Behind the Scenes of a Short Film About Freediving

By Denise Pietsch

Directors Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc have collaborated to create a new short film, 5 Minutes Before. With stunning cinematography and choreography, Christophe and Remi encapsulate the complexity and serpentine serenity required of a free diver.

Christophe and Remi shared some of their thoughts (and photos) with us about the making of their film, underwater photography and videography, and their plans for the future. 

 

5 Minutes Before Floating

Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

What inspired the short film 5 Minutes Before?

The 5 Minutes Before short film was inspired first by a goal of telling the story of Sidney Regis. But, as we chatted together, we decided to focus on the preparation part. Especially the emotional preparation required of a professional free dive to break records.

5 Minutes Before Breath

Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

How did you get into underwater photography?

Christophe was a scuba diving instructor before becoming a professional photographer, and he discovered photography directly underwater. For Remi it was the opposite - he was a professional photographer before discovering the underwater world. Christophe and Remi met almost 10 years ago as Sony ambassadors and quickly became good friends, so they had to work together underwater!

5 Minutes Before Colorful

Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

What is your camera/lens/lighting setup?

We used two Sony A7III with various lenses, but most of the movie was filmed with the Sony 55mm f/1.8, the 24mm f/1.4 and the 12-24mm f/4. The lighting setup was a little more adventurous, because we decided to mix Weefine diving lights (3x Smart Focus 6000) with Profoto studio light shaping tools.

5 Minutes Before Lighting

Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

Do you have different setups for videography vs. stills?

As we decided to travel with minimum equipment, we did the videography and the stills with the same setups. But for a future project, we would like to use external recorders like Atomos for the videography work. Working on a compressed format was a bit challenging for the editing and color grading process.

5 Minutes Before Silhouette

Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

Shooting while free diving can be much more difficult than shooting on scuba where you have a continuous air supply. How do you adjust your shooting style when you’re free diving and what are the challenges?

Sidney is a professional free diver but the camera team are not at the same level, especially Remi who never tried free diving before. Consequently, we decided to scuba dive for the camera team, and free dive for the dancer, Sidney. It was very challenging to synchronize the two types of dives and make it safe, but thanks to the locals' help and the instructor experience of Christophe, we did it.

5 Minutes Before Directing

Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

Your work is so varied, from TV and film to underwater portraits and surf. Do you prefer shooting above or below water, and why?

Christophe has an unconditional love for underwater photography, because it's how he started. But the TV and film portrait photography is his DNA now, he can't stop either. Remi is more into travel and expedition photography, but he shares with Christophe the love for simple and powerful portraits. Now Remi spends more time as a director and would love to work more on underwater movies.

5 Minutes Before Christophe Brachet

Christophe Brachet | Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

5 Minutes Before Christophe Brachet

Remi Chapeaublanc | Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

Do you make the decision of black and white before the shoot or in post production? If you’re setting up to shoot black and white, what do you do differently?

Christophe likes to shoot black and white directly on the JPEG while doing stills. But for this movie, Remi decided to shoot with both cameras in color to have more flexibility in post production. The fact that you lose the red colors so quickly in underwater photography was a big challenge for this project, because it's shot from 0 to 40 meters (0-130 feet) under the surface. We spent a lot of time in post-production to render it as we imagined it. The black and white style of Christophe's stills was a real inspiration for the look of the movie.

5 Minutes Before Black and White Profile

Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

What tips would you give a diver getting into underwater photography?

My best advice would be to work manually, or at least with manual exposure. It can be scary, because beginners think they don't have the time to setup the camera correctly, but in reality we do have the time and it's how we learn.

5 Minutes Before Dive

Photo Courtesy of Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc © 2021

 

What are your next projects?

We would like to work on a new underwater project, together with Sidney, maybe a "5 Minutes After"? We would love to focus more on ocean conservation, with a very esthetic message to find a way of encouraging people to take care of our oceans.

 

Watch the film 5 Minutes Before

© 2021 Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc

 

 

 

5 Minutes Before Bio Pic

Hailing from France, Christophe Brachet and Remi Chapeaublanc met as Sony Ambassadors and developed a fast friendship.  Proliferate creators in their own rights, Christophe and Remi's individual work can be found on film, television, and in frames. If you'd like to check out their solo projects click the links below for their website and socials. 

Christophe Brachet Website and Instagram

Remi Chapeaublanc Website and Instagram

 

 

Additional Reading

Freediving with Orcas in Norway

Black and White Conversion for Underwater Photography

5 Tips to Improve Your Underwater Portrait Pool Photography

Why You Need Strobes Underwater

Under Pressure | The Art of Underwater Filming with Matt Jacobs

Customer Photos | Ryuijie "Kanchi" A Quite Place

Jenna Martin's TEDx on Becoming and Underwater Portrait Photographer

Just Below the Surface | Shooting on Snorkel in Grand Cayman

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