In episode #53 host Brett Stanley chats with freedive champion, film maker, and underwater performer Julie Gautier.
Julie’s films are a beautifully visual insight into not just the mind of a freediver, but also into the powerful messages that water can convey through imagery and dance. She talks about her journey from freediver to film maker, and we chat about some of the amazing locations she’s been diving – including swimming with sleeping Sperm Whales.
About Julie Gautier – Underwater Performer & Filmmaker
Based in Nice (France) since the age 26, Julie Gautier started creating artistic underwater videos that bring a new look on the marine world. Her strength comes from using freediving to work on each side of the camera. Being completely self-taught, she draws inspiration from dance, comics, and cinema.
AMA is one of her most accomplished works.
Apart from her work on AMA, Julie Gautier’s filmography includes Ever Bio Cosmetics, Panerai Traits, and more. Her film One Breath Around the World has been featured in National Geographic’s Short Film Showcase and is critically acclaimed. You can check her out @juliegautier.nery.
Where her love for freediving starts
Born on the island of Reunion, from a mother dancer and an underwater hunter dad, Julie Gautier grew up in the water. From the age of 11, she joined her father during his fishing and freediving sessions. At that time, she only knew freediving as a means for fishing and not as a discipline. It was not until 18 years old, after her father saw an article about two famous freedivers from Reunion, that she joined a diving club and discovered freediving as a sport in its own right.
Freediving as a means, not a discipline
Julie Gautier is in her twenties when she discovered freediving competitions. After her registration, she followed a training for 1 year and represented Reunion at the 2000 world championships held in Nice before stopping the competition for 5 years. After obtaining a STAPS license, the Reunionese flies away from her homeland to join the city and pursue a master of Aquaculture Project Management. It is at this time she meets her partner, Guillaume Néry, the world champion of freediving. After meeting him, Julie decides to go back to freediving competitions with its demanding training. She then manages, for two years in a row, to break the record of France in constant weight by descending respectively to 65 and 68 meters deep. However, despite her consecutive achievements, the young woman understands that the competitive world of apnea does not suit her. She does not feel fulfilled. And for good reason, the practice of apnea in competition is just the opposite of what apnea represents for her, ie the sensations of freedom above all. Nevertheless, Julie Gautier remains aware that her career must revolve around water and apnea, something she will succeed in doing by combining all her passions, dance, apnea and image.
Freediver, director, model and dancer
Julie Gautier is a woman who likes to touch and to be interested in everything. While practicing apnea at the professional level, Gregory Colbert, a director and photographer, understood her talents. The latter was looking for a model capable of dancing and feeling at ease while freediving in order to appear in his exhibition “Ashes and Snow”. Seduced by this proposal, the freediver, will travel the world to dance with the most beautiful and majestic marine specimens for 5 years. This experience represents her first contact with underwater photography. Later, the Reunionese, will have realize her true passion during the realization of Free Fall, her first short film in which she follows her husband in Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas. Really unexpected, this short film now has nearly 27 million views on the web. A very surprising and unepected success for the young woman who understands that the underwater movie making is an area that suits her best.
In parallel with the release of Free Fall, the freediving couple created Les Films Engloutis, a diving movie production company that allows them to bring together their projects and better structure their ideas. Even though, she had no affinity with the world of the movie making, these experiences and her meetings with Gregory Colbert and Jacques Ballard allowed her to have another artistic look but also to give her the confidence and the desire to write and film. It is at this moment that the aspiring director starts writing Narcose, a short film released in 2014 and based on the hallucinations that Guillaume experienced during diving.
Today, Julie Gautier created six underwater videos and movies. The two main projects were the realization in 2015 of the famous underwater clip Runnin Naughty Boy, which is a music video underwater clip staring Beyonce and Arrow Benjamin but also her memorable short film, Ama, and Narcisse released last year.
With her latest short film, the apneist director, seeks to entrust her pain through an underwater dance movie which is rich in emotions. However, this is not the only thing Julie Gautier is trying to show with this short film. It seeks to help women find their unravelled abilities but also to maximize the underwater movements through courses to raise awareness of the feeling of lightness that underwater dance can give.
Ep 53 – Julie Gautier
[00:00:00] Brett Stanley: Welcome back to the underwater podcast. And this week I’m talking to free dive champion filmmaker and underwater performer. Julie got
Julie’s films are a beautifully, visually insight into not just the mind of a free diver, but also the powerful messages that water can convey through imagery and dance. She talks about her journey from free diver to filmmaker. And we chat about some of the amazing places that she’s been diving, including swimming with sperm whales. All right let’s dive in
Julie, welcome to the Underwater Podcast.
[00:01:02] Julie Gautier: Hello.
[00:01:03] Brett Stanley: How are you?
[00:01:04] Julie Gautier: I’m very good.
[00:01:05] Brett Stanley: It’s great to have you on the show. I’ve been such a fan of your work for so many years. How did you get into creating these amazing films that you’ve created?
[00:01:13] Julie Gautier: Wow, like a that’s a small uh, question and a big answer. So, how did I stop? I grew up in Reunion Island. It’s a French island in the Indian Ocean nearby Madagascar. So I grew up surrounded, you know, by water. So I was like really into the water since my really young age. And my father was a spear fisherman, so he was sp fishing fishes.
So he was really loving the sea and And when I was 11 I started to go spearfish with him. So I got into the underwater world and I got into using free diving to visit the oceans. And it’s only a long time after, I mean, when I was 18 that I discovered that free diving was actually a real discipline and that there was like competitions and stuff.
So I moved to competition and I broke like two French records and and I did that for five years. After I got a bit tired of it and I was missing my, you know, relationship I had with water, like using freed diving as a skill to do something else and not as a goal. So I quit a competition for one year and I was you know asking myself, Okay, I, I do have this ability to stay on the water, but what else can I do with it?
And one day someone put a camera in my hand and told me, Okay, let’s make a movie. I said, What,
uh, how can I do that? You know, anything about filming, about camera? Nothing about films, making films and we made actually the free fall video. I dunno if you’ve seen it. It’s my first one. It went out in 2010 and it’s ri Jumping in the Dean’s Blue Hole in The Bahamas.
And this movie went viral. And really,
[00:03:20] Brett Stanley: did see that.
