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Valerie and Ron Taylor

join the action in


Although documentaries

are our main source of kwork, Ron and I often find ourselves employed shoot- ing underwater sequences for feature films.

Working to a script with actors makes an interesting change for us, and there can

be no doubt about the satis-

faction of seeing your name among the credits of a popular feature film.

Our work with the remake of the 1949 romantic movie "The Blue Lagoon" looked like a routine camera job for a Hollywood production, but it turned out to be unusual and something of an adventure. (The film is scheduled to prem- iere in Australia on Saturday, November 27.)

As a child I had seen the

original movie, starring a teenage Jean Simmons and Donald Huston. I remem- bered the story well, mainly because at the time I had fancied myself in the lead- ing role floating through the jungle in my everlasting flowered sarongs.

There were no underwater scenes in the early film, and I guess by today's standards it must be rather corny, but in its day it was impressive.

> Now "The Blue Lagoon" was being produced by Randal Kleiser, director of "Grease," and Melbourne film-maker Richard Kleiser for Columbia.

Many Australians were in the film crews assembled at Naruya Levu (Turtle Island) in the Yasawa Group, north-west of Fiji. Strangely enough Turtle Island was the location for the original "Blue Lagoon" 30 years ago.

Like most Fijian islands, it combined most of the traditional ideas of what a tropical paradise should be. The only things missing were a waterfall and a large stone god, but in an industry where man-eating sharks, giant gorillas and galaxies are produced on demand, a waterfall and a stone god can be conjured up easily.

When we arrived at the island we were surprised by cold and windy weather. Ron worried that the people we were working with would not be able to take the cool conditions for long, as for much of the shooting they would have to

Ron with "Blue Lagoon" stars Brooke Shields and Chris Atkins before taking his camera underwater for a scene.

Photograph by Valerie Taylor. RIGHT: In a scene from the

film Brooke and Chris display their natural swimming talent.

swim either naked or scantily clad. The script called for some very difficult underwater acting but fortunately the male lead, Chris Atkins, had diving ex- perience and co-star Brooke Shields was also perfectly at home in the water. However, Brooke was not a diver and was often unavailable to work with us and a double had to be used.

Brooke and Chris play Em and Richard, two youngsters who had been shipwrecked on an island as children.

Our first problem was to find suitable locations, as the reefs round Turtle Island were not particularly rich in photogenic life. -

After the first two days, the cool breeze dropped and the weather re- turned to everyone's idea of tropical

island climate.

Besides Chris and Brooke, we were

working with two children, Glen Kohan, 9, and Elva Josephson, 10, who played Em and Richard when they

were first on the island.

Neither Glen nor Elva had much ex- perience in the ocean, so I had the pro- duction office order snorkelling equip-

ment for them from Suva.

While we were on location working with adult actors, Glen and Elva would go snorkelling in the shallows, playing around like two young dolphins. Within two days both children were perfectly at

home in the marine environ-1 ment. Glen, to our amazement could dive down seven metres easily, a remarkable effort for a nine-year-old boy.

In many of the scenes thej actors had to perform naked and it wasn't simply a matter of swimming around looking beautiful either. They had to act out entire scenes holding

their breath.

Chris made our job easier than we expected. Always obliging, he worked long hours in the water without complaint.

Several scenes were diffij cult. Once he had to dive down, find a pearl shell, open it with his knife, extract the pearl, and roll it between his fingers with an expression

of iov. all in the one take.

However, Glen had the most difficull of all the underwater parts. The script called for him to ride a turtle, a difficult task wearing diving equipment anc downright scary without. A suitablf turtle was bought from a nearby village for the sum of $30.

We attached almost 20 metres o

monofilament fishing line to the shell. I

Glen could wear his mask, snorke and fins in practise runs to get the fee

of a turtle underwater.

The difficult part was doing it withoir his gear. Glen is game for anything anc trusted us completely.

The turtle would flash down three

metres and flipper off to the end of his line. Once it felt the restriction, itwoulc surface. During the take, Glen woulc

look towards the camera, eyes open à smiling. Eventually the monofilamentf snapped where it had been rubbing j against the shell, letting Glen and jus* mount go riding off into the blue witt Ron in pursuit. Fortunately we didnt

have too much trouble catching it.

After that we decided to remove tm

monofilament altogether and JuS recatch the turtle whenever it escaped.

Working with Brooke Shields was « surprise. We suspected she would not M very keen about swimming underwatei without a face mask, but she handledJ like the professional she is. it