By: Poull Brien
When I first came up with the concept for Catching Hell, I was an uncertified complete novice diver attempting to chronicle the lives of very experienced commercial divers (no problem!) I knew that in order to produce and shoot an underwater show that had to change so with pre-production on the horizon I decided to get certified here in New York at Village Divers (now Gotham Divers). I spent time learning through the book, buying shiny new gear and practicing in one of the dodgiest pools I’ve ever seen (I should have known from an address in the housing projects). Thanks Groupon!
Following my open water certification in Key West (and a Nitrox cert in Clearwater), I headed to Hudson knowing I’d fully mastered all the skills I’d ever need to keep up with the pros in deep water J. To my surprise, neither the cast or crew were all that keen on the idea of a novice down there messing things up, getting in the way and/or drowning. Well okay, but as the show’s executive producer, I was not in the habit of taking no for an answer. 100 people told me there was no way a show this complex and dangerous could get made and yet we got a greenlight! So onwards and…downwards!
Over the next 12 weeks I logged nearly 80 dives in the Florida Middle Grounds (and surrounding areas) in up to 135 feet of water. What I saw amazed me on a daily basis. From incredible deep-water rock formations, columns and spires, to haunting wrecks, giant sink holes and marine creatures of every imaginable shape and size. I quickly learned to keep up, spot sharks and communicate opportunities for shots with Becky, Dave, John and Ben and our cast, all while keeping tabs on my air and deco stops. Impressive! Pretty soon, I was pushing myself further out of my comfort zone. I vividly remember being told the place for my first night dive was certainly not 130 feet of water 90 miles offshore. I also vividly remember being chased out of the water by a shark on that same dive and everyone laughing at my high pitched calls for help on the support boat (they’d all dealt with aggressive sharks countless times). Nonetheless, with a lot of help from the experts around me, I found my bearings and started to feel like I knew what I was doing.
In the same way this show helped me discover a new passion for diving, I hope it will inspire you to experience first hand (if you haven’t already) the precious beauty, excitement and life the ocean has to offer. It has certainly been the adventure of a lifetime and one that I am incredibly lucky to share with you!
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.