Safety Diver Hal Wells

In episode #43 host Brett Stanley chats with Hal Wells, safety diver and co-owner of Hollywood Divers. Hal shares with us his experiences working on film sets, how he plans for underwater productions, and what it’s like to deal with talent and crew under the water.

They also discuss what it’s like being addicted to scuba diving, and how water people seem to be the most chill people around.

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About Hal Wells – Safety Diver

Hal Wells Founder / Partner in Hollywood Divers Los Angeles CA 

  • Scuba / Skin diving – instructor NAUI PADI TDI 
  • Cinema Safety Diver Underwater Photographer 
  • Meisner Professional Actors Program 
  • Father to Marina Wells 
  • World Traveler and Camera Enthusiast 
  • From Raleigh NC – moved to Caribbean – then Los Angeles 1989  
  • Big Fan of Bill Strong !!!!!!! Wes Anderson, David Lynch, Vance Burberry, Matt  O’Connor, and Michael Muller 
  • Fav Read:  More than Nine Lives by Al and Norma Hanson 
  • Fav place to Dive: Galapagos Darwin Island, Morehead City NC, and All of California islands 
  • Author of Blood Sucking Mermaids – Avail on Apple IBooks  
  • Favorite Hobbies Underwater Photography, Buell Motorcycles, Staying Humble, and Exploring 
  • Fav Celebrity Client: Patrick Stewart & Garth Brooks 


Podcast Transcript

Ep 43 – Hal Wells

Brett Stanley: [00:00:00] Welcome back to the underwater podcast. And this week I’m chatting with how Wells safety diver and co-owner of Hollywood divers. How shares with us, his experiences working on film sets, how he plans for underwater productions and what it’s like to deal with talent and crew under the water. We also discuss what it’s like being addicted to scuba diving and how water people seem to be the most chill people around. 

Okay. Let’s dive in.  

Hal welcome to the underwater podcast. 

Hal Wells: [00:00:28] Hey, Brett. Nice to be here.

Brett Stanley: [00:00:30] How’s things, man. How’s your, how’s your pandemic year been 

Hal Wells: [00:00:33] Well, I mean, being in business and the dive, the dive shop business for 20 years, and then having something invisible, almost take your business out. It’s not ideal, but um, but luckily we’re still here.

Brett Stanley: [00:00:46] that’s great. did you guys have to pivot at all through that whole thing? I mean, your business is such a physical kind of business. How did you deal with people not being able to have no contact or any

Hal Wells: [00:00:57] I mean, we just kind of took cues from what everyone else was doing and what other businesses were doing. You know, we, we had to shut down and that was like a city ordinance. So we shut down and we just started taking internet orders and you know, I’d never seen Hollywood shut down too. To that level.

So we weren’t really doing any, you know, underwater shooting or teaching any classes or travel all the travel around the world pretty much shut down. So 

Brett Stanley: [00:01:23] yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:01:24] we just basically tried to fill as many mail orders and we had customers calling, asking when we deliver to them locally, which we did so that, you know, and then, you know, the only other thing I can say that kept us going was.

You know, applying for all the assistance that was available. And luckily we got some of that, so 

Brett Stanley: [00:01:43] Oh, that’s good. So that was helpful that that kind of kept you guys afloat. 

Hal Wells: [00:01:46] Yeah, it totally did. I mean, not only us, I mean, just about every business owner that I talked to, they say without, without the assistance, they wouldn’t be there. 

Brett Stanley: [00:01:56] Yep. 

Hal Wells: [00:01:56] So

Brett Stanley: [00:01:57] And then, so since, since Hollywood is kind of opened up as a, as a safety diver yourself, how has that, what was the transition of getting back into it? Like, did it, did it kind of just start up overnight or was there a bit of a lead into it?

Hal Wells: [00:02:10] you mean post pandemic 

Brett Stanley: [00:02:11] yeah, Yeah.

Hal Wells: [00:02:13] yeah, I mean, I’m just starting to see it now. It’s people are becoming more brave they’re vaccinated and they’re there. Nobody on their crew is sick and hospitalizations are going down and Hollywood’s working again and I’m starting to see water work.

It’s music videos. It’s commercials. I mean, we’ve just been lucky that we’re, we’re in a position and in the neighborhood, universal studios opened back up again. 

Brett Stanley: [00:02:38] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:02:39] that’s helping, you know, that really helps us. I’ve never seen universal studios shutdown and the whole time I’ve been in that neighborhood, it’s just crazy to see them just, okay, shut the gates and All the TV shows are starting to work again, 

Brett Stanley: [00:02:54] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:02:54] stunt people are working and that’s kind of our, you know, the local crew, if the local crew is working, our business does fine 

Brett Stanley: [00:03:03] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Cause you get kind of caught up in that, like you get that knock on effect of, of being pulled into those. 

Hal Wells: [00:03:08] Yeah. I mean the only other time I’ve seen anything, like even close to this, was the writer’s strike. About 12 years ago 

Brett Stanley: [00:03:17] Oh yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:03:18] ago, the writer’s strike, which we didn’t think would affect us once the content dried up and people stopped shooting our business just went straight down. So 

Brett Stanley: [00:03:29] Oh, yeah, that’s interesting.

Hal Wells: [00:03:30] yeah, it was, it was interesting.

Brett Stanley: [00:03:32] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:03:33] It wasn’t fun, but, but it was interesting.

Brett Stanley: [00:03:36] I remember that rod has direct. Cause I was I think I was back in New Zealand and just, and we would get all these programs that would just kind of end really Weedly like at the end of the year and would be just like, hang on. Well, that was strange. Like they didn’t tie anything up or anything. And then, you know, you kind of Google it and it’d be like, cause the writer’s strike.

So the writers were striking for better pay or conditions or whatever. And so they would stop writing content, but I hadn’t really thought about it from, you know, Below the line sort of situation where it was, you know, killing the business of, of everyone else involved. 

Hal Wells: [00:04:07] Yeah. I mean our, our customers in Hollywood, you know, running running a dive shop in Hollywood, you think, well, why is there a dive shop in Hollywood? It don’t, you guys need to be near the beach, but no, it’s you know, the caterers, the electricians, the, like I was saying, the stunk people. You know, some, the actors, the producers, the musicians, everyone it’s, it’s all tied together.

And when the con, when there’s no content being made is really bad. This is our industry in this town, you know, it’s our neighborhood we’re, we’re not mining coal or making steel it’s ideas. And then those ideas have to keep flowing or else the town stops.

Brett Stanley: [00:04:47] Yeah, it’s quite amazing how much of this city is wrapped up in that industry. It’s almost, you know, all the eggs in one basket. 

Hal Wells: [00:04:54] Yeah. Yes. I agree.

