log book - Meeting with filmmakers of Planet Ocean
Meeting with filmmakers of Planet Ocean
On the occasion of Rio+20 and the GoodPlanet festival, Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot presented the world premiere of their film "Planet Ocean". From the sky to the abysses, this documentary, produced by Hope with support from Omega and in association with Tara Expeditions, alerts us to the situation of the world's oceans. We interviewed the two directors of this cinematic treasure.
Can you tell us about your film?
Michael Pitiot: "Planet Ocean" is a film about the Ocean that speaks about Man. Man has written a unique biological story, but is now overwhelmed by that story.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand: "Planet Ocean" is a documentary that delivers an activist but realistic vision of the situation of our blue planet, with an educational aspect about the world of the oceans.
What started this film project about the oceans?
Yann Arthus-Bertrand: I was contacted one day by Omega (Swiss watch manufacturer) with an offer to make a feature-length film about the oceans. They loved my film “Home”, and having created a watch named "Planet Ocean", they wanted to fund a documentary about the cause. I agreed on one condition: to have complete freedom!
I am not a specialist on oceans, but I quickly thought of “Tara Expeditions”. I called Roman Troublé and told him I was looking for a co-director, an expert in this field. He recommended Michael Pitiot, who directed several films on Tara, and said, "You'll see, he’s a gem.” That’s how we started the project together.
Michael Pitiot: I met Yann over a year ago, when he showed me his ambitious project to make a film about the oceans. I thought he was one of the rare filmmakers in France who could make this kind of film happen. I knew this would be a great opportunity for everyone, so I threw myself into the adventure. And I have to add that I particularly appreciate Yann’s work, I love his photographer's eye.
How did you make this film?
Michael Pitiot l: We started writing the film and I worked on the content and aim of the documentary. Yann is intuitive and has very good insights and I’m more into purpose. We were quite complementary.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand: We chose not to do interviews in this film, and to mingle my aerial images with underwater scenes. I was sure it would work because I proceed slowly, a bit like a fish in water. I started filming in Australia, Indonesia, Panama, Brittany. At the same time, Michael went off in search of underwater images.
Michael Pitiot: I did a little tour of the planet to collect the most beautiful underwater images. In the end, 9 cameramen contributed unpublished images of the ocean depths. The Australian David Hannan, an expert on coral reefs, provided a huge bank of magnificent images.
The film narrative is in the first person. Why did you make that choice?
Michael Pitiot: I didn’t want to exclude the viewer from this debate. If you have the dialogue in the first person, people are forced to ask themselves questions: Where are we going? Have we made a mistake? How were certain decisions taken? This is a film for the general public, because only they can bring about change.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand: Initially I was against using “I”. It’s Michael who imposed the first person. Because it's me who is reading the text, I feared this could be misinterpreted. But finally, the narration of the film is very poetic, very poignant, and I actually cried the first time I recorded it. That's the first time it happened to me!
To conclude, what is the film’s message?
Yann Arthus-Bertrand: I think the message of "Planet Ocean" is that we must not give up hope. The sea has much greater resilience than the earth. Marine life renews itself much faster. And then there are solutions like creating marine reserves, establishing global governance, banning flags of convenience. Our message is primarily intended for the general public. I think the cinema can truly help change peoples' awareness.
Michael Pitiot: I think we have the intelligence to understand things. We will certainly find it difficult to change things, but we're capable of it.
After the premiere in Rio de Janeiro, the film Planet Ocean will be shown around the world for a year.
Interview by Anna Deniaud.