The SharkDiver Production Story

Mark Tipple Directors Notes

headshot-mark2SharkDiver is the journey of a scientist training his mind and body to adapt and be ready for a life threatening dive with Great White Sharks. We’re dealing with real people and real events, to ensure a smooth, engaging flow 'SharkDiver' will follow a structured treatment as Luke trains and learns each lesson. Intentionally lacking a formalistic script I allow the characters full freedom to use their own words. They’re experts who know the subject matter better than we can script.

To engage the audience I’m adapting a proven technique from similar documentary dramas, the same technique which made ‘OWNED’ an award winning film. I use three shoulder-mounted cameras, blocking through each scene multiple times with different camera angles to capture moments missed through traditional ‘camera on sticks’ style. Unaware of the cameras position the characters are free to feel their character. While the hand/shoulder held ‘shaky camera’ may seem trivial, a simple look at the first 5 minutes of Saving Private Ryan stands as testament to the emotion that may be conveyed through camera style.

In ‘SharkDiver’ I create a stark contrast between the presumably safe environment above the water and the traditionally dangerous water scenes. Paradoxically the surface style will evoke an almost claustrophobic state of mind, causing an edginess in the audience until we dive underwater where we switch to longer cuts and smoother pans, soothing the audience while in reality Luke’s risking life and limb to follow his dream. Subliminally the audience will experience an increasing comfort level underwater while in the presence of sharks, a message that will promote our goal of conservation and education of the aquatic realm and it’s Apex Predators.


Luke Tipple Producers notes

headshot-luke2I'd never thought to make a film like this. For so long I've been stuck in the documentary and reality TV mind-set that the entire realm of dramatic programming was a completely foreign concept. Added to that, I've never thought of myself as an actor!

The concept came to life with my brother and I just shooting the breeze. We were talking about his recent films and our desire to work on a project together. I pitched him an idea to film a doco on a place I'd recently been told about. It's a new shark site with Great Whites that have yet to be encountered by tourists. My plan? To free-dive with the Great White Sharks and establish some type of baseline for their reactive behaviour pre-tourism.

Mark disagreed on the delivery, saying all it would prove is a professional water guy can handle sharks and it would say nothing about the animals or their need to be better understood. That struck home. So we set out to create a story that would allow non-water people to connect with sharks in a way never before attempted. In this format non-water people would connect to the characters rather than trying to ram empathy for an un-relatable animal, or scary monster, down their throat.

I called in favors and asked everyone to believe in our dream. Everyone worked for free (or next to it) and I took a crash course in shoe-string production. For around 18% of a cable shows regular budget we managed to finish a film that we're very proud of.

One of the best things for me about doing this project was getting to work with people I admire. It's hard to name them all but at the top of the list is my brother Mark Tipple, who has a hell of an eye for film, and also working alongside Scott Cassell was a thrill. He's a good mate and a true mentor and I was stoked to have his full support on the project.

So, the film is done. Sure, it may not have the effects of a high end blockbuster, but it's got a story that rings true and is told from the heart. We've learned a lot in this project and if the feedback is anything to go by I know we're onto something great here.