab, using petri dishes and aquariums. Some shots were obtained on board the Tara Oceans expedition, but most came from the marine station in Villefranche-sur-Mer in southern France.
It’s important to handle plankton carefully and control the environment to ensure their survival. Depth-of-field is incredibly shallow and it can take hours to obtain footage. Our actors give us a hard time! Capturing this amount of plankton images requires luck and patience.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
SM and NS: Sharing the beauty of marine life can inspire people to protect the ocean.
We hope viewers marvel at the wonders of the sea and learn about plankton’s importance for life on Earth. A major source of oxygen and petroleum, plankton captures CO2, regulates our climate and shapes our future.
Secret Life of Plankton was our first short in a series called Stories from the Sea, all created with Tierney Thys. After a dead fish, we continued to use unusual narrators (sea urchin larva and toy seahorse) to produce Urchin Odyssey and The Plastic Vagabond. By combining art and science, these educational films will hopefully raise ocean levels of awareness.