Behind the Scenes: Venom!/Creatures of Darkness
by Mark Conlin, cinematographer

      While shooting the footage for "Creatures of Darkness" and "Venom!," Howard Hall, Bob Cranston and I were working in one of our all-time favorite places, Mexico's Sea of Cortez. We were going to be filming for weeks, so our boat captain had put out the word to his friends to keep their eyes peeled for anything unusual.

One by one, local fishermen motored near our boat to tell us that they were catching big squid at night. "Muy grande," they said. We had filmed squid for many years in California, so my mental picture of "big" squid jumped from six inches to about a foot. One night, we followed the fishermen to try our luck at locating the squid. The fishermen's "secret" to locating squid consisted of drifting in the middle of nowhere, over nothing in particular, in areas where the water was more than 1,000 feet deep. While I loaded film in the camera, Howard and Bob lowered some bait over the side and set up the "squid" lights. These 1,200 watt bulbs created a pool of light around the boat, turning night into day. We turned on the lights and waited.

Our friend who joined us on the trip, Alex Kerstitch, was a Sea of Cortez expert. His local knowledge helped us film unusual animal behaviors we might have easily missed. Over the years, Alex had heard stories about the Giant or Humboldt squid that lived in deep water. Fishermen had also told stories around the campfire and a few specimens had actually washed up on the beach. Alex said he had dreamed of getting the chance to see a live specimen up close.


Sea Dwellers
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