Brett Stanley: [00:04:56] So how did you even get into this? What’s your, what was your kind of start in the film industry? 

Hal Wells: [00:05:02] Well, as a kid, I grew up back east around Raleigh, North Carolina, and I was in the community theater. I went to, I went to college. I became a. I studied meth method acting at university and then got a degree in it. And I didn’t know it at the time, but I was, I was hanging out with some, you know, future moguls, you know, film moguls.

So I went to college with Sandra Bullock and I went to my, one of my roommates in college was the guy who created Dawson’s Creek and wrote the screen movies. And then I had another friend who was an actress and they all moved to LA and I thought I was going to go to New York, but I ended up following my friend Ann, who was an actress, follow her out to, to LA.

And she was like, you’ll love it out here. So when I got out here, I, I start, I got an agent and I started at the time, there was no online you know, auditions, you, you drove around town and you went to auditions, 

Brett Stanley: [00:05:54] Yeah. Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:05:55] And I started doing that. And at the same time I met this guy named John Godfrey, who was a scuba instructor and he was from Texas and we just hit it off.

Cause I’m from the south, he’s from the south. We, you know, we, we were, I was a triathlete doing races and he’s like, yeah, I gotta try scuba diving. So 

Brett Stanley: [00:06:14] oh, right, 

Hal Wells: [00:06:15] I got into it and I just became addicted to it. And and then I decided as soon as I did my second or third class with John. I’m going to do this for a living.

And and I got lucky and got on a, I became a rescue diver and a dive master and an instructor. And then I got on a film called Crimson tide, 

Brett Stanley: [00:06:34] oh, right. 

Hal Wells: [00:06:35] was with Tony Scott. And he was, he was there actually shooting for a couple of nights and I got to be his safety diver. So, I just got lucky and fell into it really.

And But I was addicted to scuba. Diving was w was the short answer is I couldn’t stop. And I still feel that way about it. I’m addicted to it. It’s like, it’s, it’s a good therapy, you know, to get under water and B you know, it’s a whole different mindset. So I kind of liken it to, to the acting thing.

It’s like escapism, you know, there’s a few things in my life where when you’re acting. You put your attention on the other person in the scene with you or whatever the action might be. Same thing with a scuba diving. It’s when you’re doing it, you have to focus on that. And I like that feeling, so I kept doing it.

Brett Stanley: [00:07:22] Yeah, I guess it’s that kind of like, it’s almost like a meditation, like it’s a, it’s a forced focus. Like you say, like it is kind of narrowing your brain so much that, that everything else kind of relaxes a little bit.

Hal Wells: [00:07:34] Yeah, I mean, I would just say I’m an escapist and like a lot of scuba divers I meet, and also ride motorcycles and motorcycles, or I, I grew up riding motorcycles and, and that’s, that’s the same thing. It’s like a, it’s an escape. You have to be in the moment. In order to do it. And I mean the film business underwater, that’s a, that’s a whole different ball game.

That’s not really diving it’s work, but but it, the scuba diving aspect of it is what ties the whole crew together. You have to be you’re on a crew with great hips, electrics, directions tography even, you know, the producers, the actors, you know, everybody has some connection to. If it’s a water shoot, of course they have a connection to the water.

So, that, you know, that’s what I enjoy being a part of that. And, I’ve been lucky to be able to do it for money.

Brett Stanley: [00:08:23] Right. so, and when you say like, you know, being on set is work as opposed to diving recreationally, have you done any other sort of work-based diving stuff? Like, have you done any commercial diving, anything like that? 

Hal Wells: [00:08:35] Yeah, but not in your, I’m not a welder. Or uh, you know, I don’t, I’m not, I’ve never been a saturation diver or anything like that, but, but I’ve done salvage work where I remember a gypsum company hired me to find a. A piece of a pulley. They, they mined gypsum in these, these quarries around LA, outside of LA.

And they fill up with water when they dig in so deep, they fill up with water and I remember being called to a, a gypsum area where they pull the stuff out and a dive in this milk to find a pulley from a crane that was worth like $5,000. And they wanted me to find it and lift it out on the water with a.

Lift bags and a rope and all that, but, or another salvage job was some producer down from your neck of the woods. I think he was new. He was he was Australian or New Zealand, or he was from, he had your same accent. My friend, he calls me up and he goes, I lost my expensive dental work. And he was at the, he was on the roof of the peninsula hotel.

If I remember correctly in Beverly Hills, they had a party. Anyway, he lost his, he lost his nice dental plate in the pool 

Brett Stanley: [00:09:44] Oh 

Hal Wells: [00:09:44] at a party, a party, a thing. I think things got a little rowdy or whatever. Next morning I go over it. Cause he was flying out. The next night I go in and I take the drain off the, the pool and find his, know, his teeth

going up the elevator in this nice hotel. Right. You can dressed in scuba gear. Everybody’s like, cause all I needed was a little bit of air. I had a tiny tank on my back, but people are looking at me like, what are you doing? But he got permission. You got permission for me to go in and remove the drain.

Great. And reach around in there. It took, it took me all of like seven minutes to find it. 

Brett Stanley: [00:10:22] right, 

Hal Wells: [00:10:23] but that’s, that’s my commercially, that’s my commercial diving experience, you know, 

Brett Stanley: [00:10:28] a pulley in some teeth. 

Hal Wells: [00:10:29] yeah. 15 feet of water.

Brett Stanley: [00:10:31] That’s awesome though. Like, I mean, it is those sort of weird little jobs that you end up doing, right. Like it is. Yeah. And it must be the same on set. So, I mean, talk about, so what is a safety diver? What does a safety diver do on a film set? 

Hal Wells: [00:10:45] well, I, I got into the safety diving, like I was saying earlier, I just kind of fell into it. And my first gig was being a safety diver for one of the biggest directors and in Hollywood. And I didn’t even really know it, but soon after that, I started to help people. You know, I started to see people around the set and I was working in a dive shop.

So I knew a lot about the equipment and people who they had, you know, like 12 spare air, you know, these little canisters that you breathe out of, they had like 12 of them hang on on the, the, the dock or the deck of the pool. And some of them didn’t work and I was able to fix them and make them work.

And I’m like, Hey, I might have something here, you know? So it gets your fingers in all the pies, like how to repair this stuff. Knowing what to bring, knowing what little tricks to pull, to pull with stunned people who maybe they can do a high fall and they can drive a car on two wheels, but underwater they’re terrified, but they happen to be a stunt double for the actor who’s in that film.

And he has to be shown under water. So. You got to make that stunt person feel like I got your back. You’re not going to drown. I got this thing right here. It’s going to go in your mouth. As soon as, as soon as they call cut it, you’re fine. And the first couple of takes, they don’t believe you, but after that you win their trust.

