"Before I began this project I had no experience of lengthy filming schedules. I only knew about reports and adverts. But the subject matter was one I felt very sure about. Setting off for a month to explore our relationship with untouched nature alongside the great whales of northern Europe, understanding the relationship the people of that region have with them, their stories and representations, was something I was immediately attracted to. The weeks of location scouting and the week of filming were an ambitious and fascinating challenge.
Aside from my current status as a freediver and world-class competitor, to me the sea is a fascinating environment that I spend time with every day. To me, its presence is vital and immersing myself in it is a necessity. I have never had the opportunity to spend time with the great marine creatures that populate our planet; they are here, but they hide far out at sea, and they are no longer as abundant as they once were. I want to meet them. In Norway, in the fjords of the North, they are part of the daily lives of coastal communities.
Our first stay, in January 2019, was difficult for me. I arrived weakened by illness and with my private life in disarray. We didn't have a local expert on site. We had to manage on our own and get by in an environment that was unknown to me. The weather conditions were harsh and my equipment was not suitable. Our trips out to sea were therefore led by a tour company. Everything went well but the dives were short and we had very few interactions with the animals. But we did have some wonderful experiences and the trip was essential to the structure of the film.
On this trip, we were able to gather a wealth of insights into the relationship between humans and untamed nature: two fishermen, one old one young; a team in charge of monitoring fish populations; a scientist who is the son of whale hunters; a neo-shaman; an anthropologist; as well as enthusiastic tourists who had come, like us, to meet the great whales.
Spending time in a remote environment, yet one that offers all modern comforts, nevertheless forced us to examine our relationship with time and human civilisation. We were in a land of Western culture, yet in some very remote locations. Every logistical element of life there had to be planned in advance, be it supplies, transport, or energy. But none of that was difficult. There's just a slightly different relationship with time. The ultra-urban environment in which I live is more disconnected from the environment, and it's more tamed and organised where we are. It's no longer truly wild or free.
In short, to me, The Quest for Nature is a human and technical adventure in collaboration with nature and subject to nature's desires."