Before I worked on this project I was no stranger to filming ocean expeditions. I have been a part of teams that explored newly discovered coral reefs at the mouth of the Amazon, conducted the first manned submersible dives in Antarctica, and hunted the depths of the Humboldt current looking for cannibal squids. Despite all my previous experience at sea, this expedition still seemed daunting when I first arrived.
When I first arrived to the ship I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been on a sailboat before, and I certainly hadn’t ever prepped to be at the ocean for multiple months on end. Most of the expeditions I had gone on were three weeks and the longest I had ever been away on an expedition was five weeks. I also had the privilege of primarily working on one of the most comfortable research vessels in the world, with a full crew of people that had very specific roles to fill, and a fully stocked kitchen with world class chefs. Compared to my previous jobs, this job has put me out at sea longer than I ever thought I would be at sea, in conditions that are at times extremely uncomfortable, and has forced me to actually learn how to operate a boat.
From a technical filmmaking standpoint, this job is much simpler than others I’ve worked on. We don’t have the space onboard to bring any fancy tools. We don’t even have a tripod. We just have two handheld cameras, a few gopros, a consumer grade drone, one tiny LED light, and some mics. Projects I worked on in college had fancier equipment to play with. The one thing that this job has that elevates it past its technical limitations is its story and the people onboard. This job has introduced me to some of the most passionate and dedicated ocean advocates I have ever met.
I have never worked with a group of people that were willing to give up potentially 6 months of their lives to work for free in service of a cause that was bigger than themselves. The fact that Ben’s swim has pulled together such a scrappy team of people that struggle and fight through tough conditions day after day after day in order to raise awareness around the issues that they deeply care about is very inspiring. That I have an opportunity to help tell their story is something that I am very grateful for, and something that I don’t take for granted. It is a privilege for me to be able to work with these people.
This job has forced me to push my limits in ways haven’t had to before. It has been more uncomfortable than any job I’ve ever had. It has required me to learn more than any job I’ve ever had. It has taken me away from home longer than any job I’ve ever had. It has given me more memorable moments than any job I’ve ever had. It has made me more connected to the ocean and nature than any job I’ve ever had. It might be the most rewarding job I’ve ever had and its by far the most challenging job I’ve had.
James DuBourdieu, Producer & Cameraman