Best Inspirational Film: April 2022 Edition
Anthony Gordon, thank you very much for having us. Let’s dive into your film. You have worked in the Himalaya Mountains and on the world’s highest peaks. What sparked your interest in the oceans?
To be honest after 23 years of making documentaries in extreme environments all over the planet I had seen quite a bit through the lens of a camera. Long story short, I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) which for me was quite a relief as I didn’t quite understand the symptoms.
So, it was a psychologist that suggested that I search for something different to break the cycle that was causing the traumatic symptoms.
I decided to enrol in a Scuba course, which turned out to be the catalyst of the Aliquam I and II series. From the moment that I took my first breath under the water, my entire life changed. Not only had I started the immediate fix for the PTSD, but my entire perspective of the world changed as I was seeing it literally through new eyes.
I returned home after my course in search of Ocean content and all I could find were documentaries about sea life & conservation or free diving women in bikinis. All of which have their place, though for me I wanted more. I was looking for stories of wonder and enjoyment in the ocean. Following countless hours of searching, I came up empty-handed.
The obvious choice was to turn my literal focus to making my own content, in the hope that others were also craving this and to hopefully inspire others that hadn’t had a breath under the water to give it a go.
The rest is history.
What would you say is a critical difference between your inaugural Aliquam film and this sequel?
The significant difference came at the end of the Aliquam I series, which focussed upon Dive Instructors and their passion for the ocean, when I was doing an exploratory dive with my ocean mentor Jayne Jenkins.
During that dive we came across a young lad snorkelling on the surface. He decided to come down and join us for a breath and the look in his eyes when he experienced the deeper water was extraordinary.
On surfacing and returning to the carpark, the young lad –a 13-year-old boy– came across to us and articulated very beautifully how badly he wanted to scuba dive to see more.
Aliquam II was born in that instance. We set out to make stories of young kids taking their first breaths under the water. Guided by our instructors for their first scuba experience was built to inspire all kids to look below the surface.
This in our view would go a long way to protecting our ocean and our planet into the future.
There is a lot of commotion as well as growing public awareness of the climate crisis and ocean plastic pollution currently. Can you explain how the rationale behind your project of “giving kids their first breath under water” is connected to finding a cure for the planet?
Quite simply out of sight, out of mind. If you can’t see what is below the surface of the ocean, you really can’t understand what all the climate education and propaganda is all about.
It is impossible to put into perspective the importance of sea life and the oceans to the planet without the connection with pollution and greater issues.
This is a long game; it is about giving the gift of experience and that experience triggers in every child a sense of wonder. This wonder leads to curiosity, which then leads to a need to understand.
The more they understand the obvious the more they will translate this to the adults and through their later years.
We see this as changing the oceans one step at a time.
Do you think there could be a link between sea pollution and the fear of the oceans or lack of knowledge thereof?
I like to answer this with a simple analogy. How many people drink toilet water?
Why? Because its second nature to understand that it is full of contaminants, and it will make you sick.
Until you experience the ocean (by observing what is below the surface and the amazing simplicity and interconnectedness), you will never understand what polluting it will do to the planet.
The link is absolute. It’s not a fear it’s lack of knowledge. Knowledge is only gained and acted upon by an actual enjoyable experience. If that experience is lost or threatened to be lost, then one will inevitably try and conserve and protect it.
Is the freedom of diving under the ocean critical in educating the next gen?
Yes. Or at least the experience of exploring below the surface with the aid of SCUBA.
In Aliquam II, Valerie Taylor says that “without the ocean, we wouldn’t be here (…) not a bird, not a tree. Everything you see is replicated under water.” We hear the voice of Professor Christian Mata Bonilla who says a lot of damage has been done. Are we not past raising awareness?
We are past raising awareness by traditional methods.
When I created the World’s First Sherpa Rescue team in the Himalaya and on Mt Everest more specifically, for decades everyone knew people and Sherpa were perishing on the world’s highest peaks.
Though all that was happening was people were talking about it and the media were writing about it, much in the same way as traditional climate change narrative is driven.
So I put together a TV series that educated people about what was going on and trained the Sherpa in the basic lifesaving skills required to make it safer. This then translated from Six Sherpa to an entire industry and now the mountain is 85% safer for Sherpa.
So, in Aliquam II we took six kids for their first breath below the surface … if through the film and media this educates only 1% of kids, then that knowledge will put the oceans in a far greater position over the next two decades.
Australia, which is the setting of your documentary, has just had its first long-promised climate election. Are there any global lessons in this?
I can’t really answer this as I am not a scientist nor an advocate for climate protocols. What I am is a storyteller that sets out to give kids an experience below the surface that would help inspire other kids to look below the waves.
I know this will inspire learning and understanding. These kids will be the future politicians, scientists, etc, so they will be the ones that make the difference.
Possibly ask one of them this question in 15 years’ time?
Short statement describing your vision of the post-covid cinema, do you think there will be notable changes?
I feel that during Covid, cinema and film received an enormous audience as during global lockdowns people spent more time than ever in history watching content. We now have the attention so it is important to now generate high quality, discerning content that can continue to capture the new genre and outlets attention.
The new post covid cinema is online.
DIRECTOR, CINEMATOGRAPHER & EDITOR
Anthony's projects as a filmmaker diversified his 22 year career to encompass all areas of film, television, and social media production.
His project locations range from the heights of the Himalaya Mountains to the African Plains, and projects cover subjects in 62 countries. Anthony's filmmaking, post production, and distribution skills make him one of the world's most unique solo artists.
In the world of adventure and ultra-sports, Anthony set himself the goal of changing the planet one story at a time, with the majority of his documentaries and series featuring people, supported by stunning visuals and rare insights into the human spirit.
In the sports world, Anthony's worked with over 120 World Champions, and his films have been viewed by global audiences, so there is no limit that can't be pushed through his lens.
In 2016 he not only created the World's First Sherpa Rescue Team on the world's highest peak, Mt Everest (https://vimeo.com/169226106) he starred as the Base Camp Rescue Manager along with directing and producing a 6 pert global series titled Everest Air” for the Travel Channel. From this experience and a myriad of other adventure projects lead him to the oceans.
A place that was very new to him, and to which, he decided to apply his craft.
The results are the globally successful Aliquam and the Aliquam II series that sends a viewer on a voyage of discovery through dive stories towards giving kids their first breaths under the water.
Aliquam II just won 'Best Inspirational Film' at the Cannes World Film Festival – Remember the Future.
Then finally 12 Shades of Grey, an exploration of short film magic aiming to shed a new light on the Great White Shark through simple first hand experience. You can find all episodes here: vimeo.com/showcase/9243024
12 Shades - Film (vimeo.com/678040279)
Anthony shares his extremely rare experiences for the first time Live at the Conference.
Find all Anthony's work at nothinbutshorts.com.au
Interview: Isabelle Rouault-Röhlich