Mobile native Mike deGruy’s life and career as an award-winning filmmaker and oceanic videographer are chronicled beautifully in a new documentary that will be screening in his hometown this weekend.
“Diving Deep: The Life and Times of Mike deGruy” is a documentary about deGruy that his wife and filmmaking partner, Mimi, spent years putting following his untimely death.
deGruy, whose groundbreaking work on the acclaimed BBC and Discovery Channel series “The Blue Planet: Seas of Life” won both Emmy and BAFTA awards, died in a helicopter crash near the coast of Australia in 2012.
He was filming a series with Academy Award-winning director James Cameron on the Mariana Trench at the time of the crash. Cameron is one of many people who worked with deGruy and his wife that share their memories in the documentary — a film that follows deGruy’s journey from a boy exploring the waters of Mobile Bay to an acclaimed filmmaker and a fierce advocate for Earth’s oceans.
The latter half of the film focuses on deGruy’s work to highlight the devastation along the Gulf Coast following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Without a contract or grant to fund his initial work, deGruy moved back to Mobile with his family, grabbed a camera and started filming on his own.
Following her husband’s death, Mimi deGruy went into the editing room and began putting together pieces of dramatic and previously unreleased footage Mike and his other colleagues had captured. It also includes personal interviews with family, friends and heavyweights in the film industry like Cameron and Brittish documentarian Sir David Attenborough.
“Diving Deep” is about deGruy’s life, but it also focuses on continuing the mission he dedicated the final years of life to, which was bringing attention to the destruction that off-shore oil production has caused in the Gulf of Mexico in the past and the danger it still poses for the future.
A particularly powerful scene near the end of the movie captures a visibly frustrated deGruy standing on the water’s edge in Bayou La Batre. There, he laments the disparity between the money big oil companies spend exploiting the ocean’s resources and what little scientists have to study it.
“I ask [scientists], ‘how much money do you need,’ and I hear figures like $100,000. That’s a lot of money, but not compared to the insane amounts of money that corporations spend pulling oil out of the environment,” deGruy said. “They’re spending billions exploiting and destroying the very habitats that we don’t even understand yet because the scientists don’t have $100,000.”
“Diving Deep,” which picked up multiple awards on the film festival circuit in 2019, is now getting ready to start its theatrical run this weekend, which includes showings at the Regal Stadium 18 at McGowan Park. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11; 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15.
A trailer for the film can be seen below or on its offical website divingdeepmovie.com.
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