June 4, 2023
Cover Photo: Jill filming Kayla and Charlotte loading boat
When watching a documentary many viewers believe that all of it was filmed as it happened. Reality is very different!
Whether climbing a mountain or diving a shipwreck, the expedition team members are focused on capturing the moment in spectacular sequences and images. While these shots are important, what is also critical in creating a film are the cutaway shots which are also known as B-roll footage.
Cutaway shots are panoramic location photos, weather, close ups of flora and fauna and expedition preparation like loading gear. These small bits of video or photos are used to tie the key scenes together and transition between segments in the storyline.
On perfect weather days, the team is focused on getting out to the wreck and spending as much time underwater as possible. The cutaways are filmed on days that are too rough to dive or during the surface intervals that we are required to take for safety before returning to the depths on scuba.
This morning the wind was blowing at 35 kms per hour and gusting to over 50 and the waves had built up to almost a meter. Since diving was out of the question, we spent the day reenacting parts of the expedition in order to capture the cutaway shots that would be needed.
The three of us require an immense amount of gear to spend a whole day out on the water. Watching us load a hundred items into the boat for over half an hour would make for a very boring video, so we filmed it in time lapse to only take 25 seconds.
We then headed out to a small, sheltered bay where we recreated diving scenes like jumping off of the boat or starting our descent to the wreck. When these are used in the film the audience will not notice that the bottom was just three meters below vs the thirty meters that the OLIVER MOWAT is really resting in.
Hopefully I have not shattered your belief in documentaries by sharing what goes on behind the camera, but I wanted to provide you with the full experience and effort that is required to mount an expedition for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.