[00:03:21] Julie Gautier: Yes, gave me the confidence to move forward and, and write knuckles and, you know, everything happened. Then after that,
[00:03:30] Brett Stanley: That, that’s amazing cuz the, I remember when that when that short film came out, the the free fall one. And it kind of was mind blowing to me cuz I hadn’t really, you know, I, I’ve been in the water all my life since I was a kid, but I’d never really had much experience with the whole free diving thing.
And so seeing. Kind of like base jump off the side of Dean’s Blue hole and, and the filming of it and then that story, and then watching him climb back out again. That was Mind blog. I’d never seen anything like that before.
[00:03:57] Julie Gautier: I think it was a bit of a premierer. You know, I think we brought something different to the underwater filming and to the underwater world and the way we were showing it. It was not a documentary, it was not a complete fiction. It was a big mix of both. And. It was just only what we were. I mean, we love to play in the water and to do this, and we just decided to to do something funny about it.
And we didn’t really be at all expect that much from it. We knew. That people from the free diving world would love it, but when we put it online, and it went like all over the world and it touches not only free divers, but people loving the ocean and even more, I mean people that had nothing to do with the ocean and that was kind of crazy.
[00:04:51] Brett Stanley: I think you, you’re right there. Like the, the way it transcended different groups I think was, was one of the main draws of it. You know, It had this amazing. Soundtrack, Let the music was really compelling. And then you have, you know, him sort of skydiving to the, to, to kind of, to the bottom of this hole and then basically rock climbing his way back out again.
And, and as someone who’s done rock climbing, you know, since I was a kid as well, it really kind of played to that of like, Oh, I’d never really thought about climbing underwater. Like I always thought of underwater being, you know, free for, you know, sort of floating and stuff. But being able
to kind of then pull yourself back.
[00:05:26] Julie Gautier: Yeah, because I am a rock climber also.
[00:05:29] Brett Stanley: Oh, yeah. Yeah. So that
[00:05:31] Julie Gautier: I did a of work exactly . So I was telling me, yeah, this is how you should do and really use your uh, your fridges and your hands and and uh, yeah, Yeah. That’s why I think people can relate to it because I, I, I did a lot of that also on.
[00:05:45] Brett Stanley: I think what what’s beautiful about your work especially with UN Go is is you do kind of highlight these different aspects of the underwater experience, you know, like rock climbing, underwater, and you know, sort of running in the um, in the current and you know, being upside down in your latest film.
I think you really kind of show things that people have not really seen.
[00:06:06] Julie Gautier: Mm. We’re trying to just show that we come from that world and us being we live on land, but we can do the same thing in the water. And it’s, it’s also an element where we come from and we just forgot about it.
[00:06:21] Brett Stanley: Yeah, exactly. And I, I think you are kind of Like bringing it back to people. I think people kind of, you know, like they understand that underwater is, is different, but also the same at the same time. But I feel like you’re kind of reminding people of the similarities that that can be between land and water
[00:06:39] Julie Gautier: I hope so.
[00:06:41] Brett Stanley: That’s great. Yeah. So once you had that, that sort of success, that kind of viral with that film, what, what was your next step? What did you do?
[00:06:49] Julie Gautier: Then I had this idea in mind. I mean, it, it was like two years that I was with Gam. And all of a sudden he started to tell me about these visions he had when he was deep diving. You know, after 90 meters of depth, you start to have hallucination. And actually it was not well known at that time, and he never told me about that.
And all of a sudden it. Started to tell me about all this halluc hallucination he had. So the first one was his first record, I think it was like 86 or 89 meters. And he saw this gremlins. You know, shouting and yelling at him in front of him. Uh, Then he said another time, Yeah. So it’s in the movie.
Yeah. . And then he said, Yeah, I saw us getting married. So. A lot of different things like this. And every time he was telling me a story like that, I was just, I could picture it in my head and I was saying, Wow, that could be like, wonderful to, to make it in a, in a small fiction. And just to show not only the performance of a, of a deep dive, but also what’s happening inside, what’s happening in the mine.
And it will. Allowing me to get crazy and to use my creativity. So I invented a wedding underwater. I was thinking, okay, how am I gonna do the, the gremlins? And as I’m, I’m complete completely fan of comics. They said I decided to to do it in in 2d animation. And, and compile I mean of all of these like, crazy idea of, you know, also these dreams that you have when you run and you just, you, you just, Cannot move forward and you so slow, and it’s exactly the feeling you have in the water.
So I mixed all of this and I, I, I made the, and, and I wrote and made this the first for me, it was my really first movie because, you know, freefall was just something we did like uh, Um, like a vacation movie. We were editing an iMovie every day, which it took us like four days. And we were shooting uh, reviewing the, the image and saying, Okay, we missed this and that.
So we go back and so the na naco was a lot more professional. I mean, I wrote it. What all the, the angles and everything I needed. I mean, I, I had a lot of protagonist playing on it. It was a, a, a really big job. I also did the music and editing, and it was a completely new world for me that I discovered.
[00:09:19] Brett Stanley: Yeah. And so was this the first one that you. Jacques Ballad as well. The, the cinematographer.
[00:09:26] Julie Gautier: It, it’s actually thanks to him because I had this idea. Okay. I knew, I don’t know how, actually how to write the storyboard and to write the script. But I, I didn’t really know how to plan. To plan a a shooting. So with, with with Jack, we were working for five years on a amazing project called Ashes and Snow, with a quite famous artist.
And he was the assistant camera and I was a modeling actually for the guy. And we got good, good friend. Yeah, we were very good friend and. Told him about the idea. He said, Well, Julie, that’s wonderful. I’m gonna help you. So he found the everything for me, the cameras and the people, and how to plan and to write.
He, I mean, without him, I, I wouldn’t have been able to do this first movie and maybe not the rest.
[00:10:17] Brett Stanley: So that really kind of, kind of pushed you into this sphere. Like it kind of opened it up and gave you access to the, the, the skills and the techniques to kind of put these films together.
[00:10:27] Julie Gautier: Yeah, exactly, because, you know I’m not coming from that world and I didn’t know anything about it. So it’s, it’s I was a bit shy, you know, to enter this world. It’s quite special. So I really need, needed someone to guide me and you know, I remember. Writing this this, the, the script. I said, Okay, the most difficult thing to make is the wedding.
