When Homebrew Films approached the Two Oceans Aquarium more than two years ago about filming and producing a series about our work, we had no idea it would result in the beautiful showcase that would become The Wild Ones: Aquarium: An Aquatic Life. We chatted to Director Sanet Olivier, Production Manager Ruaan Schlebusch and Associate Producer Josef Möller about their experiences of filming a TV series inside the Aquarium.

"We had heard it all before from other production companies that wanted to produce series about the Aquarium. None of these materialised and I know, certainly for myself, that I wasn’t completely convinced that this one was going to be any different. Well, I'm glad I was proven wrong. A couple of months later the film crew started filming the construction of the new I&J Ocean Exhibit and various other bits and pieces. And in April 2017 filming commenced in all earnest and continued for almost four months", says Two Oceans Aquarium Communications and Media Executive Renée Leeuwner.

Aquarium: An Aquatic Life

The on-site crew, Director Sanet Olivier and Director of Photography Chris Lotz, along with Homebrew's sound engineers and assistants, started clocking in alongside the staff of the Aquarium – more often than not, before dawn. During their time here, the Homebrew crew made themselves at home and became part of the Aquarium family. 

After months of filming and editing, the first episode of Aquarium: An Aquatic Life aired on M-Net Channel 101 on Sunday 3 June 2018… and it was as beautiful and inspiring as we had all hoped.

“Working with Homebrew was exciting, fun and very interesting. I never knew being an "actress" for a short while was such hard work! I enjoyed seeing them around the Aquarium and it became a norm after a while.” – Shanet Rutgers, Aquarist / Penguin Keeper

Homebrew expertly managed to take viewers "behind the glass" of our Aquarium exhibits.

For Sanet some of the difficulties she encountered while filming at the Aquarium included the small behind-the-scenes spaces, and of course, the water that is always present. Shooting with only one camera also proved challenging at times. Furthermore, she grappled with the problem of how they would take people “behind the glass”.

“I kept wondering how we were going to show people that the Aquarium is more than just the animals behind the glass. How were we going to show people the vision and mission of the Aquarium? But in the end, all of this just worked out and came together," said Sanet whose body of work includes the acclaimed series, Shoreline.

Scenes filmed in Michelle's culture lab, as well as other cramped places, posed a significant challenge, even to the seasoned filmakers of Homebrew.

“Homebrew were very accommodating to our needs. They didn't inconvenience us, I think we inconvenienced them! The laughs we had with them were unforgettable...They became my friends, and I missed them when they left.” – Michelle Kirshenbaum, Aquarist

Both Ruaan and Josef are science graduates. Working on the series brought back memories for them and reminded them of things that they had learnt during their studies, and had since, perhaps, forgotten.  

Ruaan was particularly taken in by the macro photography, “To see the detail, to see these animals as we know they are; as beautiful as they are…, that was amazing.”

“It was very nice to once again work on something that was purely natural history, but also combined with the people and their stories that in turn tell the natural history stories," Josef commented.

The Homebrew crew had many unique experiences, while filming at the Aquarium, from seeing rare and incredible animals, to living the life of a collections aquarist – through it all though, they worked together as a team and worked together with the Aquarium team to bring viewers of the series a glimpse into a world that is usually reserved for a select few.

“Well, at first it was quite daunting. But Sanet and her crew were amazing at making you feel super comfortable even in your "own space" with a giant lens staring at you. It was great fun and they got as excited about jellies as I am, which is a bonus.” – Krish Lewis, Aquarist / Jelly guy

Jellies and other weird and wonderful animals captured the imagination of all involved.

Tune into the M-Net 101 on Sundays at 16:00 for the next episode of The Wild Ones: Aquarium: An Aquatic Life to delve even deeper into all things underwater.

Want to know more? #AskAnAquarist!

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