So a lot of it is winning the trust of the people who are on the set and being able to, to operate in any department. If the camera guys are having a problem and you can speed there. Crew up a little bit, you kind of look to see what’s going wrong and jump in and help them if it’s okay. You know, sometimes there’s union rules and stuff like that, but luckily I’ve, I’ve gotten to safety for every department.

Camera’s a big one. My, my, one of my buddies is advanced Burberry and he works underwater quite a bit. And I’ve gotten to go on lots of interesting gigs because of him safety for him, and then safety for you know, puppeteers. Like I’ve had people who have to wrangle, they have an animatronic animatronic duck, or a, creature or whatever.

And I had to do a commercial with the Aflac duck where they had the actual real ducks, and then they had animatronic ducks and the puppeteers weren’t. So water savvy. So, you know, just kinda being able to go from department department and see what the needs are and to keep things flowing. 

Brett Stanley: [00:13:03] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:13:04] And I think most of the time you get hired to do one we’re going to back up the talent, right?

We’re, we’re responsible for the talent. And a lot of times it’s that, but sometimes the, the director of photography, isn’t a certified diver. And he’s, even though he’s only in, you know, six feet of water, he needs to be taught how to use the equipment and what to, how to clear his ear. So his ears don’t kill him at the end of the day.

And if you’re a scuba instructor and you’ve been on set, you know, the lingo, you know, you get a guy in the water. Who’s never been on scuba before. And by the end of the day, he looks like Alexa, he looks. He’s ready to get certified, you know, he’s and he gets the shots, you know, he’s shooting, he’s got a lot, a lot of responsibility.

You know, some of these gigs you go on, they’ve got a limited amount of time and he wants to shoot it because he’s shooting the rest of this stuff top side. So you try to make him look like a champion, you know? And luckily it’s all worked out so far.

Brett Stanley: [00:13:59] Yeah, well, I mean, that’s the thing really? Like you, you’re kind of the, I guess the underwater, like knowledge base when you’re on set, I guess. Because this is what you do. This is your, your subject matter, your, your specialist. And so everyone’s kind of looking to you to kind of make things work in terms of, of being underwater.

Is that right? 

Hal Wells: [00:14:20] Yeah. I mean, I get the odd call every now and then where, you know, I mean, I know all the Marine coordinators in LA, like Matt O’Connor and. We’ll haul and you know, all the grips that work underwater and all those shooters. And if somebody were to call my dive shop and say, Hey, we’re shooting this music video and we have 12 talent in the water, whatever.

I would advise them to hire a water savvy stunt doubles, hi, you know, hire the right personnel and your shoot in the water is going to go much, much smoother. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. And they use the people. They know that, and it slows things down, you know, but, but you can get through it if, if people are willing to be patient because the water will, it’s like stepping into quicksand.

It’s not like shooting top side at all. It’s it slows things down to about one 10th of what you would expect, what time budget you would expect to shoot. 

Brett Stanley: [00:15:15] Oh yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:15:16] Top side, no, you, you, you know that you, you do these elaborate set ups under water and it, it just doesn’t, it’s not fast. 

Brett Stanley: [00:15:24] Oh, not at all. No. And the smallest thing that goes wrong, you can throw out your whole schedule because suddenly you’re, you know, the one thing you didn’t think about is the one thing that went wrong. And it could be a tiny seal or something, you know, like it’s, it’s the one thing, cause I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but you’re like the night before a shoot like this.

And even if I’m just doing, you know camera from doing whatever, you know, the night before I’m going through everything to go. Okay. Have I worked that out? What happens if this happens? You know, what changes if I do this, do we have all these spare parts? If we need them, because generally you’re going to miss something on a camera or, you know, it’s a seal or something.

So the same thing must, must be the same for you. Like if you’ve, you’ve got a job where there’s 12 talent in the water the next day, what sort of things are you going through to kind of check them off your list to make sure you’re ready for it. 

Hal Wells: [00:16:16] You know, like backup equipment, you know why I was saying earlier about winning the trust of the department, you’re about to help. They don’t, they don’t know who I am. And when you come on set, you’re going to dress everybody up in a rubber suit or whatever their wardrobe is. You’ll put a mask on everybody’s face and try to read their emotions.

It’s, you know, it’s very difficult, but if you have a backup gear, you know, stuff that fits people properly keeps them warm, breathes breeds without leaking, you know, worst things you could do is, is show up with a leaky regulator and try to say, oh, it’s going to be fine. You know, even though I could maybe use it, somebody who’s never used scuba before.

And even though they’re only going to be in three or four feet of water, you know, they see bubbles coming out of it, there goes your trust. So you have to have backup upon backup and make sure you have enough time to prep. Those people who aren’t water savvy before the shoot starts. You know, you need a, you need a little time.

Not everyone just takes to this. So a lot of it is time-based. And you know, we we did a big job a couple of years ago with Garth Brooks and where the, the entire band, you know, you see a lot of music videos where the, the band is magically alive, under water and they’re singing, but they don’t have on any scuba equipment.

But, Garth Brooks comes up with this idea for this song called dive bar, where the band is actually in dive equipment, playing their instruments with fins on and. And, and so they had to get certified, they got trained and then they’re going to go in 13, 14 feet of water all night long and try to play the song.

And it was, it was really interesting. You’re, you know, you’re trying to juggle their emotions and is somebody, you know, one of, you know, one of the actors or the musicians, his ears are killing him. Because he hasn’t been equalizing properly. So you’ve got about four more takes with this guy. 

Brett Stanley: [00:18:12] Yeah, 

Hal Wells: [00:18:13] But we’re not done, you know, so there’s a lot of, balancing back and forth.

I might be getting off topic here, but, 

Brett Stanley: [00:18:20] no, it’s good. And this is, this is, awesome.

Hal Wells: [00:18:21] this is you know, you’re trying to see, oh, this guy’s ears are going to, by the end of the night. You know, he’s going to be taking antibiotics in three days because he’s already strained his ears to a point he’s got he’s damaging himself, you know? And then you got to tell producer a can we give him a break?

You know? And that’s, you know, you gotta walk on eggshells with that as well. So there’s a lot of juggling with the water that you wouldn’t normally have top side. 

Brett Stanley: [00:18:47] well, I guess that’s the thing, right? Because you’re the interface between say the first ID and and the talent in terms of, you know, how to get them to perform this thing underwater. Have you ever had to sort of push back and go look, we, they can’t do it anymore. Like they’re at, this is either dangerous or they’re so tired that it’s not going to happen.

Have you ever been in that situation? 

