With principal photography for 2019 on James Cameron’s Avatar 2 having wrapped last week, one of the hardest-working members of its crew says the film will be “the most significant diving movie ever made.”
Avatar 2 will feature many of the actors doing a lot of underwater work, according to the film’s director.
A good chunk of that underwater work involves freediving, which Cameron told Vanity Fair in November 2017 that many of the crew — including star Kate Winslet — had been trained in:
“She [Winslet] blazed through for a couple of days of rehearsals and saw the world that we had created, and how we do the work, and she’s very excited. She plays a character who’s part of the Sea People, the reef people. The one thing she did do is demand that she does all her own water work. I said, ‘All right, that’s fine, we’ll have to teach you how to freedive.’ The other actors are up to three- and four-minute breath holds. We’ve already been doing underwater capture. We did a scene last week with six teenagers, well, actually five teenagers and one seven-year-old underwater holding their breath for a couple minutes and acting, actually doing a dialogue scene under water because they speak kind of a sign language.”
As Cameron has previously mentioned in interviews, Avatar 2 will explore the ocean realm of Pandora and moviegoers will be introduced to the ocean-based “Metkayina.”
According to Cinemablend, Bailey Bass plays Tsireya, a “graceful and strong freediver.”
Among the crew is Performance Freediving International Founder Kirk Krack, who’s spent the last two years working on the film, and just recently returned home after stints on sets in Los Angeles and New Zealand.
While he didn’t give away any plot spoilers during a Facebook Messenger chat with DeeperBlue.com, he was able to talk about the rigors of filming a movie largely set underwater:
“I think when you consider that these sequels will be three hours in duration and #2 is described as focusing primarily on the ocean side of Pandora and Jim is at heart a freediver/scuba diving explorer and someone who wants to share an inspiring vision of the underwater world, I think it’s safe to say that even though it takes place in the future, on another planet with the Na’vi and Metkayina as the focus that Avatar 2 will be the most significant diving film ever made.”
Krack emphasized that “this isn’t Aquaman.”
“No one was hanging on wires with a fan in the hair and water spritzers to give a ‘wet look.’ This was shot with performance capture underwater in what is called wet-for-wet, not dry-for-wet. So when you see Kate Winslet, Sigorney Weaver and the kids freediving underwater they actually did that for minutes (2.5+min) at a time.”
At the set in Los Angeles, Krack said the crew logged over 200,000-plus freedives between the cast, safety, camera people, grips, special effects technicians “and without any hypoxia incidents since I got there.”
An average day on set for Krack consisted of getting to the set by 7:30 a.m. and in the water tank by 8:30 a.m., with him being in the water tank about 12 hours, and even longer on principal cast days.
“So a conservative estimate is that I was in the water 5,000-plus hours. In fact my busiest 12-hour in-water day had myself and stunt buddy Chris Denison log just shy of 3.5 hours of breath-holding.”
Avatar 2 is scheduled to premiere in December 2021.