Photo essay: The BLUE Ocean Film Festival 2012

Photo Essay: The BLUE Ocean Film Festival.
By Jason Bradley.

The BLUE Ocean Film festival, held in Monterey, California from 24 to 30 September, is primarily a film festival, but also has many other features and attractions. Following a similar format to that of the previous event two years ago, it incorporates a conservation summit and a networking platform that aims to unite people interested in the oceans and ocean advocacy through the mediums of photography and film making.

The Festival packs a great deal in to the week in which it runs. Each day has events scheduled from early morning until late at night. It could be characterized as being both intense and restless.

Amongst the events this year, BLUE hosted industry seminars for filmmakers and photographers that were conducted by people like Jason Bradley (yours truly), Mary Lynn Price, Stephen Frink, Craig Adkins, Brian Skerry, Michelle Westmorland, Doug Allan and others. There were panel discussions and lectures for the conservation summit that accompanies the Festival, and these were participated in by reporters, celebrities, politicians, ocean advocates and filmmakers.

Conservation advocates and personalities, such as the Prince of Monaco, Edward James Almos Olmos (Captain Adams of Battlestar Gallactica), Jackson Brown, James Cameron, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Congressman Sam Farr, Bob Ballard, and Captain Don Walsh gave talks or participated on panel discussions about ocean conservation related themes.

BLUE also spilled out with marquee events and public outreach programs. A display of deep sea submersibles was held, which included Graham Hawses’ underwater flyer that he made for Richard Branson and Virgin, and was designed to “fly” through the Mariana Trench.

With all this going on, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that this is a film festival, and throughout the week, plays host to some very fine underwater films. Having a film accepted onto BLUE playlist marks it out as being of quality, and the festival aims to reward and highlight peoples’ efforts.

At the end of the week, you are left spinning but hopeful. It is an intense experience, but a positive one.

BLUE is organized by a very small group of people, who are mostly volunteers that come together and make it happen at the last minute. At the helm is Debbie Kinder, her husband Charles, and daughter Sarah Spanougle. Their energy and organizational skills are inspiring! 

Joe Platko hanging photography by Feo Pitcairn.

BLUE volunteer Jessie prepping prints for hanging.

BLUE Schwag being bagged up.

Joe Platko hanging images for Brian Skerry.

Jason Bradley from Bradley Photographic and Mark Christmas from iLCP enjoying wine more than hanging prints.

BLUE featured a display of submersibles. The one featured above was made by Nuytco Research. This company is one of the biggest producers of submersibles for research and exploration in the world.

Richard Branson and Chris Welsh’s Virgin Oceanic submersible capable of reaching full ocean depth. The plan was to “fly” it into the Marianas trench.

The Ocean Gate submersible.

Congressman Sam Farr advocating for the ocean.

Celebration and gathering for Sea Studio’s film Otter 501.

BLUE founder and CEO Debbie Kinder helping to introduce Otter 501

Reception for Otter 501.

Kurt Leiber from Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) showing a picture of just some of the discarded fishing net that can be found on the ocean floor.
Jason Bradley getting a T-shirt from Kurt and ODA

Sharon and Sylvia Earle.

Jason Bradley and Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Eric Cheng explains light field photography to Michelle Westmorland.

Michelle Westmorland tries a Lytro camera for the first time.

The crowd gathers for the BLUE Ocean Film Festival Award Ceremony.

A publicity stunt for the Otter 501 project.

Photographer Bob Talbot being interviewed.

The Blue Ocean Film Festival award Ceremony.

Okeanus give a performance on stage.

Okeanos is a multidisciplinary portrayal of the ocean as “body, environment, resource, metaphor, and force”. It is a performance designed to inspire and educate audiences about the ocean and connect them deeply to ocean conservation.

Jim Toomey of Sherman’s Lagoon accepting an award

Debbie Kinder (with Chris Palmer in the background) at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival Award Ceremony

Dan Basta, Director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, accepting an award of Excellence.

The MC of the BLUE award ceremony entertaining the crowd.

Jon Shenk accepting the BLUE Best In Show award for his film “The Island President.”

A line-up of the winners of the 2012 BLUE ocean Film Festival.

Buffy Redsecker and Tom Skeele from iLCP at Buffy’s book signing.

Michelle Westmorland at her book signing promoting her book, Ocean Duets.

My wife Anne and daughter Cecilia being inspired by Footage Search.

BLUE held a silent auction to raise funds for marine related charities. Amongst the goods donated for sale was this guitar that had been signed by the Grateful Dead.

A slideshow of images from the BLUE Ocean Festival 2012.(All images by Wetpixel Publisher Eric Cheng.)