“Turn out the light, put your headphones and freedive with me around the world.”
French freediving champions Guillaume Néry and Julie Gautier are world-record holders and acknowledged masters at their sport. But that wasn’t enough for them. A few years ago, the husband-and-wife team decided to broaden their expertise to include underwater filmmaking, and their newest effort, One Breath Around the World, will take your breath away. I was absolutely captivated by the gorgeous underwater footage of Néry freediving in waters all over the world from Mauritius to Mexico to Japan and beyond. The locations were seamlessly edited to make it look like all the footage was from a single dive. The film’s mind-blowing play with scale and with up and down and underwater versus dry land is amazingly effective. But what made it even more impressive was the fact that all the footage was shot by Gautier who was also freediving while shooting. (Backwards in heels, am I right ladies?) I’m frankly kind of pissed off that nearly everything I could find about the couple mentions her only in passing.
“We just started filming on breath hold, and we found out that it was making our images special because, of course, also I’m so free in the water. I can go so fast. I can follow Guillaume wherever he goes. He asked me to do this quite amazing shot in Freefall where I start behind him and I go in front and I turn around; that’s impossible to do with the scuba.-Julie Gautier in joint interview with National Geographic
Sometimes I’ll work with a director of photography who is on scuba. We need to plan a lot of what we’re going to be shooting. To me this is less organic, you know, a bit less magic happening because it’s all planned. And what I love doing in freediving is that when I’m down there I just can decide to do something else, and that’s really powerful.”
I belatedly realized I’d seen Gautier’s name before, for my post (Under)Water Ballet. She’s a lovely performer in her own right!
The two of them really are remarkably fearless. When you get to the section of the video below where they swim with sperm whales, your head may just explode. I know mine did!