Monday, June 8, 2015

Somewhere Under The Rainbow - Diving into the Wizard of Oz


Somewhere under the rainbow! Scuba divers in Minnesota set to go looking for Judy Garland (Wizard of Oz) ruby slippers in a mine pit! The search and rescue dive will take place next week in Minnesota.
I received a press release last week from the organizers of the 40th Annual "Wizard of Oz" Festival June 10-13 near Grand Rapids Minnesota. An homage to both the singer / actress and her break-out movie, the big event this weekend will take place underwater.

"Scuba divers for the Judy Garland Museum will take a plunge into the Tioga Mine Pit June 11, and June 12 at 10 a.m., and 1 p.m. to explore decade-old rumors a pair of authentic ruby slippers – worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy – were discarded there after a brazen 2005 heist," reads the press release.
The Itasca County Sheriff's Dive Team will go to great depths in its search for the iconic red shoes following a famous theft that remains unsolved.
"These rumors have been floating around since it happened," says Jonny Miner, one of the founders of the popular museum which includes Judy Garland's childhood home, "and we're finally putting them to the ultimate test."
There is a Canadian connection at the weekend event. Toronto based Tricon Films and Television is shooting live footage of the underwater search for an upcoming documentary "The Slippers." "The ruby slippers are an indelible piece of cinematic history and pop culture, and it is an honor to be able to capture this historic event for my film," said Producer/Director Morgan White.
There's no place like home" Grand Rapids, Minnesota (not Michigan)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How Movies, Books and Paintings Helped Sharks Scare The Crap Out of US!

Way Before Jaws And Even Way Before the Movies There Was Watson and the Shark

The Painting below is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York image archives (recently opened to the public) and is one of many versions of a painting done by British artist Singleton Copley in 1778. The heroic painting, Watson and the Shark, is based on a real incident that happened in Havana in 1749.  Brook Watson, a 14-year old cabin boy fell into the harbour and was attacked by a shark who took off one of this legs.  It took three attempts to rescue him.  He lived  to tell the tale to painter Singleton Copley.

Watson and the Shark
The work was such a huge boost to the artist's career that he gave a smaller version of the painting to Watson.
It was a very stylized painting and there is a suggestion that the staging in the boat was based on the famous (well here in Canada) Death of General Wolfe by West.
In its day the painting caused a real fear of sharks for people living far far away from the Caribbean.  Shark looks extremely fearful but not very real. That is because the artist had never been to Cuba and was thought to never having seen a shark (hence the shark has lips, forward-facing cat's eyes and air blowing out from it's "nostrils".)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Rare Photograph of the Australian Mermaid found on a dive through archives

Kellerman at the age of 19

Rare Blood N Bubbles Picture Found

Flickr, the social media service for photographers, is working with archives around the world to make their digital photo archives available to the world. Recently I took a dive through the New South Wales (AU)  library files and found this picture of 18-year old Annette Kellerman.
Kellerman, an Aussi by birth was a champion swimmer and starred in a number of dive/ mermaid films at the turn of the last century. In 1905 she invented the streamlined one-piece swimming costume for women, a liberating garment, which became her trademark. 
Known as the 'Diving Venus' and the 'Australian Mermaid', Annette Kellerman (1887–1975) was an athlete as well as a vaudeville and movie star, one of the most famous women of her day. She offered a powerful mix of innovative underwater performances, perfect physique, revealing costumes, skilful handling of publicity, and record breaking athletic feats.
Some of her movies that included underwater scenes included: A Daughter of the Gods (1916), Venus of the South Seas (1924) and Neptune's Daughter (1914).
According to the Australian Government's posted history of Kellerman, her best underwater scenes are to be seen in "Venus of the South Seas (1924), her final film, shot in beautiful locations in New Zealand. Venus of the South Seas is remarkable in a number of ways. It contained one full 20-minute reel filmed entirely underwater, and in colour. It was the last film made using the Prizma colour system. This system employed two colours, red and green, rather than the three-colour system introduced in the 1930s. Fortunately this film still exists in its entirety.:
Photograph Courtesy Hilton Cordell Productions and National Museum of Australia.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Remembering Don Knotts - Hollywood's first underwater superhero



It was 60 years ago January 16 that comedian Don Knotts (man in middle of photo) opened his movie, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, at the Weeki Wachee underwater mermaid attraction in Florida. 

The Incredible Mr. Limpet was  a Warner Brothers 1964 American live-action/animated adventure film. It starred Don Knotts, Carole Cooke and  Jack Weston Mr Limpet had the ability to turn into a fish. He enlisted in the US Navy during WW11 and as a fish, sinks a number of Nazi subs! Photo from Flickr Commons / Florida Archives.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2008 colour 91 minutes Insight Film Studios / Sci-Fi Channel
Director: Paul Ziller Starring: Brian Krause, Niall Matter and Carrie Genzel

You can lead a director to the water, but you can’t make him dive!  Virtually no diving in this TV movie about the Loch Ness Monster in Lake Superior!!! Filmed in 2008 (some reports have it being made in 2007), this made-for-TV Canadian movie tells the story of a crypto zoologist  (the study of and search for legendary animals) hunting the monster who killed his family back in Scotland 30 years ago.  He arrives at Lake Superior, just as the monster has laid her eggs and is in the process of eating up a lakeside town. Brian Krause, as the revenge driven scientist, does briefly get into the water in a full dry suit.  We see computer created scenes of Nessie coming in and out of underwater limestone caves.  Nessie has been able to get to Lake Superior and onto Pike Island from the ocean through these passageways!  Nessie and her babies can waddle on land; so, no one is truly safe in this horror thriller.  The movie was shot in British Columbia and not surprising this Lake Superior is a rather small body of water surrounded by the Rockies.  Superior does give up her dead – that includes crazy town folk, sexed up teenagers and Nessie and her brood.  Many Canadian actors and actresses got to die horribly in this movie.

