Fisher Stevens’s new Netflix documentary, Mission Blue, tells the story of marine biologist and ocean conservationist Sylvia Earle, and her lifelong activism on behalf of the world’s oceans. As a producer on The Cove, ocean documentaries have become somewhat of a niche for Stevens, who met Earle when he was asked to film her for TED.
“We realized we needed to tell this woman's story. It deserves to be made,” Stevens tells Vulture of his subject matter. “She's a pioneer in many ways. Not just because she's been fighting for the oceans, but she's a pioneer for females, women scientists, women marine biologists.”
Using a combination of archival footage, interviews and new footage of Earle, Stevens weaves together both Earle’s personal story and the message that she’s trying to get across. “The beauty of the archival is that it takes you back to a different, simpler time. It was so different back then,” Stevens says. “You see how quickly we're moving as a species. And how quickly the oceans are depleting. We never thought we could hurt the oceans. As Sylvia says, now we know. Some people knew for 30 years.”
One aspect of filmmaking that was a big focus for Stevens was the music. “I definitely think [in] documentaries, music is crucial — especially when you don’t have a script, it helps push stories along,” he explains. “Whenever I make a film, I just try as much as I can to keep every moment of the music right. Sometimes you don’t always hit it. I’ve driven composers possibly crazy by having them redo things, redo things, redo things.”