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How it all began…

It was the summer of 1990 when I was on the rocky island of Dokos for four days, as a camera assistant, shooting a pilot for a documentary on the shipwreck of Dokos, the oldest shipwreck in the world. The directors were Nikos Vergitsis and Stratos Stassinos and the experience of the excavation in the rocky island between Hydra and Hermione was impressive. We were shooting the action of the archaeologists and of the members of the mission on land and on the diving platform, whilst the excavation of the seabed was being filmed by Kayle Jashney, an American photographer working for the Institute of Archaeology. They were the last days of the excavation for that summer and so, after two days, Kayle left for America.

It was then that my director, Nikos Vergitsis, asked me to take the underwater camera and film the action of the divers and the archaeologists just below the surface, in order to provide material that would link the action on the surface to the action on the seabed. So, armed only with a mask and snorkel, a pair of flippers and a somewhat bulky underwater camera, I found myself filming two archaeologists, who were about to dive with a metal basket tied to a big yellow balloon, with which they were going to haul their finds from the bottom of the sea. I started filming the two divers, with the balloon between them, and as they began to dive, I approached them until I was just above them. At one point, they both looked so small in the frame that the shot no longer made any sense. So, I switched off the motor and, without a second thought, I took a deep breath, turned on the motor again and started to dive, following the divers and the balloon. I suddenly realised that, for the first time in my life, I had in my hands a camera, which I could move smoothly in the three dimensions of space, without needing to use traveling rails or a crane. I immediately started twisting and turning my body, in order to create a spectacular shot. At one point, after diving sometime later and several meters deeper, the oxygen in my lungs started to decrease significantly, so I stopped filming and began to swim towards the surface, thirsty for oxygen. Ι was so excited that, during my ascent, I had already made the decision to deal professionally with underwater filming.

The next day, we returned back to Athens and I began working on a feature film that finished in winter. As soon as it was springtime, I enrolled in a scuba diving school and learned how to dive. I had only done two dives, after finishing the diving school, when I took over the underwater filming for an advertisement of a plastics company, filming underwater pipes. So entering the summer I had my own diving equipment, underwater photometer and a little experience.

Then I found Nikos Vergitsis and asked him if the documentary filming would begin and I informed him that I had learned scuba diving and that I had already done two days of underwater shooting. Thus I found myself, for over a month that summer, in Dokos doing underwater filming for the documentary. This event proved formative and gave me enough knowledge and experience to be able to say that underwater filming is something that I can do with certainty and confidence.