Rating 1/4 Bubble

Blood 'N' Bubbles, The History of Diving in the Movies. First two pages of an as yet unpublished 700 page book by Stephen Weir


I have been working on the book Blood 'N' Bubbles, The History of Diving in the Movies, over the course of the last 30 years. I have watched and notated over 1,000 movies and written 700 pages of the book. The book gives an overview of Blood And Bubble Movies and includes an extensive directory of films. I am very close to finishing (but more movies come out). I guess I need a couple of weeks alone with my computer in the Jules Verne Inn, to make it all happen.

What follows are the first two pages of the book. Have removed the footnotes. Feel free to send you comments.


There is popcorn on your shirt, all over the floor -- and even in your date’s hair. You have missed your mouth with the last three shots, even though it is open so wide it looks like NASA’s wind tunnel.
Who cares? The scuba diver is tussling with a creature at the bottom of the Amazon River. It’s a ‘loser-drown’ battle; now is not the time to worry about a handful or two of misplaced buttered kernels.
Saturday afternoon at the movies; it is a time to shut off the reality switch and live the adventures of the celluloid set. And when Hollywood decides to create an escape-from-the-real world environment scuba diving is one of the more popular vehicles for doing just that.
Underwater scenes in adventure motion-pictures began in the pioneer days of filmmaking. It all started in 1914, when film photographer John Ernest Williamson in a drive for realism decided to point his hand-cranked camera under the surface of a Nassau bay to film Thirty Leagues Under the Sea, a documentary about life underwater. J.Ernest Williamson was the principal actor while his brother George worked the camera.
How was it done? Williamson modified a catamaran and placed a glass bell between and beneath its pontoons. It was through this slightly submerged porthole that he was able to photograph divers among the props that had been placed on on the Bahamian sea bottom. The actual filming apparatus was designed by the men’s father, Captain Charles Williamson.
This silent film, complete with the world’s first “ aquaset” was an instant hit. Audiences loved the thrills and the danger that supposedly comes whenever one is underwater.
Two years latter the Williamson Brothers helped producer Stuart Paton with his version of the original Jules Verne classic, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Again the Williamsons used the Bahamas to film underwater, this time in fictional vein.
The studio moguls learned the lesson well. Underwater scenes began to appear in more and more movies. Swimmers, free divers, hard hatters and mermaids were shown facing danger upon danger. Underwater actors had to fight everything from crazed octopi to killer sharks in the silent-era productions.
Of course, in those days, sequences shot with actors actually being under water were about as rare as finding a Spanish doubloon in a public swimming pool. For the most part, directors ignored Williamson’s in-water methods and instead stayed on land to create the actors’ sub-sea scenes. There were two favoured ways of filming water scenes; the first was to use indoor large water filled tank and point the cameras through portals. The second was to have the actors right out on stage pretrending they were swimming, yup right in the desert-like conditions of the studio. Performing on the boards was preferred over the problems involved in acting in an airless environment. Getting a part in those days was based on an actor’s ability to pretend to be fighting a shark at 5 fathoms while in reality standing in front of a bank of lights and a room filled with bored stage hands.
As the science of special effects matured, so too did the public’s fear of the ocean begin to grow. In the thirties and forties,with each new underwater film released, a bigger and more dangerous underwater threat was brought to the attention of the world via the big silver screen.There were octopi ready to rip the arms off Peter Lorre, Tiger sharks Hell bent to gnaw on a young John Wayne.and coal black Manta Rays to herald a wave of pestilence and death on everyone! In the years prior to the start of the Second World War, Hollywood hard hat divers rarely stayed on their lead covered feet long enough to live to the credits.
With the outbreak of war the role of the diver in the movies changed dramatically. The monster of the deep were no longer a cinematic threat. The Germans, Italians and Japanese were the personification of evil both below and above the waves in many of the movies of that era. Scuba gear was not yet in use, the navies of the world relied upon oxygen rebreathers to give men the ability to swim underwater undetected for long periods of time . [A rebreather recycles a diver’s exhalation through a filter which cleans the carbon dioxide out of the air and allows the user to breathe the same air again and again while underwater].

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blood and Bubbles

For thirty years I have been researching, watching and writing about the History of Diving in the Movies. In the pages of Diver Magazine and a variety of other publications, my articles have been titled Blood And Bubble movies. I have documented over 3,000 movies dating back to the 19th century that show actors/actresses diving or snorkelng on film.

