Sep 28, 2017

The Starchasers: Behind The Scenes of Okeanos’ newest documentary


It’s been a busy summer for Okeanos Foundation for the Sea. Not only did Okeanos Foundation deliver two new vessels to Pacific communities in need of their own form of sustainable sea transportation, with the vaka motu Okeanos Marshall Islands and SoelYacht’s all-solar catamaran the Okeanos Pearl, but our film team has been working tirelessly on the production of our upcoming full-length documentary, The Starchasers.

Our film team captures the historic arrival of ‘Okeanos Marshall Islands’ sailing into Majuro













The Starchasers follows the harrowing missions of modern-day Pacific voyagers that have ushered a renaissance in traditional navigation over the last ten years. In 2011-2012, hundreds of first time sailors embarked on the Te Mana o Te Moana voyage as a fleet of seven Okeanos-built vaka moanas traversed the Pacific twice. In parallel, Hokule’a’s Malama Honua voyage returned from a three year sail around the world this summer, escorted by Okeanos canoes including the vaka motu Okeanos Marshall Islands.

This past June, film crews joined Okeanos Marshall Islands’s historic escort of Hokule’a during her last leg of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage. Okeanos US & Pacific Region director Dena Seidel, Okeanos Chairman Dieter Paulmann and veteran cinematographer and Oahu-local Paul Atkins had the honor of sailing on Hokule’a beside Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson from Molokai to Oahu, days before Hokule’a’s momentous arrival into Magic Island.

Pwo Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson filming aboard the Hokulea during the final leg of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage with Okeanos Chairman Dieter Paulman, Sound Operator Chris Wiecking, Director Dena Seidel & Cinematographer Paul Atkins

Amidst the emotions of returning home after a three-year worldwide voyage, Nainoa addressed the significance of The Starchasers film and its importance in carrying the message of Malama Honua, to care for our island earth, long after the voyage is complete.

“Our message cannot be global if we don’t take the risk of opening ourselves and sharing our values,” Nainoa urged to an assembly of captains and navigators in preparation for their final sail to Oahu. “80 million viewers will see a film and all the education that spins from that is immeasurable. It’s the other canoe. It carries the voyage.”

Okeanos Director Dena Seidel interviews Palau Ambassador Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Okeanos Marianas staff Ramon Tebuteb & Okeanos Marshall Islands General Manager Dustin Langidrik aboard the ‘Okeanos Marshall Islands’ as it escorts Hokule’a to Magic Island.

Okeanos Media Specialist Steve Holloway films aboard the ‘Okeanos Marshall Islands’ beside the fleet of canoes escorting Hokulea into Magic Island.

Simon Baumfield and Jess Charlton fly an aerial drone over Majuro – one of the most vulnerable atoll island chains in the Pacific.









After Hokule’a’s momentous arrival to Magic Island, our film team joined Okeanos Marshall Islands for its second milestone this summer – its delivery to Majuro to meet the community’s needs for sustainable sea transportation in the face of sea level rise. New Zealand cinematographer Simon Baumfield (who has been filming Okeanos’ work since 2009) and Jess Charlton collaborated with Marshallese camera operators Chris Sebastian and Danny Tawoj to capture Okeanos Marshall Islands’ beautiful arrival ceremony into Majuro.

Cinematographer Simon Baumfield reviews footage with local children after filming the arrival of ‘Okeanos Marshall Islands’ in Majuro.

Along with Director Dena Seidel, the crew spent a week documenting the canoe’s various sails with University of the South Pacific students and young trainees of Waan Aelõñ in Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands).

Traditional Marshallese outriggers helmed by WAM apprentices lead ‘Okeanos Marshall Islands’ around Majuro as cinematographer Simon Baumfield films.

Cinematographer Simon Baumfield films ‘Okeanos Marshall’ accompanied by a traditional Marshallese outrigger.










As the production of The Starchasers winds down, the Okeanos US editors continue to shape the 1,000+ hours of footage involved in creating this film. Luckily for editors Steve Holloway and Gabriela Figueredo, two Rutgers University interns are onboard as assistant editors. Crystal Nunoo and Mackenzie Pitt have both spent a year supporting the staff in shaping The Starchasers film.

“Working at Okeanos has been an invaluable learning experience. Most of all, I love that the work we do has a meaningful and direct impact in the lives of Pacific Islanders,” said Pitt, a senior graduating in Journalism and Environmental Policy.

“I’ve become a better a filmmaker and storyteller from being a part of the Okeanos Foundation team,” said 2017 Journalism and Media Studies graduate Crystal Nunoo. “Every ripple we start has the ability to make waves.”

Director Dena Seidel films aboard the ‘Gaualofa’ in Samoa as Captain Fani Brunn teaches traditional navigation to local children.

Cinematographer Paul Atkins films Hokulea and Okeanos-built escort canoes in Molokai following a sacred ceremony at the Kalaupapa Leper colony – one of the last destinations of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.










After the success of our Emmy-nominated film Racing Extinction, Okeanos Foundation is proud to continue advancing public environmental awareness through The Starchasers. The full-length documentary is expected to be released in fall of 2018.