Richard Fitzpatrick: The shark researcher and cinematographer’s incredible career in his own words

What makes the Great Barrier Reef distinctive is the biodiversity… I like the truth that you’re watching an underwater cleaning soap opera.

I’ve at all times had an curiosity in sharks. I grew up primarily in the Rockhampton space, and spent childhood holidays going out to the southern Great Barrier Reef with pals on their household boats.

I began snorkelling after I was six, and had marine fish tanks from the age of 10. I had a pet epaulette shark. Mum used to drop the shark off in school in an Esky stuffed with salt water and I’d do a shark discuss to my class. I encountered my first shark in the wild after I was 12.

Richard Fitzpatrick in his pure habitat, filming underwater. Picture: Biopixel

It was a pure development to check marine biology at James Cook University. When I used to be doing my diploma, I used to be working on the aquarium in Townsville and later I labored at Manly Aquarium and at Maui Ocean Center in Hawaii as a biologist and as a part of that I had lots of curiosity in shark behaviour. It’s additionally when the primary video cameras have been popping out and so I bought concerned in documenting sharks.

I’m self-taught in cinematography, I simply learnt alongside the best way, however had just a few good mentors like (the late) Ron Taylor. I labored with him and Val Taylor over time, complete legends.

I’ve shot rather a lot for Sir David Attenborough on the Great Barrier Reef, and the primary time you have a look at your imaginative and prescient with his voice over it’s at all times cool. I’ve filmed in Indonesia, in Alaska, in the Amazon the place it was actually cool to see a few of these wonderful freshwater animals like piranha; that was a dream job. I used to be in South America simply two years in the past filming orcas off the seaside in tremendous gradual movement, that was wonderful.

The self-taught cinematographer has worked with some big names, including Sir David Attenborough. Picture: Biopixel

The self-taught cinematographer has labored with some huge names, together with Sir David Attenborough. Picture: Biopixel

An enormous half concerning the job is you possibly can choose the gigs that take you to locations you haven’t been earlier than. The draw back is when you’re there you’re working flat out, it’s solely whenever you come residence and have a look at the imaginative and prescient that you just go, “oh wow, it’s actually really pretty there”.

I’ve been bitten and slapped by sharks, however all of the accidents have been my fault. As a shark researcher working with the inspiration I co-established, the Biopixel Oceans Foundation, I’ve been knocked out by the tail of a tiger shark after I’ve been attempting to tag or measure them. Nothing has been overly terrifying, extra embarrassing actually.

The most anxious a part of the job is just not the damaging animals, it’s the surplus baggage with 30 or 40 circumstances of kit and coping with customs and airways.

Getting bitten and slapped by sharks is just business as usual. Picture: Biopixel

Getting bitten and slapped by sharks is simply enterprise as regular. Picture: Biopixel

We filmed Great Barrier Reef 3D utilizing the identical 3D rig they use in Hollywood films. With 3D you want a large digital camera system, concerning the measurement of a washer. We wanted a crane to get it in and out of the water. At the start, it was difficult however by the development of the shoot I bought higher at manoeuvring it.

The first time I noticed the movie was on the IMAX Melbourne the place they’ve bought the world’s largest display. It was wonderful to see the 3D results, the whales and the mantas and the corals, it was like being in the water and seeing it for the primary time.

We filmed the world’s largest synchronised intercourse occasion, coral spawning. I’ve been documenting that yearly now since 1989, It’s an incredible spectacle, it nonetheless takes your breath away when it’s taking place, it’s like an upside-down vibrant snowstorm.

Seeing the movie at IMAX in 3D is unquestionably the second-best solution to see the reef. Everything you see in the IMAX movie is accessible, you possibly can go to those islands your self as soon as we will journey freely once more.

Fitzpatrick says the Great Barrier Reef is like an underwater soap opera. Picture: Jemma Craig

Fitzpatrick says the Great Barrier Reef is like an underwater cleaning soap opera. Picture: Jemma Craig

What makes the Great Barrier Reef distinctive is the biodiversity, from the smallest animals to the biggest and every thing in-between. I like the truth that you’re watching an underwater cleaning soap opera; all of the animals going about their each day lives looking for meals, looking for a mate, and someplace secure to be.

It’s at all times enjoying out in entrance of you, I wish to take moments to sit down and watch and get pleasure from – it’s what I used to be doing as a child and I’m nonetheless doing it now.

Great Barrier Reef 3D is now displaying at IMAX Melbourne.

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