This Blog is not just about Blood And Bubble movies, it is also about the sport of diving. I have and continue to write for Diver Magazine in Canada about everything related to diving -- from scuba deaths to new equipment to dive destinations.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quick takes about new underwater movies now on the BIG screen .... or soon will be

Cutline: An outtake of Bebe Pham from the 2007 Nautical Angels Underwater Calendar Photo by Mick Gleissner
Cutline: Bebe Pham, the free diver, comes out of the water to attack the unseen bad guys,


• Underwater model and sometime actress Vietnam’s Bebe Pham and Singaporean actress Jaymee Ong have wrapped up shooting Deep Gold earlier this month in Manila. In this action-thriller Pham plays a record-setting freediver who hunts for her missing boyfriend, a sunken plane and millions of dollars in gold underwater off the coast of the Phillipine islands. Pham is best known for modelling skimpy bathing suits underwater for Fashion TV’s “Nautical Angels Underwater Calendar”.

• Newly minted Canadian and now Toronto resident, horror movie maker George Romero is reported to be working on a new zombie movie which will include underwater undead! Romero, the maker of classic zombie movies including Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Land of the Dead, has begun filming in Toronto on an as yet unnamed zombie movie. Apparently set on an island, the local residents in the Blood ‘n’ Bubble film must fight off their dead relatives, who at times come out of the water to grab and eat the living.

• This fall the ABC network in Australia will be airing a four-part series about Aussie Navy Divers. Beginning October 28 this observational action-packed series is a warts and all account of what it takes to become a clearance diver. The series is aptly named, Navy Divers.

• There are very few Bollywood movies made that include underwater scenes, however, that will soon change. ‘Jaganmohini’, a classic Indian movie is about to be remade. The film is set in the 1700s and tells the story of a female pearl diver. It will star Namitha Kapoor (the former Miss Surat) who will spend much of the movie free diving for pearls.

• ‘OCEANS 3D: Voyage of a Turtle’ is set to become the first feature-length documentary ever filmed and released in Digital 3D. The 85-minute long feature will be completed this fall for an anticipated North American release next summer. The film tells the story of Aris a sea turtle that embarks on a journey across the oceans in search of the origin of a mysterious voice he hears. “We spent over 1,200 hours in the water to capture 200 hours of what we believe is exceptional footage, ” said Director of Photography Gavin McKinney. The underwater film is produced by 3D Entertainment and McKinney Underwater Productions, and is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme.

• Earlier this year Diver Magazine featured an interview with actress and conservationist Daryl Hanna. Hanna talked about her role in the "Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean" IMAX film. According to the company that made the documentary, the film is doing very well. 3D Entertainment released box-office data late last month that shows as of the end of August, the film has been seen by one million viewers worldwide since its US launch on February 15th. So far the film, presented by Jean-Michel Cousteau and narrated by Daryl Hannah, has grossed $8.3 million in ticket revenues.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Mysteries of the Great Lakes

Cut line: Science North’s David Lickley and Jim Marshbank flank a poster for their new made-in-Canada Imax movie Mysteries of the Great Lakes. Canadian actor, Gordon Pinsent, narrates the documentary. Photograph by Dave Tollington.
Cut line: In a scene from the Imax movie a diver swims across the deck of Tobermory, Ontario shipwreck. Press Photo


For the Canadian makers of the Mysteries of the Great Lakes, Imax film, the sturgeon is one of Lakes’ biggest mysteries of them all. For divers attending this made-in-North Bay, large format movie, it is all about wondering how the underwater cinematography is so good!

Now playing in Science Centres and Museums across North America, Mysteries of the Great Lakes take audiences on a journey from the tip of Lake Superior to the edge of Lake Ontario to witness the lakes’ breathtaking beauty – both above and below the water. The movie perhaps should have been more accurately named “A Big Fish Story” because much of the movie looks at the enigmatic sturgeon and how civilization is threatening this strange long living beast.

Science North (Sudbury’s Science Centre and producer of the movie) estimates that there are only 20,000 sturgeons living in the Great Lakes as compared to millions before European contact. After 150 million years on the planet (predates the dinosaur), the species had been brought to the brink of extinction through over-fishing for fish oil and caviar.
The movie features an IMAX first – up close underwater segments of the shy giant sturgeon. It also shows audiences albeit briefly, an eerie, under water footage of the Edmund Fitzgerald (accompanied by the song of the same name by Gordon Lightfoot - as prominently displayed in all the promotional material). The film also goes underwater to look at shipwrecks near the Bruce Peninsula in Lake Huron.

Film director and biologist David Lickley told Diver Magazine photographer David Tollington “though the production took seven -years to complete, most of that time was spent research and fund raising and not filming. Still, one full year of solid shooting was involved, as well as the efforts of the 300 names listed in our credits.”

Jim Marshbank the Executive Producer of the movie attended the premier of the movie at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. He told Diver that the film company is in the process of placing the documentary with 70 theatres world wide, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Diving into the reject bin: Eye of the Dolphin dive at the box office

IF a dive movie falls into the reject bin, does anyone see it?

