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17 April 2012

Trish reflects on the trip to Egypt: a milestone for 'Creating the Spectacle!'

Group of 10 people in red t-shirts

Left to Right: Mac, Rob, Kirsten, Cath, Sue, Kelvin, Tamer, Trish, Andrea and Norman. Image: Cameldive.com

It is a month today since the 8-strong Freewheeling team flew out to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt to film the underwater wheelchair in the Red Sea. There was a mixed sense of exhaustion from the weeks of preparation to get to this point and the unbelievable excitement that we had finally made it to this landmark point in 'Creating the Spectacle!'.

Scuba Travel had organised great flights and as much leeway on our excess baggage as we could possibly get away with, and yes there was definitely quite a bit of excess baggage with all the camera and diving equipment required for the week-long filming schedule! The week before the project had been featured on BBC's South Today regional news programme and Sue had people recognising her as she went through customs at Gatwick. An unexpected surprise greeted us in the departure lounge as fellow Unlimited commissioned artist Rachel Gadsden popped over to say hello!

We arrived in Egypt just as the sun was setting over the mountains to the beautifully presented, accessible and all round brilliant Camel Hotel and Dive Club which was to be our base. The ideas behind traveling to warmer waters to capture footage were based on both practical and aesthetic elements to the project. For Sue to perform in her chosen costume it required the water temperatures to be considerably higher than in the UK, particularly at this time of year. More importantly though, it is that sense of freedom and adventure associated with tropical water and marine life that needed to be captured for the films being shown as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Six days of diving enabled us to scout appropriate locations, rehearse and shoot with just enough time to fit in a night dive too. With both 360 degree and standard HD footage to capture and no longer than 20 minutes on each dive this task was tight and very demanding on the whole team.

The days of practice at Osprey Leisure Centre paid off and everybody worked well to make sure each shoot was as efficient as it possibly could be. The crew of our boat, Wasser, were superb with assisting and ensuring that everything ran smoothly. Our Camel dive guides Cath and Tamer have become the 9th and 10th members of the Freewheeling team by taking on the spirit of the project completely and doing everything they could to help. They even got involved with developing choreography and equipment that we used throughout the week. It was evident that their experience with disabled divers was very comprehensive and with such a can-do approach it was exactly what we needed to achieve all that we did.

On reflection and having now had a few weeks to recover from the intense period of work I'm really proud to be part of the team that is delivering this project and it really felt as though we were creating something special. It's going to be very interesting to see how different audiences react to the work. I wouldn't want to give the game away too much with the contents of the film (spoiler alert!), apart from to say the fish played their part excellently!