Next Saturday myself and my crew plus a ton of equipment fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to meet our UK producers for the first shoot in a round of seven shoots scheduled this year (before October!) for a feature film on the damage plastic is doing to our marine environment.
The working title of the film is "Away" and it's to be released theatrically in the U.S. in 2012. It will then be broadcast by National Geographic Channel on global cable release once it's done its rounds in the cinemas. The film is called "Away" because that's how we view plastic as a one time use product, when the opposite is the truth. Plastic does not biodegrade and is with us for the rest of our lives and the lives of our children. Almost two billion barrels of oil are used to produce more than 300 million tonnes of plastic every year and most of that ends up in our marine environment. The film investigates the issue of our use of plastic and how our marine environment and consequently us humans are now threatened by this plastic.
We will film four explorers as they travel the globe with the world's most renowned ocean scientists studying the amount of plastic in our oceans, the toxicity levels in marine animals and how it is affecting our food chain. In our first shoot starting this Saturday off the south coast of Sri Lanka we will film pygmy blue whales. For the first time ever, our scientists will dart these enormous creatures and take biopsies of blubber samples to determine what they are eating, where they are migrating and the levels of toxins they are carrying. It will be a difficult shoot as little is known about these hard-to-find creatures who have rarely been filmed.
We will also shoot this year in Hawaii, Midway Island, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, Indonesia, Los Angeles and the Antarctic.
The cinematographers and producers of the film are the best ever assembled for one project and have worked on documentaries such as Blue Planet, Life, Earth, Big Cat Diary, Frozen Planet, Pacific Abyss and Walking With Dinosaurs. Indeed, one of my heros, Sir David Attenborough, is associated with the project. It was he who first tweaked my interest in natural history subjects and lit the fire of documentary film-making under me.
I have been asked to executive produce and direct the film and I also get to present several of the segments in the Indian Ocean and Antarctica, where my producers have requested that for one segment I dive with Leopard seals.
It's an honour to be associated with such a fabulous project on an issue that is affecting us all. It's an even greater honour to be directing with such notable natural history cinematographers as Mike Pitts and Doug Allen and producers Jo Ruxton, Adaire Osbaldson and Lizzie Bewick.
We are filming on ultra high definition Red cameras and will have two underwater crews, one topside crew and one making-of crew. We will spend 16 days on the 102ft Galileo with two 10 metre inflatable boats and a helicopter to help us achieve our desired shots. We will also have a Polecam to give us dynamic moving shots and we will be taking 20 terabytes of harddrives to upload our vision. The logistics in arranging this shoot have been enormous and have taken 12 months to sort out, from the permits to dart the whales to the funding for the film, to the carnets for the equipment.
For more information visit the Plastic Ocean Foundation's website at www.plasticoceans.com. And now a word from the legend himself...