Diving into Creativity: Capturing Talent Beneath the Waves

On Glimmer, we’ve seen projects that have taken us to the highest peaks and through scorching deserts, giving us a complete picture of our diverse talent. This week, we travel under the sea to bring you some of our top creators who have taken the plunge and have surfaced with amazing content.

Diving into Creativity: Capturing Talent Beneath the Waves
Photo by Hiroko Yoshii / Unsplash

Anirban Mahapatra

Anirban Mahapatra was doing his professional scuba divemaster course on Koh Tao island in the summer of 2021 when coral reefs began to suffer an episode of coral bleaching. “This is a now seasonal phenomenon that takes place in Thailand’s waters almost every summer,” Anirban recalls. “In recent times, nearly 80 percent of the nation’s coral reefs have been impacted by warming oceans caused by climate change.”

Living on the island for six weeks through that summer, Anirban witnessed the occurrence up and close during his training dives on the reefs. He had his field filming gear with him, so he started documenting the effect of bleaching. He also began recording the stories of people who had committed to collecting valuable data, which would help people understand the science of coral bleaching. Eventually, all of this work culminated in a video that The Weather Channel published for World Oceans Day.

“World Oceans Day is celebrated around the world on June 8 every year, as a solemn recognition of all efforts, initiatives, and voices dedicated to the conservation of the earth’s oceans,” Anirban informed us. “In keeping with the spirit of the day, the video was produced as a recognition of all the work that was being put in by Thailand’s marine warriors to protect the country’s coral reefs in the face of acute climate change.”

We asked Anirban about some of the unique challenges he faced during his time filming:

“One of the biggest challenges for visual storytellers working underwater is to be able to collect clean, crisp and visually arresting images despite working against the vagaries of the elements. From bad water visibility or strong currents to windy conditions or equipment snags caused by abrupt changes in the weather, countless factors could come in the way of a rewarding shoot.” 

“This project too came with its own set of complexities, but each day in the water taught me valuable lessons in how to handle the jigsaw of ever-changing conditions to finally come away with high-quality footage for the film.”

Anirban valued learning more about the anatomy of reef biology, its connection with climate change, and its invaluable role in protecting the marine environment. “Overall, it was a project that allowed me to learn while disseminating valuable information and awareness to the general audience.”

Marisa & Carwyn

Photo courtesy of Laurent Ballesta/Les Gens Bien Productions/ARTE

Marisa & Carywn acted as editors for The Mediterranean’s Hidden Wonders which takes a deep dive into the secret world of the Mediterranean. The pair was in charge of editing, writing the narration script, and providing additional interview footage as they condensed the original feature-length documentary for BBC Reel. The edited piece still focuses on Lauren Ballesta’s story as this marine biologist and underwater photographer unveils a whole new world underwater.

MARISA: “I met Laurent Ballesta at the Xposure International Photography Festival in Sharjah, UAE in early 2022 and was simply blown away at not just his stunning photography but also his values, philosophy, and passion for raising awareness of marine conservation. He’s not just a highly acclaimed underwater photographer - twice winning the Grand Title award at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2021 and 2023 - but also a marine biologist and deep-sea diver.  Soon after Xposure, we saw that BBC Reel was looking for pitches about ocean conservation. I immediately thought of Laurent’s work, so we pitched the story about the Gombessa Expedition, led by Laurent and his team, which actually happened in 2019 and was already available as a full-length documentary on ARTE.”

Photo courtesy of Laurent Ballesta/Les Gens Bien Productions/ARTE

Despite the full-length documentary already being released, Marisa and Carwyn were determined to tell Laurent’s story, compelled by his groundbreaking achievements.  

CARWYN: “The first challenge for us was to convince BBC Reel that although the story had already been 'out there’ in the world on ARTE for a few years, there was still a new way to tell the story of the expedition as a short-form piece. To be completely honest, the video and stills shot by Laurent and his team made the visual hook an easy sell, so our main puzzle was how we were going to condense the story not just into six or seven minutes but to give the footage a new life.”

Marisa and Carwyn were eventually given the go-ahead to move forward with the piece, writing a draft script of what they hoped would be Laurent’s voice-over referencing specific images they wanted to feature. Once everything was set, they headed to Montpellier to shoot the two interviews with local shooter/drone operator, Aurélian Desmiers. After the footage was secured, the editing was next.

CARWYN: “In the edit, the key for me was to trust that the images - both the video and stills - were enough to initially seduce and importantly retain the viewers’ attention with their obvious beauty, intrigue, and mystery from the start. Since we had the full-length ARTE documentary to work with, the immediate question was what to leave out as much as what to put in. Yet I always say that less is more and to allow everything to breathe. I’m a big believer that audio is hugely underestimated in video work but in this case, we had the additional gift that the underwater world in the full-length piece already had its soundscape thanks to the incredible work of the original sound designers. We relied as heavily on their outstanding work as we did on the visual images of Laurent and his crew.” 

Both Marisa and Carwyn agree that the message that you want to convey is key to any great story, and for one to come to life you have to be truly invested in your premise. The pair had already aligned with Laurent's core message, values, and philosophy, which helped bring inspiration to their work. Immersing themselves in their premise allowed them to achieve the perfect balance of being educational, inspiring, and entertaining - results that shine through this breathtaking piece 

“For me,” reflects Marisa, “this project is all about showing people something that they may have never seen. I wanted to share that with people so they too could see that not everything has been lost.”

Photo courtesy of Laurent Ballesta/Les Gens Bien Productions/ARTE