Featured Member: Christopher Gosch
“Yeah. That’s the kind of stuff that happens when you’re trying to get sharks."
How did you end up getting into the film industry?
“Well, I’ve pretty much been doing it my whole adult life. When I was eighteen I was really lucky and I got to work as a camera intern when I started college. I went to UCLA but at the same time I was working as a camera intern and, eventually, a loader on film productions. All through college I was doing that. When I finished college my training was as an engineer, then I took a job working CAD design for an aerospace company and didn’t like it. About 6 months into the job I got offered an AC job by the crew I had worked with during college [laughs]. I went and did that instead of being an engineer… By the time I was about 26 I worked up to being a DP, and I’ve been one ever since.”
Describe what being a film loader was like.
“My main job was maintaining the film stock, loading magazines, keeping track of the inventory. That was the job before DIT existed. That job was morphed into the DIT nowadays.”
And what makes a DIT today?
“A DIT today takes care of the electronic side of the camera. Working as a DIT can be two different positions. There’s one that’s more the person who just downloads the footage off of the cameras and backs it up properly. A more advanced DIT is someone who actually is working with the color space of the camera, who can do basic color timing, creating looks for the DP, director and editor. all on set. This information can be stored in a non destructive manner for the whole post process so the look the DP and director intended can be seen through the post process."
How did you get into underwater videography?
“Going back even to college I always loved scuba diving and was motivated by National Geographic when I was a kid. I wanted to travel around the world and shoot stuff underwater. I got my PADI master diver first when I was only like 20 or 21 and eventually got my Dive Master and then Dive Instructor license.”
What kind of underwater stuff do you shoot?
“The last couple of years I’ve been doing more commercial work. When I’m on my own I’m shooting animals. Big animals: Whales, big fish, and stuff like that. I’ve shot a bunch of models underwater, which is a lot of fun. We were shooting in Asia and bringing models over and teaching them how to hold their breath and do a lot of crazy stuff underwater. So, it’s a lot of variety. And I’ve shot a lot of action scenes underwater.”
How do you do that?
“It can be difficult [laughs].”
Yeah, it sounds like it takes a lot of coordination.
“Yeah, you’ll have like a team of people, which is one of the reasons why I got my Dive Instructor license. To be able to handle larger situations and understand all the aspects of dealing with a bunch of divers underwater. And also being able to train people. A lot of the time you’re dealing with actors or stuntmen who may be experienced in their realm, but once they go underwater its a totally different thing.”
What’s the first step for filmmakers looking to get good underwater footage?
“Well, any modern camera system is going to get you a good image. Once you have your basic understanding of diving down, it’s about taking the time just to see things. Once you’re comfortable underwater, a lot of times things happen very quickly, you’re in this alien environment where you’re the outsider… A lot of times I’ve found that you take your time and go slow. You look for details. You want try to get the water as clear as possible between you and your subject, if you’re moving around too fast you stir up the sediment. I also want to use the right lens for my subject. If I am shooting Palegic animals or whales a wide angle lens will be my go to, if its closeup details I am going to work with a flash system and a macro lens. This is very important to decide before getting in the water."
What cameras do you use to shoot underwater?
“Right now I use two main camera systems. For bigger jobs we use the RED Dragon for underwater. That’s for commercial work and things for where people are looking for the highest quality. Then I have an A7s Mk II underwater package which I travel with, and that camera system is a little more reasonable.”
What kind of resources are needed to get footage of something as elusive as a whale?
“When you’re going after whales or sharks or something like that, working with a good boat crew is key. This weekend we’re actually going out with like six GoPros as well as the A7sII package on a boat and hopefully getting footage of some Great White sharks off the coast of Mexico. The boat is run by a captain who has successfully found sharks many times so he is our ticket! We’re on a boat that would hold normally ten people on it and there’s just gonna be five people on it, so we have a little bit more room for gear. Then it’s just a matter of being able to sit and wait and bait the water hoping the sharks will show up."
Have you shot sharks before?
“It’s funny, I’ve been out shark diving to shoot sharks maybe 20 times… When I was working with National Geographic we did get the sharks. We spent like fifteen days out there to get them but in the first four days we didn’t get any sharks up to the boat. And we were dropping tons of blood in the water, and fish guts and things like that. It was a very unpleasant experience. Just the smell of the blood and the fish was bad. Then you’re sitting in a boat rocking up and down and you have to stop yourself from getting seasick.”
Not to mention the smell of the fish guts I imagine.
“Yeah. That’s the kind of stuff that happens when you’re trying to get sharks. When you’re dealing with whales you just go out and hopefully get in the path of them. Usually they’re within five miles of the coast, so hopefully you just get in the path and then if they’re cruising they won’t stop and be around you. They might come by and get past you within two minutes and you have to be ready.”
That sounds intense on multiple levels.
You’re one of the most successful renters on our site? Do you have a secret to using ShareGrid to its full potential?
“I think it’s about communication. Obviously there’s certain gear people want so you try to have gear that people are interested in, but I feel that filmmaking, beyond the creative aspect, is also about the community and about the people you work with and deal with. I respect filmmakers and I love giving back because I’ve been doing it for a while (almost two decades) so to help the next generation of filmmakers is very important to me. When people rent from me and I’m talking to them about the gear I take the time to show them the gear or give some pointers if they are not that experienced with the equipment. I think that’s an important part of it.”
"I have come to really enjoy renting from people and to filmmakers off of ShareGrid and think the community aspect of ShareGrid is as great as being able to rent gear at reasonable rates!"