Hal Wells: [00:19:09] Oh, yeah, many times. I mean, we. I know Vance and I were shooting a Justin Bieber thing once and and Bieber shows up ready to work, but he’s got a cold and you, you, you know, when you have a cold, you can’t equalize your ears or your sinuses in your ears are paramount for you to be able to descend 12 feet or whatever we got to do.

So. I don’t know what he did. He might’ve, he might’ve taken some decongestants, but the guy was a trooper man. He got in and he did his, you know, they took about five takes 

Brett Stanley: [00:19:38] yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:19:38] and you know, he was equalizing, but I could tell it wasn’t quite right. So luckily they got what they wanted and they said, all right, you’re out of the water.

And then the rest of the talent did their you know, choreography and he was able to. Go and rest because he was just, you could, I could see it on his face when he showed up. He just didn’t feel good. You 

Brett Stanley: [00:20:00] right. Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:20:01] But yeah, there’s stuff like that where you, you just hope that nobody’s going to go home with a broken eardrum or something like that because they, they tried too hard.

Brett Stanley: [00:20:11] right. Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:20:12] or there’s the hypothermia I’ve I’ve seen you know, when they hire somebody who’s. Typically, you know, they will hire somebody who’s wafer thin to be a certain, you know, somebody who’s really, really thin. They don’t have a lot of biopreme like some of us do, so they’re going to get cold, but they have to be dressed in a, you know, flat white flowing dress with no wetsuit showing or anything like that.

So basically they’re going to freeze, And when once they turn blue, you know, you can tell they’re not acting anymore because they’re just too cold to do the, to get the shot. So you gotta, you gotta get them out of the water, go get them, warmed up, get him some hot soup, see if they can go again. But, but sometimes they can’t.

Brett Stanley: [00:20:54] yeah, 

Hal Wells: [00:20:55] I’ve been there. 

Brett Stanley: [00:20:56] yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:20:57] And, you know, you, you, you know, you want, you know, the director wants one more take, but you look at the, you look at the skin tone and the lips are already purple and they’re shivering and you go the take, isn’t going to be any good. You know, it’s, they’re not going to act. They’re just gonna, you’re just gonna see goosebumps and shivering.

That’s it.

Brett Stanley: [00:21:17] Yeah.

yeah, exactly. And what’s the, what’s the opposite of that? Like, what’s the most amazing. Like kind of talent story you have of someone who kind of maybe wasn’t prepared, but then totally, totally nailed this thing. 

Hal Wells: [00:21:27] I think I’ve seen more from crew. I mean, I, I been, I’ve been with some, some shooters underwater where, you know, they’re not water people. They may have shot under water once or twice and a director of photography and uh, You know, you just give them a few tips and tricks. And by the end of the day you think this guy, I could certify him right now.

He, you know, he’s, he’s stellar in the water. He just spent some time in the water, you know, five, six, seven hours in the water. And by the end of it, I feel like this guy is he’s got it. Like, you know, just take them in the ocean for two or three days. And. And, and, and let him do his skills. He’s a certified diver.

He did, he’s got it down. but yeah, as far as talent goes I’m trying to think, you know, like you know, the Aqua lilies, right? 

Brett Stanley: [00:22:14] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:22:15] We’ve worked, we’ve worked with them, you’ve worked with them. 

Brett Stanley: [00:22:17] Yep. 

Hal Wells: [00:22:18] Those guys are amazing their talent, but they’re synchronized swimmers. So when you get somebody like that, who’s your talent, you know?

Even though you’re the safety diver. It’s like, Hey, these, these girls could rescue me. They can hold their breath longer than I can.

Brett Stanley: [00:22:32] Oh, totally. Yeah. Upside down with their legs hanging out of the water. Yeah. Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:22:36] They’re so amazing. Those girls.

Brett Stanley: [00:22:38] Get with those with those guys. And, and maybe this is something that, that, that. Like is on your radar too, is that, you know, they, they can be like six or eight of them in the water at once and how they don’t smash into each other and break each other’s noses and stuff. I will never know her 

Hal Wells: [00:22:51] Yeah.

Brett Stanley: [00:22:52] there’s limbs flying everywhere.

You know, it is choreographed so well, and they’re so good under the water with their spatial awareness and all that sort of stuff. When you have a team like that with the Aquila, the safe there’s six of them. Is there six of you in the water as well, Or is it, is it just, just you? How do you kind of deal with that?

Hal Wells: [00:23:09] well, if, if it’s the Aqua lilies yeah, I mean, I think we had eight. On this one, shoot there’s a member of arcade fire who did a big underwater production. A few years ago. The music, the music is called Sam patch. It’s really, really great song. That’s his group. But we hired one of our dive masters, Tony, Sam.

Who’s also a local actor and comedian in LA and he’s a dive master, but the pool. The pool they chose to shoot in is 18 to 22 feet deep, depending on how much water they put in it. And it was a night shoot. So Tony had to wear tie business shoes, you know, had to look like a business person underwater and be totally unaffected by 20 feet of water above him.

Sit at a desk type on a computer. And then the Aqua lilies are swimming over his desk and trying to distract him and giving him cups of water from the water cooler, from the office that we built under water. 

Brett Stanley: [00:24:11] yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:24:12] And we weren’t so much worried about, you know, we had four safety divers on that. We weren’t so much worried about the Aqua lilies.

We were more worried about Tony because he’s dressed in a business suit. And he’s, he’s, you know, we have masks in our pockets for him to be able to put a mask on and give his eyes arrest, but there’s 20 feet of water. If something happens, you know, we have to bring him up 20 feet. So that’s more of the worry, the Aqua lilies, they, they dive down and swim around and they don’t really touch scuba.

Most of the time there, they do their breath, whole thing, and come back up. They could tread water with no hands and stuff like that. But when you’re dressed in a business suit, there’s not much you can’t swim. You know, when you’re a certain types of wardrobe that becomes the real worry is this actor really can’t get to the surface, 

Brett Stanley: [00:25:01] oh yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:25:01] Dressed in a flowing white Vance.

And I shot a meatloaf video years ago and we were in 20 feet of water. At universal. And the, the actresses were in these white flowing dresses that were just impossible swimming. So, you know, even though they’re only two of them, we, we put more safety divers on that because the nature of the wardrobe.

Brett Stanley: [00:25:22] oh, Yeah. Cause it becomes like a big parachute under the water. It’s Yeah. The drag is incredible with those sorts of things.

Hal Wells: [00:25:28] Yeah.

I always want to ask the question when, when somebody wants us to, to help with safety is, do you have any storyboards so I can see what they’re wearing? Cause they’ll just tell you, oh yeah, we got, we got 10 people in the water, but well, are they Olympic swimmers or are they, you know, how are they dressed?

