Saturday, February 11, 2017


"My intention in this particular story is to invite you into the world of documentary filmmaking! The Gulf of Mexico set the stage and off we went to work with some of the greatest on screen talent, researchers and scientists to capture the story of the worse environmental disaster ever to occur in the United States.So with limited crew,  myself and Mike deGruy, we set off on what was to be the first of many stops along 1500 miles of coast along the Gulf states.  So sit back and enjoy this first part of our epic journey!! 

Back in 2012 I had the privilege to work as a DP and AD in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the US NAVY and WHOI Research Vessel ATLANTIS! It was a journey beyond comprehension. Along with Mike deGruy we were heading out to capture the worse environmental disaster in the history of the U.S., the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. What we saw, captured and accomplished went far beyond what my imagination could ever conjure.

Using my Canon 5D MII and a Zacuto rig to capture Alvin in the hangar.
From our home base in Santa Barbara the prep work went on for almost 8 weeks. Funding, organizing, storyboarding the impossible. Sorting though our existing gear some of which was generously and thoughtfully donated by several sponsors. Some of the prep work included testing our underwater cams and housings by jumping into our freezing cold swimming pool  to to trips up and down the coast meeting with the experts on and expressing our concerns with their gear. This was to be a journey unlike any other film based project I had ever taken on and a complete and thorough understanding of what our gear was capable of was mandatory. Looking back I can say we pushed all of it and ourselves to the extreme limits of culpable, capable and how far before breakable. In the ALVIN all gear had to be smoke tested before it was allowed to take the voyage along with us to ver 5000 ft deep into the oceans abyss! Our knowledge and our equipment would play a vital role in our well being as well as the community we worked with aboard Atlantis.

Arriving late afternoon at the dock with our 22 Pelican cases which included the proverbial kitchen sink, we began our voyage into documenting the worse environmental disaster ever to occur in our beloved oceans. Up we went in a cargo net ready to start the daunting task of unpacking and organizing all the gear.

Off to our quarters and into our bunk beds, thinking about my wife and our 11 year old son Drake! This was to be the only night I can remember getting a miraculous 4 hours of undisturbed sleep for the next two months as our journey in the Gulf began. Hmm Mike's coughing... but finally slumbered off.  The lulling from the ships engines humming through the steel hull we headed out to sea in the wee hours just past midnite.

Woke up just shy of 4am to a brisk, chilly negative ion charged atmosphere with a positive effect. Day one had begun... I'm hungry and ready to go, off to the mess hall! After a 4am bowl of cheerios it was off to deck 3. All our gear unpacked and sitting on top of skid proof pads the assembly began. This was the age of the mighty tiny camera, the DSLR, support gear from innovative companies like Canon and new companies like Kessler and Zacuto. Jibs, Sliders, stabilizers, shoulder rigs, loupes, lenses, filters, laptops, RAID drives, batteries, LED panels, POV's, Diving masks with built-in lights and waterproof HD cams, bulletproof POVs from CONTOUR and GoPro, HiHats, Mounts, mics, field recorders. You name it we had it. By weI mean just Mike and I! Hey Mike was the vibrant on-camera talent and at times, hmmm several times, we'd have  three, yes three cameras trained on the scene at hand. Remember this is a DOCUMENTARY, things are set in motion over which most of the time you have ZERO control so you better be rolling on all to capture it from all angles and all at a microscopic moments notice! What I wouldn't have given for a remote control for the remote cameras. POV's MacGyvered all over the place including the A Frame crane that lifted the ALVIN Deep Submersible Vehicle from the deck of the boat and at times into the sea! From climbing ropes and ladders with the Boson watching my back those little POV camera mounts had to be rock steady and securely mounted in place.

OK we have been summoned to a safety meeting and off we go...

No comments:

Post a Comment