Quantum Entertainment. Colour. US/Bahamas
Director Michael Sellers 100 minutes
Starring: Carly Schroeder, Adrian Dunbar, George Harris, Jane Lynch,
Christine Adams and Katharine Ross

Eye of the Dolphin, despite winning five major movie honours at family film festivals around the world in 2007, had only the briefest of runs at theatres in the United States before sinking down onto the 7-day shelf at local videos stores.
Expelled from high school in Los Angeles, 15-year old Alyssa (Carly Schroeder) is forced to live with her father, a crusty dolphin research scientist living in the Bahamas. He never knew he had a daughter (her mother, his ex-wife, had died in a boating accident without ever telling the girl that her father was alive) and has no parenting skills at all.
After their clichéd personalities clash Alyssa feels like a prisoner on the isolated island -- but when she forms an unexpected friendship with an orphaned wild dolphin, she finds that she and her special friend have the power to bring hope to the impoverished people of her new home.
The run-down, financially strapped dolphin research centre is in danger of being shut down and the animals being turned over to a group that want to build a cheesy dolphin tourist attraction. The town has just come through a hurricane and the local citizens are eager to see new money and jobs come to their community.
It all gets rather patronizing when the 15-year old white girl, is able to convince the black villagers and the town council to let her father and her create an eco-tourism dolphin experience!
Filmed at the venerable UNEXSCO dive operation – one of the longest running shops in Caribbean – much of the movie is spent underwater with a pod of captive UNEXSCO dolphins.
You can lead a director to water, but you can’t make him dive! This is a movie that has no scuba diving in it. There is a bit of free-diving shown as Alyssa swims and gets towed by a dolphin, however, because (in real life) the dolphins are kept in a shallow blacked channel, the filming had to be done with in the confines of their pen. As a result there are no colourful coral reef scenes and the visibility is murky at best.
The film cost over $15 million to make, but, after a year in release had brought in less than a million in revenues. Director Michael Sellers said that the film was made on a shoestring.
“Our first challenge was in figuring out how to make the film
envisioned with very limited resources in a foreign country, on an island, with no production infrastructure,” said Sellers.
“Fortunately “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” was already in pre-production on Grand Bahama Island, so many vendors were at least somewhat familiar with what was required to ship (literally) equipment to us.
It was hugely ambitious to try and go out to the Bahamas and get everything we had to get there in fifteen days of filming, but
that was all we could afford so we had to stretch every penny.! There were so many unpredictable variables – water, weather,
animals, and a minor in the lead role.”
Even though the movie was a box office flop, the producers already have plans for a sequel.

1 bubble

Friday, April 11, 2008

Diving in the Twoonie Bin for Blood and Bubble Movies .... Again


I have been searching the delete bins at the $1.00 stores in Toronto, Canada, for old Blood and Bubble movies. Bad movies, like everything else, suffer from the laws of diminishing returns. I have cleaned out the local $1 stores and it is unlikely that they will be restocking any month soon. So, I have moved up in the world, and this morning checked out a Toronto Twoonie Store. They are just like the Dollar Stores, except their junk is higher quality and sells for twice as much ... a twonie (A twoonie in Canada is a $2 coin).
I did find a recent DVD scan of a Black and White drive-in B movie from 1956 called The Phantom From 10,000 Leagues. I saw it years ago in the Eganville Theatre on one of their infamous 5-horror-movies-for-the-price-of-one that they used to hold a couple of times every summer. It was bad back then, and, now on DVD it is even worse. But, for divers, there are a couple of underwater howlers that can't be missed.
I worked up a listing for my book, and here is an extended version of that entry.


1956 Milner Brothers Productions. B&W 81 minutes
Director: Dan Milner. Starring: Kent Taylor, Cathy Downs, Michael Whalen and Rodney Bell.

Diving in the dark fresh waters of the Province of Ontario, one often wishes for a light source more powerful than Halogen lights. In THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES, scientists working in the Pacific Ocean use a light that could cut through even the murky dirty waters of Lake Erie -- introducing the Underwater Atomic Light. This nuclear powered device whacks out so many foot-candles of light that it mutates creatures living on the bottom of the sea.
The atomic torch is the brightest light in this dim effort (made even worse by a very dark scan for the DVD). Divers will love/hat what few underwater scenes are shown in the film -- they are so bad you just can't miss them! What makes this picture special, in a mediocre sort of way, is that it was one half of the world’s first prepackaged double bill.
The THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES was paired with the Day the World Ended and sold to theatres on a two-for-one basis. Although difficult to market in the beginning, this marketing concept, aimed squarely at the drive-in crowd soon gained acceptance. Double Bills became a stable for the next 20 years thanks to this flick.
The THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES is still being shown on late late late-night TV. Blood ‘N’ Bubble fans should know just by looking at the title that this is a movie that doesn’t understand anything about the business of going underwater. 10,000 leagues is about 30,000 miles, however Planet Earth is only 8,000 miles in diameter. That means that the mutated alligator thingee that harasses divers and eats swimmers would have to be 22,000 miles out into space to be truly 10,000 Leagues down!
The action takes place along a lonely stretch of the Pacific Ocean, presumably somewhere in southern California. A scientist has a seaside lab where he is conducting a number of secret experiments that involve the Atomic Light, and a weird creature that now prowls the waters near a fissure that has mysteriously punched through the ocean floor. The beast sinks an ocean going freighter, drags a few swimmers to their death and somehow attracts the attention of Federal US secret agents. There is a mad professor, his fetching daughter, international spies and a mother who wants revenge against after her son is killed by the Beast.
Made before many movie goers knew anything about diving, the film makers took many liberties with the business of going underwater. The general public didn't notice the on-screen gaffs, but, divers were left rolling in the aisles and honking their horns in derision at the local Drive-In.
So, what was so funny about the dive scenes? Well, for starters the movie is suppose to be set in the chilly kelp beds of the Pacific Ocean. A variety of people, many of them victims for beast, make on-screen dives in the movie. Every diver shown wears nothing but a swim suit, tank, double house regulator, flippers and weight belt. Men and women alike enter the water without benefit of a wet suit or gloves and are able to stay underwater for long periods of time without ever getting cold. The only protection that everyone of them wore underwater was a variety of bathing caps ... probably more to hide the fact that stunt doubles were being used to handle the subsurface scenes than to offer any warmth to the actors.
Other scuba gaffes? Well, there are times when the Pacific Ocean can be flat, but ... in THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES both the on-water and underwaer scenes are obviously shot inland in a lake. Divers routinely take a tiny rowboat out to sea and magically find the monster's layer without benefit of compass, radar or even a floating marker. The boat is too small to carry an anchor so the divers simply bail out of their boat (the same row boat is used in all dive scenes even though it is once burned by nuclear gook from the Beast and scuttled by the Beast in another) without dropping anchor. Leaving a 10ft rowboat untended and floating supposedly on the open seas, the divers are able to swim long distances underwater, be chased by a monster and still find their rowboat exactly where they left it.
The underwater scenes with the Beast appear to have been filmed inside a tank. The camera work is actually quite good. Unfortunately the water inside the set is so clear we can clearily see how cheesy the Beast actually is (It's costume looks like a reject from the Mummer's Parade). The Phatom would have looked better shot from afar ... say 10,000 Leagues down.

