It was important to me that the film also looked at the human aspect of the issue. I WANTED to understand the locals’ stake in the industry and tell their stories as well. I believe that conservation efforts are most successful when both the well- being of animals and humans is taken into account. I also wanted to show the positive side of eco-tourism, which is why the film also includes the alternative practices in Donsol, Philippines. Like I say in the documentary, it’s about finding a balance between conservation and industry.

Many people think that as an individual their actions don’t matter in the grand scheme of conservation. My aim was to make people aware that their choices and actions can have a TREMENDOUS impact on the survival of an entire species.

-Neela Eyunni
ExEcutive Producer, Producer, Writer, Presenter




IN MARCH 2015 I VISITED OSLOB, PHILIPPINES AS A TOURIST. AFTER READING THAT WHALE SHARKS WERE SPOTTED THERE DAILY AND SEEING SOME INCREDIBLE PHOTOS ONLINE, I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO SNORKELING WITH THEM. HOWEVER, MY EXCITEMENT SOON TURNED TO CONCERN AFTER I SAW THE WHALE SHARKS BEING FED.  I IMMEDIATELY FELT A PIT IN MY STOMACH AS I WITNESSED THE WHALE SHARKS FOLLOWING FEEDER BOATS, WHILE HOARDS OF SNORKELERS SWARMED AROUND THEM. THE EXPERIENCE COMPELLED ME TO FIND OUT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION  ABOUT THESE INTERACTIONS, INCLUDING  HOW THEY WERE AFFECTING THE SHARKS. TWO MONTHS AFTER MY INITIAL TRIP, I WAS BACK WITH A FILM CREW TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE PRACTICES IN OSLOB.





DETAILS

LOGLINE

On The Brink : Uncharted Waters 

"​On the Brink: Uncharted Waters” explores the whale shark tourism industry in the Philippines. The documentary takes an in-depth look at different practices in various parts of the country where whale shark interactions have become a staple of the economy. This film poses the question: Do these practices promote conservation or exploitation?

SUMMARY 

On the Brink: Uncharted Waters” is a critical examination of the whale shark tourism industry in the Philippines. Once routinely poached for their fins, today’s whale sharks are protected in the Philippines, as their ability to attract tourists has become a major source of revenue for the country. However, questionable industry practices, as well as the possible long-term negative ramifications of this particular brand of eco-tourism, have put the Philippines’ whale shark tourism industry at the center of significant controversy.  By documenting industry practices never before captured on film, it exposes HIDDEN DANGERS THAT SOME INTERACTIONS POSE TO WHALE SHARKS.  The film also looks at the human aspect of the issue, and discovers how the whale shark tourism industry can continue to support locals without exploiting the SHARKS.

SHORT SYNOPSIS


  • Picture Format: Color
  • Run Time:         54 min 38 sec
  • Filming Location: Philippines
  • Language: English ​


​Shark tourism is a booming industry around the world, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars every year.          “On the Brink: Uncharted Waters” explores different whale shark tourism practices in the Philippines.

The industry has existed in the country since 1998. But new practices, including feeding whale sharks from boats, have put the industry at the center of controversy. The feature-length documentary film takes an investigative approach, seeking to answer the question: “Is the whale shark tourism industry in the Philippines conservation or exploitation?”

By documenting industry practices never before captured on film, it exposes new information about the industry, and SHEDS LIGHT ON threats posed to whale sharks. Through in-depth interviews with marine biologists and leading conservationists, “On the Brink: Uncharted Waters” reveals how some practices could leave the sharks vulnerable to poachers and ultimately threaten the survival of the species. It further examines how this in turn, could have a devastating impact on the marine ecosystem. In contrast, the film also highlights places where whale shark interactions are positive examples of ecotourism.

The film thoroughly examines the human aspect of the issue. It documents how the whale shark tourism industry has transformed poor towns into bustling municipalities with benefits for locals such as improved education and healthcare. It looks at the industry through the lives of these locals and tells their personal stories. The documentary is unique in the fact that it promotes a balance between industry and conservation in order to benefit both animals and people. “On the Brink: Uncharted Waters” shows how the whale shark tourism industry can support locals without exploiting the sharks. The aim is to raise awareness on how the choices people make directly affects the future and survival of these gentle giants.

FIlmmaker's statement