If I can. Achieve the wedding. If I love it, if it’s, it’s, if it’s beautiful, I’m gonna be able to make the entire movie. So , I called Jack, I said, Okay, Jack, please help me to do this. If we can manage to do it I’m do, I’m doing the entire piece. If not, I quit. And we did it one year. I the official shooting.
It was the end of the summer. I just called all my friends and we plan, you know, all the costumes and stuff and it was amazing. It was amazing because all the people were so happy to do something like this, to do something different than only free diving on the rope or, you know, it was really a completely new experience for everyone, and we had so much fun, and the result was so amazing that I said, Okay, well let’s do it
[00:11:39] Brett Stanley: Yeah, totally. And it, and it’s such a creative kind of step outside the box for sort of free dive films as well. Like it is such a it’s more surreal.
[00:11:47] Julie Gautier: Yeah, completely. It’s, it’s complete fiction. It’s what I love about it because I, I could be really creative and, you know, I, I also dance, My mother is a dance teacher, so my father’s spear fisher, my mother dance teacher. You give me a camera and then I, I make dance on the water. I mean, it, it’s really part of my identity and my heritage.
[00:12:06] Brett Stanley: Well, that sort of leads me into ama, which is one of your later films. Was that your first underwater dance film?
[00:12:13] Julie Gautier: Yeah, completely. And well, the first time I appeared in front of the camera, actually,
[00:12:18] Brett Stanley: Ah, right.
[00:12:20] Julie Gautier: So. Yeah, and the fact is also that I feel on breast hold, . So I think this is what makes my movies a bit different is because the way I move on the water, I’m so free I’m like a drone on the water and it gives the feeling to the viewer.
That you were into the water. I think it’s very different for point of view of a scuba diver that Yeah, I mean, you are more slow. You cannot go up and down. And you are stable static, and it is I mean the animal or the. The action that is moving in front of you, but me being so free on breast hold, I can also move and move around.
And it, it gives a lot of dynamic and life. I think. And, and maybe this is why I, I had so much attention on my movies because it is also bringing a lot of emotion to the.
[00:13:15] Brett Stanley: Yeah, I think you’re right. Like it is, it is such a different kind of camera movement. And body movement because when you are on scuba, you, you know, obviously you can’t go up and down as much as you can on free dive. So you can do these long tracking shots as the free diver comes up, or you can kind of get that sense of, of, of ascending in the, in the water, which you can’t really get on scuba.
[00:13:36] Julie Gautier: So what do you feel
[00:13:39] Brett Stanley: I, I feel so I, I kind of really hate filming on scuba just because I, it, it feels very fixed and, you know, clunky, you know, you’re not very agile in the water. But on free dive and my breath hold isn’t the best. So I don’t, you know, I can’t do it as much as I, I would like to. But having that freedom to kind of move, you know, in all three dimensions is is.
[00:14:00] Julie Gautier: And I also have a very special and useful skill is that I don’t need to equalize with my hand. So I don’t need to pinch my nose, so I don’t need, Yeah. So I can hold onto the camera all the way down. So I had, that’s why my, my, my filming is so stable also, I guess.
[00:14:21] Brett Stanley: Yeah, cuz you got both hands on the camera, the whole.
[00:14:24] Julie Gautier: Yep.
[00:14:25] Brett Stanley: It’s a, it’s an amazing thing. And I think I think what you guys bring to the free dive, whether it’s in front of the camera, behind, I think that’s, you know, it definitely feels like it’s free dive. It feels like it’s free. It doesn’t feel like it’s constrained at all. And the, the many projects you guys have done I think for people like myself who have.
A love of being underwater, but, but maybe not the skills to stay down for long. I feel like your films are so inspiring and kind of make me want to get better at it so I can experience what you guys are experiencing.
[00:14:58] Julie Gautier: Thank you so much. I think we were actually. Took a lot of people into free diving, thanks to our movies.
[00:15:06] Brett Stanley: Oh, totally. I think you’ve definitely kinda opened it up and, and, and made it seem more than just an extreme sport. I think you guys make it look fun.
[00:15:15] Julie Gautier: Mm. It is
[00:15:17] Brett Stanley: Yeah, I mean the, the video you guys did for Beyonce the running video like that, you know, in the current kind of running along the bottom and all that sort of stuff, that just looks like an awesome time. Like it’s that I want to do that.
[00:15:29] Julie Gautier: Yeah, it is very nice. We were doing a fun dive actually in this current and when we, when we did it, we said, Whoa, that’s an amazing experience. It’s crazy. Beautiful. Let’s. Use and use it and, and make something, something around it. It it mostly the way where I work address, like experience something and I just want to share it and find a artistic way to, just to show it.
[00:15:57] Brett Stanley: And I think that’s the most true expression of creativity is, is having that, you know, you just wanting to share this experience you’ve had and kind of make it as realistic or as powerful as possible. All. So I think with ama, which was your kind of first time in front of the camera I feel like this kind of blew up as well, right? Like it, it was such a visual kind of, it’s so minimal, but at the same time it’s so captivating. What was the response to that?
[00:16:24] Julie Gautier: It was amazing. I don’t even believe now how I could express so much feeling I could, how I could touch people the way I really wanted to. I mean, I, I, I put so much personal feelings in that movie and I wasn’t expecting people to understand it so much. And, and even now when people tell me, I, I, I watch Amma, I just cry and, but I cry and I feel so good about it.
I already met that movie to free a pain to talk about something that was really deep inside me and just to tell the people that, okay pain is part of life and we can surrender and we can overcome it. And it’s okay to talk to, to talk about it. And it’s good because the only way. I could heal from that was to, to share it and to talk about it.
And it, it was the only issue. And this is why also I, I choose movement because I didn’t want it to actually say my own pain. I just, because we all have something very difficult that happened was so it’s like universal and I really. Everyone to kind of put their own feeling into the film and, and it’s amazing how it worked. Do you tell me, , what did you feel about
[00:17:46] Brett Stanley: No, absolutely. And, and I, I think, you know, dance for me and is, is kind of like visual poetry, you know, It doesn’t, it’s not like telling you a story in words where you kind of have the path prescribed to you. I think dance is very suggestive and you make of it what you want. But when I first saw this film, The minimals of it, this, that, you know, it’s that basically in this white box and
[00:18:13] Julie Gautier: mm.