Rating - 1/4 Bubble

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Idle Gossip From the Shipwreck Festival

Blood 'N' Bubble Gossip overheard at the 14th annual Niagara Divers' Association Shipwreck Festival.

For the past 14 springs the Niagara Divers' Association (NDA) has held a one-day symposium in a Welland High School, for shipwreck aficionados. The day-long programme is usually heavily skewed to film and slide presentations about the discovery and research of diveable wrecks in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
Run by NDA volunteers, the event has a very Canadian air to it. Sure there are sometimes glitches in the on-screen presentations (this year the live video feed from the stage had a distinctive green tinge to it), but, everyone is so very friendly and the free lunch they put on is a reminder of the sinful days of my high school before cholesteral and calories was ever talked about (unlimited egg salad sandwiches, roast beef on a bun and Pepsi). The presenters tend to be from the Great Lakes Region - regular people shooting with handheld cameras and self-funding their explorations ... not like the slick circuit talkers who present overly-produced "canned" programmes at the big US dive conventions.
The diving audience loved the first-hand account of finding a tug in Lake Michigan, and, looking at pictures of the wreck of St Lawrence paddle wheeler that can be dove right from shore (500 yards from my Dad's home in Prescott).
This year, in a abrupt (but very interesting) change the NDA brought in a few speakers who didn't talk about shipwrecks. Dave Mekker, a long-standing member of the NDA dive club gave a 20-minute chalk talk describing how two people died while diving in the Niagara River last year (it appears they inadvertently entered an intake tunnel leading 300 ft down into a hydro generation station).
This was the first-time I had covered a conference for Diver Magazine and actually heard people on-stage, talking frankly about the death of recreational divers. It is a brave step forward to talk about something that the industry usually refuses to address in public because it is bad for business.
Anyway, back to the business of movies.
The other "non-wrecker" at the conference was Jill Heinerth, a Canadian underwater photographer, technical dive instructor and cave explorer. Now living in Florida near Ginnie Springs, she has been involved in a number of notable National Geographic Magazine funded expeditions including a deep Mexican cave trip and the exploration of a huge Antarctic iceberg which included cave diving inside the floating berg.
While talking about ther dive pedigree Heinreth mentioned working on the Blood and Bubble Movie favourite "The Cave" (which got my attention).
" I was hired to teach the actors how to dive" she told the audience of 450. "But I was not able to get them up-to-speed in time for them to do their own diving. As a result I became a stunt dive double ... a lot of those shots of men diving inside the cave are actually me! Those Hollywood dive types just did at-the-surface shots for the cameras."
Other idle gossip from Heinerth. " I recently welcomed another famous Canadian (Niagara Falls area native) James Cameron to Ginnie Springs. He wanted to look at the caves - he is considering filming a 3-D cave movie."
Pictured above is Jill Heinerth (left) talking to Etobicoke Underwater Club executive Marrianne Collins.

Friday, March 28, 2008

White Sharks of South Africa - short film upsizes sharks

Swimming with Sharks. It lasts only about 4 minutes but a Great White Shark film shot with an underwater super 16 mm film camera has already attracted hundreds of thousands of eyes to
White Sharks of South Africa was made by Greg Huglin, and shows snorkeller Andre Hartman swimming freely with a super sized shark. Not only is Hartman outside a shark cage, he is also shown being towed through the water by the Great White as he hangs onto his fin. The short ends with the shark attempting to bite the camera’s housing.
The film was made 6 miles (10km) off the shore of Gansbaa, South Africa.