Are they supposed to be walking down a street underwater or are they going to have instruments around their neck guitars? Keyboards, you know, you got to factor in, what is the, what would the rescue look like? How much, how much strapping, when will we have to cut, cut, cut them out of their wardrobe. What, you know, these are the thoughts that go through your head.

Brett Stanley: [00:26:08] so, so say in that, in that sort of workflow or that, that kind of procession of, of events when you’re booked onto a production, How much is going to already done before they get you involved that you kind of then look at and go, oh, this really, this needs to change. Or, or how involved are you in the logistics of the underwater stuff? 

Hal Wells: [00:26:29] Hardly ever. Am I able to change anything? I mean, I, once I, if I can see storyboards, that is a huge help. I mean, I I’ve actually turned jobs down because I just thought it was what they wanted to do is too dangerous and they weren’t going to change it. And I mean, I’ve talked myself out of a few big jobs that I think I probably could have done, but, but I wasn’t.

You know, I just, wasn’t on board with this, the full safety aspect of it and being a scuba instructor, you know, you, you think about a lot of The accidents you may have seen, or other people have had and the liability aspect of it. And you just go, I don’t want to be part of this, you know? And then you go and you go and watch the film later that you were supposed to be working on.

I could have worked on a lot of some, some bigger films and I went, wow. They pulled it off and it was amazing, you know? So they got the right guy.

Brett Stanley: [00:27:21] Do you look at those things and then kind of reverse engineer? How, how they did it or is it, is it so behind the scenes that it’s just okay. They did it. I just not sure what they 

Hal Wells: [00:27:30] No, no, no. I mean, you know, one that I trained um, there’s an actor called Scott Kahn who works on Hawaii Five-O but he and Paul Walker and Jessica Alba, they did this film, thing was called into the blue years ago. 

Brett Stanley: [00:27:44] Oh yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:27:45] And I trained Scott Kahn. He wanted the part, but he, he didn’t scuba dive. So. He, and I rented a pool and we did underwater fights for a day.

You know, we went underwater and pull rolled around on the bottom and I pulled his regulator out of his mouth and made him swim laps underwater. And what wouldn’t give him air, you know, we did all kinds of crazy stuff and, and he got the, he got the part and then he talked me up and said, well, maybe you could come on and, and help us with the water stunts.

I wanted to do the water stunts and Stillwater. You know, in a pool, you know, cheat them. They wanted to shoot the stunts in The Bahamas at you know, Stuart Cove’s where there’s they’ve shot tons and tons of stuff down there. It might’ve helped if I had gone down there and actually looked where they were going to shoot, but it wasn’t that deep.

It just looked like it was that deep, but they hired the right stump people to do these, the guy who doubled Paul Walker. Can’t remember his name right now, but man, he did a great job. There’s a, there’s a scene where he has to swim down with his hands, tied, wearing a pair of jeans, no fins, no mask.

He swims down to, to get inside this boat, and his hands are tied behind his back. So, you know, they’re not really tied behind his back, but still. It has to appear that he’s going all the way down and, and the shot was in the film that he swims easily 12 to 15 feet without equalizing 

Brett Stanley: [00:29:07] Oh, 

Hal Wells: [00:29:08] no mask on his face.

It was a great stunt. 

Brett Stanley: [00:29:10] yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:29:10] And I like, well, they got the right guy, you know, so, but I could could’ve, I could have worked on that film gone to The Bahamas and had a nice cushy gig for a little bit. But You know, I did what I could do. And I think I was working on something else while they were doing that anyway.

So I didn’t lose out too bad. But yeah, that’s the kind of thing it’s like what’s the balance between, it’s a, there’s a, there’s definitely risk involved. 

Brett Stanley: [00:29:33] yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s the thing with, with any of this stuff that we do underwater, I think there’s, you know, you gotta it’s that risk versus reward kind of situation. And, you know, I think about the things that I wouldn’t do because I thought it was too risky. And you, you have to just be happy that you didn’t try it.

Cause you know, it might’ve worked. It might not have worked. You don’t know, you know, it’s a really such a unknown thing until it’s done. 

Hal Wells: [00:29:58] Yeah, it’s true. It’s I’ve trained a lot of actors for roles that they were about to do, and it it’s been, you know, it’s, that’s the fun part is training them in a pool, getting them certified, whatever, but then actually being there on the set, watching them do the stunt, or that’s not the fun part, that’s more of a traumatic.

Brett Stanley: [00:30:21] right, 

Hal Wells: [00:30:22] Portion of the 

Brett Stanley: [00:30:23] right. Yeah. Yeah. Watching, like watching your child go out on the, on the high rope. 

Hal Wells: [00:30:27] Yeah, it’s I remember I trained Patrick Stewart. He, he wanted to get certified anyway, but he had to do this film with Mel Gibson where, Mel Gibson was he played this kind of manic. I can’t remember the name of the film, but he, he, he, they hold they hold Patrick Stewart underwater. They’re like, Kind of waterboarding Patrick Stewart.

And he has to be able to not, you know, he has, they, they hold him under water upside down, and then they pull them out. And he got certified with me years before that, but he said, you know, his certification and his training helped him get through that, that water, that horrible shot. Right. 

Brett Stanley: [00:31:05] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:31:06] But that’s, that’s the fun part is.

When, when you know, an actor, has they got a job, th that there’s some going to be some water work on it, but they’ve always wanted to get certified anyway. That’s that’s really cool.

Brett Stanley: [00:31:19] cause they were already into it. They’re already wanting to be under there. 

Hal Wells: [00:31:23] Yeah. W w when you have someone, who’s, they’re just doing it for the work aspect and I’ve certified lots of crew members, DPS talent. And even stumped people, they don’t really want to dive, but they want to work in the water. 

Brett Stanley: [00:31:37] right. 

Hal Wells: [00:31:38] And some of them wind up being quite good at it, but they don’t, they don’t dive, you know, they only dive when there’s water work.

Brett Stanley: [00:31:45] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:31:46] So but, but it’s a pleasure to be on set with people who would just say why or savvy, you know, they’re water savvy. They, they know how they’re supposed to move in the water. And they know not to panic that, you know, a few more seconds they get it worked out. Yeah. It’s just great. When you have people that like the water

Brett Stanley: [00:32:04] Yeah.

And it is, it is like a. You can tell these types of people, like they’re the ones who, you know, they kind of understand water a little bit more than, than, than others, you know? So some people really fight against it and it, it is such a, maybe not so much of a fee for them, but they kind of, they don’t give into it enough, you know, it’s that sort of thing where it’s like a Chinese finger trap, the more you kind of fight the water, the more it works against you. 

Hal Wells: [00:32:28] Yeah, it’s true. I mean, I go on, I go on set sometimes and I look at there’s a guy named Rob Trussell and he took a Nowi instructor class from me a few years ago. And I’ve worked with him under water so many times, but you can see the guy he’s looking for something to do all the time. He’s a grip, but he’s on a set and he’s underwater and he’s looking for the next thing.