[00:18:14] Brett Stanley: slowness of your movements and how you restrain yourself.
I, I think it’s about halfway through the film that you actually leave the ground and actually start to bounce in and start to float. And, and for me I was like, I kind of, I think I had a little kind of like I cried out cuz it was like you had saved that for so long and kind of teased it. It was amazing.
[00:18:36] Julie Gautier: What is the power of it? Actually, because I had this idea for eight years in my head. I, I knew I wanted to, to, to take the movement, the dance movement into the water, but for that, I needed the floor because dance is, is about being grounded, you know, and, and do some drums, but, all the time using the floor.
And I, there were was like searching online and there was a lot of things artistic underwater movement thing, but always in midwater. So I, what I wanted to do me is, you know, you use the floor, you use the weight to then deliver and just fly. And this is what makes it so, so strong is because you, you spend so much time on the floor and then you fly.
That’s amazing. It’s an amazing feeling also.
[00:19:27] Brett Stanley: Well, I think that was the beauty of it, was the restraint and it was such a confusing thing to watch and I think someone who didn’t know much about the under. A world would probably think, you know, this was probably not underwater until you leave the the ground and then it’s like, Oh, hang on, this has changed.
[00:19:45] Julie Gautier: Yeah, I wanted to make the water disappear. That’s why at the beginning I’m very ec static and try to not make bubbles at all. And I have this like crystal clear water and I really wanted the people to also focus on the movement. And this is why I chose to have a really basic background. So you, you are not tempted to, to look at what’s happening around, I mean,
[00:20:08] Brett Stanley: Oh, totally. I mean, you’ve taken all the distractions away, even in terms of bubbles, you know, it’s very rare that, that they’re even in frame.
[00:20:15] Julie Gautier: yeah, yeah, yeah. I have a special technique also, . I am, I, I feel my sinus with water. When I, I, I go down, I just lift my head and all the water goes inside the sinus, so all the, all the airs out. So when I, I move, there’s no more bubbles.
[00:20:33] Brett Stanley: So well, so that’s another question I had for you was you seem so negatively buoyant in this part, how it was, Is it just because it’s so deep or are you wearing weights or have you just let out all your air? What, what is your technique to kind of keep that? Sort of stability.
[00:20:49] Julie Gautier: First thing is the depths. So it’s 10 meters. When I was thinking about the movie, I was training into a five meters pool. So I had to put a lot of weight on and it was quite difficult. And then I found out about that pool that Y 40 is the deepest pool in the world and it has a 40 meters.
Um, Tunnel. But uh, there was also this 10 meters flat button that was amazing. So when I saw the pool, I said, Oh my God, that’s, that’s the place. So 10 meters also already. So you are less buoyant. Then I go down, lift my head. Fill my signers and I blow some bubbles. So I’m, I’m I, I’m less buoyant. You know, I, I have less air in my lungs and I do have a homemade weight cassette around the, my waist, under the dress.
It’s what, like about one kilo? Yeah.
[00:21:39] Brett Stanley: Oh, okay. Yeah. So, so you’re in 10 meters, which is about 30 feet of water, which is kind of compressing everything and making you less buoy to start with. And then you’ve got a, a kilo, which I think is like two and a half pounds of weight on you.
[00:21:52] Julie Gautier: Hmm.
[00:21:53] Brett Stanley: and, and how long were the takes? Like how long doing all this movement and blowing some air out, could you actually stay down?
[00:22:00] Julie Gautier: Yeah, by the time I was leaving the surf, swimming down getting in position, put my hair in position, blowing bubbles and blah, blah, blah, dancing and come back up. I think it’s like two minute, 32 minutes average. And it was an all day of doing that.
[00:22:18] Brett Stanley: Quite exhausting.
[00:22:19] Julie Gautier: Yeah. Like maybe 30 takes.
[00:22:21] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Right. That’s, that’s pretty awesome. Um, Were you ever tempted to do it on scuba or that just didn’t even enter your mind?
[00:22:30] Julie Gautier: No. No, it. It’s, it never comes to my mind because you have to deal a lot with the bubbles you know, and you have to wait for all the bubbles to leave the frame because when you’re scuba you breeze down and you leave the frame and you have wait for the bubbles to, to, to leave. And I, I couldn’t have, I couldn’t be able to do the, all the jumps jumps up and come back down.
That would’ve been like, quite dangerous. So, I, I did it at Freedom and had the skill do it. Yeah.
[00:22:59] Brett Stanley: That’s incredible. And I think I, you know, I think knowing that you did this all on breath hold makes it even the more special, the more impressive, I think.
[00:23:08] Julie Gautier: Some people are touched by, by the performance, other, by the beauty, other, by the the emotions. It, it’s, it’s just fitting to a lot of people and I, I’m really happy about that. Different readings.
[00:23:23] Brett Stanley: Oh, it’s, it’s . I’m, I’m literally watching it now while we speak. Just on repeat, I’m just kind of watching, you know, sort of seeing what you’re doing and and the fact that it’s done without, You know, it’s done practically. It’s not like it’s computer generated or you were using, you know um, like wires or anything like it, It is so impressive.
And that big jump you do sort of just towards the end where you, you probably get like five, six meters in the air.
[00:23:45] Julie Gautier: for this one, I, I, I really, I relieved the, the weight you know, so I could play with that also, because if I had too much weight, I couldn’t jump so high, so I just leave the weights. I could jump a lot higher and be able to, to fall back down as like some little tricks. really useful.
[00:24:04] Brett Stanley: I think that’s kind of what I love about your work is that there are these little tricks and it kind of, for me as, as a as a creative, and I’m trying to work out how you did it, You know, I’m trying to look at it and go, What has she done here? Like, what, what technique is this? You know? So and I think that kind of takes us pretty, pretty nicely into Nassis, which is your latest film.
Which again, is. Spending minds a little bit.
[00:24:26] Julie Gautier: Mm,
[00:24:27] Brett Stanley: So, So tell us about that one. Tell us about na.
[00:24:29] Julie Gautier: So Nas was done uh, during Covid the third lockdown. And Flo Young Fisher that is a friend and that he’s owning the behind the mask production. They do a lot of underwater beautiful stuff also. And since a long time we know each other and we wanted to work together, but we didn’t really have the chance to.
