Actor Eline Powell
In episode #36, host Brett Stanley chats with actor Eline Powell about her work as a mermaid on the now sadly cancelled show Siren.
They talk about her training for the part, the intense days filming underwater, and how learning to move underwater really informed the actor’s movements on land. She also talks about how the experience has changed her, and how she’d much rather be a mermaid than learn the violin!
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About Eline Powell – Underwater Actor
Eline Powell is a Belgian actress, and was born in Leuven, Belgium. When she was in high school she participated in theater classes. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2011 with a BA degree in acting, with special skills in ballet, Hip Hop, Flamenco, singing, violin and speaks Dutch and French, as well as English with American, South American, Estuary, and Irish accents.
She started her career making a short film For Elise playing Mila, then appeared in small roles in films such as Quartet, Novitiate and Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur both of 2017. In 2014, she won the lead role in the Italian drama film Anita B. as Anita directed by Roberto Faenza. Then in 2016 she appeared in Game of Thrones as Bianca.
Powell starred in the Freeform series Siren playing Ryn, a mermaid.
Ep 36 – Eline Powell
Brett Stanley: [00:00:00] Welcome back to the underwater podcast. And this week I’m chatting with actor Eline Powell about her work as a mermaid on the now sadly canceled shows. Siren. We talk about our training for the part, the intense days filming underwater and how learning to move in the water really informed the actors movements on land. She also talks about how the experience has changed her and how she’d much rather be a mermaid than learn the violin. All right. Let’s dive in.
Elaine. Welcome to the underwater podcast.
Eline Powell: [00:00:29] Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Brett Stanley: [00:00:31] How are you? Are you are you surviving in this, in this kind of crazy COVID 2021.
Eline Powell: [00:00:37] the, the surrealism the surreal world. I am surviving. I’m actually doing very well considering I’m one of the lucky ones I’m healthy. I have a roof over my head. I’m safe. So, I love board games. So I keep myself busy. I really, I love cooking all that stuff. So I’m very fortunate, to, to see, yeah.
How are you?
Brett Stanley: [00:01:00] I’m good. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, 2021 is kinda kind of opened up a little strangely for me. I think we all kind of expected the new year to happen and then everything to get back to normal, but
Eline Powell: [00:01:10] yeah. Looking back you’re like, why did we think that? Just because it’s a new year, it would be different. Do you know? In hindsight you’re like, wow, we were so hopeful for what reason? But yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:01:22] all these, all these kinds of memes online, where it’s like, I’m welcome to day 357 of March, 2020. And I’m like, I know it still
Eline Powell: [00:01:30] Yes. And no, or just January. My favorite meme was like 20, 21. Hold my beer. It just went down. But yeah, thank God for a bit of humor so we can get through it.
Brett Stanley: [00:01:43] It’s exactly. Yup. So where are you in at the moment? Anywhere in the world. Are you in the UK or.
Eline Powell: [00:01:49] I’m I’m in Europe, I’m staying with my family because when we saw lockdown was happening again you know, after the first wave we wanted to spend the second half of the year with a bit more space and greenery. So we’ve come to my parents’ house, which is a bit bigger than a little flat in London.
Brett Stanley: [00:02:10] Yeah, I think that’s the thing like having space around you certainly makes the the lockdown on the quarantine time. A
Eline Powell: [00:02:15] Yeah, I think nature is kind of your friend through it. It keeps you grounded and makes you feel not as boxed in, you know, or just a park or anything like that. I kind of, when you get a bit claustrophobic, I feel like that kind of really suits you. It suits me anyway. I feel Oh, okay. Yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:02:37] It does. Me too. It’s kind of when kind of looked down, started happening last year. And I was just thinking about people who are in like New York and these kind of high density cities living in apartments. And I’m like, Oh my God, like, you know, I have a backyard and a swimming pool here.
I’m very, very lucky. I can’t imagine what it was
Eline Powell: [00:02:54] Yeah, I w w yeah, I think it’s anybody who is close to that kind of who or who has access to any kind of. You know, sprinkle of nature is it’s, it’s really beneficial, even if it’s just to see, you know, life still goes on. Do you know what I mean? Like, I know this tragedy everywhere, but I find psychologically just really suits me.
Brett Stanley: [00:03:18] Yeah. It’s like a, like a healing kind of kind of vibe. It’s quite nice. So let’s, let’s move away from the depressing 20, 21.
Eline Powell: [00:03:26] yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:03:26] And let’s head back a few years to
Eline Powell: [00:03:28] Yeah. Let’s dip in the water. Yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:03:31] Let’s go for a swim. So let’s talk about a show that has been, you know, quite quite important in this kind of industry as well as really, I think it had a really good reception on, on for the viewers and that siren.
Eline Powell: [00:03:43] Yes.
Brett Stanley: [00:03:44] us, give us a little overview for those who don’t know what siren is, what this show’s about.
Eline Powell: [00:03:48] Well this show was a mermaid show. But kind of first of its kind in the respect that they approach mermaids, not so much as the, the little mermaid Disney versions that we might know more, the, the perspective of these are another humanoid aquatic, humanoid species predators, really living under the water and.
I finally meeting mankind for the first time and, you know, in modern day, yeah, with all of its challenges, climate change or pollution. And, my character is basically one of the first mermaids who comes on land too. And comes in contact with humans and knows nothing. Doesn’t know how to speak the language or anything like that.
And so basically we’re getting to know both species through each other’s eyes, through their respective eyes it was a life-changing show for me. It w it’s ended now, but it, where it was for many reasons. The best four years of my life. And one of the main reasons for that is because it got me in touch or brought me into contact with free diving and a whole underwater world that I wasn’t really aware of.
Which is why I’m talking to you now, because I, I grew a passion for it. So yeah, it’s, it’s a it’s worth checking out if you’re into anything. If you’re anything around that mythology, if that fascinates you, it’s, it’s a nice new interpretation for it.
Brett Stanley: [00:05:24] Yeah. And so it’s quite gritty, isn’t it? Like, it’s
Eline Powell: [00:05:26] It’s quite gritty.
