The Best Day At Work Ever – Virgin Gorda, BVI

The opportunity to SCUBA dive in BVI and film underwater doesn’t come often, but it came – and we went!

ocean first institute new focus filmsWorking on a promotional video for Ocean First, a swim, dive and travel company located in Boulder, Colorado, I had the pleasure of spending part of the day with the founder and CVO, Graham Casden.  While working on pick-up shots for the video, Graham and I talked filmmaking and scuba diving.  Eventually, Graham casually mentioned that it would be great if Rebecca and I could join him on a unique trip to BVI that fall.

A few more conversations later, Rebecca and I are on a plane to our first Caribbean trip together (and my first Caribbean trip ever).  The video business was new and we were living on a very tight budget.  Arriving to the 5 star resort on Virgin Gorda was unlike anything in our day-to-day lives: pure and very welcomed luxury.

When I first stepped into the crystal clear water, I couldn’t find words to express it: the warmth, the clarity, the purity of it all.  I was so awed and giddy, despite how tired I was from the long journey, I couldn’t possibly close my eyes.

underwater cinematography matt abraxas new focus films bvi

Underwater filming in Virgin Gorda, BVI

The next day, I was on my first ocean scuba dive!  I did my open water test in the Aurora reservoir in Colorado with 3 feet visibility!  I did this on purpose so that in comparison, the Caribbean ocean would be much easier, but I had no idea just how much easier.

My first dive, we dropped to 35 feet and were met with two large nurse sharks.  It’s my first dive ever and I see sharks!  I’m beyond elated.  I’m beyond anything that I can explain, I just want to laugh and do cartwheels.

My video work, however, was not so awe-inspiring.  I forgot about the necessary orange filters so all of the footage of this first day is overwhelmingly green.  No matter though, I can lean on color-correction at the editing bay.

The rest of the trip was increasingly amazing.  We ate the best tacos I’ve ever had (and I’ve eaten a lot of tacos) and these were made with Quinoa and beans (at Saba Rock)!  No meat!  In fact, the whole trip was vegetarian and though I thought I’d revolt at this, the food was so delicious everywhere we ate, I was in a constant state of Heaven.

underwater video rhone new focus films

Filming 360 in the Rhone

We dove the Rhone, the famed sunken ship, filming with the 360 Abyss.  As we dropped to the 80 or so feet to the ship, we were greeted by a gorgeous spotted Eagle Ray.

What also made this trip so exceptional was the staff at Dive BVI, the local SCUBA supply company.  Our captain and our guide seemed like old friends.  We had a private boat during the whole week, so we could go wherever/whenever we wanted, and the Dive BVI crew were up for anything.

Now, 2 years later, I look back on this trip with a complete understanding of just how good we had it.  Diving in these conditions with such wonderful company and with such luxurious amenities is definitely not normal.  I’m eternally grateful to Graham Casden and Ocean First for this opportunity to not only dive BVI but to kick off my diving and underwater filming with an awe-inspiring bang.  I would say it’s a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, but I don’t want to limit this to just once.

Now, with climate change in full effect and the Earth seeming to be ready for a massive and terrifying change, this Eden of Virgin Gorda (along with much of BVI) has been leveled by Hurricane Irma.

If you’ve been to Virgin Gorda, you know what an amazing place it is.  You can help the community get back on it’s feet by contributing to the Virgin Gorda Relief Supply Fund organized by Casey McNutt of Dive BVI.

They’re hoping to raise $50,000 to get supplies to whichever communities are most affected.

Here’s a short video highlighting some of our Virgin Gorda experience.  I know it looks very different right now, but I’m praying it will be mended soon enough as with so many other places around the globe right now.

Virgin Gorda BVI from New Focus Films on Vimeo.

matt abraxas filmmaker videographer director bvi~Matt Abraxas
Creative Director
New Focus Films
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