And he called me, he said, Hey, Julia, I have this idea. Setting and Y 40 s empty and it’s locked down. So what do you think about We go there, We spent one week and we try things and we do something together. I said, Yeah, sure, why not ? So I arrived and he had this entire set. That was under the bridge that is crossing the pool.
Y 40 is crossed by the tunnel full of air where you walk actually to go to the change room. And you are in the tunnel full of air and you can see what’s happening in the pool. And of course, that’s a floor. And Uhon put a light under the tunnel, so upside down. And that was a set this beautiful light.
And he said, Yeah, I asked for a lot of front free divers to do something under the tunnel. In, in this light and nobody was actually able to perform uh, more than three seconds under the bridge. I think it’s why, I guess like stability, aib, I don’t know. Uh, But it was very difficult for them to perform upside down under the tunnel.
So he said, Yeah, maybe you can do this and that. And I just uh, was, I went down and played around and stayed for like two, two minutes and a half dancing, and he came back up. He was like, You’re. You’re fucking kidding me. I said, What are you, Are you deceived? Do you want, do you want me to do more? I was like, Ah, come on,
He, yeah, it was so easy. He couldn’t really expect more. And so this is how I started and it was a lot of improv and um, what’s. It’s because he’s on scuba. So the camera is stuck under the bridge. Okay. everything is stuck under the bridge. The camera, the light, and I have to go down, flip and put my feet under the bridge and be the, it’s completely the opposite of Amma.
I had to be as much buoyant as I could so I could float and be very stable on the. Okay. And uh, flow is blow, is is breathing, and as it breathing is breathing. That’s actually um, and that, that’s a making of eye if you want see it and.
[00:27:11] Brett Stanley: I did what?
[00:27:12] Julie Gautier: There’s a window and this window filled with air.
There was a air pocket in this window and it became a mirror. And this is how the mirror appeared. And we said, Whoa, that’s amazing. Let’s use it. And of course uh, Came to our mind, the Nas tale Nas, that was the guy that fell in love with himself and, and ran into his own image. And I said, Yeah, well, that’s a beautiful story to tell about the situation that we are facing humanity facing extinction.
We are destroying everything. And this is what we, we wanted to tell about the this project. And so we. We walked around that. And the idea is, and this is why we’re changing a lot of direction, is just to say that if we have another point of view, if we change the way we thi we see things we can reverse the situation.
And, you know, all of this happens because a group of friends had the idea to come together and work on, on something, and it’s.
[00:28:12] Brett Stanley: I think that’s a beautiful story as well of, you know, like this. Of something that that came from a small idea and then, you know, through the teamwork you kind of created something bigger than yourselves.
[00:28:24] Julie Gautier: Yeah. Uh, What’s amazing also, I mean it, what meant to be, it was in March and in March is the season for Nas Flower . So there was narcs, like real narcs because narcs is a flower also all over the place, and this is why at the end of the movie you have the flower just
to point out.
[00:28:45] Brett Stanley: I did wonder.
[00:28:45] Julie Gautier: Yeah.
Yeah. It’s a Nas
[00:28:49] Brett Stanley: That’s beautiful. It is. Again, as I said before, it is a mind blowing. Shot. And it is so simple as like, Alma is so simple. This is so simple as well. And it had me looking at it and trying to overthink how it was done. You know, I was thinking you guys built a platform and then in that platform was a whole, and you know, all this sort of stuff.
And then I, the behind the scenes and I’m like, Oh my God, they just used the bridge underneath and it’s just a window. Like it is so simple, but it’s so
[00:29:22] Julie Gautier: Yeah. I think this is the idea for, I want to say that just open your eyes and your, your heart to what is surrounding you, and the magic happens. And sometime maybe leave the brain where it is and go deeper into the heart and stop thinking.
[00:29:41] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Oh, it’s a great message. And I think that’s what I, that’s what I love about the underwater is that it makes me think of things that I don’t usually think of. You know, I think, you know, when I’m shooting or creating stuff, I’m taking stuff underwater that’s not meant to be down there. I’m doing things, you know, putting people in positions that they’re not normally in, and all these things kind of spark something in me to go, Oh, what if we do this and we can.
Better. We can make this different if we just kind of change things this way and it’s not something that I tend to do on land. And so the underwater kind of makes it easier to create. For me, it’s in, it’s interesting.
[00:30:17] Julie Gautier: Yeah, I think water brings back the magic of life that we all forgot about. We can create, like, we can fly, we can dance upside down. We can have shower of bubbles coming from the sky down. Reverse things I mean, and do it for real. I mean, we don’t need like amazing CG whatever. Just, It’s just possible in real life.
[00:30:40] Brett Stanley: Do you tend to feel like you are a child when you go underwater? Do you feel more childlike and, and the, the responsibilities d.
[00:30:49] Julie Gautier: yeah, Completely. I mean, when I’m in the water, I just don’t think about. Any problems and you’re just so amazed by the beauty and you feel so good and there’s so many things to experience or not experience. It’s so peaceful. I mean, and basically when you free dive, you stop. Thinking you are down there and your body is in an alert mode, but also focus on just the heartbeat and slowing down the movement and the just being peaceful.
[00:31:25] Brett Stanley: I think that’s the thing, it’s kind of tunnel vision, like it kind of narrows you down. That’s what I kind of love about it for myself is it makes my brain stop for a minute.
[00:31:34] Julie Gautier: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
[00:31:35] Brett Stanley: What sort of techniques do you have for, for getting to that space? So before you do go under and, and sort of do the free diving, what, what sort of techniques are you
[00:31:44] Julie Gautier: um,
[00:31:45] Brett Stanley: To get yourself into the right head?
[00:31:47] Julie Gautier: I think I try to slow down my life on land already because so it’s not too much of a shock if you are a complicated, completely excited and you jump into the water and then you, you, you won’t feel good. You have also to slow down a bit before you go just to get your body and mind ready for the dive.
The immersion and um, yeah, just also breeze very slowly. There’s no like, amazing techniques. Only if you want to go to a hundred meters, you know, , you have a lot of skills to, to, to learn that. Just only slowing down, slow down the b breathing and focused on the excelling. And I think this is the main lesson I learned from the ocean is like excelling.
