Tell us about the project. I’d done a few jobs for Academy before the Volvo job, and the director Marcus Söderlund and I had worked together on a film about the ocean last year. He sent me the brief early on in the process and we started chatting about the water sequences and what we could do. I was buzzing on the idea straight away.
How did you get the shots? We had a whole team of people helping out in South Africa. I had a camera assistant on land who would grab the camera off me when I came to shore, dry it all off and get the cards to where they needed to be. We also had guys on jet skis who would run Lisette [Forsyth, the surfer] and myself to where we thought was the best spot to shoot depending on wind, swell and light.
Camera-wise, we used the Red Dragon with Zeiss Super Speed lenses. This was the only combination suitable for the lighting conditions we were after. Medb [Riordan, the producer] tracked down underwater housing in Australia that we hired from Rick Rifici, who had worked with Dave Kelly to build custom housing for his own Red Epic camera.
Why did you decide to shoot it at night? It creates a feeling, an ambience. If we had shot it during the day, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. It is also something that you don’t see too often in the mainstream media.
What were the key challenges? Playback was one of the biggest challenges and always is in the sea, as you can’t really be tethered to a monitor. As soon as you bring water into the equation, wireless monitors are a no go as well. So it was a case of me heading out to shoot stuff and then bringing the camera back to shore, drying it off and taking the cards out for playback. Then I’d get feedback from everyone and head back out.
Are you a strong swimmer? I’ve been swimming for as long as I can remember. I had really bad asthma when I was young so my parents encouraged me to take up swimming to build up my lungs.
Where are your favourite water-shoot locations? Ireland and Iceland are my favourite locations to shoot in the sea and also on land. They are both such oddly unique places.
What’s your next project? Probably trying to get my one-year-old boy to sleep longer than two hours during the night. It’s proving to be quite a challenge!