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The making of Ocean Messengers

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At BIAFF 2009 Ocean Messengers by Rainer Schimpf won 5-stars.

We want the way that man and nature interact to change

Portrait of Rainer Schimpf.I was born in Mannheim, Germany, in 1967. My wife, Petra, and I have one child. My working life started in business including insurance and importing classic cars. In 1994 I began working with a film production services company. In 2000 I started Expert Tours which is based in Germany but promotes the diving industry in South Africa. I have a diving company in South Africa and we run a guest house in Port Elizabeth, SA. Some of my work involves helping film and television industry people who need support with wildlife and especially underwater filming in all parts of Africa. I have been involved with "black empowerment" and increasingly in ecological concerns.

Ocean Messengers is not just a film title, but the name of a non-governmental, non-profit organisation which seeks to persuade all the key players that the ocean is a vital part of South Africa's assets and that to disturb the balance between man and fish by unreasonable and uneconomic industries and by creating an irreversible pollution situation will create danger for the most important key player itself: the human inhabitants of the areas.

Still from 'Ocean Messengers'. Still from 'Ocean Messengers'. Still from 'Ocean Messengers'.

Algoa Bay

South Africa - the rainbow nation - is a unique multicultural and natural wonder. Its wildlife on land and in the sea, its people and its unreleased potential is enormous. One major city is Port Elizabeth on the south coast at the "foot" of Africa. It lies between a geological and bio diverse area alongside the Indian Ocean. It's a combination which creates a unique bay. On land there are thriving fruit farms. At sea there is good sardine, squid and deep-sea fishing. The city is both an industrial one and a tourism centre. It is an area with a lot of work and making a good income for South Africa. We want to avoid the mistakes Europe made in its industrial past, especially pollution. That could bring disaster to the area.

South Africa recognises the importance of the sea for both industry and tourism, as well as the well-being of its citizens. Some of the country's national parks stretch into the sea.

Still from 'Ocean Messengers'. Still from 'Ocean Messengers'. Still from 'Ocean Messengers'.

The Message

The Ocean Messengers organisation has a mission to lead sustainable development of our environment for a better life for all South Africans and all animals, by:

Still from 'Ocean Messengers'. Still from 'Ocean Messengers'. Still from 'Ocean Messengers'.

Part One

In Ocean Messengers - the film - a whale (a father of the sea) is trying to express a message of warning to mankind. Whales therefore lead the audience through the film with one voice in particular speaking for them. It shows visually and explains from their point of view their impressions of reef, animals and humans behaviour. The whale is the connecting factor in the film, carrying the viewer from one scene to the next and continually repeating the message that humans need to stop interfering with the oceans. The film has a happy ending as the whale swims off into the sunset confident that it has passed on its message and believing in the good of its listeners who will no longer harm the ocean.

Part Two

Making the film

It took 3 years to film the footage in this production, most of it was shot during the Sardine Run period in Port Elizabeth (between February to July each year) When we started putting Ocean Messengers together, 80% had been filmed already.

Since the NGO  (non-governmental organisation) was a positive outcome of this production, we now focus on environmental documentaries. Our next production, Opaque was carefully planned and involved 4 years of filming, 1 year post production, it will be ready by the end of March 2009. We hope that it will be seen in as many festivals as Ocean Messengers and will create awareness about the sea and its need to be protected.

Our post-production problems were mainly financially. Donors like "Rufford Small Grants" and "Project Aware" helped us a lot to get closer to the final product.

Since we wanted to create awareness, we didn't want to antagonise part of the audience, so we chose the poetic form of commentary. We hope people will see this film as a chance to change things for the good. Around the world audience response has been mostly positive. We were very proud to receive the KUDU Award from San Parks which is like an environmental Oscar in South Africa.

I use a Sony FX1 with a BS Kinetics underwater housing and different light systems such as Oceanic lamps with + 5400 kelvin. I dive with open circuit / normal cylinders and some of the footage was taken while snorkeling. As said earlier mostly during the Sardine Run in and around Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

On my website www.expert-tours.com you can find lots of information, particularly on the "news" pages with up to date events and happenings. And if anyone wants to come an dive with us in this gorgeous area ... anyone can book with us and film makers in particular are most welcome.

Picture of the camera and underwater housing.
Housing from www.bskinetics.com

- Rainer Schimpf

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Page updated on 06 October 2011
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