So emptying to be able to feel. And it’s exactly what we are not doing on land. I mean, we feel we fill our lives our time, we go very, we’re very quick. We want to do everything but when something is full there’s no more you can put. I mean, if you empty, if you give space this is where you can bring new stuff in your, in your life and you can increase space inside you.
And it’s exactly what’s happening in the water. I mean, To get ready to a dive, to get ready to, to stay as long as you can and to be comfortable. You just have to learn to excel as much as possible so you can feel your lungs with new fresh air. So new fresh ideas. New fresh, where things, things sinks.
I think it’s best lesson Water can teach us.
[00:33:24] Brett Stanley: I think that’s so important too, is, and it’s just something that I’ve personally only sort of come to realize is that, like you say, we, we tend to try and breathe in as much as we can. And not thinking about cleaning ourselves out in between, you know, and, and sort of creating space and kind of, and making room in there for the new, new clean stuff to come in.
[00:33:45] Julie Gautier: Yep.
[00:33:45] Brett Stanley: Was that something that you kind of came to yourself? Was that something that was taught to you or was this just something that you. Kind of spiritually or well came to yourself in terms of, of that sort of process?
[00:34:00] Julie Gautier: I think life experience and sorrow, teach, teach me that I think. as, As for ama, you know we need sorrow. We need this time where everything stops and there’s a break. Big break in our lives in order to take a new step into life. And also, again, in our society, we are afraid of that. We don’t, we want to have a perfect life with.
No pain and no aging and no nothing. But I mean, if we don’t have that, we don’t grow. And yeah, it’s, it’s at that time where my, my life suddenly changed that I, I understood I was, I was feeling this, this void into me, and it felt lost, but all of a sudden I realized, oh my God, void is also space.
And space is what’s makes, makes you able to, to go everywhere you want to. And then I related that to excelling and inspiration. And to be inspirational, you have to to empty before you feel.
[00:35:08] Brett Stanley: That’s such a beautiful way of looking at it and, and it is really taking that, you know, taking something that is sad and sorrowful and kind of seeing the good. and the, the beautiful and the, and the, the, the future in it. I, I love that. I think for me, water kind of, it, it, when I go onto water, it forces me to face some things within me, whether it’s a fear or a joy or, or something that I’m going through. I, I kind of find that once I’m under the water, I can only think of, you know, like a couple of things. And whatever bubbles to the surface feels like something that I need to deal with under
[00:35:45] Julie Gautier: Mm-hmm.
[00:35:46] Brett Stanley: And what I also find is that the process of holding my breath and as my breath kind of, you know, there’s the CO2 kind of builds up and my, my emotions change over that time. Like in your film Narcos, you know, even through that sort of experience and that transition, I feel like I’ve learnt something.
Even if I come up gasping for air there. A journey that I went through.
[00:36:09] Julie Gautier: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:09] Brett Stanley: Do you kind of find the same thing when you go underwater? Do you feel like you, every time you hold that breath and you push yourself or you go through some sort of journey and you kind of learn something,
[00:36:20] Julie Gautier: I think uh, especially when you do Deep diving you have to be so accurate. uh, It’s a long meditation. It’s really a. State of meditation when you go down because you cannot think about all the problems. You just have to focus and your, your body. I mean, your body makes you focus on the essential.
And the essential is what is save movements so you don’t lose energy. And uh, you dive not only into the depths, but you dive into yourself and of course what you find , what’s hidden inside of us. It’s not always pretty. And I mean, and this is why it’s so deep inside us because it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s hidden, but it’s so important to to look for it.
And yeah, completely being underwater brings you, that makes you come to the essential and to think about yourself and what you have deep.
[00:37:21] Brett Stanley: Yeah. It, it kind of gives you that mirror, like you were saying in, in Nassis. It’s, it’s that mirror of your own emotions. Like you’re down there with yourself. You’re not down there with anyone else. You’re down there with whatever you took with you.
[00:37:33] Julie Gautier: Yep. And you better be ready,
[00:37:36] Brett Stanley: Yeah, right. It, it is it is survival as well.
[00:37:39] Julie Gautier: Yeah.
[00:37:40] Brett Stanley: So what else have you got in the works? Have you got projects coming up or have you got things that you’re working on at the.
[00:37:46] Julie Gautier: Sure. I’m working in a new short film that is an ecologic fable about plastic waste. So it’s involving underwater dancer of course. That is representing the soul of the ocean and also humanity uh, facing a giant made of plastic waste. And uh, at the beginning, if uh, it’s a la Cause you know, when we started we, Plastic was amazing.
It was like the next big thing and we loved it and we didn’t really expect that it was gonna. A problem. So we as the, the dancer is meeting the giant, they start to dance together and have fun. And then the giant gets bigger and bigger and bigger and the dance change into a fight until the, the giant finally engulfed the the dancer And then there’s this we have to, you, you will have to follow up for the rest of the story.
[00:38:48] Brett Stanley: Yeah, You’d have to stay tuned. Yeah,
[00:38:53] Julie Gautier: And of course I want to make everything for real, so the giant will be a real giant. So we’re already building the costume and there will be a scuba diver in the costume with the, how do you call that? You know, like very long legs, artificial legs.
[00:39:10] Brett Stanley: Oh uh,
[00:39:11] Julie Gautier: So, Yeah, it’s gonna move like a puppet,
[00:39:14] Brett Stanley: Oh, great.
[00:39:15] Julie Gautier: so it’s quite challenging. Yeah,
[00:39:17] Brett Stanley: Th this is what I personally, in my work, I, I like to do things practically as well. I kind of make them for real. I don’t really. I get joy out of faking things or creating things in a computer. So this is what I love is, is hearing other people doing stuff. You know, the challenge of trying to pull something off in the, in a real way.
Um, And having people who want to do that with them, you know, who want to kind of do, It’s almost like a stunt.
[00:39:41] Julie Gautier: Mm-hmm. , It’s so easy now. It’s too easy. We have only that now. Like special ethics.
[00:39:46] Brett Stanley: Yeah, exactly. And I think people are kind of conditioned to kind of think that things are fake these days, you know? So like, especially with Arma, you know, that could have been done on a stage with you know, with, with wires and with a swing and a fan. But to do it underwater for real
[00:40:01] Julie Gautier: Mm.