Open Water 2, Adrift in the reject bin at Blockbuster

The new Open Water sequel is adrift! Last month Vancouver based Lions Gate Films released Open Water 2 Adrift straight to DVD in North America. Although the movie has been branded as a sequel to the 2003 surprise indi-hit Open Water, it is actually a German-made film – Adrift - that had some success when it was released last summer in Europe.
Open Water 2 Adrift is supposedly based on a real event. The 95-minute movies tells the story of six long-time friends and a little baby who get together for a Mexican cruise aboard a luxury yacht. The baby ends up alone in the boat when the adults jump into the sea for a swim forgetting to lower a ladder. Adrift, unable to climb back into the boat the swimmers end up in a fight for their lives against each other and hypothermia.
Open Water, told a similar story of two divers who were left to dive after their boat accidentally abandoned them at a Caribbean dive site. While much of Open Water was filmed underwater, Open Water 2 was shot right at water level with a wide angle 16 mm camera and housing placed between two pontoons.
The film was directed by Hans Horn and stars Susan May Pratt, Richard Speight Jr, James Niklaus Lange and Ali Hillis.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Daryl Hannah - from mermaid to reef champion to schlook shark move star

I recently interviewed Daryl Hanna for a feature that Diver Magazine will be publishing about a new Imax 3D movie (Whales and Dolphins). She talked at length about her passion to protect the marine environment. She also talked about her 1984 movie Spash. I also write a paragraph or two about her newest movie, Shark Swarm, which is a remake of Jaws with eco-twist.
Knowing that the editor of Diver has a passion for rewriting stories in his own voice, I have posted the story in its original voice and included a brief synposis of the Whales and Dolphin movie.

DOLPHINS AND WHALES 3D - Tribes of the Ocean, will immerse viewers in the daily lives of small and giant cetaceans as they interact socially, play, communicate through their highly complex system of sound, feed, breed, migrate and fight for their survival. The film delivers a powerful message in favor of both ocean conservation and the protection of its tribes. It marks the first time humpback whales, belugas, orcas, bottlenose dolphins and manatees have been filmed in 3D for the world's biggest screens. Unlike other IMAX (R) -type films, DOLPHINS AND WHALES 3D was shot entirely in the wild and consists solely of underwater footage. The documentary, voiced by Daryl Hannah is now showing in Imax theatres across North America and Europe.

Film star and eco-warrior Daryl Hannah Splashes into Theatres with 3D underwater movie about whales

By Stephen Weir

For just the second time in her long film career, Daryl Hannah is about to Splash onto the big screen. Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean, is a new big budget underwater film that is now being shown in Imax theatres across North America. And, while Hannah won’t be seen in this 3-D glasses-friendly documentary about cetaceans, her voice will be heard.
The Hollywood star who first came to the public’s attention as the mermaid who hydrated herself in Tom Hank’s bath tub in the 1984 blockbuster hit, Splash, narrates the new film. The two projects share a zest for the underwater world, however the similarities end there. Splash was pure fun while Dolphin and Whales is all science.
The Hannah-narrated 3D movie has been made in collaboration with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, PADI’s Project Aware, and Reef Check. (The Reef Check Foundation is an international non-profit organization dedicated to conservation of two ecosystems: tropical coral reefs and California rocky reefs)
“ I guess it has been a longer evolution than you might think (from Splash to Dolphins and Whales),” the Colorado based actress and environmental activist, told Diver Magazine. “ I fell in love with the ocean at a young age. My parents taught me to dive when I was 12 and I continue to dive whenever I can. But my involvement with Reef Check began only recently when I saw Dr. Sylvia Earle on CNN talking about reef conservation and protecting California’s kelp bed. I was so impressed I interviewed her out on my boat and posted the video on my own website”
“ It wasn’t long after, that I signed Reef Check’s Declaration of Reef Rights,” she continued. The Declaration is both a petition and pledge to recognize the high value of coral reefs and to encourage all people and governments to support coral reef conservation.
It was through her commitment to Reef Check that she met the Mantello Brothers -- Jean-Jacques and Francois Mantello produce the new movie. “They immediately asked me to be the voice of the film. I was ecstatic I was thrilled to do it. I understand the crisis facing our sea – all of our seas. I am doing as much work as I can to help promote the movie”
“ The movie will be opening in 30 cities across North America, and I will go to as many of those openings as possible,” said the 48-year old actress. “ We have to get the word out. As the Mantello Brothers have learned, there are now only about 300 Northern Right Whales left. We have to make people aware of the perils facing these amazing creatures.”
“ I live to dive. I have a personal goal of diving the so-called 7-Wonders of the underwater world. I love Palau but I haven’t been to the Galapagos yet,” said Hannah. “ I have my own special place where I have swam with dolphins (the location of which she wouldn’t tell Diver for fear of jeopardizing the dolphins’ safety). One time I was there, and there were leaves floating on the water. We played with a leaf for hours!”
She plans to go back one day and film the dolphins for her website Dhlovelife. The site appears almost childlike but carries a powerful ecology message. The “V-log” focuses on healthy living, renewable energy, sustainable farming and saving the marine environment.
“Unfortunately, there isn’t enough being done to protect the ocean, it doesn’t factor as large as it should in the climate crisis debate,” explaining why she uses her website to voice her concerns about how society is hurting the environment. ‘All these things are interconnected -- it is all one big system. I have participated in many different actions to fight – from opposing over-fishing to the protection of kelp beds.”
“Less than 1% of human beings have had the incredible opportunity to visit the underwater world,” said Daryl Hannah. “With this beautiful family adventure projected onto IMAX 3D screens, viewers can virtually touch some of the most incredible mammals in the world,” she said. “It is amazing how much we share with these beautiful creatures - play, family, education, community, struggles. Unfortunately, because we often are so unaware of these underwater tribes and our negative impact upon them through slaughterings and uncontrolled human activities, they are facing the greatest challenge of all: to survive the destruction of their habitat and depletion of food resources."
The actress lives the life she preaches about. Her home is off the power grid – it is solar powered and is totally sustainable. She drives a car that is fueled by recycled fast food grease and once competed in a car race driving a pink Range Rover Hybrid using cooking oil as fuel.
The American actress has made over 60 movies over the past three decades. Her best known films – Splash, Blade Runner, Steel Magnolias and Kill Bill – are not known for having a strong eco message. In fact, at the start of her career, her biggest statement was made when McCall’s Magazine named her to the list of "10 Best Female Bodies In America".
“People don’t realize how much I had to dive in Splash,” said Hannah in reminiscing about her first underwater film. “ You’d see me on screen free diving (as a mermaid) but off-camera there were safety divers ready to hand me a regulator. We did all the underwater filming in the Bahamas – Nassau and Chub Key – and in a studio tank.”
Hannah’s next film – a made-for-TV movie, will combine the science message she delivers in Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean, with the whimsical Splash. According to the Internet Movie Database, Shark Swarm is now in post-production. The film is “about how a fisherman and his family fight to take down a greedy real estate developer who has released toxins into the ocean, turning the area's sharks into bloodthirsty hunters”. Hannah plays the wife of the fisherman and fights to protect not just her family but the marine eco-system of California ‘s Half-Moon Bay.

