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Our week with the Saints: behind the scenes

Filmmaker Michael Raimondo, Green Renaissance, details his unique experience shooting one of the world's most remote one-by-one tuna fisheries

Green Renaissance is a filmmaking company that specialises in telling conservation and environmental stories. Our tiny team of four filmmakers (Warren, Michael, Jacky and Justine) live off the grid in a small town outside of Cape Town, South Africa. In late 2017, we were invited to work with the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), to capture a short film about the unique one-by-one tuna fishery on St Helena island, highlighting the way in which the fishermen catch their tuna one-at-a-time, with the age old tradition of pole-and-line, handline and rod-and-reel.

St Helena is definitely the most remote place we have ever had the privilege of filming in. For Warren and myself what stuck out most was not only the incredible landscape, but the people; never before have we met such welcoming, friendly people. While it might seem normal for the Saints who live on the island, it was definitely nothing that we had experienced before.

We were initially a little concerned about being able to film tuna - due to the fact that we were only on the island for a week and during the season where fishing activity wasn't guaranteed. Somehow, we struck it lucky and on the very first day we went out with Waylon Thomas and his family. Warren was able to capture lots of tuna being hooked and landed, so much so that Waylon said that Warren was his good luck charm.

The next challenge Warren and I had was how to capture the entire fishing story in four short days, we wanted to encapsulate the entire fishing process - from the moment of capture, through to processing at the factory - and also conduct multiple interviews with the fishermen, governor and factory managers... To try capture all these aspects we brought a variety of equipment from underwater cameras to aerial drone cameras.

The four intensive, happy days of filming passed in a flash and we really enjoyed meeting the Saints and capturing their love for fishing and their passion to conserve their fish stocks. We were really happy with the images we were able to get, given the short timeframe. Our only set back was losing an aerial drone to the sea while trying to get some last shots of Waylon pulling up tuna, but this was the only tiny thing that went wrong.

Our hope is that the short film we produced will help the fishing industry on St Helena, so that the fishermen who love what they do can get better recompense for the tuna they catch, and that ultimately the fisheries will continue to be sustainably managed.

We were humbled by the how warmly we were received, and really enjoyed our stay on the island. We can't wait to return to the island again in February for another two weeks - this time on holiday. We have to admit the bug has bitten and we will be back many more times. Thank you for the opportunity to capture this story. 

St Helena - the one-by-one philosophy