[00:40:02] Brett Stanley: And, and have people
[00:40:03] Julie Gautier: And
[00:40:03] Brett Stanley: of get that it’s real.
[00:40:05] Julie Gautier: Yeah, it’s so funny because , when we launch free fall and then. Almost all our movies or my movies, I not say our, but yes, it’s our movies. I mean, it’s not only me. Yeah, it’s all my team. I, I see the comments. Sometimes I look at the comments and we have so much of, now this is all fake. This is green’s cream, and uh, They’re holding onto him and like, and there’s like, no, for free for, there’s like, there’s like 10 cameras at the same time filming and we’re like, What?
That’s so funny.
[00:40:38] Brett Stanley: That’s what, what kind of gets me about people who think this stuff is fake is that they don’t realize how harder it’s, It’s actually harder to do it, to fake it than it is just to do it for.
[00:40:48] Julie Gautier: Yeah. Yeah, they all argue together and it’s like, No. I can see here there’s a shadow that cannot be a real shadow, and you can see that.
[00:41:00] Brett Stanley: they’re seeing things that you never even saw yourself, and you made it. So so Julie, what, what kind of inspires you? Like what, what do you take inspiration from? Is it, is it music? Is it paintings? Is it, is it just other, other sources of artwork? Like what, what do you find gets you inspired?
[00:41:17] Julie Gautier: Life , traveling people and comics, comic book and movies. Of
course. Because what I, I think what I try to bring, and this is I think the, because I never learned, I don’t know what you’re not supposed to do. So I do it and I guess it’s a chance that I don’t, I never learned. And what I try, because I try to bring everything I see on movies and.
On tv do the cinema, and I tried to bring it into the water. I’m, I’m always watching like to a camera movement and stuff, and, and I tried to reproduce on the water. I don’t think people think too much about that. It’s like, It was like water wasn’t an another element, but sure it’s another element.
But you can take, you can learn so many things from, I mean everything that had been shot on land and just bring it into the water. Exactly like, like dance. I mean, I never, I didn’t try to do in midwater movement. I mean, if I wanna dance, I need to use the floor. I mean, when you dance on land, you let you, you dance on the floor.
So if you dance in the water, you need to use the floor.
[00:42:29] Brett Stanley: Yeah, I like that kind of approach. I like that idea of, you know, of, of kind of forcing yourself through your guidelines to kind of do something. You know, I need a floor, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna dance on the floor underwater. I’m not gonna float in the middle of the water like I’ve seen done before.
Like, I like that sort of stuff. Yeah. Do you have favorite locations that you to shoot in? Like, do you prefer shooting in a, in a tank or do you prefer shooting out in the, in the open ocean? What, What’s your
[00:42:56] Julie Gautier: Mm. It depends it depends. It’s easier to have a constraint environment like, you know, in the pool or you have visibility warm water. You can be very much creative, but in the open ocean, you can also discover so many things that you didn’t think. So that’s the magic of it. So the, the element and life and you know, everything from the water is also showing you a way that you wouldn’t have, think about.
I mean, the light is changing. The visibility changing, so many things are tending. So you, you have to adapt a lot and I love that. And you see from. One brush around the world all these like amazing underwater landscape that are not actually looking like underwater. And this is what I love.
My favorite places are not mainly beautiful underwater corals reef garden with a lot of fishes. I mean, diving in the cenotes, in in the Yucatan in Mexico. Is the most amazing thing you can do because it’s like, it’s like diving on another planet. It’s amazing.
[00:44:06] Brett Stanley: Oh, it’s beautiful down there that it is that, and it’s this like the most surreal place you could dive because you are, you know, you are kind of under the ground, but you’re in this crystal clear water. And there is such a, a, like a, an old feeling there. Like it is such an old soul in that land. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a beautiful
[00:44:24] Julie Gautier: I mean, you can feel all the spirits and the poof. It’s really special.
[00:44:30] Brett Stanley: I think that’s, that’s one of the things I really liked about the, the one breath around the world was seeing all these different locations, You know, it was sort of like a big montage. It was super cool. And seeing some of the locations that were, as you say, like not particularly traditionally beautiful, but you guys turning it into something that, Interesting and fascinating.
that was quite incredible. How long did it take you to film all that footage? Cause it’s, it’s so many different location.
[00:45:00] Julie Gautier: Uh, Actually we went for, we decided to go for a family trip. We didn’t wanted to go back and forth and take like a hundred planes. So with our daughter we quit friends and uh, rule him up and uh, decided to go to all these different places and it was like for six. Six months trip all around, staying bit more some to some places and discover new ones, but a lot of them were planned.
[00:45:30] Brett Stanley: Wow. So, so how were you traveling around? Was it, was it like, were you, were you getting planes or were you kind of on a boat for a
[00:45:35] Julie Gautier: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, setup was taking place in, be in between locations. But we were like staying uh, like have a, a bit some life experience where we were staying.
[00:45:48] Brett Stanley: And that’s kind of like a dream trip, right? Cuz you’re basically going to all the best places to dive in the world.
[00:45:54] Julie Gautier: Yeah. It was really beautiful and doing that as a family with our daughter was really.
[00:46:00] Brett Stanley: How old was your daughter?
[00:46:01] Julie Gautier: Uh, My I think it was five.
[00:46:05] Brett Stanley: Oh, okay. So she was old enough to enjoy it. Was she kind of diving with you as well?
[00:46:10] Julie Gautier: Yeah, I mean she, the first trip we, we did was in in Mauritius and we did the sperm wells. And I have like amazing images of her and me and she’s on my back. And we are in the middle of the pod of uh, sperm wells. Uh, She had like crazy experience.
[00:46:29] Brett Stanley: That’s not an experience most children get to have.
[00:46:32] Julie Gautier: Not really. When we, when we arrived to French Polynesia, she said, Oh mom, what animals are we gonna see? I said, Yeah, it’s the handbag wells. I said, Really? Again?
[00:46:46] Brett Stanley: She’s getting bored of things.
[00:46:48] Julie Gautier: Oh my God. But no, she’s not actually,
[00:46:55] Brett Stanley: does she love the water as much as you guys do?
