In this latest article in The Guide, DPG’s Photo Editor Lia Barrett talks to Goh Iromoto, one-third of the creative team behind Water Born, a Web-based series of short films that aims to introduce people to “the unique world that exists around water.”
Director Goh Iromoto prepares the camera while filming Episode 2 “And Here We Must Run” in Chac Mool Cenote, Mexico
Water Born is an online series that explores some of the world’s most unique underwater destinations on a journey of creative passion. Created by Goh Iromoto (an award-winning director/cinematographer), Marc Kaiser (President and CEO of Precision Health Care), and Kirk Krack (President and Founder of Performance Freediving International), Water Born has a simple objective: To combine the key elements of adventure, water, and creativity, to produce a series of artistic and inspiring short films within the realm of breath hold. Not only do the stories all involve characters on breath hold, but the entire film crew is also, for the most part, on breath hold as well…
DPG: Where did the idea for Water Born come from?
Goh Iromoto: We each came to the table with different motives for creating Water Born. Mainly though, our goal was to inspire people to appreciate the wonders of the realm beneath the surface.
Kirk, Marc and I are scuba divers and freedivers. For me, growing up, there was always a lack of media content that I found inspiring. While snowboarders, surfers and skateboarders had a growing culture of cool, inspirational material, I always felt that the diving culture—while it had a few great examples—generally lacked the same presence and vision. So one of my goals was to create exciting work that would inspire people to explore water and to dive in.
Ren Chapman films Shell Eisenberg during a safety rehearsal test run in Chac Mool Cenote, Mexico
DPG: Give us a little insight into your shooting history.
GI: I always had a camera around the house, as my parents were both journalists. I began shooting videos for school projects as a way to avoid having to write essays and reports. By the time I was in my first year of university, I had became more and more interested in filming projects unrelated to school. My first client was actually Kirk, who had me film the 2004 Aida Freediving World Championships.
Today, I mainly work in advertising in Toronto, Canada, where I’m based. I work on everything from digtial Web content to television broadcast spots. I also now work quite extensively for various brands and outlets related to underwater activities. Water Born gives me the most freedom to go even deeper into my interests of creativity and adventure. It’s quite the dream project.
Kirk Krack films Ren Chapman alongside a whale shark near Isla Mujeres, Mexico
DPG: What are some of the challenges of working with talent on breath hold?
GI: As you can imagine, there are multiple challenges when trying to film scenes underwater at depths between 30 and 100 feet while the talent—and you yourself!—are on breath hold. We take a lot of precautions with regard to safety and always ensure that we have safety freedivers in the water with us.
It’s very challenging for the talent, who has to get to depth, perform their scene—whether it be a fight scene, or walking through a cenote landscape with no mask!—and then return to the surface. When we have multiple talents—such as in our latest episode in the Cayman Islands, where we had up to eight talents on breath hold—it takes a significant amount of coordination to get everyone at depth at the same time.
Our deepest shoot to date was at around 100 feet in the Caymans. We had Kirk go down to depth on a DiveX underwater scooter, and we wanted to film a shot where he passed by an underwater Atlantis submarine. To get myself and the camera—the new Nauticam Red Lite underwater housing—we had to have another freediver scooter me down to depth as I hung onto his harness. Once at depth, I let go, filmed the scene, and then the scooter driver—who is also on breathhold—pulled me up to surface. It was a real logistical feat to capture that scene!
Ren Chapman films Kirk Krack and Liz Parkinson in one of the final scenes of Episode 1 “Wreckage” in Nassau, Bahamas
DPG: Tell us about the shooting process.
GI: We shot our recent short films on the Red Epic and Epic Dragon cameras. For our latest season, Nauticam provided us with a prototype of the new Red Lite underwater housing, which is much more compact than the average housing for this camera. This obviously helps us greatly when filming on breath hold.
I’ve filmed both on scuba and while freediving, and the differences are significant. On scuba, while you get to stay underwater longer and can therefore produce shots of a different caliber, you often tend to get bubbles in your shot, and you aren’t able to be as mobile in the vertical water column. For many of our scenes, it’s important that we are able to move up and down quite a bit in terms of depth, which would be more difficult and more dangerous on scuba. It’s also much easier to maneuver faster and more freely while freediving with the camera, especially with swim-throughs or within the deck of a wreck. Freediving actually gives us more shooting hours and bottom time as well as much easier communication on the surface.
Ren Chapman films Goh Iromoto as he prepares an underwater housing at Car Wash Cenote, Mexico
DPG: How did you choose the talent involved?
GI: For the most part, we chose people who we had previously worked with, become good friends with, and who had a background in creative film or image making. Ren Chapman is the perfect example. Not only is he a very well-known and proficient freediver, but he also has a great talent for underwater filmmaking and storytelling. He produced a short film called Defending the Vandenberg that wasn’t just very successful but was also the inspiration for our first Water Born episode “Wreckage” (see below). As a much-needed added bonus, Ren is quite the personality and character himself.
The skill level obtained by the guys on Water Born is quite incredible. They’ve been training and practicing for years to be able to achieve that breath hold and confidence. Having said that, one thing that is quite unique about freediving is that with the proper training and mentality, it’s actually quite possible for the average person to achieve breath holds that they would not have otherwise thought they could achieve. All of our cast members are actually instructors of Performance Freediving International, one of the world’s leading freediving instruction organizations. Taking a basic freediving program through an organization such as this will usually get the average person to depth with a decent breath hold after only a single course.
Episode 1. Wreckage: An Enemy Is Born
DPG: What are your aesthetic and stylistic goals?
GI: We want to make sure that our episodes look and feel high end. We want our viewers to continue to be wowed and see our pieces as a bit of a spectacle. We also want to continue to break barriers in terms of our content and storytelling, all while achieving a cinematic look and quality to our work.
Lastly, we also want to develop Water Born as a brand—as something that can be recognized as a lifestyle enjoyed by all of us who partake in discovering ourselves and our planet through water.
DPG: Give us a little insight into the latest episodes and ones to come.
GI: We have just finished filming Episodes 5 and 6 in the Caymans. Episode 6 will feature a new underwater chase scene! What’s exciting about this one is that we went bigger than the classic “one diver versus another diver” scene. Instead, we built a concept around a number of opponents versus our hero character—an exciting episode to film!
Scenes from the latest episode of Water Born filmed in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Goh Iromoto takes a break from filming at Car Wash Cenote, Mexico