Andy Casagrande Celebrates His Tenth Year of Shark Week

posted: 08/28/15
by: Danny Clemens
ABC4 headshot
Jeremy Simons/Northern Pictures

If you've watched Shark Week at any point during the past decade, there's a good chance that you're familiar with Andy Brandy Casagrande IV. An award-winning wildlife cinematographer, Casagrande has worked on nearly 40 Shark Week specials throughout his career, using his platform to protect sharks and promote marine wildlife conservation around the world. As captured by our friends at RED Digital Cinema for their RED Collective series, Casagrande's passion for both his craft and for sharks shines through his deep body of work:

In honor of Casagrande's tenth anniversary with Shark Week, we caught up with him to discuss some of his most JAWsome memories from the past decade.

"One of my earliest Shark Week projects was Into The Shark Bite," he recalls. "Initially, I was asked to work as an underwater cinematographer. Due to a last minute problem with one of the show hosts, Discovery asked me if I would be interested in appearing on camera in the project -- so I said 'Hell Yes!' Since then, it's been an amazing roller coaster ride of Shark Week madness for more than a decade!"

ABC4 Into the Shark Bite
Discovery Communications

Of course, even the "amazing roller coaster ride" comes with its own set of risks. Casagrande recounts one of his more intense moments as a cinematographer, when a relatively simple mission to clip a GoPro SharkFinCam onto a great white in New Zealand took a challenging turn:

"When I was denied permission to free-dive uncaged with them to deploy my SharkFinCam -- due to safety reasons -- I then decided to use a very small boat in order to get as close as possible to the sharks to deploy the SharkFinCam successfully. Well, even though I wasn't in the water with the sharks, the interactions around the small boat while I was trying to deploy the camera were very intense and some of the sketchiest moments I have experienced with great white sharks!

"My good pal Jeff Kurr (who needs no introduction -- aka The King of Shark Week) and I were in the skiff, which was smaller than the sharks, trying to deploy the SharkFinCam when the sharks started to get very active in their approach tactics.

ABC4 diving
Discovery Communications

"One actually bit onto our anchor line and started to thrash around. At that moment, I honestly thought for a second that the shark would dive down and flip the small boat in the process! Well, luckily it didn't and on the next pass the shark made, I was able to get close enough to its dorsal fin to finally get a successful deployment!

"I was honored to be the first person to ever deploy a live-action GoPro SharkFinCam on a great white shark in New Zealand! The footage captured from the shark's point of view showed us how social and interactive the sharks were with each other down deep, where we often have no idea what they are up to! It was worth the risk -- for me it was awesome to capture a unique glimpse into the secret lives of the great white sharks of New Zealand."

ABC4 and camera
Discovery Communications

Casagrande's Shark Week enthusiasm started long before he was officially involved with Shark Week, however:

"One of my earliest memories of Shark Week was watching the very first Air Jaws and being completely blown away by the incredible, surreal aerial ambush breaching of great white sharks in Cape Town!" Casagrande beams, adding that Air Jaws filmmakers Jeff Kurr and Chris Fallows were his heroes.

Now, Kurr and Fallows are Casagrande's contemporaries -- their latest collaboration, Air Jaws: Walking with Great Whites, airs Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m., capping off a record-setting summer of Shark Week fun. Casagrande also appears in Shark Alley: Legend of Dynamite, airing Saturday evening at 10:00 p.m.

Check out this exclusive preview clip of Casagrande's work on Shweekend:

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