Next up in the ongoing adventures of Ryan Tarran, stunt man extraordinaire, is some underwater action!

I have a plan to shoot my next action test/short. I want to do some underwater filming and I want to expand on the fight we did last time and make it into more of a short film with a true narrative and characters. To this end I have written a short script and we are going to work on a plan to choreograph an underwater fight as well as plan the shoot and story surrounding how these characters have gotten into so much strife under the waves.

I have never shot underwater. I didn’t know how we were going to go about as well as whether any of it was actually achievable.

First port of call is a test. I have come to realize that you can take a huge amount of stress out of the equation on the day by doing tests before hand. If you have access to the location this is even better as it helps you visualize the camera positions, framing, action as well as how the light looks.

The weather is getting cold around here so I was well impressed with how keen Ryan was to get into the water late one raining night. This reminded me how important it is to surround your self with motivated, passionate and positive people. I heard a saying recently “your only as good as your 5 closest friends” and I have to say I believe it. Too many people focus on what you can’t do, what will stop you, and other negative thing. You don’t need these people.

So Ryan Tarran and I along with Chris Blok headed down late one night to the cold water with the simplest of goals: to go through the action with a GoPro and a single light panel. The purpose of this was to learn about some of the challenges we would face when shooting it on the day.

  • Can we see underwater at night?
  • How much lighting will we need?
  • Is the action achievable?
  • How easy is it to shoot in the water and communicate?

Communication is hard enough at the best of times on set so in this situation we are going to have to be especially clear with what we are saying and doing as well as how we go about communicating. Pre-shoot briefings will be an essential part of the shoot as there are several dangers associated with filming under the water as well as having powered devices in and around the water.

Have a look at some GoPro screen grabs:

After a wee delay here is the edited video from the night.

First up a test to cover visibility and what to expect with such a basic lighting set up.

Second a basic walk though of the key action. We didn’t have a second body to put near Ryan for the fight so I had him thrash around a bit just for effect.

Next step is casting and planing. Frustratingly Ryan is over in NZ shooting the Hobbit movies with Peter Jackson. Lucky boy. When he gets back we will get him to give us an insight to working on such a monumental production. I have never experienced anything of that scale so I’m super interested in what its like from the inside.

We will also head into development of our underwater fight short, entitled “Breathe” very soon. Stay tuned.



  • Do a test if you can, you will learn heaps and be more prepared on the day.
  • Surround your self with motivated, positive people, it will make you a better film maker.
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Showing 3 comments
  • Snowythai

    Could you possibly post the test video of this? Curious about how cool it will probably look like as a video instead of only screen shots….

    • admin

      Should be able to some time next week. We have been delayed quite a bit as Ryan (the guy in the water) and Steve & Glenn (the guys from the previous fight scenes) are all away working on the Hobbit and I’ve been caught up on dull corporate work. But after Monday we have time so ill throw together the water footage into an edit and post it up then.

    • admin

      Updated ! 🙂

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