Feature: If we build it, they will come

By James Mitchell

In a scene from the 1990’s television series Flipper, a submarine set fills with water as an actor struggles to find his way out. It’s one example of the many dicey situations cast and crew can face when working with wet sets and water-based sets.

Water specialist Simon Christidis of Wetset Solutions recalls the complicated process. “You lower the set into the water and that brings the water level up – that’s quite complicated, not only because you have to sink the set piece, you have to get the timing right,” he says.

“You’ve got an actor inside a set piece that’s filled with water so you have safety divers behind you. Everybody rehearses when you’re doing a scene like that because things can go wrong very easily underwater.”

Christidis, whose credits include Nim’s Island, Fool’s Gold, Ghost Ship, H20, Sea Patrol and the upcoming documentary Oceans traditionally specialises as an underwater director of photography and also acts as a consultant and supplier on all facets of wet set logistics from diving safety to underwater communications and filming equipment.

Christidis boasts the largest underwater equipment kit in Australia. He stresses the rigor of underwater filming and that inexperienced crew will likely struggle with long water drenched days. “From a producer’s point of view, when you have a lot of underwater scenes to film it’s very important to get the right crew, the right experienced people under water,” he says.

“You have to love being under water for a start. If you’re not comfortable in your environment then you’re never going to be able to achieve what you’re there to achieve.”

For more on sets, set building and locations check out the September issue of INSIDEFILM on sale next week.

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