But here in Cocos you pretty much have the whole place to yourself, don’t you?»Well that’s partly true. Other divers seldom get in our way. Mostly, everybody has been quite courteous about diving where we were trying to work. The disadvantage to Cocos is that there is not a lot on the reef, very little invertebrate growth and not many small animals. It has been hard to get a lot of color and variety into the film.
You have ex-military rebreathers, an ultralight aircraft, and state of the art camera systems. What else do you want? If you could look into your wishing ball, what would take your filming another step forward?»My life is already over-complicated. The older you get, the more of this stuff you accumulate. I look back on the days when I would go spearfishing with fondness. I would put on a weight belt, mask, fins and snorkel and go diving. It was so simple; it could be done in an afternoon not an entire month. Now, my diving is always a major logistical production.
Of course, you didn’t get $4 million to go out spearfishing either.»No that’s true. I’m not knocking it. Anybody who feels sorry for me is completely crazy. I might say that I would really like to have a 120-ft. ship with a submersible on the back. But the truth is, I don’t want that. Things are as complicated as I want them to get now. Having said that, my next film will probably be an IMAX 3D film. I’ve already directed one of those and it’s considerably more difficult than what we are doing here.
IMAX on Silver Bank
You also did some IMAX work with humpbacks on the Silver Bank; tell us a bit about that experience.»It’s been my experience that the only way to get close to whales is if it is their idea. Typically, what we do is go out in our boat and approach the whales as close as we can without disturbing them. We put the boat in idle so they knew where we were and would wait to see if they get friendly. Usually, they move off on their way. In order to get anything good, the whales have to cooperate. During the weeks we were on the Silver Bank, we had one or two very good days. On one day the whales followed us around all day. We used open circuit to film the whales on the bottom at ninety feet. Anyway, we went through two tanks of air and four rolls of film each, Cranston and I. When we went back to the Coral Star, our liveaboard, the whales followed us and we dived with them the rest of the afternoon right under the big boat. You couldn’t scare them away. Michele shot some terrific stills. The whales were having a ball.
You have how many trips scheduled on the Undersea Hunter out here to Cocos?»Each trip is 28 days long and we get 22 full days of diving at Cocos. This is spread out from January through October so that gives us time for the seasons to change. Bait balls tend to occur at one time of year versus another, birds tend to nest seasonally. By spreading out the expeditions it gives us a chance for best weather and our best chance at the marine life. If we get skunked on one trip, then we have a chance to catch up.