Seattle Scuba Schools

Teaching Nemo

We Helped Find Nemo!
Scuba Schools Director, Craig Gillespie, Teaches Pixar Production Crew to Dive.


Several years ago, when Nemo was still unformed thought in the minds of his creators at Pixar Studios, the powers that be at Pixar made the decision that Nemo's creators needed to have real life experience underwater. How were they to create an animated underwater movie if they had never spent time underwater? With that decision, Pixar embarked on an exhaustive search to find the right dive training organization, and the right instructor to teach the Pixar production crew to scuba dive. At Scuba Schools we are extremely proud of the fact that our director, Craig Gillespie, was the instructor chosen by Pixar to train their team. We are proud of the opportunity we were given to assist in 'Finding Nemo'.

The journey began with the production team, from the director on down, taking time from their busy task of getting Nemo off the ground, to participate in weekly dive course seminars. Our director, Craig Gillespie, held weekly seminars at Pixar Studios preparing the team for the water training. Although they were never able to all be free at the same time, the Pixar team studied hard and somehow, over a period of weeks, every member of the team found the time to complete all the knowledge development requirements for the PADI Open Water Diver Course. Along the way they barraged Craig with thousands of questions about diving and the underwater world. This, Craig was later to comment, was a group of dive students with motivation to dive far beyond that of the average student in our programs. These students were learning to dive in order to bring Nemo to life. They were learning to dive in order to gain the knowledge and ability to create an entire underwater world. It added an element of excitement to the program that Craig had never seen before, or since.

Once the knowledge development portion of the program had been completed, Craig and his dive staff got the Pixar team into the pool for the introduction to the dive gear. Most of the team had never before considered learning to Scuba dive. Unlike the average person coming to our programs, these people had not only never tried diving prior to the program, most of them had never even considered the possibility of learning to dive prior to the kick off of the Finding Nemo project. The level of apprehension in the pool was high, to say the least. This team carried their motivation to create the best underwater motion picture possible into the pool with them. The excitement, the enthusiasm and the pride they all felt over what they were doing in the creation of Finding Nemo carried the day. Through the pool training they encouraged each other not to give up. When some of the members had difficulty, they all took time to encourage that diver, to assist that diver, and in the end, to bring that diver along to the end of the process. Of the 27 Pixarians participating in the program, not one failed to make it through the pool sessions. Our director and Master Instructor, Craig Gillespie, observed that the energy level, and camaraderie experienced through this program, was unlike any group he has ever taught in his 30 years in the dive training business.

Finally, the Pixarians were ready for the real ocean. The group came together one less than beautiful weekend in Monterey California for their ocean training dives. The weather and inclement water conditions did nothing to dampen this groups spirit. As they had through the weeks of preparation, they refused to let anyone fall behind. Through two days of diving this family of Pixarians, tasked with creating Nemo and bringing him to life, never looked back. At the end of that weekend in Monterey, to a person, they were certified. They were now ready to create the greatest animated underwater movie of all time. They were ready to find Nemo. Scuba Schools director, Craig Gillespie, expresses his thanks to Pixar Studios and the Finding Nemo production crew for allowing him to become a member of that family of souls that created Nemo. The experience he had in assisting this group of very talented artists in the creation of 'Finding Nemo' is an experience he treasures greatly. To be involved in the creation of what will go down as one of the greatest animated movies of all time, was an incomparable honor. Assisting this group of Pixarians overcome their fears and apprehensions in learning to scuba dive, and go on to create 'Finding Nemo' was one of the most rewarding experiences of Craig's life.

Craig's final act in his experiences in 'Finding Nemo' was to take his six year old daughter to see the movie. Although Craig received an invitation to the Wrap Party & private showing of the movie when it was done, he declined to attend. "The first time I see this movie, there is absolutely no one with whom I want to see it more than with my 6 year old daughter, Tamara" said Craig. She loved it as much as Craig loved assisting in it's development.

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