Descending with Scott Wilson

2013-08-20 18:18

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We chat to Scott Wilson, one of the co-hosts of the documentary series Descending, a documentary adventure into the depths of our world to see places and creatures few of us ever will - on Dstv Travel Channel 179.

Born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Scott’s considerable knowledge and calm demeanor have served him well for the better part of a decade as he travelled to the most remote and exotic destinations on the planet as host of internationally acclaimed series, Departures – a show he also co-created. 

Scott’s work was recognized with a 2009 Gemini nomination for Best Host in an Information Program. 

From Antarctica to North Korea, Scott approaches new places and cultures with a warmth and open-mindedness that has earned him friends and fans around the globe.  Along with being a skilled SCUBA diver, Scott is also an accomplished photographer, self-taught guitarist, and history buff.  

Scott keeping a watchful eye on the Oceanic Blacktip Sharks (Supplied)

How did you dream up the concept for Descending?

Scott Wilson: "Andre and I came up with the idea while shooting our previous series, Departures. We were on the road, on and off, for three years, and travel was becoming very familiar. Instead of being blown away by new places and looking at them with fresh eyes, we’d say, “This reminds us of New Zealand or Canada.” The world is becoming much smaller. So in order to see things through virgin eyes and connect with viewers, we needed to find a whole new world to explore. Suddenly we thought of making a series about the world underwater. After all, 73 per cent of the planet is covered by water. It’s a great new vehicle to show the world off to audiences.  With this series, we can help them see things in a whole new light.

What does it feel like to experience never-before seen underwater treasures?

"It gives you the sense of maybe what the early explorers felt. That’s very hard to find in this day and age. There are only fleeting moments where you can achieve that on land – the world is shrinking by the day. When you’re looking at places underwater for possibly the very first time, it allows you this amazing sense of exploration. It blows your mind.  

What's the state of our world underwater?

"The damage the human race has caused and the danger we pose to the oceans struck us all. Pollution, acidification and over-fishing are all huge threats. We’re not scientists, but that much is evident to ordinary people very quickly.  It’s easy for us to neglect the damage – it’s out of sight, out of mind. It’s just a whole bunch of blue on the map that everyone ignores. But when you see the damage in person, it really changes your perspective.  

What was the most beautiful thing you saw underwater?

"It’s always the big creatures for me. On one memorable occasion, we swam with manta rays. Seeing these mighty, black, angular, wing-tipped creatures is like watching an air show.  They’re like massive space ships. But we succeeded in showing them respect and building up their trust, and they came closer to acknowledge us.  That was a mind-blower for me.  

What was the scariest moment during the making of Descending?

"Ironically, it didn’t happen underwater. On a remote archipelago in Indonesia, we had the chance to go up in an ultra-light aircraft to get some scenic aerial shots. The pilot, who was a little bit of a hot dog, flew low to get a shot. He then climbed 300 feet very steeply and banked right – at which point the plane stalled. Suddenly we were in a nosedive and I was looking down at the water thinking, “This is going to be close.” The next thing I knew, I was underwater. After thinking, “Am I alive?”, I managed to flick open the five-point harness release and was able to climb onto one of the airplane’s pontoons and await rescue. I felt quite calm. It was only afterwards that it sank in how much worse it could have been.   

What do you hope that viewers take away from Descending?         

"I hope that, like the viewers of Departures, they get some inspiration. For the longest time, I assumed diving was something that was beyond me. I thought it was something I had no business doing, something unattainable. But the truth is that it’s actually very attainable. If you want something badly enough, you can do it. We’re just ordinary guys going on these trips. I hope viewers come away saying, “If they can do it, then we can do it, too. Let’s take advantage. Let’s live life while we have it and experience a totally different side of the planet.” 60 years ago, these adventures would have been like something out of Jules Verne, the stuff of fantasy. But now, anyone can do it. So get out there and check it out!"


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