Brett Stanley: [00:05:28] of you know yeah. Like you say, it’s not that Disney sort of thing. It’s very, it’s a bit more like a drama
Eline Powell: [00:05:33] Yeah. Like, we’re not very, I mean, I don’t mean that dismissively, but we’re not like beautiful and, you know, perfect and lovely and nice. We’re more sort of, yeah. W we’re just very brand new and we’re actually, we come from quite a world where, where you have to survive and, and um, it’s a bit more.
Predatory and animalistic. And, but at the same time, you know, they have a lot, the armor mates anyway, have a lot of intelligence and emotions in their way are just very different from humans. So they, they get to know Each other’s worlds and what they find strange about that. And then of course the, the, the aim of the story, or I think anyway, the morale of it all is, is that you’ve much more find a way a common ground.
If you’re willing to look, if you’re willing to love, if you’re willing to be open, then if you’re. You know, immediately putting up the enemy roles or the, you are lesser than me. And I take advantage of you perspective, which is very applicable for today’s problems. I think.
Brett Stanley: [00:06:45] Yeah. So, so you mean like you’re bringing in a bit of vulnerability in there is,
Eline Powell: [00:06:49] Yeah. I feel like, yeah. Time and time again, in our show.
I mean, of course the thrill is finding out about this new cause it’s a Saifai so, you know, you know, scientific fantasy and it’s, it’s very, you know, there’s not so much magic as there is, you know, the, the main characters are Marine biologists and. The, some of the, the bigger voices in it are science or the military or the doctors, or, you know, so they have their own theories about it.
But then at the same time, there’s spirituality and heart because you’re talking about another culture, almost another, and anyway, in those elements Sort of play together, but then of course, in, in the most magical setting, which is underwater, which has hadn’t been done before, at least not in a television show.
I mean, you have age too well, which is a gorgeous show, but again, it’s more leaning towards the little mermaid interpretations of, you know beautiful and, and. Lovely and smooth and, and here, the, the transformation is painful. You know, the, the way our mermaids changed from water creatures to land creatures is very painful.
We’re actually talking about evolution in the space of, you know, a minute, you know, if you think about birth or if you think about, you know, any animal regrowing, a limb or a tail, it, it doesn’t happen sort of. Very with twinkly lights and, you know, as much as we’d wish that yeah, it’s, it’s a it’s, Life is raw. Yeah. And that, that take is more the one that our show approached, which is cool. It’s different.
Brett Stanley: [00:08:29] Yeah. Well, I think that it’s an interesting point too, because you talk about H2O, which is, I think, as an Australian
Eline Powell: [00:08:35] Mm. Yeah. Yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:08:37] and I think there’s a lot of, kind of shows that are made for, I guess, kind of kids or teenagers, you know, with that mermaid sort of thing in mind. Whereas this is quite, it’s a lot more adult, isn’t it?
Eline Powell: [00:08:47] It’s a lot more adult. Yeah. Which I think there is you know, I think there’s such room for it. I mean, if you think of the fascination there’s been, I mean, we look at as, as a. As a whole throughout history, we love mythologies. We love the power. It has to, to tell stories about humanity through creatures.
And then of course the other aspect is it was real or not, but let’s just stick with the power of, of using. Myth myths and mythological characters. I mean, for instance, years ago it was vampires in every which way they were explored from good to bad to the stereotypical, to the new, same, the popularity of zombies werewolves these fascinators so much.
And then I always found it so baffling there’s such scope. For the underwater, the mermaid world, the sirens, the, you know, all that world that has so much potential. So I’m very other, so, so happy that there’s a show like Simon, who’s at least throwing another idea on the. You know, on the plate there,
Brett Stanley: [00:09:56] well, I think the thing that, that really impressed me about the show was how much they tried to do in a practical sense. You know, a lot of these shows, if they do underwater scenes, they’ll either do it, you know, dry for wet, which means shooting at dry and then making it look like it’s wet,
Eline Powell: [00:10:08] Which doesn’t work really.
Brett Stanley: [00:10:10] it’s yeah. I mean it, when it does work, it’s, it’s such so much money to
Eline Powell: [00:10:15] It’s so much money to make it work. I feel like I’m. You know, I’m, I’m I’ve spent so many hours on, on the underwater set now. I mean, after all those years and I, a hundred percent believe that the practical way is the best as in the hands-on way, the really doing it way delivers the best results. And yes, it’s still expensive, but my God The more you, you, you do it.
And especially if you work with a great team, which we did in siren, and every year we became closer and family and it’s like anything, right. You spend long time on it and you perfect and you find quicker ways and better ways and easier ways. Even if you look at our season one or a pilot sequences that we did for underwater, and then you compared with.
Oh, third season, you already see so much progress in them. That’s because everybody was learning how to do it better in my head. I also have a little glimpse of what we could have achieved now because we know so much we know each other. We know what we can do, the CGI guys. They really know how to work with us and all this stuff, but yeah, I would say for underwater things I’ve seen now, it’s absolutely possible to do it practical, to actually shoot on the water and all you need is top people.
And and, and communication and, and knowledge and all that stuff, which I’m not claiming I had at the beginning, but the team did. And we got there, you know,
Brett Stanley: [00:11:45] exactly. Yeah. And I think that’s the thing with this coming in. You know, there’s a steep learning curve to it and,
Eline Powell: [00:11:51] my goodness. Yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:11:52] just adds on to the, to the, the beautiful production at the end of it is knowing how much work went into Is the water something that you kind of grew up with?
Is it, is it something that you had a fascination with when you grew up or was it just because of this production that you kind of found that love for it?
Eline Powell: [00:12:06] No, it it’s. It was completely a love of mine. I was completely. You could say what a baby, but, you know, I didn’t have access to a pool most of the year, except for in the summer, you know, the stairs. I mean, not the stereotypical, but I guess sort of the common story of it. It was done mostly in summer holidays or stuff like that.
So I loved, loved, loved the water. I loved the little mermaid But it wasn’t something I was actively near and therefore completely unaware how much it actually would, you know, best my heart open with joy. As I found out then when, when I got the job, I was just over the moon because.
The, the prospect of, of learning this as a skill being underwater, that was just fun for me, but I didn’t think that much of it other than, okay. It’s sort of like learning a stunt, like it excites me, but okay. There it ends. And then I had my first few sessions at the time in London still, before I moved to Vancouver for, for the pilot.
