Tower Divers: The Documentary That Almost Was

Tower Divers: The Documentary That Almost Was

Part I of III: An Idea Takes Shape

In the summer of 2013 I had come up with a rather ambitious plan. Create a documentary about one of the most strangest and mysterious professions that ever existed, the commercial diving. I knew little about making a documentary so I soon began doing my research. I poured over everything there was about making this happen. I read countless books, scoured the internet about information on equipment, budgets, formats and everything else in between. I knew the obstacles I would face and did not take this endeavor lightly.

My plan was to film in 24p with a high definition Canon HV camera that I had I just bought along with equipment to make everything look professional; Two microphones, a camera rail system, a field recorder and other countless technical gadgets. The style of film I was going to attempt was that of cinema veritae. In other words, no effects, fancy soundtrack or artificiality what so ever. I wanted people to see how real commercial divers work a dive job. There were problems with this style of film however.

The Good

In order for people to get a real feel for what it is to be a commercial diver, a water tower diver to be exact, it was important for me to give a no frills, non glamorous look from their perspective. This mean raw interviews, watching them set up dive equipment and filming them getting into their respective roles, as in, Diver, Tender and Communications / Dive Supervisor. Another great aspect of filming in this style was actually showing what goes into setting up a real dive site as opposed to dive school. And for those who know nothing about commercial diving, they would have a first hand look at what it take to put a diver in the water for actual work. Lastly, I wanted non divers and prospective divers to know how much time goes into just setting up a dive as opposed to the time a commercial diver spends in the water.

The Bad

My biggest concern was that the cinema vertiae or direct style of camera work might come off as too artsy or boring to many. As was said before, this is a very non technical way of shooting and is more of a ‘fly on the wall’ observation with no narration. I wanted to make the viewer feel like they were on the dive job with them and sometimes this is not very entertaining to say the least. Another issue I was concerned about was that most of the film was to be focused on the divers themselves getting ready, their attitudes, the lingo and everything in between. I have seen hundreds of snippets of divers on Youtube in the water doing their thing, but no one has ever shown what it takes to get there and I that was going to be the point of the documentary.

This was my first step in what I thought was going to be a decent documentary. My next step was to start setting up interviews, find a dive site and a dive crew and secure a producer to do some of the heavy lifting with the paper work and offer guidance. It was to be a longer process than I had anticipated.   Stay tuned for Part II

-Scott Kilgore is a former diver and Author of Under Dark Waters


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