The premiere of Oceans: Our Blue Planet from BBC Earth was an evening of great entertainment and thought-provoking guest speakers, topped off with some stunning visual storytelling and an important message.
Carolijn Brouwer, the first woman to win the Volvo Ocean Race, spoke about the importance of respecting the seas and ensuring that our relationship with the water is good for the planet. BBC Earth Producer Jonathan Williams spoke about meeting the different characters under the sea and learning fascinating new stories about life beneath the waves. He has worked with scientists from around the world on pioneering research projects and captured several firsts on camera, allowing him to give back to scientists and ultimately give back to the human race through helping to further our understanding of the planet.
The dance of the Yeti crab, as it catches bacteria from thermal vents in the currents, was a fantastic moment, the film highlighted not only how complex theses creatures are, but also the tight, interwoven nature of our oceans and how everything, whether a gigantic whale or tiny bacterium, has its role in the ecosystem. Williams also spoke about the difficulties of filming, which is shown during the credits with a vlog-style diary from the researchers, sailors and divers on the expeditions. Inflatables, submarines, helicopters – you name it, the team were using it to get these stunning shots.
As for the documentary itself, the giant screen film was a fantastic showcase of skilled camera work, dedication to the cause of discovery and the incredible skills of the production team. The audience watched, fascinated, as an octopus cover itself with shells and pebbles to hide from predators off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. There was the tusk fish, using a rock to crack open clams on the ocean floor, there were dolphins in the Red Sea teaching their young which antiseptic corals to rub against to protect their skin and there were countless more examples of the complex ecosystem in the water that we have explored so little.
Speaking to Williams after the event, he said, “The team has a storyline and a plan for the exact scenes we want to film. We go out and look for it but there’s so much that happens unexpectedly which doesn’t make it into the final product. It’s important to have a well-planned narrative, otherwise there’s no story. There are days when we go out and nothing happens or we miss it. The ‘boiling sea’ feeding clip takes about five minutes and we missed it so many times, or just didn’t make it.”
BBC Earth has over 60 years of natural history content, making it an incredible tool for monitoring our planet over time, as well as an invaluable educational repository and a beacon for future research and progress. This film is the most ambitious the studios have ever attempted, utilising top of the range facilities form scientific partners across the globe. A ship with its own lab, a helicopter and a tiny submarine were just some of the vehicles used to search out and capture footage, and it was well acknowledged that it was a privilege and an honour to be involved in such an important scientific endeavour.
The film will be shown at the Omniversum from 3 July, English and other language translations are available on the Cinema Connect app. Take your headphones!