Dolphin Tale loves Cayman

Hollywood is falling for Cayman.

Producers on the new motion picture Dolphin Tale recently wrapped four days of production in the waters around Grand Cayman.

Here, the production was shooting plates – the background shots for computer-generated images to be added to later in the filmmaking process – for the opening credits of the picture.

Under Cayman waters

An average film will shoot many additional minutes because of the uncontrolled environment that goes along with filming motion pictures.

With this production, the underwater scenes caused the crew to shoot more than three hours of footage that will eventually be edited down to roughly three minutes.

“But you do probably have the best behaved fish in the Caribbean,” says Jim Bigham, one of the producers on Dolphin Tale.

Each shot has about 10 other equivalent shots that could replace them, depending on the wishes of the studio executives and the film’s director.

The entire production crew were pleased with the footage, and they are enjoying their Cayman filmmaking experience.

“That was probably about the best four days of shooting in my life,” says Bob Munroe, director of the unit. “It was one of the most enjoyable, if not the most enjoyable experience of my professional career.”

The crew shot all over the island, including in La Mesa, Bonnie’s Arch, several other west-side locations and a few in waters south of the island.

3D tail tale

The story is about the friendship between an 11-year-old boy and a frisky juvenile dolphin named Winter whose tail was lost in a crab trap.

The family-friendly film stars Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, with Harry Connick Jr and Kris Kristofferson in supporting roles.

“The feeling of us producers is that the 3D is going to add a real magic, and we’re using it not in the traditional sense to be overly dramatic and in your face, but we’re using it very subtly,” says executive producer Bob Engleman.

“When we enter the dolphin’s world, when we’re underwater, is where the 3D really comes alive, and then we’re really subtle above the water,” he added. “What we got here exceeded our expectations because the magic was so great.”

“The whole thing is really about immersion as opposed to confrontation,” says Bob Munroe. “It’s all about immersing yourself in their world.”

Cayman support

The production had to know that the location where they shot this portion of the picture could support the 3D technology used on the film.

“We had to feel comfortable coming to another country, putting (the camera) in salt water, coming in the middle of winter, and knowing that we could find the support and things that we would need here if we ran into trouble, and it’s all here,” Engleman says.

“Cayman has been great to us in that way,” says Bigham. “Most of us have shot all over the Caribbean and to find a place to come to, get the infrastructure and be able to get us through the process, it’s a chancy thing.”

“Our godsend was John MacKenzie from West Indian Marine,” Engleman says. “He was just incredible, and the resources we got through him really allowed us to achieve what we did. And the film commission has been terrific.”

He added: “I’ve done a lot of major films… and the support people here were as good as any I’ve ever had anywhere.”

Elizabeth Henning and Craig Muller from local production company Caymana Productions loaned their support to the picture as well.

“I can’t say enough. We would be lost without them,” Engleman says. “Having done all these giant films, being left in charge of this act, the support on this island has been top notch.”