He’s just finished doing some task. He’s always looking for the next one to do. And there’s a, there’s a lot of grips like that. You know, there’s a guy named soda pop. I think you might, you might’ve interviewed 

Brett Stanley: [00:32:57] Yeah, totally. Yeah, 

Hal Wells: [00:32:59] That guy. Yeah. He’s a water guy. 

Brett Stanley: [00:33:01] yeah, 

Hal Wells: [00:33:02] He’s a w I would say he’s a water rat. 

Brett Stanley: [00:33:04] yeah. Yes, he is. 

Hal Wells: [00:33:06] when you go on a set with soda pop and Rob Trussell, and you’ve got all their friends around, you know, Hey, if something happens, you know, I’m the safety guy.

And if something happens to me, I’m pretty sure these guys are gonna pull me 

Brett Stanley: [00:33:16] Yeah, totally. Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:33:18] So yeah, it’s always a pleasure to work with, with either talent or crew that they like the, well, at least they like the water. They might not dive in the ocean a lot, but when you go on a set with them in the pool, you realize.

Well, they should be out diving because man, you know? 

Brett Stanley: [00:33:35] Yeah. they built for it.

Hal Wells: [00:33:36] Yeah. They’re built for it.

Brett Stanley: [00:33:37] Yeah. I think that’s the, that’s the thing I love about this, this whole industry is just getting to be with people like that, you know? Cause because you know, we all have a different way of getting into the underwater world, whether it was, you know, from being a kid and just spending.

Days in the pool or whether it.

was something you got into in yeah. In your forties or something. But there’s this underlying love and respect for the water itself, you know, 

Hal Wells: [00:34:01] Yes. 

Brett Stanley: [00:34:02] and everyone finds an emotional response when they go under, you know, when, when the silence hits your ears and you hold your breath or you sit on the regulator, you know, there’s an emotional response.

And I think we all kind of feel that in each other. 

Hal Wells: [00:34:14] I agree. Yeah. I mean, you talk about people coming from different worlds too, you know, sometimes you’re on a. A job where I advanced and I got, got hired to shoot this thing years and years ago when we shot on film. And it was really before digital was, was happening. And, we his Vance’s wife was producing it, but we had to hire local talent like kids.

So we’d go down on the dock, go in Cozumel and we find these kids. That are going to chase coins to the bottom. So somebody somebody’s going to throw the coins into the water we’re underwater and we’re shooting upward into the sun. And these kids are swimming down. We don’t know who these kids are. You know, we, we watch them swim around a little bit and see if they can swim.

And then they, they just dive off and swim down 15 feet chasing these quarters, you 

Brett Stanley: [00:35:03] yeah. Right. 

Hal Wells: [00:35:04] and that’s the shot. But, but they, you can tell they, they don’t care if they’re getting paid. They love the water, you know, they, they would stay in there for 10 hours. If you ask them to, you know, it’s just people that like the water, they, they all come together and you know, you can just talk for hours about things you’ve done and where you’ve been and, animals that you might’ve seen or.

It doesn’t, it doesn’t have to be film people. I mean, I could strike up a conversation with, with anybody who could, they could, they they’re, maybe they’re a master swimmer. I meet those kinds of people all the time. And you know, they they’re pushing 80 years old, but they swim every day and they don’t miss it.

They don’t miss a day of swimming. So 

Brett Stanley: [00:35:48] Oh, absolutely. 

Hal Wells: [00:35:49] I love it. I love, I love, I love water people.

Brett Stanley: [00:35:52] Oh, totally. Do you have a preference for when you’re working for whether you’re doing safety in open water or in closed water, like in tanks and stuff? 

Hal Wells: [00:36:01] Well, I always like closed water because it takes mother nature out of the equation and when you’re on a budget. So, so somebody calls you up and they go, well, we don’t have a lot of money to do this shot when we want to shoot it off. Marina Del Ray. And my, you just hear this in my head. It just goes more.

Or, or 

uh, 

Brett Stanley: [00:36:21] Yep. 

Hal Wells: [00:36:22] you know, the water in marina Del Ray is not going to be stunningly clear. 

Brett Stanley: [00:36:27] Yep. 

Hal Wells: [00:36:28] You’re probably not going to have more than five feet of visibility and you go, no, don’t do it in marina Del Rey. Okay. Well, we want to do in the ocean. Okay. We’ll go to Catalina. We don’t have the money to go to Catalina.

All right. We’ll do it in a pool. 

Brett Stanley: [00:36:39] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:36:40] So do it in a pool mother nature. There’s not going to be any crashing waves in the pool. The visibility is controllable by you and the pool guy. 

Brett Stanley: [00:36:49] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:36:49] Do it in a pool that that’s my answer. And I’ve seen that over and over and over again where they, they try to just go out and go out on a boat, throw a bunch of equipment in the water, throw the talent in the water, and it ends miserably.

Nobody dies, but they don’t get the shot. So they wasted a day and you can cheat so many things. I mean, look how the abyss was made. 

Brett Stanley: [00:37:09] Oh yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:37:10] know, it looks like it was shot in, you know, what 7,000 feet of water and was shot in 15, 20 feet of water.

Brett Stanley: [00:37:16] Yeah. In an old power station or a discontinued power station. Yeah.

Hal Wells: [00:37:21] Yeah. So that that’s, that’s what I if you want to get the shot. Try and do it in a pool, or if you, if you know that that was kind of my downfall for, into the blue, with Scott Kahn was, I was like, man, these shots should be, there should be a set, built a heated pool. You can do twice as many takes, nobody’s going to get hurt, but they were like, Nope, we got the perfect location we’re going to do in the ocean.

And. They pulled it off. But so many times I get those calls where they don’t have a lot of money. They want to just go out on a small boat, shoot it sort of gorilla. Sometimes it works out. I would say most of the time it does not.

Brett Stanley: [00:38:01] I think with some of these productions that, that kind of opt to do it in open water, that there’s a. Like a romantic kind of adventurousness to, to shooting out there that they’re kind of looking forward to, whereas, you know, shooting around a pool can be kind of, kind of boring for everyone who’s not.

in the water.

Do you feel like they kind 

Hal Wells: [00:38:16] I think there, well, you know, there’s some things that way you want, you want the surf, you know, you want the crashing waves, right? You can’t really cheat that part of it in the pool, but the underwater part of it, you can cheat in a pool. 

Brett Stanley: [00:38:29] yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:38:30] And I don’t think they understand that the people who shoot underwater, you know, you got Pete Romano and you got, you know, you got David McDonald and Vance berberi and you got all these professionals, not only in LA, but all over the world.