And it was just in London with Liv Phillips, who was a competition free diver there, and she was marvelous. And so we did some breathing and I was like, okay, this is interesting and great. And, and then she put on that. Monofin. She, she brought her competition monofin for me to try out and we went to the pool.
And so I had, and you know, I could do the moves already a little bit, probably not well, but enough. And that’s when I first took the monofin for a ride and did the whip and the speed with which I could go. And. I still remember that feeling like, what is this? This is immense. This is pure freedom.
I felt sort of like. I’m going to give you a movie reference. You know, the, the guy in avatar when, when he tries his avatar for the first time, and it’s a character is paralyzed from the legs down and he has this avatar. And for the first time he can run again, which he thought he never would be able to do.
And that scene that that’s kind of the equivalent of what happened to me then in that pool, I was like, you know, finally, you can just move, you can just go because, you know, when you swim just your body and water, I think unless you’re like an Olympic swimmer or your underwater ballerina who just really knows her stuff, Your body is not the best yet at really moving with water.
So when I had that, monofin on, I was like, Oh my God. And I just felt like I just discovered fire. It was amazing. And then it just ignited. And then I went on this journey and it was brilliant.
Brett Stanley: [00:14:52] I mean, that’s such a beautiful analogy as well. Like, you know, that, that kind of having this avatar. Cause I, I know that feeling and every time I get in the water, and especially with fins on, and you kind of give yourself that little flick and you feel how powerful you are and you feel the water rushing past you, it is such an amazing feeling.
Eline Powell: [00:15:09] It’s absolutely incredible.
Brett Stanley: [00:15:10] And then you take them off and you’re back to your little feet again, and you feel so helpless.
Eline Powell: [00:15:14] You’d like, Oh, I’m pathetic. I deserve to be eaten by something big. Yeah. Yeah. It’s so confronting. Yeah, I know. I very much have that actually today, if I have ever in a pool without a digital monofin I just feel like such a little shrimp. Like, Oh God, what am I even doing? Useless.
Brett Stanley: [00:15:37] thing because you’ve spent, so, so let’s break down a typical kind of shoot for a water shoot for this, because you are in a monofin the whole time, right?
Eline Powell: [00:15:48] Yeah, so siren was very much I mean, I’m sure you’ve heard this from my fellow dream team colleagues. Who’ve been on your podcast, Roberto and Brayden Hagadi who are my one’s camera woman, and underwater. Choreographer teacher free dive original mummy Xtrordinair. And so they they, they will really um, almost like a second filming.
So you had anything that we shot in the show on land. And then we had days in the tank tank days, and that’s where we shot the underwater part of the show, which increasingly got. More and more which with with each season. But in the beginning, you know, so it was a lot of training days. And then you had Tang days and Tang days where they were in tennis, you know, like you’re in the water, I think 12, 13 hours a day.
And you’re just. You completely pruned out by the, by the end of it. But I mean, I can’t express enough joy and bless. I was always begging the writers and the producers. Please, please, please put in more water stuff. Please keep, keep as much as you can in the water. And they were like, that’s great.
Ilene, do you have. Do you have a couple of mil relying around and I was okay. Fine. But so it would be. The process is much slower. So again, that’s why in the beginning, there’s not as many water scenes as towards season three because you know, I stress again. We got to know the process really well.
We got to know the water that the actors, everybody just knew that stuff by, by season three, but in the, in the first the processes you go in, okay. The lights set up cause, okay. You don’t maybe have many props as such. You still had to. You know, set the scene. Is it nighttime? Is it a daytime? Whereabouts in the water are they do F any rocks or that stuff?
I was so ready thanks to the, the loving care and amazing, amazing training that I, and anybody else who was a mom on the show got from Roberta. And so I was fully prepped. I was like, I feel it in it. It’s amazing. And then you go down in the tank, this really deep tank with black walls and a black floor.
And I just, I just didn’t have a clue. I just, I, you know, cause even in, when you practice in pools, it’s, it’s light, it’s blue, you see at least a shape, but in the darkness it was, you know, they’ve put lights underneath in the pilot. I remember they put lights to light our face.
So they were like, look at the light. So I was looking at the light, but that still wasn’t the camera and Oh my God. And then, okay. Finally they figured out to put it lights on the camera and then they put our markers on the floor with fluorescent colors and then sort of vaguely, I was at least looking towards the right direction.
And then it was like, okay, you’re basically. So close to the surface, you have to swim deeper. Anyway, it was a con it was, it’s a very different way of shooting. You have to be aware of. Depth then roughly where the camera is. So your brilliancy needs to be spot on. You need to be completely fully aware of your own, you know, gravitas, how’d you say, in the water.
And then finally, when you manage to get all of that, you have to do the acting. So, yeah. Which, which again is like I was very happy to beforehand kind of practice on filming myself on my own, because again, that was a shock. So you, you go under water in the pool. And you’re like, feel it under the spirit of this on a water creature on the animal.
And then you see yourself back on the camera. You’re like my goodness, what happened there? Like, well, basically, you know, because you’re, you’re floating up. So what happens is your shoulders are coming up. You’re still kind of learning to be okay. Relaxed. but you’re still the moment you’re thinking of acting.
And there’s a scene where your angry or tense or just anything, but in freediver mode, you, you tense up your face and. But you’re holding your breath. So your cheeks blow out a bit and then you scrunch your eyes cause there’s chlorine. And so by the time I saw what was on, like the first few takes, you look like a complete, I mean, a complete clown, a Blowfish.
I looked like a blow fish rather than a, than a manmade. So there’s a lot of work on like, Pull, it’s not even relaxing. It’s pushing the shoulders down. It’s keeping the legs straight. So your knees are bent at 90 degrees for the tail. You know, it is. You have to be constantly aware. It’s it’s very much like a dancer’s interpretation in the end to, to, to convey that you were mermaid because yes, the CGI guys changed the skin, but the, the posture you had to think about all the time, almost like a dancer would cause the moment you just.
Bead and relaxed, you were just gone. You were no longer really saying the same things. And it was dreadful. So you had to really focus on that anyway.
