Underwater Cinematography on “Oceans”

Underwater Cinematographer Didier Noirot moves in for a close-up. Painting by Marlena Fauer, from cover photo of Film and Digital Times NAB Edition, Issue 31, by Pascal Kobeh. Read all about the making of “Oceans” in the NAB Issue of Film and Digital Times, available online on Monday, April 12, at our booth C-6843, and coming to you by snail mail soon.

Here’s an excerpt from the film’s co-director, Jacques Cluzaud:

We filmed the man (François Sarrano, a scientist) swimming with the great white shark, an animal that most people normally don’t like, off Guadalupe Island, an island 250 miles southwest of San Diego, off the coast of Baja California, Mexico.

François had experience doing this in South Africa. He was the only one who had the experience of swimming with these sharks outside a cage. Didier Noirot also had experience in South Africa filming sharks, but none of the other underwater cameramen had done this before with great whites, even though they had done this with blue sharks and tiger sharks. So, at the beginning, since most of the crew had never filmed outside a protective cage, we had cages nearby just in case. And it took a while, but soon everyone realized that François Sarrano was right, there was no danger, because what’s difficult is the shark is not afraid of you, but they are rather shy, very attentive, prudent, and cautious. They don’t want to get in a situation where they might be injured. As soon as there’s a noise or lots of movement, the shark goes away. So, around these sharks we had to be very calm and quiet. But, by the end of the second day, everyone understood that there really was no danger, because never has a diver been attacked by a great white shark. (editor’s note: Film and Digital Times has not tested this ourselves, nor can we guarantee the safety of encounters with large sharks whose teeth are numerous and sharp.) I’m speaking of divers, not swimmers. The diver in Australia who was bitten was actually fishing at the time, so the shark went after the fish, like a dog goes after a bone. Well, the shark missed a bit, but the man wasn’t eaten. Of course, there are many examples of surfers being attacked, because the surfers are in the sharks’ territory and the shark cannot see clearly in the big waves, so it attacks. There are dangerous situations, but it’s not a dangerous animal.