Daryl Hannah / Dolphins and Whales 3DSidebars

Sidebar 1

Interesting websites:

Reef Check’s website.
Daryl Hannah’s website.
Jean Michel’s website.

Side Bar 2

German movie goers will not hear Daryl Hannah when they see
Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean. Actress Martina Gedeck recorded the German narration for the film. It had its European premiere last month in Berlin and is now being shown in Imax theatres across Germany.

Side Bar 3

Daryl Hannah and Martina Gedeck are the voices of Dolphin and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean. Jean-Michel Cousteau is the presenter of the film and a high priced Beverly Hills PR firm has been hired to roll the movie out around the world. Not your usual launch plan for a movie that is probably more at home at a Science Centre theatre than the local multi-plex. However the Mantallo Brothers and their 3-D Entertainment company have found success by going big!
Dolphins and Whales is the third ocean-themed film they have made. The first two have proven to be very successful. OCEAN WONDERLAND and SHARKS 3D, have grossed a cumulative $56 million at the box office worldwide and continue to show (and bring in money).

Monday, March 3, 2008

Follow-on to Daryl Hannah story - 3D movie makes money in Germany

DOLPHINS AND WHALES 3D Makes Film History in Germany With Most Successful 3D Documentary Opening at IMAX(R) Theatres and Digital Cinemas

IMAX theatrical rollout continues in the US with upcoming launches at the Tennessee Aquarium's IMAX 3D Theatre, Tempe's IMAX 3D Theatre at Arizona Mills and the IMAX 3D Theatre at Providence Place Cinemas 16

SANTA MONICA, Calif. and BERLIN, April 2, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Filmmakers Jean-Jacques and Francois Mantello (the Mantello Brothers) and film presenter Jean-Michel Cousteau are pleased to announce that their new IMAX 3D Theatre film DOLPHINS AND WHALES 3D has grossed USD 607,000 at the box office in Germany in its first two and a half weeks of exhibition, making it the most successful release ever for a 3D documentary film in the country. 47,000 German spectators have seen the film since its March 13th opening on just 17 screens.

Pictured above is Jean-Michel Cousteau and German narrator Martina Gedeck with their polarized IMAX 3D glasses at the film's European premiere at the CineStar IMAX 3D Kino in Berlin on March 10.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Movies we want to see: Bollywood Jaws. Aatank. Indian shark movie


A regular poster in the rec-scuba news group sent me an email about the 1996 Indian movie, Aatank. The movie is described as "one of the most unusual Bollywood remakes" -- an Indian version, complete with musical numbers, of the 1975 blockbuster hit, Jaws.
The movie was directed by Prem Lalwani and stars Nafisa Ali, Dharmendra, Vinod Mehra and Girish Karnaci as Jesu.
I haven't been able to find a copy of the movie, be it in English or Hindi. Blog readers with information on the movie are asked to contact me at

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dumpster Diving - Looking at the Dollar Store for Blood "n" Bubble movies