Brett Stanley: [00:21:09] saying there was a, it was a real conscious effort to, to keep yourself
Eline Powell: [00:21:12] Yeah, it was, and, and this is all, I’m all talking about the start particularly, and the elements of like finding camera and finding light and acting at the same time, doing all that. And then, you know, thank God I absolutely adored the water because if you then have any fear that you’re, you know, in a 16 foot tank or something in the dark.
You’re you’re fighting many, many elements. Luckily that was not one of mine. And also I was very well. Trained already by that point. So I was quite relaxed about breath hold, but everything else was a challenge. And that’s where I’d say an amazing camera team. Like we had on siren just made it possible.
They, you know, I was thinking about 5 million things and I’ll be honest where the camera was, was kind of at the bottom of my, so yeah, it was like, if I, if I can, if I can hold my position and if I can convey. You know the scene then I’m just hoping Brayden is magical and captured. She did, she, you know, in season one, it’s mostly the camera team that I personally think that had to be really extra and really beyond to get it.
And luckily Braden and Roberta and I. I mean, they’re so great, but we got very close. So we started doing projects outside of siren together. Like we started doing some photo shoots and we went actually free diving in, in in Vancouver, in the ocean a few times. And so we got to know each other and she got to know my.
You know, my duck dives, my breath holds my, the way I move the, what I do to get ready for the camera, to just pull my hair back and things like that. And so by the time we would then back on scene doing more, we just, it was so quick and easy. And then even by season two and three, we could, we could really help out on how to.
Help out with certain big seekers, as things got more intense. And then everybody could really pitch in with how to shoot certain things, because we knew what was possible from one another, you know especially with stunts, with fights With, because everything was quite vicious under water sometimes.
So we were like, how do we, you know, and then Braden, we worked with wires and all that stuff. Anyway. So the, the, the initial, you know, the first dip in the water let’s say is quite a shock. And it’s, it’s very. Needed to have a good a team around you and it’s quite slow. So you kind of vaguely block it. Then we chewed it.
And then really the main difference with on land is like on land. You’re like, okay, that was a great take. Let’s sort of perfect. It in the water. It’s like, We have a take that works great. Let’s move on. it takes so long sometimes to get the magic that if you even get it remotely close, we just had to move on to get the next bit,
Brett Stanley: [00:24:19] you’re, you’re, you’re kind of the bar of not quality, but your bar of what’s acceptable, certainly lowers in the water, I think because you’re such a so happy to have got something
Eline Powell: [00:24:27] Yeah. Especially in the being, I mean, towards the end of it, it was a bit, give me one more take, but basically what happens is so in the beginning, so these, these lights that they put everywhere. When you open your eyes on the water, everything kind of looks the same. The lights are blurred or elongated, and you don’t know which one’s starting, where which one’s coming, your, your orientations just gone.
And what I just noticed after a few hours, let alone, after a few months, let alone, after three years, is this weird? Thing that your brain suddenly clicks. And even after a few hours, the brain suddenly clicked and you can actually see the shapes clearly, and you can actually see the camera bit and the lights a bit.
And I was found that so fascinating is that your body took a bit of time, but then it’s so. Okay, evolved we’re underwater now. And then it was crazy. Like suddenly you could just, would you need me to pick up the penny on the bottom of the floor? No problem. Which is dive down and get it. You know, it was The other moms experienced this too. Yeah, very which was very helpful when in fights, because you don’t want to hurt each other. But so that’s why we put fights a bit towards later the day so that the eyes had adapted a bit to, to the, to the water.
Brett Stanley: [00:25:55] I had heard that actually I was speaking to someone yesterday, who’s a a professional mermaid and she was saying that that over time she has evolved, her brain has evolved to be able to sort of make more out of the shapes and the, and the blurriness, and to be able to see more details.
So that, it’s really interesting that you’re saying the same thing.
Eline Powell: [00:26:11] Yeah. It’s so I find it very fascinating. And then if I think about people like you, people like Roberto and Braden who spend their lives in the water and dedicate their whole physical bodies and minds to it, how, how truly adapted. they are, they become, and then, you know, the there’s some in Indonesia, I think some cultures and tribes who really live like that and their kids have evolved to really see, well underwater.
Some even don’t have to wear goggles and things like that. It always, makes me feel really. Gosh, imagine if, you know, just give us a few million years and see where we could end up, you know,
Brett Stanley: [00:26:51] Well, I think because there is to resurgence and not a resurgence, but maybe just a surge in, in the whole free diamond community as is a very massive industry right now. So I think the idea of spending longer times under water, I think is something that we’re very interested in without having to use external equipment.
Eline Powell: [00:27:10] Yeah, I think it’s it I don’t know. I feel like it’s always represented the subconscious a bit, the water it feels sort of mysterious and unexplored and unknown, and yet. Through documentaries and blue planet and stuff.
We’ve seen a glimpse of it, the, the animals in water fascinate us. I mean, the, the blue whales and the orcas. I mean, they’re these immense immense creatures that really not the average person can even remotely really know what they’re like. Or it’s just the closest thing to really. Finding alien life on our own planet.
It’s still holds so much mystery. So to think of being someone that can know its secrets and, and I don’t know, be master of it, or at least be part of it. I think that really appeals to many people. I think it represents the sort of freedom, sort of too many people like flying is, but what’s flying.
You’d be like, well, there’s nothing in the sky. I always think that I’m like, but surely on the road to this so much more going on. Yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:28:22] I kind of think of it, like, you know, like the longer my breath hold gets, the more, I feel like a like a superhuman person. Like, I feel like it’s a super power. Like, you know, like it’s, it’s my body, that’s doing this amazing thing. And I’m sitting on the bottom of a pool or I’m in 20 feet of water in the ocean and I’m not scared.
I’m not gasping for breath.
Eline Powell: [00:28:41] it’s absolutely incredible. I have such respect. Uh, You know how I mentioned, one of the reasons the show has been life-changing for me is because of this discovered passion and I’m by no means a free diver in terms of competition or anything like that. But I have gotten to know a community and I have gotten glimpses of the power that you’ve just described.
