Ellen Butler


Written by Kieron Monks
29 Friday 29th January 2010

Does all this work with The Ocean make you something of a hippy?

(Laughs) People haven't called me that. I think it's because of the technology I put between myself and the element. But I do love the isolation of the water - I swim and swim all the time (Sounds like a hippy to me - Ed).

After making Titanic, James Cameron said it's a nightmare to work underwater as it's so hard to control; does it not give you headaches?

It's hard work and it requires patience, but I'm not obsessive about the detail as for me it's about the landscape. Also I'm lucky to work with models that love water and are very comfortable there. People always ask me what security I have, what safety precautions, but I have none at all. We just put our tanks on, take a boat far out to sea and get out there.

In what new ways can you represent water after 20 years?

I'm looking forward to working in a local pool with newborns. I'd love to capture people's early connections with water. We're born from water, so babies know pretty much what to do. I want to see those instincts at work. Also six ballerinas from the royal gallery have agreed to come with me to the Bahamas for a shoot, although I'm not sure what to do with them when we get there! I am more and more drawn to film and people at Pinewood Studios have been training me for some years. I've been working on a short that I hope to enter into the Sydney film festival.

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