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The MovieMaker Sundance Survey 2017: The Scoop on 19 Films Playing Park City at the 33rd Festival

The MovieMaker Sundance Survey 2017: The Scoop on 19 Films Playing Park City at the 33rd Festival


Chasing Coral (U.S. Documentary Competition)

Who: Jeff Orlowski, director

Logline: Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers, and scientists set out on a heart-pounding adventure to discover why, and to reveal the beautiful underwater mystery to the world.

The length of the shoot was: over three years.

Our crew size was: usually three to six people, but there were hundreds of people involved in the film.

Our camera, lenses and lighting package were: Red Dragons, Sony FS7, Canon glass and GoPro Hero4.

The first spark of an idea for this movie came when: our subject, Richard Vevers, reached out to our team and told us how much the oceans were changing. I had gone scuba diving a couple times before, but had no idea how fast things were changing. And that one conversation set us off on a beautiful adventure around the world, to some really spectacular locations.

Jeff Orlowski. Photograph by Trevor Mendelow

y favorite scene (or shot) in the film is: when our team was in New Caledonia, a small country off the coast of Australia, and we discovered an incredibly rare underwater phenomenon, where the corals were bright fluorescent colors. It was one of the most beautiful scenes we had captured in three years of shooting.

An audience watching my film probably won’t know that: our team did a huge amount of dive training to shoot this film. I trained for  several dive certifications, and logged 200 dives during the production.

The most interesting, weirdest or most difficult location we shot at was: Lizard Island. It’s a remote research station in the northern Great Barrier Reef, and our team lived out there for weeks and weeks. We had our own research boat, and went diving every day to about 60 sites that we were documenting. It’s one of the most amazing locations we’ve been to, and an amazing place to shoot.

A darling I had to kill along the way: Explaining my favorite darling would spoil the film, so I’ll have to tell you after the film premieres.

I need to give a special shout-out to: our producer, Larissa Rhodes. She’s awesome.

I would love to meet Rashida Jones in Park City.

I’m most excited about seeing the film Trophy and the other documentaries sound cool this year.

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    Martin M

    January 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    After reading a couple articles in this new issue, I am becoming convinced I should allocate some of my budget for VFX! I am writing and directing a film about a cyber relationship between a man and a woman across two different galaxies, though one is unsure which lives on Earth, and I’m struggling with transitional scenes across the Milky Way.

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