It took Howard and Michelle Hall 62 different permits to shoot IMAX's Under the Sea
, a 3D production now playing in theatres in the US.
But for the film-making duo's latest memorable film foray in the underwater world, such obstacles are just part of the process of bringing some of the Earth's most amazing marine sights to audiences around the world.
"We came across many different corals that we'd never seen before, and an absolutely huge number of species—very unusual species and strains that have evolved into bizarre creatures", says Howard of the production's expeditions to the Coral Triangle.
With 2 expeditions to Papua New Guinea, and 6 weeks in southern Indonesia around Komodo Island, the film crew got their fill of marine biodiversity.
Says Michelle: "You often see garden eels standing about 75 cm on the bottom when diving in tropical waters but what was remarkable about these was their size. They were gigantic, standing at more than 2 m high."
Not always a pretty sight
While shooting Under the Sea, the film-makers also noticed the ever present impact of humans on oceans.
According to Howard, one of the most beautiful sites the team visited was a reef in Komodo Island. As he recalls, "our guide said it breaks his heart to dive there. He said that at one time you'd see 7 species of sharks in a single dive at that location. These days you don't see any."
But the Halls have also observed that nature is resilient.
At a place called Calypso Reef in Papua New Guinea, they saw spectacular corals and complete coral cover where a few years ago the reef had been completely bleached during the 1998 El Niño
Where WWF comes in
From helping with permits and logistics to checking the accuracy of the movie's facts (e.g. climate change, ocean acidification), WWF was deeply involved in the Coral Triangle component of Under the Sea.
"WWF also helped us to understand how important it was to single out the Coral Triangle as a region, so that people can begin to learn about it" says Michelle.
In IMAX theatres at least, thousands of moviegoers can now get a taste of this amazing part of the world.
Under the Sea is now playing at IMAX cinemas across the US. For