You’ve got people who know what lens to shoot, how to frame it. How to, if you want some wave action, there are ways of doing that very simply with a few grips and some, some set dressing. I think the master of that was Baywatch, you know, years ago when Baywatch was being shot, I could tell what fake kelp looks like, but most people wouldn’t 

Brett Stanley: [00:39:03] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:39:04] So you put some fake help in there. You, you get a little wave action. You know, we some of the things I’ve worked on with Matt, O’Connor where we use scooters and we tie the scooters to the bottom of the pool. And turn them on and it creates a current, a really strong current, you know, you know what I’m talking about a DPV 

Brett Stanley: [00:39:23] Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yep. Yep. Propeller 

Hal Wells: [00:39:25] get, yeah, yeah. You, you get that on the bottom and you pointed in the opposite direction and the talent swimming underwater, and you put this current on them and it blows their hair in a beautiful, dramatic way. So there’s tricks you can do in the pool. 

Brett Stanley: [00:39:40] Oh, yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:39:41] nobody’s going to know.

Brett Stanley: [00:39:42] Well, I think I think talking to Pete Romano was, was one of the things that gave me, he, he’s got so many tricks like that, you 

Hal Wells: [00:39:49] Oh, yeah,

Brett Stanley: [00:39:49] things like, you know, you’re in a nine feet deep or 10 feet deep pool, but you want to do the shot. That’s going to take 20 feet, but your pool is 20 feet long, you know, turn the camera sideways, shoot sideways.

Cause there’s no one’s ever gonna know. There’s no up or down. 

Hal Wells: [00:40:03] yeah. 

Brett Stanley: [00:40:04] It’s just that, those sorts of cheating, there’s so much cheating and it’s awesome. 

Hal Wells: [00:40:09] It is awesome. I’ve I’ve been I’ve, I’ve been on those shoots where I go, wow. That looks way better than I thought it was going to look. And it would be like Pete Romano or Pete, Pete Zuccarini do you know pizza Corine? Yeah. He’s another one you should get on the underwater podcasts.

But yeah, I mean, there’s so many guys out there that shoot and they they’re scuba divers free divers are water people and they’ve shot. Not just professionally, but they, you know, they’re hobbyists too. They go out and they shoot, you know, for their own content. And you learn that way too. You go out and shoot for your own personal enjoyment and you learn a lot of tricks that way.

Brett Stanley: [00:40:47] Yeah, absolutely. 

Hal Wells: [00:40:48] Ramana Ramana was a commercial diver, so 

Brett Stanley: [00:40:52] yeah, he 

Hal Wells: [00:40:53] have learned. 

Brett Stanley: [00:40:53] he was in the Navy. 

Hal Wells: [00:40:54] Yeah. You must have learned a lot doing those types of dives as well.

Brett Stanley: [00:40:58] Yeah. So, so what makes a good safety diver? What, what’s the kind of, what’s the kind of one quality that you would say you could, that you should have. 

Hal Wells: [00:41:07] well, you want to be, you want people who are, who are people, persons, you know, you want people who like, and enjoy working with people. So, you know, when I get to hire safety divers, I usually hire people that I know who are dive master or instructor or above. And who I’ve seen work with students who are fearful.

You know, we certified, up until pandemic time. We, we, we certified, you know, hundreds and hundreds of divers every year. And I would always hire, the people that I work with as instructors. And when you see them work with somebody who doesn’t know anything about scuba diving, and then you gotta put them with a.

You know, maybe it could be, it could be an, a list actor, or it could be a, an alias musician, but they’re fearful of the water. You want to make sure you’ve got somebody who matches that level of patients that you see with a beginner, like a student who doesn’t, you know, who a student who is a worst case scenario, afraid of the water.

Brett Stanley: [00:42:07] right. Yeah. So someone who’s got the temperament for that. Who’s got the empathy to be able 

Hal Wells: [00:42:12] Empathy, empathy. Yes. Patience and empathy is always a big one.

Brett Stanley: [00:42:16] and what’s the one thing you wish that people on set knew about you guys? Is there one.

thing that you’re always having to explain? 

Hal Wells: [00:42:24] Well, as a safety diver, I don’t know. I mean, I think that Maybe they think there’s, they’re intimidated by, you know, what they’re about to do, which is pretty much, it’s just breathe. You can, all you have to do is breathe and relax. But maybe they have some expectation that, you know, we’re not going to be patient or, you know, maybe they’re under pressure from the production company to do a shot that they don’t really want to do.

We, you know, it’s just that we’re here, we’re here to help and to be chill and to keep everybody calm. 

Brett Stanley: [00:42:55] yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:42:56] That’s that’s what we want to do.

Brett Stanley: [00:42:57] Yeah, And honestly, man, like all that safety divers and new included that I’ve ever worked with, always such chill people. And I think it is something to do with the water itself. Like I feel like water people in general are fairly chill just because we kind of have to be under there. 

Hal Wells: [00:43:14] Yeah. I agree. I mean, it’s the number one quality for, if I’m trying to hire a, an instructor or someone to, to, to work in at Hollywood divers, you know, it’s like, I just, I just think patients and, you know, being cool is your, that’s your number one with divers? That’s the number one asset you can have.

Brett Stanley: [00:43:37] yeah. So, if you were, if someone was asking you how they could move from, from say being an instructor or a master diver to getting on set, what would you suggest as a, kind of a, as a path? How do they and get themselves in there? 

Hal Wells: [00:43:49] well, I, I would have answered this differently years ago, but right now, what I would say is get a camera, get a housing, get out there and start shooting, get in the water and start making your own content 

Brett Stanley: [00:44:01] All right. 

Hal Wells: [00:44:02] make, your own real, you’ll learn from doing that. If you have any ideas that, that you think might make a good underwater scene.

Get the right people together and get in there and shoot it. And you’re going to learn and you know, years ago that would have been impossible because you would have had to buy, you know, thousands of dollars worth of film stock. You would have had to think about getting it developed in renting a, a film camera, knowing how to expose it.

It’s, you know, these days, you know, you could shoot with something as small as a tiny little pocket camera. Or, or, or a GoPro, you know, and you could make content. That’s interesting. 

Brett Stanley: [00:44:38] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:44:39] And you put, put something together. If you have some ideas, put something together, shoot it. And then you have something to show.

Brett Stanley: [00:44:45] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:44:46] And once people see that you’re serious and you’re out there, you’re doing your, you’re making your own content. You’ll, you’ll, you’ll start to get jobs. Other, the other way to do it is, is pick a department you want to be in, you know, like. The ones I interact with the most are the grips and grips have a thing called local 80.

