Meet Andy Casagrande, an Emmy-Award winning cinematographer, field producer, and television producer, specializing in blue-chip wildlife and natural history documentaries around the world. Most know Casagrande and his work from Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which just aired for its 30th year this year, growing Casagrande’s media portfolio to 85 Shark Week specials.
From King Cobras and Killer Whales, to Great White Sharks and Polar Bears, Casagrande’s innovative cinematography and unorthodox camera techniques are helping revolutionize the way the world sees and perceived wildlife. From super-slow-motion-high-speed and thermal-infrared to night-vision and remote-controlled spy-cams and drones, Casagrande shoots with the most advanced camera technologies on the planet and continues to push the boundaries of wildlife film-making to shed new light and perspective into the hidden lives of the planet’s most feared and most understood predators.
With more than 100 wildlife film credits to his name, Casagrande has shot and produced films for the world’s top television networks, including National Geographic, BBC, Discovery Channel, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Animal Planet.
We spoke with Casagrande immediately after the shark frenzy of Shark Week 2019 came to a biting close.
Grit Daily went behind the camera with Casagrande, whose jaw-dropping photos of sharks has brought his subjects up-close-and-personal with viewers for over 13 years on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
Casagrande, whose wife, Emma, is also an underwater photographer and whose two young children have already been learning the ways of the shark and oceanic conversation, provided viewers this year with immaculate cinematography and tracking technology of what an average day in the life of a shark is.
How Following Your Passion Can Land You In Mysterious Waters
For over twenty years, Casagrande has been able to work with apex predators across the globe. But what viewers probably didn’t know, is how he got started, and that he loves sour candy and bubble gum.
“I became a wildlife filmmaker purely by mistake,” Casagrande told us. “It all happened because of my extreme fascination and passion for learning as much as possible about Great White Sharks.”
Grit Daily: How did your interest with cinematography help push you into the world of blue-chip wildlife and natural history documentaries?
Andy Casagrande: I initially wanted to become a marine biologist and I began my career with sharks in Cape Town as a Great White Shark field research assistant. However serendipity ensued and it just so happened that National Geographic came to make a documentary about our research and offered me a job as a filmmaker. It was unplanned and unexpected.
A Global Responsibility to Share Earth’s Mightiest Creatures
For Casagrande, he feels that his duty to share his stories and experiences with the world in efforts to empower us all to coexist with Earth’s mightiest creatures.
GD: As technology has changed and advanced over the years, how has your experience and drive adjusted to this change?
AC: Nothing has changed for me—I still work as hard as I possibly can. More importantly, I still have as much passion as I did when I started—I still believe in karma, as kindness and passion are the two greatest assets you can have.
GD: What has been your favorite part about filming, capturing, tracking, and following marine life?
AC: I have been extremely privileged to work intensely and intimately with apex predators globally for the past 20 years. My favorite part about working as a wildlife filmmaker, is the honor of spending one-on-one time with the Earth’s most feared & misunderstood creatures. I feel that it is my responsibility to share my stories and images with the world, such that humans can be inspired & empowered to coexist, respect and protect this fragile planet.
Uncaging Shark Week 2019
This year marked the 30th year for Discovery’s Shark Week, making it the longest running cable-program in TV history. With over eight special segments this year, Casagrande’s portfolio grew to 85 Shark Week specials.
“I have been lucky to travel all over the world filming the greatest sharks on Earth,” he professed.
GD: What can you tell us about your travels and experience filming and capturing different shark species?
AC: Having worked on 8+ Shark Week specials this year, I have now brought my total number of Shark Week specials to 85. What I can tell you about my travels and filming experiences, hmmm …. simply unfucking-believable.
GD: What would you consider to be the scariest aspects of your journeys?
AC: All of the airplanes, cars, buses, boats, jet-skis, snow mobiles, micro-lites, and all the crazy fucking humans, these are my scariest experiences during my journeys.
How You Can Swim In Casagrande’s Path
For those keen to get into sharks, conservation, or wildlife film-making in general, Casagrande encourages folks to get out into the ocean and start scuba-diving and/or free-diving as much as possible.
“If you don’t have access to the ocean, then try hard to actively learn as much as you can about sharks by doing your own research via the internet,” he followed up with. “You can utilize the power of Google to find everything you need to know regarding the latest shark intel around the world!”
In terms of research facilities, Casagrande recommends speaking with various shark research teams like Bimini Shark Lab in the Bahamas, Oceans Research in South Africa, OneOceanResearch in Hawaii, and scientists to see how you can help contribute to their work or beginning your own research project.
“Ask why/when/where/who/how/what is going on in shark research and science. There is no set path, you just need to work hard, be super passionate, and genuinely interested in this, and just go for it!” –