The Making of Dolphin Tale
The trip to the Florida Marine Aquarium was not my first. Previously, I visited to write stories about Winter the dolphin when the book about her, Winter's Tale, came out. Later I returned for a story about the Scholastic Essay Contest winner, Jessica Rendleman, who was inspired by Winter to overcome her battle with cancer. So this trip, I expected to enter the lobby, as usual. However, this was not the normal aquarium.
Winter could not go to Hollywood, so director Charles Martin Smith brought Hollywood to Winter!
Staff members carried film equipment and large coolers full of fish — payment for the star. Of course, Winter was not the only cast member. The roster included award-winning actors Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick, Jr., Kris Kristofferson, and Ashley Judd. The younger stars included Nathan Gamble (Sawyer Nelson), Cozi Zeuhlsdorff (Hazel Haskett), and Austin Stowell (Kyle Connellan).
Filming a movie is not easy, especially when you are a kid. Not only do they have to put in nine hours of work, the same as the adults, but they must also fit in three-and-a-half hours of school. One thing that stands out in my mind is the constant repetition when filming the scenes. Actor Nathan Gamble spent over an hour in the water filming the underwater ballet scene. He was exhausted because he had to hold his breath and swim repeatedly in order to perfect the scene.
Actually the majority of the filming day was spent on this one scene. Fortunately, my job was easy and the view was spectacular. As the scene was filmed with special underwater 3-D cameras, I sat with editors and engineers in a room with multiple monitors. Several monitors showed the 2-D version image of the filming, while the other monitors displayed the mind-boggling 3-D images. In fear of missing a moment of this awesome experience I was constantly slipping my 3-D glasses on and off to see all that was happening.
As I interacted with the stars and sat with the cast at lunch, I realized they were just normal people. They were down-to-earth and humble. Interviewing them was like talking to friends from school. As a matter of fact, Austin Stowell’s mom is a teacher just like mine. And by the way, movie set food is AWESOME!
The cast of Dolphin Tale works to make the best movie possible, both on and off camera. Their hope is to inspire others as much as Winter has inspired them.
Check out my behind-the-scenes video report from the set of Dolphin Tale!