View Full Version : Local Film Maker Uses Microlight to Track Sardines

04-03-09, 01:17 AM
Local filmmaker plays huge role to promote South Coast
March 3, 2009

By Barbara Cole

A Durban movie-maker who became the first person to film The Greatest Shoal on Earth, has played a vital role in netting tourists to the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

Peter Lamberti's movies about the sardine run have gone around the world, attracting global TV audiences and other filmmakers and promoting the region.

And apart from his own wildlife movies - he had made more than 100 - he spent two years advising on the award-winning Wild Ocean giant screen film, which recently had its Pretoria premiere, hosted by South Coast Tourism and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal.

Wild Ocean was previously at the Imax big screen cinema at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga and was the best-selling documentary there in 2008.

It is expected back later in 2009.

It has won two big screen awards - hailed as the giant screen's Oscars - and will be distributed to 100 countries.

In an attempt to lure even more visitors to the South Coast during the Sardine Festival holiday programme of activities in June and July, the Pretoria- and Johannesburg-based diving community as well as the local media were invited to the premiere.

"This is the audience we want to crack," said Michael Bertram, chief executive of South Coast Tourism, which is offering divers the chance to win a diving trip to the region.

"The sardine run for a scuba diver is probably the greatest dive show on Earth, with the huge bail ball of sardines being the ultimate highlight. Never was there a better opportunity than this spectacular movie to promote our region and the country," Bertram said, telling the audience that three billion sardines travel along the south coast during their annual migration.

The sardine run also coincides with the annual migration of humpback whales along the KZN coastline, as they move into warmer waters to mate and calve.

Lamberti told the launch how he used to miss lessons at school in Amanzimtoti to catch fish and how his fascination for sardines led him to setting up his AquaVision film business to chase sardines.

"I chased the sardines from Port Edward to Mkambati and after eight years, I had nothing: not one decent underwater shot that showed any activity."

Then, he planned an exhibition with Mark Addison of the Blue Wilderness dive company, and what they saw "blew our minds", he recalled.

"There were sharks going through our legs… and we knew we were on to something big."

Describing the sardine run as "something rivalling Serengeti" (the annual migration of one million wildebeest and 200 000 zebra in Tanzania), he said it was far more difficult to film.

With international competition mounting to get and screen the first film of the sardine run and the accompanying feeding frenzy from dolphins, sharks and gannets, he recalled how he had an ace up his sleeve.

"I came up with a mechanism on how to find them," he revealed.

He had the benefit of a microlight pilot who "could really read the situation" and could spot the sardines, and as a result, they managed to get the first footage, with their film going out on National Geographic.

Now up to six boats with film crews can be out along the Wild Coast and the South Coast every year hoping to catch the unique action, he said.

Lamberti's next movie is Shark Rock shot at "one of the most famous shark places in the world in KZN", he said.

Lamberti, whose work has appeared on all the top TV wildlife channels around the world, cannot name the location yet because he has not sold the film and was still developing it, he said.

With the Sardine Festival also a frenzy for South Coast hoteliers and owners of B&Bs and guest houses, Bertram said that 100 000 holidaymakers were expected in 2009.

11-04-09, 13:47 PM
Is this the same shoal of sardiens that was featured on the BBC's 'Nature's Great Events'? It could even be the same footage I suppose. I watched the making of that particular episode and the sardine spotter was flying a Shadow. Some nice shot of the aircraft too!