You know, the grips are just like everybody else. We’re all getting older and there’s gotta be new people coming in. So if, if you’re a diver and you’re a personable person, you’re, you’re, you’re a people person. And you know, you, you’re willing to maybe do a few jobs for free on a crew. You’ll get in, get some hours.

Brett Stanley: [00:45:23] Is safety divers. Are they part of a union as well? Or are you kind of outside that whole thing? 

Hal Wells: [00:45:28] I’m. I’m not in any union. I, I, I mean, I probably could have been by now, but I’ve worked in every department, you know, camera’s stunts all of it and but yeah, there, there are that used to fall under stunts. I don’t know. How that works with I really don’t. I, you know, I never got into those discussions about whether I should be in a union or not.

It’s just I, I, I get I get in and I, I’m on the call sheet as a safety diver and I’m my own, I’m my own crew. Or I have two or three guys with me that are on my crew and we’re just there to, to help the others and make them look good if we can. We’re not there to try to weasel our way in or and you know, there, that used to be a lot more of a, a thing back in the day.

If you, if you were supposed to be helping the grips and you helped out camera. Well, that was, you know, that wasn’t cool. But, all we’re trying to do is keep it cohesive. And even though we’re, we’re our own crew, we’re there to help everyone who needs it.

Brett Stanley: [00:46:26] Exactly. Yeah. That’s awesome. This has been really cool. Just hearing your whole process and how your experiences of, of doing these things on set and how you got there. Just really enlightening. 

Hal Wells: [00:46:38] well, thanks, man. It’s you know, Hey, you and I have some history. It’s, it’s cool to talk like this because you know, when you, when I see you, you’re usually getting ready for a shoot. And I’m thinking, oh, how’s he going to do that? And then I see that the images later, and I go mind blowing stuff. 

Brett Stanley: [00:46:53] right. 

Hal Wells: [00:46:53] I love it.

You know, I, it’s just, it’s, it’s crazy what you’re doing, but but I enjoy, you know, again, water people are kin, right? And then I feel that you and I have this connection as well over the years. 

Brett Stanley: [00:47:07] Yeah, of course. 

Hal Wells: [00:47:08] we’ve been in the ocean we’ve, you know, Yeah, I see you in the shop all the time. I’m happy to see you’re working.

And I, I enjoyed doing this interview as much as you, you know, 

Brett Stanley: [00:47:19] As much as I enjoy doing it. Yeah, 

Hal Wells: [00:47:21] yeah. I’d love it. It’s an underwater podcast. I mean, who else in the world is doing an underwater podcast?

Brett Stanley: [00:47:27] Maybe not in this way, but, but the thing is that I, that I have to do now is I actually want to do an underwater podcast, so actually recording it underwater somehow. So 

Hal Wells: [00:47:38] would be cool.

Brett Stanley: [00:47:39] So I might be coming to you with some some questions about facemasks and a underwater coms. 

Hal Wells: [00:47:45] oh yeah, I got all that stuff. 

Brett Stanley: [00:47:46] Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:47:47] That’d be a cool experiment. You know, there’s this guy in LA, his name is Marie Hendry. Any, he does these concerts. Where he puts earphones on people like he does them in central park or he’ll do them at Yosemite. He has a keyboard that transmits whatever he plays. He plays sort of a Ethereum new age music that he writes himself.

So he’s sitting in the middle of the field playing a keyboard and nobody can hear it except for the people wearing the headsets. Right. 

Brett Stanley: [00:48:16] Oh, cool. Yeah. 

Hal Wells: [00:48:17] So he started to doing, he started doing them under water a couple of years ago, and I. I helped him set things up. So, so there’s, there’s an angle like this guy he has speakers going from his keyboard.

He plays sitting right beside the pool and all the concert goers are laying face down in the pool with a snorkel in their mouth. Some of them just float face up with their ears under water. But they can hear the music because music transmits or any sound transmits through, through water very easily.

Right. It’s, it’s amazing to see people laying there with their eyes shut and a mask and snorkel on their face, floating face down for an hour, just listening to music 

Brett Stanley: [00:48:56] That’s amazing. 

Hal Wells: [00:48:57] And there’s like 30 of them in the same pool, you know, all listening to the same concert. So yeah, you should do it. Do an underwater.

I put an audience down there.

Brett Stanley: [00:49:06] Yeah.

totally. Yeah.

I love that sort of thing, because even when I’m like here at my studio, like if I’m pulling out blacks or if I’m doing grip stuff underwater, I tend to, I get my little water underwater speaker and I, you know, I’ve just pumped some music through it, but it’s nice to be down there.

Like if you’re down there for 40 minutes kind of setting something up, it’s nice to just have some sounds, you know, like I love the silence, but every now and again, I like just having some tunes 

Hal Wells: [00:49:28] Yeah. He hear hearing music under water is, is people, you know, who don’t dive go? Well, how you can hear underwater. Yes, you can. I remember this boat at Catalina and two harbors. They used to drop one of those speakers, you know, one of those Underwater PA’s in the water while you’re actually diving and they would play classical music.

Brett Stanley: [00:49:47] Oh, really? 

Hal Wells: [00:49:48] As you swam away from the boat, you didn’t hear it. But when you came back to the boat, it was actually a good navigational aid because as you got closer to the boat, the music got louder and you knew if I surf as here, I’m going to be close to the boat. Right. But it was pretty cool that they, they, they had the idea to play classical music while you’re actually diving.

Brett Stanley: [00:50:08] I think the first time I ever, ever really heard music under the water was I was in the Florida Springs and I was shooting some stuff down there. And the Florida Springs is a huge kind of party place for the, you know, like the college kids and all that sort of stuff. And generally they stay on the surface and they have their phones in the little waterproof bags and they just float around and get drunk.

And I was underneath free diving.

shooting with a model and I’m swimming from one. Location to another, you know, like 10 feet down and suddenly I hear Nirvana and I’m like, what the hell? I’m like, am I having a stroke or something? And as I swam closer and closer to this dude who was in like a, you know, an inflatable ring above me, the music got louder and louder.

As I surface right next to him, it was his phone in a little plastic bag in the water playing music that they could hear. But I was listening to Nevada under the water. It was, it was mind blowing. 

Hal Wells: [00:50:58] That’s funny that you it’s Nirvana too, because when you said Nirvana, I’m thinking of that 

Brett Stanley: [00:51:03] Oh, they have them cover 

Hal Wells: [00:51:04] a baby in the, in the pool, you 

Brett Stanley: [00:51:07] Totally. Yeah. Well, I was the baby in that, in that scenario, 

Hal Wells: [00:51:10] Yeah.

 Brett Stanley: [00:51:13] how this has been awesome, man. I really 

Hal Wells: [00:51:15] Yeah. Me too, man. Thank you so much. 

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