Underwater filming: A guide

film and waterJaws (1975) would never have been crowned a classic if filming underwater wasn’t possible. Shots of legs frantically kicking in the water or Hooper’s discovery of the dead body in a boat wreckage makes the film all the more scary.

But how exactly do you go about preparing for an underwater shoot? What are the potential risks involved? Our expert, DOP Franz Pagot, reveals all.

From checking and testing the camera housing, to trying to light in murky waters, filming underwater is far more complex than filming on dry land. It’s also more expensive and requires more people – usually three times as many as compared to dry land shoots.

Filming underwater can also be like filming in an environment filled with smoke, so getting the best light is crucial - the best times being between 10am and 2pm in a windless calm sea. The colour of clothing and props is also affected when filming underwater, for example it’s best to avoid white unless you deliberately want a halo effect.

Risks too are far greater when filming underwater – so safety has to be paramount. To help avoid any potential danger, communication between the crew above and below the water is key, and a rehearsal of the shoot should be performed on dry land before filming goes ahead.

To read Pagot’s full guide on filming underwater, featuring hander insider tips, click here.

To see more of Franz Pagot’s work, visit his profile in our underwater cameramen section.