AFTER just one year of setting up her own filmmaking company, former Wheatbelt resident Briege Whitehead did what most filmmakers will never have the chance to do in their entire careers – she visited Antarctica.
Armed with camera equipment she tested in sub-zero temperatures within commercial freezers and only two crew, Whitehead embarked on a mission to create a ground-breaking virtual reality (VR) experience of Antarctica to share with the world.
She spoke with the Weekender ahead of the Albany launch of The Antarctica Experience on December 14.
“This sort of thing hasn’t been filmed in Antarctica before,” Whitehead said.
“We spent about a year consulting with the Australian Antarctic Division because only one media company is allowed there each year…we were there for two weeks in February last year.”
Whitehead said she was lucky the weather turned out well, otherwise her allotted time in the coldest place on Earth would have been wasted.
But that didn’t mean there wasn’t a vigorous process of evolving the script to cater for every encounter and situation that occurred.
“It was just amazing,” she said.
“We visited East Antarctica and we filmed around the Davis Station to capture what life is like there, we saw penguin colonies 10,000-strong, our helicopter landed on a glacier, and we spoke to krill researchers, ice core scientists and glaciologists.”
Whitehead expected Albany audiences to be blown away by the footage they would see.
“Watching it [VR experience] is the next best thing to actually being there,” she said.
“People will experience the place for themselves, a real immersion.
“This is by far the best thing I’ve done in my career; I don’t think I’ll do anything that will beat this.”
Whitehead wanted to make sure an environmental message was also woven into the main storyline to highlight the work being completed in Antarctica.
“We have scientists explaining how carbon dioxide and temperature work together, and talking about their climate change research,” she said.
“It was important for me to have that message because the people down there are there solely for research.”
The Antarctica Experience will screen at the Museum of the Great Southern from December 14 to February 9 during a variety of daily time slots.
Museum Manager Catherine Salmaggi said it was a must-see for everyone.
“Even though it’s almost on our doorstep, Antarctica still feels so mysterious and far away,” she said.
“This VR adventure really opens your eyes to a truly spectacular place and allows you to experience it in a real, exciting and educational way.
“It’s hard to put into words just how special this experience is; no matter your age, background or education, you’re sure to be blown away.”
Tickets for The Antarctica Experience can be purchased online at museum.wa.gov.au/museums/museum-of-the-great-southern/antarctica-experience