And that is something. You know, I, I F I find exhilarating. I, I basically for um, my, my first exam, I did, I did ADA one and eight or two certificate. And for the first one I had, I did it with Roberta in Vancouver, in the cold sea, but so just diving to 10 meters just the first time and, and. The, the immensity that felt, but then definitely with my second level, I was in Mexico and the, the whole course and exam took place in this Sonata that was like 40 meters deep or something, and ends in a, it’s like a dead forest with a sulfur cloud kind of thing.
Brett Stanley: [00:29:47] it looks like mist on the
Eline Powell: [00:29:48] Yeah, it’s, it’s mad. It’s like a Tim Burton dream. But so I just, just had to go down to 22 meters, which for me still the deepest I’ve ever been able to go. And I just never, I just didn’t think I can do that. I can do it. And then the instructor said to me, okay, don’t go to the bottom if, you know, just think of, do the most relaxing dive ever that you can possibly do.
And then just come up. And so I did the breath holds and the the breathe app, sorry. And I was just in the jungle. And I really, I got to that moment, right. I’m sure as a free diver, you know, just the moment, the moment where you’re like, I’m gone and I went down and yeah, it was like this weird thing where nothing was a problem.
Everything was, I was in completely for lack of better word the zone. And I went all the way down to 22 meters. And I suddenly realized that reached the bottom thing and I just felt so peaceful and I just swam up and I had the monofin, so it was like whip, whip, and bliss. And then. I, I exactly experienced that.
I was like, wow, here I am. I’m just, you know, I’m in a tiny thing. And I just went to 22 meters and it was, I didn’t even think about it. And my breath hold up for, for that particular dive was like three minutes something, which for me. You know, static breath, hold where you don’t move. Okay. But, but when it’s moving and with a bit of pressure or a bit of like, Ooh, then my, my breath hold obviously diminishes.
So for me at the time I was just blown away. So like I say, it’s only a tiny tin, like glimpse of what true freedivers experience, but it was enough for me to go, Oh my God, what a Powell. We have like, hold the power of real free divers have to actually be able to train the body to do these insane things but really conquer and completely unknown piece of nature, like a wealth that really isn’t when you swim without monster fins.
And it’s just a little legs. It’s really not meant for us in a way. Right. But we conquer it nonetheless through dedication and passion and the mind, I think that’s magical. That’s really, and it’s why it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a show. I mean, you know, the show also means friendships and all that stuff, but particularly for, for that ex for that knowledge they experienced it’s, it’ll be forever.
Very, very dear to me.
Brett Stanley: [00:32:23] Absolutely. Yeah. I mean this, the whole journey that you’re talking about there is, is very, very special and very individual, you know, and it’s very reaching that kind of serenity that you reach when you’re at that depth. you know, it’s, it’s really sort of seeing inside yourself and I think you, you get you’re changed by these experiences.
Eline Powell: [00:32:42] It really? Yeah. It really does something to you. I can see why I mean, maybe not everyone, but I feel like once you you’re hooked, you’re really hooked. You know, it really it’s addictive. It lets you in,
Brett Stanley: [00:32:55] I mean, I kind of get it when you’re talking about, you know, it is kind of an extreme sport, you know, it’s kind of like these people who, who like base jump or rock climb, massive mountains with no ropes and stuff, you know, it is that sort of thing, but where it, it seems a little safer to me because, you know, if I fall off the water, I’m not going to land on something, you know, I’m just going to just going to be, but it seems achievable,
Eline Powell: [00:33:18] it seems more achievable, but it’s definitely you’re right. It is very, you know, I’m not going to, I’m talking, you know, I’m talking to the, and it’s about this serenity, but let’s be real. You need to be a serious. Bad-ass to really conquer this. I mean, so my, my training instructor, Roberta she’s like, she helps for competition dives and things like that.
And so she’s like, Oh yeah. So I, I swim down to 30 meters to weigh up for them or whatever, like. Casual casually swimming down to the, and then, you know, they usually pass out a bit, you know, near the shelves, but that’s all right. Cause then you pass out and then you need the top, you know, cause she’s, she’s seen it all.
So she’s a complete safety diver. So she, as she talks about that really relaxed. And then she’s like competitions. Yeah. You’re no, you’re at the top and it’s really wavy when you do your breath up. So then we’re waiting there. So we, you know, a lot of us have thrown up and like, you know, and then obviously she on top of everything and Braden too, they’re complete polar bears cause they swim in Vancouver.
Brett Stanley: [00:34:23] which is
Eline Powell: [00:34:24] Because there’s, you know, there’s like the, the awesome free dive community in The Bahamas and Australia. And. You know, that’s cool, but my God, when you then go to the. To the Vancouver, the Canadian, the ice cold freezing waters. That’s a whole other level. And they, they go on this trip in February or something to like a nature free diver with, with seals and everything.
And it’s like, Snow storm ice hail. And they’re just like, yeah, we’re going to go free that thing. And then they just, you know, okay. Yeah, they have their good suits, but realistically that I see the vaulters, like it talking really like. Two degrees or something. I’m sorry. I don’t know that in, in in your measurement, but it’s just, it’s just very, very freezing, but they don’t even think twice about it.
And they just, so they, I think the, the, one of the reasons badass women I’ve ever met, I have to say, so that also appeals to me. Of course, I’m like, Ooh, I want to be part of that kind of a community. So
Brett Stanley: [00:35:28] absolutely. I think women have a higher tolerance for pain than men do. And.
Eline Powell: [00:35:33] Oh,
Brett Stanley: [00:35:34] well, I mean, you guys give birth, you know,
Eline Powell: [00:35:36] yeah, of course. Yes. Yes.
Brett Stanley: [00:35:37] you need to deal with, but I have spoken to a lot of people who, who come from colder climates and who dive and free dive there.
And when they go to somewhere like the red sea or, or The Bahamas or whatever, they feel like they’re not, but I don’t feel like they don’t enjoy it as much because they don’t feel like it’s as exciting as
Eline Powell: [00:35:57] Right. Interesting. Oh yeah. I’d love to, it’s a good poll to ask people, like, do you, do you prefer where you were trained kind of thing, or do you, as in where, where the most of your dives take place or would, or do you get a special kick out of going through kind of a different temperature? And what’s the difference in quality of diets?