[00:46:57] Julie Gautier: Yes, she does. But at the beginning, you know, as a free diving couples, we wanted to put her as a baby swimmer. She was like three months and she hated it. I had pictures of her . She, she looks like, my God, she’s really not enjoying. So, Really? Did we, We didn’t push we, but we were like, Oh my doesn’t like the water.
What are we do but didn’ts her. At course now she loves it.
[00:47:27] Brett Stanley: That’s great. Yeah. And, and so now like lots of family trips, does, does she get involved in the, in the filming as.
[00:47:35] Julie Gautier: In the filming. Uh, But we are separated now with Giam. So we all both have our life and he is actually now in French Polynesia with her every year he goes back there and they spent like two months and a half for home, back, world season. So you. She’s not so bored about handbags, . So she lives there.
[00:47:55] Brett Stanley: Not right
[00:47:55] Julie Gautier: I was in the, for shooting in the Cayman Islands, and I took her there filming with the Stingrays.
Uh, Yeah. Every time I, I can bring her, I, we, we take her to, to shooting drips.
[00:48:08] Brett Stanley: No, that’s amazing. It’s it kind of reminds me of the, the Castow family kind of growing up and the, the, the adventures they would’ve had.
[00:48:17] Julie Gautier: Yeah.
[00:48:17] Brett Stanley: Sorry, being very, very jealous of your daughter. I think the, the image of Freedivers with sperm whales, I think is, is one that is going to stay with me for a long time. I think that’s like one of my fantasies is to swim with the Sperm Wales.
That’s just such a, a, an. A unique kind of image. What was that like being with the sperm whale? Was that something that was hard to kind of do, or were they accepting of you guys being in the ward with them?
[00:48:45] Julie Gautier: So we always been very lucky in our filming. And it may also because we are always quite patient and respectful about life, but the animals but the sperm ways were very difficult to, to have we had a lot of fly. You know, but what we wanted to achieve was to have the sleeping sperm, whales, you know, sleeping straight vertical and to have the big bird.
So we had that, the two last days of shoot, and we extended the shoot. And on that last day the guy from the, from the boat spot, I don’t know how they do that. They can spot from over water. The sperm world sleeping. Okay. Well, so it just told us to,
[00:49:30] Brett Stanley: surface of the water or something.
[00:49:32] Julie Gautier: Yeah. The shad, I don’t know. So we just went really carefully in the water, and I think, No, I think, I’m sure because we are on breast hold.
We make, we make no noise, no bubbles, and we’re really fast into the water. They, they don’t have time to wake up or they don’t even realize we are here. And this is why we could we have, we could have this. But also for the pod. We were following this group from the early, early morning that day, but we decided not to go in the water when they were traveling.
And we waited until maybe, I dunno, five, six hours until we saw them gathering together and we saw them gathering and play. We waited again, then we sent Gia alone and then me and then the rest of the group, and we could stay two. We stayed like two hours with the pod, like being part of the pod. They were accepting us.
there were um, You know, doing the echolocation on us to understand what we, we, we were, and at, at some point I was like, I left the camera and I said, I just test enjoy. I mean, I don’t know where else to film now it’s . Ah, it was
[00:50:45] Brett Stanley: Yeah, totally.
[00:50:46] Julie Gautier: Yeah.
[00:50:47] Brett Stanley: Do you kind of look at your life and kind of go, How did I get here? Like how did I have this kind of amazing life?
[00:50:53] Julie Gautier: I think we all deserve and must deserve it. Just try to, Day by day. And I always, I’m always very thankful yeah. For all this beautiful experience. But it’s, it’s also a choice you know um, not easy to decide to uh, do something nobody teach you or something that nobody’s expecting from you.
And uh, I mean, it’s a lot of Yeah. Choices that you make in life, and also opportunities of course. But I, yeah, I’m very lucky, but I feel grateful for everything and um, and you have to take all the opportunities to, to dream and to do what you really feel you wanna do and what you love. Mm.
[00:51:38] Brett Stanley: You have to be, you have to be open to things and to say yes to stuff so that the, the dots can line up and you can have
[00:51:44] Julie Gautier: Step out. Yeah. Step out of the dog of money and uh, fame. And uh, I mean, it’s easy for me to do, to say that because now I also have that , but you know, from the beginning it was not that at all. I mean, I couldn’t live from what I was doing. I was just doing it because I enjoyed it.
[00:52:02] Brett Stanley: Yeah. Yeah. It wasn’t financially, it wasn’t your career at that point. It was just something that you’d loved to do,
[00:52:08] Julie Gautier: Yeah. Yeah. And lucky me, I mean, what about if I was dream about, about being an underwater film maker doing amazing dance film that would be worldwide, blah, blah, blah. Mm. That would have been like quite scary. I’m quite lucky that just all of this happened to me without really expecting it.
[00:52:30] Brett Stanley: Yeah, it wasn’t, You didn’t, Yeah, you didn’t plan it. You weren’t kind of hoping for it. It just came and you accepted.
[00:52:36] Julie Gautier: Yeah.
[00:52:37] Brett Stanley: that’s beautiful. And I think, so I speak to a lot of, lot of underwater people on the podcast and I think, you know, a lot of what draws us to the water is that openness and that accepting this, like, I don’t speak to a lot of people who are water people who are, you know, uptight or, or forcing things.
I think we’re all very open to um, you know, whatever happens is what’s gonna.
[00:52:59] Julie Gautier: Yeah, I mean, you can’t, huh? You cannot force the water. You cannot force wildlife. You cannot, you know, yet fight in the water.
[00:53:07] Brett Stanley: exactly. It like they say the path of least resistance.
[00:53:10] Julie Gautier: Yep.
[00:53:11] Brett Stanley: Julie, thank you so much. This has been amazing just talking to you. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve loved your work for so long and being able to kind of, Chat with you. Yeah. of course. And look forward to seeing what you do in the future,
[00:53:24] Julie Gautier: Hey, hey . I want to do a feature film.
[00:53:27] Brett Stanley: Oh
[00:53:27] Julie Gautier: Let’s do a
[00:53:29] Brett Stanley: not, not computers. Do it for real,
[00:53:31] Julie Gautier: Exactly.
[00:53:33] Brett Stanley: Sounds good. Sign me up.
[00:53:35] Julie Gautier: Okay.
[00:53:37] Brett Stanley: All right. Thanks, Julie.
[00:53:38] Julie Gautier: thank you.