In 2004 Luke took his first trip to Isla Guadalupe, a 24 hour voyage by boat from the port of San Diego: it was there he saw his first great white sharks, in crystal clear water, bathed in sunlight. He returned to the UK determined to interest me in two things: a 3D movie about the sardine run in South Africa, and a 3D movie about great white sharks. At the following Giant Screen Conference, we soon discovered that Phil Streather and Jonathan Barker had a Great White movie in development, so we decided to pursue sardines, whilst lending support to Phil and Jonathan.
In October 2005 Luke and I embarked once more for Guadalupe, aboard the Horizon. This time with a distinguished group of shipmates that included Phil, Jonathan, Sean Phillips and director/photographer Bob Talbot from the large format industry, plus a remarkable group of shark experts: Stan Waterman, who was cameraman on the groundbreaking 70’s Great White documentary “Blue Water, White Death”,
Ramon Bonfil, who had just tagged the infamous shark called “Nicole”, Mike Rutzen (South African shark specialist who was determining whether he could swim with the sharks of Guadalupe) and UK shark expert, Suzy Q.
There was one empty cabin on that trip: author Peter Benchley was also due to be on board with us, but fell ill shortly before we departed. The man who wrote JAWS and subsequently became a passionate shark conservation advocate never recovered from that illness. Stan and Peter were neighbours on the East Coast, and it was Stan’s experience shooting “Blue Water, White Death” that had inspired Peter to make a Great White the central figure in JAWS.
The following year, we began production on our first 3d documentary, Wild Ocean, with D.J. Roller ( a protege of Stan Waterman) as underwater Director of Photography, and followed that soon after with The Last Reef. Sharks made guest appearances in both movies, but there was still no sign of the Great White documentary. For The Last Reef, D.J. had designed the world’s first underwater 3d beamsplitter rig, and since we now had the means of production, we felt it was time to resurrect the Great White project. In 2009, Luke and D.J once more made the trip to Guadalupe, aboard the Nautilus Explorer, and captured the deep cage diving sequence. Great White Shark was finally in production, and would be a fitting conclusion to our trilogy of underwater movies.