I’d love to know, because I do know that in the colder climates, obviously then the visibility sometimes is really good when it’s really cold. And then in the summer, for instance, they’ve got a lot of you know, bits and, and. Stuff laying around and yeah, like I remember, like I said, when I just had to dive to the 10 meters one, but already by two, three meters, like you just can’t see your, your fins.
Like it’s really, Murky, but doing all those things, it’s very valuable for, for us as the, all the actors that went on the show, because ultimately you have to imagine you’re in a world where not many people have really been, you know, like, everything that, that.
That informed the characters always originated in, well, what’s, what’s it like for them underwater and, and I mean, this was a collaborative process. I mean, maybe I began it, but it was definitely completely all the moms were thinking about this collectively as the show went on about our culture and movements and.
Voices and all that stuff, but it always all started with the water. So when I, I sometimes say this too, that the training we had for those underwater things really informed so much of the rest of the acting and rest of the, like the postures and the sounds of things actually came a lot from what was.
What we were able to do on the water and how that then would translate to land. So, you know, for instance like them, cause we had the web tents. So on land, we kept our hands a bit more open because we weren’t used to really. Closing it as such and little things like that, or the little exhales we did in the show on land Lake hisses and stuff came from live.
There was any kind of thing you could take from it under water would be an exhale of air to, you know, a little bit the way dolphins and, and you know, anything like that. Err is part of the as well. And, you know, they play with bubbles and things like that. Anyway. So it really, it, it was such a, and rightly so cornerstone of everything that, that the show grew upon eventually too,
Brett Stanley: [00:38:42] Yeah, exactly. So you’ve kind of, instead of informing the, the movements under the water, from what you were doing on land, you were doing it the other way round. You were learning from what you had experienced down
Eline Powell: [00:38:52] Yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:38:53] That’s really cool. And so there was, there was something you mentioned before as well, which was you were doing fight scenes under the water.
Eline Powell: [00:39:00] Yes. So the two, so the two big physical scenes that, you know, the most difficult work, fight scenes and meeting things. We did, we did one big Bit about the meeting season there. And so just to, to clarify if there’s scenes where it’s mostly acting and swimming and, and something like that, they are fairly, I dare say straightforward because it was about you know, just swimming.
We were that we could do that with our eyes closed. You know, Little things like that. But when it came about intense movement or intense, like this fighting or meeting, instantly our breath hold went down and we couldn’t do as many takes as maybe we’d like to. And then to the choreography of that in, especially in the beginning was very difficult because, you know, you, you can’t see each other that well you are ultimately dealing with.
We were wearing monofin, but in the show, our tails are a bit they’re made they’re elongated a little bit. So we wanted to do a lot of tail whips and everything, but so we had to stunt fight that. But, and still make it all hit. Right. But, you know, safety was kind of paramount. So we had to be very creative with that.
And luckily I dunno, I think sometimes passion overtakes the physical capabilities and you’re just like, I don’t need any air. I can keep going through it. But so for the first few fights scenes they, they very much became. In the end, let’s just, just scrap, just scrapped within, within safe measures.
And, luckily because we, you know, when we fight in close proximity, so we’re fighting holding each other by the arms or the shoulders, or then we can at least see, each other. Fairly well, right? Because it gets worse the further away the blurrier something becomes. So if we fight close together, then okay, we can we can do biting and things like that.
Fairly. How do you say safely? So the first few fights scenes were mostly like that. And then, and then of course, thanks to our amazing stunt coordinator at Anders and a lot of super, super other talented people who pitched in of course, we came up with other moves, like, to put in a key moments that would edit in, you know, that were shot separately.
Like I think in the pilot, it was like somebody, I think Ryn swims into Ben, like, like a headbutt almost. And, but the most of this, the fight scenes that you’ll see, they are more scrapped. They’re close together. They are with biting and stuff, and that was done. Because it was the way we could be free and really go for it.
And yet still be safe cause we could hold onto each other and we were together also because you know, you’re holding onto each other. I don’t know if the person I’m doing it, the person I’m fighting with how their breath holds doing and you’re acting right. So you’re acting in distress anyway. So it’s very hard to even give a signal.
Brett Stanley: [00:42:01] that situation? Was there a way that you
Eline Powell: [00:42:02] So it would be like the, it was the moment you stop and freeze. So the moment you
or the moment you even sense that someone wants to go up, unless it was choreographed, like now you come over me and tumble swim or something. That was the sign to swim up and catch the man. What also. Really helped.
And we got really good at that as the show went on, but in the beginning it was really struggling is how much we, as an entire team, especially actors relied on communication. So in the beginning, cause we were blind as bats and that, that, that brain clinic that I’d mentioned hadn’t quite happened yet.
So the, on the speaker you know, when they’re like, and action, and that, that was great. And like a bit. A bit more, you’re not in camera or something, which would be perfectly valid notes on land, but on the water, it sort of was like, well, this means nothing to me. So we learned to go, okay. The camera’s rolling.
Okay. Lean take your breath. Hold, go down. Okay. You’ll go a bit lower, a bit more to your left set. So then we do like an okay sign or whatever, and then action. And then we, we know that everybody’s ready, then we do the scene.
And especially because, you know, you never record the sound while we do these scenes, so they’re able to direct it. And this again, in the beginning, wasn’t there. And that was. It was why it was hard. Cause we were just sort of doing stuff and sometimes it wasn’t even a shot, but then as a sugar on a director’s and and especially a producing director who would shoot a lot of in German and he would really get that and go, okay, so.
So during a take even go, okay, swim, lower, swim, lower. Okay. One more hit from, you know, then, okay, Ben, go, go underneath her, you know, and then they would really guide it because we didn’t realize that the blessing or the curse was also a blessing. Right. So the fact that you can’t record sound underneath was brilliant.
So the directors could guide us and be our eyes, especially in those. Fight scenes where we didn’t have it. And um, I do think that’s. I would say sometimes I really, I would love a big, big money network or whatever, invest in a really top, top end mermaid mythology show because, Oh my God, the possibilities could be so.
Marvelous now with the things, our team anyway, got to know. But so to have somebody communicate that stuff, and if you then have people who kind of know each other, I’m talking camera and actor, you could choreograph the most incredible things, and, and work really smoothly together. And that’s kind of then what evolved.
