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Underwater shoot

Being an independent filmmaker sometimes means you have to think on your feet and improvise in order to maintain your original vision for a project. I wrote an entire scene underwater without really thinking too much about how I was going to shoot. When preproduction began I realised that it was going to be an impossible task going down the traditional route. Not only from a financial perspective but also it was a logistical nightmare.

I did the usual research. I contacted some of the large studios and got quotes upwards of £20,000. I contacted some medium sized studios and got quotes upwards of £10,000. I contacted small facilities and found that it was still going to cost £5000. The huge difficult shooting underwater is that you need an underwater crew. Which means you need camera ops that are certified scuba divers. You have to have at least four other trained scuba divers in the pool for health and safety. You have to have special underwater communication in order to feed back direction to both crew and actors.

So what was the answer? Britain's Got Talent. Perhaps I have lost my mind mid blog. Let me explain. A few years ago on BGT there was a synchronised swimming group that performed on stage in a portable tank. I tracked the tank down to a storage facility in Peterborough. I called and spoke to a man about hiring the tank. They could bring it to us for thousands of pounds or we could shot in Peterborough and spend £500 for the day. Myself and a couple of my crew visited the facility. The tank was tiny. Certainly not enough to give the impression of a vast expanse of water. Let alone fit any crew members inside to shoot.

With the consultation from my DP (Jamie Kennerley) and VFX Supervisor (Lee Watson) a decision was made to black out the area around the tank and shoot from the outside. All shots woud be framed so that we could expand the space in post production. We come up with a very specific and intricate plan for the shoot and we manage to nail it in one day.

We hung a custom measured black sheet behind the tank. We blocked the front to avoid any light reflections and we rigged and pulley system inside the tank to give the desired effect on our actress. I have included a short video below. This will hopefully give some insight into doing something elaborate on a smaller budget. If you have any questions about the shoot you can contact me on

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