Directors Notes

 
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A rock island off Guadalupe, Mexico

Luke’s next discovery would determine how we finish our shoot: he had seen Fred Buyle make a presentation at a dive show in the UK (in the same way, Luke had first met Mike Rutzen many years before). Fred and another champion freediver, William Winram, were freediving in those crystal clear waters in Guadalupe, handpicking and tagging great whites, particularly, the big females. And he was working with Dr Edgar Mauricio Hoyos Padilla (to give him his full name), who we had met ten years earlier (and D.J. had worked with on numerous occasions).

Mauricio, was no longer operating from a local fishing “ponga”, now he had sponsorship, underwater beacons, and satellite tags… But he was still tagging sharks at the surface, much like a whaler on a small boat with a harpoon (this method is used in New Zealand and many other parts of the world also). By enlisting the help of Will and Fred (who had been tagging many other shark species worldwide), he was to exponentially increase his success rate, and  be able to choose which sharks he’d like to tag.

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James Neihouse reflects on his next shot, Guadalupe 2012

We also felt we wanted more 65mm footage in the movie: we had shot aerials in South Africa, but we had no topside footage in Guadalupe. We knew from our previous trips what a dramatic island it was, and the only format to do it justice would be 65mm: we persuaded James Neihouse to join us on the high seas and our final voyage back to Guadalupe, to shoot some deep, rich film footage to complement the pristine shots D.J. would capture of the free divers underwater.

Luke’s original vision of the end of our movie was to see man and shark, in an underwater ballet: show that these animals aren’t aggressive monsters, they’re just peak predators doing what they do best, being perfectly adapted, perfectly controlled masters of their environment.

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William Winram, Fred Buyle and safety diver François Leduc and their ponga launch in Guadalupe 2012

But that’s not the end of the story…