By season three, where we had, of course it couldn’t be long because of money, but the, the fight scenes that we did have, they were, they were really brilliant. They were with actual weapons, underwater. Everybody had Spears and staffs and I mean we shot it in bits obviously, but. We actually choreograph things that were no longer scrapping things.
We, as in like just trying to bite and fight each other, we actually, um, Taking swings. Like we came up with this because by then as well, we were just sort of all, very much water rats. So we came up with ways of like, like blocking and I, I screwed drive a twist, turn, swim this out of you. And then I attack you from the left and then I tumble over you and pull you back.
And like, we got really. Creative. And obviously I think some, you know, we were very enthusiastic. We all knew so much. The problem was a bit time. We couldn’t make a very long war scene with many fights. And at the end of the day, you only, I told you earlier, right? Like the moment you get something, that’s remotely close to what you wanted.
They say, cut, let’s move on. So, and in my dream, I, I, I was like, please let us. Gave you more moves, like let’s give us, you know, give you more things. Yeah. But you know, you have to be that’s, that’s just production. That’s just filming. But but by then it was, it was amazing. We could actually have underwater fight choreography that isn’t just scrap scrap.
I sort of hit. And then the guys and CGI will put me together. It was really, really thought out and I’m
Brett Stanley: [00:46:30] And how
much were you informing the, the choreography? Like, were you, were you kind of go like, Oh, I can do this. Or were they just kind of like, well, let’s do this.
Eline Powell: [00:46:36] So in the beginning, I I was very much relying on everyone around me. And then obviously, so, because I was just new. And also I think with other actors, what season three, we were so at home in the water, we could really connect, attribute, like there’s a big fight at the end with, with my character and sort of the, the enemy.
And that was And it was in reality, it was much longer and obviously got cut to like the bare essentials, but it was it was the choreographers of the stunt team CAMBA. I call it sort of like a skeleton thing. Like, okay, we go from point a to point B and then somehow, you know, She does. Yeah. And then we, we try it out.
And then in that process, then we, and I had already thought of this move for ages and she had thought of moves. She wanted to try. So by the end, it was really, they provided the skeleton, but we certainly had completely colored it in and fleshed it out and made it our own. Because we were at home and then, and we were a family by this point, the water team.
Cause you have to, because you’ve basically, you know, risking your lives for one another in a, in a way. So, so it was amazingly collaborative. And like I said, by the end, it was like, we pitched in as much as. Any stumped person would pitch in. And it was it was an amazing feeling. And then for instance, for the, the mating sections, which was also tricky because you don’t want to be too gross, but you kind of want to give this sense of, it’s another worldly experience than maybe what we know of.
And then that was really. The, the, the coordinator team, cause it had to do, I think a little bit with that challenge. Like how much do you show and how much is,
and all this stuff. But, so we worked with a lot of wire polling and trying, and this was really hard. It was trying to swim as one and.
Be like, basically try to sort of form one being as we spiraled on this wire. I mean, working with buyers is a whole other thing because you’re working with equalization. That’s kind of difficult because you’re being pulled down fast and you’re in.
Brett Stanley: [00:48:55] got through that change of depth and
Eline Powell: [00:48:56] Yeah. And you’re on camera the whole time. So you have to try to.
Either hide it or really, really equalized at the top. I was very, very fortunate. I’m kind of all right with equalizing, but even I found it it’s like one of the challenges with, with why sometimes, but like I said, we have an amazing team, so they always gave us the, the tricks. But so yeah, it’s, it’s it, it got better as it went on and I, I it’s, it’s so hard to, to keep your breath hold when it’s intense like that, but it’s also the, let’s be honest.
It’s also the part of the job that also gives the most satisfaction when we got the take and, you know, the, the tail whack was good in the face. So, you know, like also, you know, another element is the bloody hair. Bloody hair that gets in the way. And they’re like, yeah, Ilene, or I’m just saying me a lot, but you know, I’m also referring to all the fantastic other moms that did phenomenal things.
You know, you did a great take, but you has in your face again, you with the back of something. And then by the time you’ve like whipped it back in it’s out of your fake tooth and whatever. Your breath holds like a little bit mess and you don’t have enough leftover to really go for it. So you have to come up and then, and it’s just emission.
Brett Stanley: [00:50:12] Was that something that you got better at, like in terms of being efficient with your time, like getting their hair
Eline Powell: [00:50:17] Yeah. Yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:50:18] kind of techniques to
Eline Powell: [00:50:20] Yeah, certainly I think and I actually heard this in your podcast too. Something about, so when, for instance, when you enter the water already point your toes you know, so the moment you enter the water, you are half there basically. So that at any point you’re ready and it was the same with us.
Begin that entry to the water,
basically half ready and it any, I was absolutely not doing that at the beginning because you’re so overwhelmed with new things, but, but slowly you learn to have this kind of, how am I quickest, ready to make the most of my breath hold.
Vibe and for us, it was so you duct dive down and as you duck dive down and cause you have a mana fence, you can whip your way down, you pull your hair back. So by the time you come up, you’ll has back and you’re just ready to shoot and you can do your actions and your camera ready, figurative speed.
You know, and it’s this, it was the same with. You know your hands, you’re basically as you’re prepping or as the remotely saying camera rolling. You’re already putting yourself in the, the, the shoulder, the, the arms back, whatever. I feel like you can compare it. So to being a dancer, like you just got to do your prep. Before the downs begins a bit, like do your thing.
Brett Stanley: [00:51:43] And so, so since you’ve given, you’ve got quite a, quite an ensemble of people there, what was the biggest kind of scenes that you did? How many people were in the water at one time?
Eline Powell: [00:51:52] I think our biggest challenge was. We had sort of a War scene that was in season three. And it was all of the main moms. And by that, I I’m just going to kind of generalize and say the th the, the Bristol Cove clan which is about eight moms or something. And we all stand in group and turn around and then.
Prepare for war you know, have sort of a battle cry with the Spears. And that seems fairly simple, but it’s an, a really big challenge to get eight people of different Heights and everything to kind of dare I say, statically turn around at the same time without losing your, your point of view. Of depth, you know, so that to not go a bit higher or sink a bit lower and remain in camera for that reaction.
