Tara Pacific in the eye of the camera

© Fondation Tara Expéditions

“Tara Pacific, The Mystery of reefs” will be the first in a series of documentaries made during the Tara Pacific expedition. From Tahiti to Moorea and the Tuamotu archipelago, ashore and aboard Tara, director Pierre de Parscau recounts the early days of filming.

You’re now aboard Tara for 15 days of filming. Without giving away the story, can you tell us the origin of this film?

With Romain Troublé, executive director of Tara Expeditions, and Christophe Audeguis, film producer of the cup of tea, we wanted to tell about the scientific adventure of Tara Pacific, but also take a documentary approach and meet the people living on these islands.  Today they are the first victims of climate change and its impact on the ocean, with rising seawater levels and coral bleaching. They are witnesses to the acceleration of these phenomena.

Since the start of filming, what intrigues you the most?

It’s quite staggering that what seems to us so far off, as seen from Europe, is actually happening on the islanders’ doorsteps. In early October we filmed extensively in Moorea with environmental and cultural associations fighting to preserve their ancestral lagoon. They are worried about the state of the coral on their island. The bond Polynesians have with nature and their relationship with sacred elements is something very powerful and this film will focus on sharing it with spectators.

After 2 weeks of filming on land you embarked on Tara. How is filming on board?

We boarded Tara a week ago with Tuhiva Lambert, the sound engineer. We left Hao and should return to Papeete in early November. The main challenge to filming on board is the boat itself. Sea swells are strong right now around Tuamotu which makes for a rolling Tara. This forces us to do a balancing act on deck with our equipment. We also get doused with sea spray, but the idea of living this film as an adventure for those participating is part of the project itself. I am fortunate to be working on board with David Hannan, an underwater cameraman who’s very experienced and creative. We discuss a lot about what’s possible to achieve in terms of images below the surface. The initial results are very impressive and I can’t wait to start editing to see how the film gets built before our eyes.

Even if we’re well prepared for this type of filming and have a precise idea of the final edit,  life aboard Tara is full of unknowns and we have to adapt our story to events. Tara offers us a spectacular adventure,  a mixture of strong personalities on board, but also the unknown part which is scientific research with its own questions and doubts. All the ingredients necessary for telling a compelling story.




Related articles:

Video: reef builders
From corals to corallines
Video: under the surface