Mike Valentine BSC
I was lucky enough to be able to join BBC television in 1972,where I worked on a wide variety of programmes like“Fawlty Towers”, “Till Death Us DoPart” and “Monty Python”. However,it wasn’t long before I answered the call of the wild and joined Outside Broadcasts,working on everything from drama, “Match of the Day”and “The Royal Variety Show”. During my time there I took up diving as a hobby and was soon taking pictures underwater. I ended up hiring Madame Tussauds Planetariumin Baker Street where I presented an audio-visual show using 36 projectors,immersing the audienceinthe Red Sea. A friend said, “You realise you are trying to make a movie, why don’t you try making a short film?” Wow! A new avenue to pursue!
10 short films later I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity by the amazing director Nic Roeg to shoot underwater scenes for “Castaway”,which was to be shot in the Seychelles. Well, obviously it was bye-bye BBC!
The last programme that I worked on was “Live Aid”at Wembley stadium, an unbelievable peak at which to leave “Auntie Beeb”. (I had no idea that I’d be watching an actor playing me on stage 35 years later for the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, but that’s another story!)
Castaway was an amazing experience, and I remember my first day with Nic who said, “Have you read the script?”,of course wide-eyed and bushy-tailed I said,“Yes sir!”. He said, “It’s crap! Throw it away. Shoot whatever scenes you like, if they’re rubbish, I’ll not use them and if they’re great people will think they were my idea anyway!
Since Castaway, I have had the pleasuret of shooting underwater sequences on over 100 features, which has given me the opportunity of having great fun in developing camera systems, optics and underwater lighting techniques, including back-lit underwater green screens and developing an underwater LED lighting system that is now used all over the industry. I could not have done it without my wonderful wife Françoise. Many people know her as Fuzzy and she acts as our underwater coordinator and 1st AD controlling everything on an underwater loudspeaker,so there is no escape from the world above!
The beauty of the underwater world belongs to all of us, we should do whatever we can to protect it