I have seen almost every mainstream Blood 'N' Bubble movie that has ever been made in English. So desperate am I to find movies that have underwater scenes I have taken to Dumpster Diving. That is what I call shopping at the Dollar Store, Walmart and the reject bin at Blockbuster.
This weekend past I rented one movie (Shooter) and bought two DVDs at the Dollar Store. As is the case most weekends, it was that old cliche I came up with a few years ago: "You can lead a director to water but you can't make him dive."
Shooter came out in theatres late last year and quickly migrated onto the shelves of North American video stores. Mark Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, a poor man's Jason Bourne. He is framed for the attempted assasination of the US president (and the murder of an African bishop) and spends most of the movie on the lam from the FBI and evil private security forces. Shot twice and pursued by 20 or so Washington DC cop cars, Wahlberg drive backwards, at full throttle off a pier and into the Potomac River (actually a river in British Columbia stood in for the Potomac). Director Antoine Fuqua takes the action right down to water level where we see a suited diver getting ready to bail from his Zodiac and look for a dead Wahlberg in the wreckage of his submerged car. Before the viewer gets to go underwater, the camera cuts away to a land scene. Sigh. That was the only hint of diving in this 124 minute long action "thriller".
Back to the Dumpster movies. I bought, for a dollar, a DVD with 3 full-length features: Born to Win, Gold and Death Sentence. Gold was the movie I wanted to review. It starred Roger Moore (of James Bond fame), had a picture of the star looking very 007ish and the description of the film made it sound like it was similiar, but better, than the movie Goldfinger. Moore plays the new manager of a South African gold mine who is tricked by the owners in to drilling into an underground lake. They want to flood the mine and force the price of gold to sky-rocket while blaming the mishap on him. Moore has to entered the flooding mine and block the channel of surging water. I thought there would be diving involved, but, instead Moore simply holds his breath a lot and grimaces. I watched it at 4 times the normal speed, but even in fast forward the movie is dreadful. Call it a Blood and Bubble lover's Fool's Gold.
The last DVD I purchased for a dollar was Volcano Island, an educational animated movie/game for youngsters which involves a lot of diving. Volcano Island is so old my computer couldn't play it. I use System 10.3 (macintosh) and it was built for System 8. I won't know if it even qualifies as a movie until I drag an old mac out of the basement (I have the makings of a museum, 6 macs down there dating back to a Classic) and see if I can make it work. Don't be like Roger Moore and hold your breath waiting for my report.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blood and Bubbles Contest

BLOOD 'N' BUBBLES - The Diver Magazine Website Contest
This was posted last month, but, I have changed the date so that it appears in line with the rest of the questions that I posted earlier today.

The following is the first question of a four-question contest that I have written for Diver Magazine's relaunched website. Check it out at There are prizes if you know your movie trivia.

The Quiz

There is a cliché in the newspaper business that says when a dog bites man it isn’t news, but, when man bites dog, Stop the Presses and rewrite the front page! The same holds true in Blood ‘N” Bubble movies.

When a shark bites a character in a Blood ‘N’ Bubble it isn’t noteworthy, but, when a man kills a shark on film, well, cinematic news is made.

There are a few blockbuster Blood ‘N’ Bubble movies - Jaws, First Strike, The Spy Who Loved Me and Deep Blue Sea - where the shark protagonist is actually dispatched by the hero. Can you remember exactly how the shark gets it in these four famous films? Check the Diver Mag website to answer the remaining three contests.

Question One


The movie Jaws was released in 1975 and starred Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. Scheider plays Martin Brody, a water-fearing, ex New York City cop who is now the chief of police on Amity Island. When a Great White starts feeding on tourists and townspeople alike, Scheider, Shaw and Dreyfuss set out to kill Jaws. Do you know how the shark was killed?

1. Local shark hunter (Robert Shaw as Quint) pulls the pin on a grenade just as Jaws swallows him
2. Brody lures Jaws into biting on high voltage power line dangling just above the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
3. Marine scientist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfus) harpoons Jaw with a poison dart
4. Martin Brody shots a scuba tank lodged in Jaw’s jaws. It explodes blowing Jaws head apart.
5. The shark gets away – sequel warning!

Blood and Bubbles Contest - the rest of the questions

Blood 'N' Bubbles Quiz, Question Number Four

The Spy Who Loved Me.

In action movies diving and sharks are often used to create drama, suspense and, if the shark bites, horror. It is not surprising that many of the James Bond films include pivotal scenes that include scuba diving and man-eating sharks. In the 1977 movie, The Spy Who Loved Me (the 10th in the 007 series) crime mastermind Karl Stromberg keeps a woman-eating Tiger Shark in Atlantis, his underwater base. When Stromberg isn’t stealing submarines and their nuclear warheads, he is feeding both friends and foes to the hungry shark. In one important scene the Tiger takes on a human and loses. How?
1. Roger Moore (James Bond) fires a mini-harpoon from his ballpoint pen and kills the Tiger
2. Curd Jürgens’ (Karl Stromberg) giant henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel) bites the Tiger on its neck with his stainless steel teeth.
3. David Hedison (US CIA agent Felix Leiter) is fed to the shark feet first. When the Tiger bites into his leg it fires off Leiter’s ankle gun into the roof of his mouth.
4. Roger Moore (James Bond) throws an electric fan into the shark pool electrocuting the shark.
5. Barbara Bach (Russian spy Anya Amasova) wrestles the controls for a high powered laser gun away from Stromberg and turns it on the shark just before it dines on Bond sushi.