• Tara Expeditions

Tara Expeditions

Tara Pacific in the Eye of the Camera

“Tara Pacific, The Mystery of reefs” will be the first in a series of documentaries made during the Tara Pacific expedition. From Tahiti to Moorea and the Tuamotu archipelago, ashore and aboard Tara, director Pierre de Parscau recounts the early days of filming.

You’re now aboard Tara for 15 days of filming. without giving away the story, can you tell us the origin of this film?

With Romain Troublé, executive director of Tara Expeditions, and Christophe Audeguis, film producer of the cup of tea, we wanted to tell about the scientific adventure of Tara Pacific, but also take a documentary approach and meet the people living on these islands. Today they are the first victims of climate change and its impact on the ocean, with rising seawater levels and coral bleaching. They are witnesses to the acceleration of these phenomena.

Since the start of filming, what intrigues you the most?

It’s quite staggering that what seems to us so far off, as seen from Europe, is actually happening on the islanders’ doorsteps. In early October we filmed extensively in Moorea with environmental and cultural associations fighting to preserve their ancestral lagoon. They are worried about the state of the coral on their island. The bond Polynesians have with nature and their relationship with sacred elements is something very powerful and this film will focus on sharing it with spectators.

After 2 weeks of filming on land you embarked on Tara. How is filming on board?

We boarded Tara a week ago with Tuhiva Lambert, the sound engineer. We left Hao and should return to Papeete in early November. The main challenge to filming on board is the boat itself. Sea swells are strong right now around Tuamotu which makes for a rolling Tara. This forces us to do a balancing act on deck with our equipment. We also get doused with sea spray, but the idea of living this film as an adventure for those participating is part of the project itself. I am fortunate to be working on board with David Hannan, an underwater cameraman who’s very experienced and creative. We discuss a lot about what’s possible to achieve in terms of images below the surface. The initial results are very impressive and I can’t wait to start editing to see how the film gets built before our eyes.

Even if we’re well prepared for this type of filming and have a precise idea of the final edit, life aboard Tara is full of unknowns and we have to adapt our story to events. Tara offers us a spectacular adventure, a mixture of strong personalities on board, but also the unknown part which is scientific research with its own questions and doubts. All the ingredients necessary for telling a compelling story.

Filming the documentary “l’archipel des rois”

After following the schooner’s route between Tahiti and the Tuamotu Archipelago to film “Tara Pacific, le mystère des récifs”, director Pierre de Parscau has just completed recording a new documentary about Tara’s scientific adventure in Wallis and Futuna – an opportunity to learn about the first complete inventory of biodiversity conducted by the scientific teams on board and to better understand the functioning of this territory where ancestral traditions are still very much alive.

“L’archipel des rois” describes the scientific adventure that took place aboard Tara during the 2-week inventory of marine biodiversity and offers a portrait of these isolated islands”, says Pierre de Parscau. “Here, kings and kingdoms are not legendary memories but part of the Futunans’ daily lives. During the filming, we were able to delve into the heart of this unique culture alongside TARA’s crew, attending traditional ceremonies and visiting the graves of Futuna’s first kings, strategically located with a view out to sea”.

Confronted with cyclones and the consequences of climate change, islanders hope to learn more about their marine resources thanks to the work of Tara’s scientific team. Far from any scientific monitoring, the depths surrounding Futuna and Alofi Island were a mystery to the expedition researchers. “It was very exciting to share the daily findings of scientists on board. Dives were an opportunity for astonishing discoveries, especially regarding healthy reefs and the species inhabiting them. Whether studying fish, corals or sponges, each scientific team was very enthusiastic about this historic inventory“. Known for capricious weather, December in Futuna lived up to its reputation and filming was a battle with the elements.

“It’s difficult enough to record video on a boat, but days of torrential rain made our task even more complicated. We had to wait for lulls to work onshore. Then when the sun finally appeared, we had to deal with mosquitoes from Alofi’s primary forest”. On land, the team met with environmental protection officers who are conducting an inventory of forest biodiversity. Like its reefs, Alofi’s forests host an ecosystem relatively spared from human impact, with endemic species still to be discovered. “It was important to link marine and terrestrial issues in this documentary. In Futuna, every inhabitant is a farmer and a fisherman, and these both resources are essential for the very survival of islanders. Yet, people don’t always make the connection between soil pollution, caused mainly by the many pig farms, and run-off into the reef flats. Our colleagues onshore are trying to raise this awareness in Futuna. I hope that, by showing the island’s hidden beauties, this film will contribute to protecting them.”