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Filming 30 feet down – underwater movie studio opens in Belgium

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VILVOORDE, Belgium (Reuters) – Director Joachim Heden filmed scenes of his survival movie in a blizzard in the Arctic, but the idea of putting actors and crew into the frozen waters was out of the question – fortunately he had another option.

(REUTERS/ MANILA BULLETIN)

(REUTERS/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“Breaking Surface”, about two sisters’ ill-fated winter diving trip in Norway, is the first movie to be filmed at a brand-new underwater studio that has opened in Belgium – a 9-metre (30-foot) deep pool specially built as a movie lot.

The studio includes a moveable floor that means sets constructed on dry land can be lowered into the water. Poolside cranes lift in boats or other props, and staff are on hand to train actors.

“We have producers and filmmakers coming to us and saying: ‘I have this scenario that’s been lying in the closet for five years and I thought it wasn’t possible to realise this project because it’s too dangerous’,” said Karen Jensen, co-founder of the LITES studio outside the Belgian capital Brussels.

“But here, it’s possible to actually shoot it, in a safe way.”

The movie studio has two “dry” stages in addition to the “water stage”, which has wave and wind machines that can whip up a perfect storm for any film needing one.

As camera operators in full scuba gear descend to film some of the key scenes for “Breaking Surface”, director Heden is glad to be in the high-tech Belgian studio which he believes will become an important movie set for many others.

“It’s quite fun to be the first production to shoot here and I’m looking forward to coming back in the future to see what else is going on here,” he said. “Hopefully this place will be here for 100 years.”

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