| WOMEN IN THE WILD

Michele Hall

| Areas of Expertise

Producing documentary marine wildlife films for television and IMAX Theatrical releases; underwater still photography

| Born

Binghamton, New York

| Currently

Del Mar, California

| Favorite Quote

“Change is the only constant in life.”

– Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

 

| Job Title

Producer, Underwater Still Photographer

| Degree

RN (Registered Nurse Diploma) and BS in Health Sciences

| Biography

I left a 2-decade nursing career in 1991 to devote myself to the field of documentary filmmaking, specializing in marine wildlife still photography and films. While my underwater still photos have been published internationally, I’ve focused on producing marine wildlife documentary films for television and theatrical release, working as a team with my husband Howard. I’ve produced many television films including a National Geographic Special, two episodes of the PBS series Nature (one of which featured me and my team on-camera), and the 1997 five-hour PBS series Secrets of the Ocean Realm. These television films garnered seven Emmy Awards, and numerous other wildlife film festival awards. I’m perhaps best known for my underwater IMAX® films. In 1994 I was Location Manager on the first-ever underwater IMAX 3D feature, Into the Deep, and in 1998 I produced the IMAX film Island of the Sharks. In 2005 I returned to the IMAX 3D format for the Warner Bros. / IMAX feature Deep Sea 3D, which is among the five highest grossing films produced by IMAX Corporation and was recently inducted into the Giant Screen Hall of Fame. The award-winning sequel Under the Sea 3D followed in 2009. I have participated in other underwater IMAX productions in various capacities, including MacGillivray Freeman Films’ IMAX film Coral Reef Adventure, released in 2003. More recently I lent my ‘producer’ expertise to several IMAX features as Location Manager, including MacGillivray Freeman Films Journey to the South Pacific and Humpback Whales and National Geographic’s Ocean Giants. I’ve strived to make family-friendly films that raise awareness of and increase appreciation for the marine environment. During the past 25 years, the films I’ve produced have been seen by hundreds of thousands of children and adults. I’ve received positive feedback in letters, emails and in person from many who have said that not only have my films increased their knowledge of the marine environment, but they have also been the inspiration to turn their career choices toward marine sciences and / or environmental issues. Over the years I’ve received recognition for my work with a number of much-appreciated awards: Diver of the Year by the Boston Sea Rovers and Beneath the Sea in 2003 and 2011 respectfully; the 2004 PADI Environmental Award; the 2009 Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences’ NOGI Award in Arts; induction into the 2009 International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame; the 2013 International Wildlife Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Marine Conservation & Media; the 2015 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Natural History Filmmaking; the 2016 Hans Hass Award. I’m a member of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Women Divers Hall of Fame (class of 2000, its inaugural year), and I’m on the board of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences.

Michele with Giant Oceanic Manta Ray at the Marisula Sea Mount in the Sea of Cortez, August 1980.

Michele Hall with Giant Oceanic Manta Rays at The Boiler in the Sea of Cortez, January 2018.

| Challenges

Public speaking has always been a challenge for me, whether to a live audience or an on-camera interview. When being interviewed, I fear getting tongue-tied and stumbling over my thoughts and not knowing the answers to questions that I think I ‘should’ know the answers to. I’m becoming more comfortable in saying “I don’t know,’ and to steering the conversation toward what I can confidently speak about.

| Emotional Story

Many of my most emotional experiences during my working career have been associated with manta rays. One such experience was on August 30, 1980 when I encountered a Giant Oceanic Manta Ray while diving on the Marisula Sea Mount in the Sea of Cortez. As the manta approached, I could see slashing deep wounds in one of its cephalic lobes, the result of embedded fishing line. As the ray slowed and hovered below me, it allowed me to disentangle the line and to pack together the shredded flesh. As my heart beat faster I realized that I’d actually aided in freeing the ray of its encumbrance! Granddad, as we later affectionately named him, then took me on my very own ‘magic carpet ride’ around the seamount, bringing me back to the boat just as I began to wonder how far he’d taken me from the boat. After a 3 more days of filming at the seamount, and with the ray occasionally returning and guiding each of us in turn around the reef, we moved on in order to complete our filming assignment. When we returned a couple of days later, Granddad was there to greet us. Author Peter Benchley’s description of the encounter was published in the February 1981 issue of National Geographic, in which he referred to me as “the intrepid Michele, our own Androcles.”

| Conservation Tip

Be mindful of how your everyday activities potentially impact our environment. Adjust, act, repeat.

| Advice

Be Kind. Be Fair. And don’t be afraid to change career paths if a passion calls and the opportunity arises.

| If You Could Be Any Animal, What Would You Be?

That’s a tough one! Perhaps to be a manta ray, to be able to soar over reefs and sea mounts, flying with the current one moment, redirecting my path the next, as a bird explores the skies. And I’d wish to be able to swim backwards, in order to back off from fishing nets I might mistakenly encounter…

| Contact

Social: Facebook: Howard Hall Productions    
Email: travel @ howardhall . com