Especially when you realize that each person actually kind of has a safety diver there. So you’re really talking like 20, 30 people around you or in water. Cause they really, really, really keep us safe, especially it seems like that. So they use the scaffolding, luckily for us to stand on. But even then, we’re trying to get that motion of you swim turn round.
Right. You don’t just step. Yeah. Yeah. So, and those kinds of moments where we have to be in sync really hard because everyone is has to be so, so aware of each other, again, it’s where you get real marvelous, respect of those kinds of animals that live in schools, or, you know, like schools or fish or birds that fly as one and make.
And make a formations and things like that, that they, they really form some kind of one mind which is, again, we, as time went on, we got there. We also had a funeral for one of the characters and, we got there in the end. Like we sensed each other’s. Ways, like, there’s a, there’s a point where I think my character got attack to something and then all the, all the other memes rescue her.
So they had to in mid scene. So while it was already rolling, get a signal to swim down, come grab Bryn and fight off the bad guy, whatever. And then. Pull them up. So that was huge coordination for like five people. Cause if everyone’s already on the water, that’s one thing. But for people to swim down and come up into camera at the right point, it was mental and they did it.
They, they did it because they’re awesome. And they’re my friends and I love them, but they did it because slowly you do tune, tune into one another, again, it’s one of those brain clicks that I find kind of magical. But yeah, that was those, those things are always very challenging. It’s like more people
Brett Stanley: [00:54:50] feel amazing when it all comes together. Like there must be, you
Eline Powell: [00:54:53] you can’t you, yeah. That euphoric feeling of a day on tank, when you’ve nailed the scenes that you could see, the directors were sweating about for days beforehand. And, you know, we, we did it. It’s like. Oh my God, that it’s hard work, but the rewards that also the biggest, I’d say on tank days.
Brett Stanley: [00:55:15] I think one of the rewards too, must be knowing that you’re fans of the show, which I would say as a heavily mermaid community will, will love this scene. Like they will get a kick
Eline Powell: [00:55:25] Yeah. Yeah. I, I’m so grateful that it’s found some fans and, and some people uh, you know, people respond to it really well. And I, you know, we, we work so hard for ourselves, but also for anybody that. Well, what watches and wants to be kind of, you know, we w we want people to be taken away by this world.
And sometimes I wish they could see because, you know, things get cut and things get edited for the sake of commercials and things like that. And then your heart breaks, because sometimes we do takes, in one breath, like entire scenes in one breath. And then artistically of course, you’ve got to edit it together for, you know, whatever reason.
And so sometimes I wish the. The man-made fans could see all the beautiful work that these people do in the water. I’m not talking about me, but like everybody who does these amazing things, like we had a girl that played my daughter who was like, so like just a kid and she was just a natural and doing these insane things.
And, but, you know, You know, you can always wish for more in the end. You’re right. I’m very, very grateful that one, we were able to do it, something so unique. I don’t think that it happens on average as an actor to get all these experiences, all this training, the highs of that kind of, you know, underwater working and then to of course that the people or at least some people have enjoyed it and, and.
And liked it. That that was the whole point. So that’s, you know, that’s something to be very grateful for.
Brett Stanley: [00:56:58] Well, do you, were you aware of, of, of such a huge mermaid community before you started this project?
Eline Powell: [00:57:05] no, I wasn’t actually I only started to notice it when I got into it. And then I thought, is it because I’m more aware or is it really happening? And then slowly I realized, no, no, it’s really happening. Like, because I saw. You know, mermaid schools popping up, which I’m sorry, the 10, 10, 20 years ago, you know, when I was a teen, no, I wasn’t a teenager 20 years, but you know what I mean?
Like it wasn’t, it wasn’t really around and now it’s
Oh my goodness. Yes, it would have been the first thing I would have signed up for, I would have much preferred that than violin, between you and me. I’d much rather go to mommy class and violin. Nine-year-olds me that yeah. I’m, I’m so chuffed for anybody.
Who’s the kid. If they’ve got that near them, that’s just marvelous. Isn’t it? I think that’s great.
Brett Stanley: [00:57:58] No, I love it. I mean, I kind of, you know, I am part of that community because I shoot with a lot of these mermaids and a lot of these, these kind of talented people in that, in that community. And I just love it. It’s so it’s so inclusive. And so how does it feel knowing that you’re now going to be part of that for the rest of, you know,
Eline Powell: [00:58:17] Oh, well, deeply on it, you know, deeply, deeply grateful that I’m a slice of the mythology, a little drop in the mermaid world. You know, I’m very grateful. I was able to, give my 2 cents a bit not my 2 cents. Sorry. It’s not my, but you know what I mean? I was able to, to give a little bit too. Yeah, yeah.
Brett Stanley: [00:58:41] Yeah. As a group, as a show, you know, I mean, we’re talking to you right now, but, but we are including the, the
Eline Powell: [00:58:47] Yeah, I obviously, yeah. And also the men and honor honorary people all around. I also am. Aversely referring to all their beautiful work too.
Brett Stanley: [00:58:59] exactly. Yeah. It’s been so awesome having this chat with you
Eline Powell: [00:59:03] Uh, You too. Thank you so much.
Brett Stanley: [00:59:06] Yeah, of course.
Eline Powell: [00:59:07] Kindred spirits. Say.
Brett Stanley: [00:59:08] exactly. And have you, what have you got coming up? Have you, have you got any water projects in the work?
Eline Powell: [00:59:13] no, it’s too gray for that here at the minute. I’m and Then I’m hoping just, you know, as soon as I’m near any kind of big bodies of water too. Keep improving on my skills. And then also just keep, keep having those experiences of place, you know, where you feel kind of a freedom I’d love to really did. COVID doesn’t allow trout any kind of travel, but I would love to just go back to Vancouver and visit the people there.
And And do some cool, diving trips with Roberta and Brayden last time they took me to like the kelp forest. I mean, that was just magical, you know? Oh my goodness. What a, just a fairy tale world. Yeah, something like that. I would love to do when I’m next, able to travel. That would be marvelous.
Brett Stanley: [01:00:07] Yeah, I do feel like there’s going to be a lot of pent up water
energy in the world, as soon as things open up, you know? Awesome. Well, thanks so much. And, and
Eline Powell: [01:00:16] Cheers. Yeah. Thank you for inviting me.