‘Blueback’ is a 2022 film directed by Robert Connolly that transports us to Australia’s coral reefs. Based on Tim Winton’s novel of the same name, the movie centers around Abby, a young girl who forms an unlikely bond with a blue grouper fish that she names Nlueback. An avid diver, Abby frequently plunges into the coastal shallows, spending time playing with Blueback and exploring its coral habitat. This particular species of fish can grow to be seventy years old, and its intelligence is evident in its recognition of Abby as a friend, and its playful demeanor around her.
However, when poachers enter the reef and threaten Bluback’s life, Abby springs into action. Inspired by her activist mother, she becomes a passionate advocate for the preservation of the coral reefs and Australia’s maritime ecosystem which heavily relies on it. A soulful film that explores the magnificence of nature and the purity of its creatures, ‘Blueback’ champions a message of environmental conservation at its center. With stunning cinematography capturing the coastal expanse of Australia and the wonder of its underwater world, curiosity may be ignited regarding the movie’s actual shooting locations.
Where Was Blueback Filmed?
True to its setting, ‘Blueback’ was filmed in Western Australia, in the small coastal towns of Bremer Bay and Exmouth. Principal photography began at the end of February 2021 and was carried out for about three months. To prepare for their roles, actress Mia did a scuba course, while Ilsa and Radha learned how to free dive. Let us take a closer look at the captivating filming locations seen in the movie.
Bremer Bay, Australia
The small town of Bremer Bay and its coastal region were chosen as the primary filming site for ‘Blueback.’ Far from the hustle and bustle of urban life, Bremer Bay’s azure waters and untouched natural beauty became the perfect backdrop to base the narrative of ‘Blueback’ around. When it came to selecting the filming sites to set the movie in, director Connolly was sent a long list of potential locations by author Tim Winton. Talking about why he chose Bremer Bay, he said, “I wanted the film to be set in a place that was incredibly beautiful, but also muscular; I didn’t want it to be quaint or idyllic. In trying to make a fable for all ages, a pristine environment is critical.” Adding, “Bremer is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever worked in and I love the combination of its little harbor and epic landscapes.”
Among its many pristine locations overflowing with natural charm, we first meet the titular grouper fish when Abby goes to Robbers Head. The real-life counterpart to this site is the Little Boat Harbour on the southeastern tip of Bremer Bay. From majestic whales to playful dolphins and colorful reef fish, the area teems with marine biodiversity that adds depth and authenticity to the narrative set beneath the waves. When Connolly went out from the jetty for marine training, the crew came across a pod of dolphins within five minutes.
A small resort town on the tip of North West Cape, Exmouth is known for being a gateway to the Ningaloo Marine Park. For shooting a majority of the film’s underwater scenes, the film crew ventured to the Ningaloo Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s largest fringing coral reefs. Its vibrant coral gardens and crystal-clear waters can be spotted in diving scenes throughout the film. The reef’s breathtaking beauty and rich marine biodiversity made it an ideal setting for underwater sequences that showcased the wonders of the ocean.
When it came to capturing the interactions between Abby and Blueback, a specialized team of underwater camera operators was brought on board the project. The team had experience shooting underwater for major productions and documentaries like ‘Blue Planet,’ and were thus well suited to delivering excellent aquatic cinematography. The eponymous fish itself was created by Creature Technology using cutting-edge animatronic puppetry, simulating a lifelike portrayal in scenes. The segments of Abby and Blueback playing weren’t shot in the ocean but in the controlled environment of a pool. These sequences were then overlayed with footage from underwater plates, shot in Exmouth, as backgrounds and foregrounds to bring the scenes to life.
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