Turning the camera on her efforts to protect the seas was one thing, but putting herself centre stage made Earle uneasy, Stevens said.
Actor-filmmaker Stevens managed to persuade her to change her mind, and the result is "Mission Blue," directed by
"If we want to save the ocean, we have to see it through her eyes and get people engaged through her life and her passion," Stevens said.
The founder of Mission Blue, among other organizations, Earle's focus includes creating a global web of "hope spots," marine sanctuaries in which activities including drilling and commercial fishing are prohibited. A number of such protected ocean areas have been designated during the film's more than four years of production, Stevens said.
Stevens hopes the documentary's bluntness paired with Earle's optimism, encourages individuals and governments to respect the vulnerability of every body of water, whether oceans, rivers or streams.
"I hope people want to get in the water, be careful what they put in it and what fish they eat," said Stevens. An avid scuba diver since his
The documentary tracks Earle as she pursues her longtime dedication to exploring and aiding the seas. How her commitment developed and its effect on her personal world, including her roles as a wife and mother, also a key part of the film.
Earle, who will be 79 on
In the 1960s, she made the then-bold decision to temporarily leave her family to undertake an expedition with an all-male group of 70 colleagues, Stevens said. In 1979, she set a women's depth-diving record of more than 1,200 feet — "Terrifying, but not for her. She's an explorer," he said.
Although the issue of environmental protection can be divisive, Stevens said he doesn't expect the film to stir controversy. That's in contrast to "The Cove," the Oscar-winning 2009 film he helped produce which depicted how fishermen in a Japanese village herd dolphins into a cove and spear them for their meat, which is considered a delicacy.
The fishermen of
When asked if his filmmaking has affected his on-screen career, Stevens said only in that it can cloud the perception of what he does. He's still an actor who enjoys working in films and on stage, he said, adding, "but you don't have to do just one thing."
"I love making documentaries, love the people I get to meet and the life of it and the freedom of filmmaking, as opposed to when you're doing a feature and you have the studio and the producers breathing down your neck," he said. "There's a great freedom of expression."
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