Career Spotlight: Documentary Producer Brian Cimagala

Brian Cimagala (Photo by: Tim Fulton)          -Nationality: USA                                           -Official Title: Documentary Producer       -Worked on the JR before: No

Brian Cimagala Interview


Please describe your job duties while on the JR. What will you be doing on a daily basis?

                  • Along with cinematographer Alejandro, I will be filming/documenting what’s happening on the ship: the scientific work as well as the mechanics of the expedition (travel, drilling, etc.), as well as the life on board the ship. The overall aim is to create a documentary that humanizes the science and work on board and also (hopefully) tells a bigger story about humanity, and the work it takes to combat climate change and save our species.

Describe one instrument or tool that is essential for you to do your job? Or a piece of equipment on the JR that is useful and why – what does it do?

                  • Our cameras. We definitely need those. For this documentary we are using seven cameras. We have two Panasonic EVAI, one A73 gimbal, one A7R2 handheld, two GoPros, and one DJI Manic Pro Drone.

Why is your work (or research) important? What question are you trying to answer or how does your work/research help assist/advance scientific knowledge?

  • Today, especially in the U.S., science – particularly climate science – is being politicized, and much of the public feels alienated by it all. Whether it’s the abstractness of climate change (what it is, its impacts, etc.), or their lack of contact with science in general – science has become more and more separate from the general public and public life. We hope to help change that with this documentary.

Why the ocean? What made you choose a career at sea or career that involves the ocean?

  • The overarching goals of the project are ones I wholeheartedly believe in. This was an incredible opportunity to document important work that is also epic. (I mean, we are going to the Pole of Inaccessibility!) I didn’t choose a career at sea, but I did choose a career that requires me to tell compelling stories. And this one is compelling. Also, personally, I have a sense of adventure.


Documentary producer Brian Cimagala filming Christina Riesselman & Chris Moy on the JOIDES Resolution expedition 383. (Photo Credit: Sian Proctor)

What are you most excited about for this expedition and/or being on the JR?

  • I am most excited about getting to know the scientists, earning their trust to allow me to tell their stories – both on a professional/science level, but also on a personal level. Also, I am stoked to get some great shots of this epic adventure.

What are three things you think are needed for a successful expedition at sea? And Why!

  • A sense of adventure – because: duh. 🙂
  • The ability to be around people and get along well (enough) with strangers, because being stuck on a boat with 130 people in the middle of nowhere requires that.
  • An appreciation for the work, because being away from family/friends/real life for 2 months isn’t the best thing in the world.

What is your favorite sea creature and why?

  • Great White Sharks are pretty badass. Because: Jaws.


Great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, August 2006. (Photo credit: Terry Goss, Wikipedia)

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in science or an ocean science career?

  • I’ve always been a science fan/nerd, as far back as I can remember. I loved dinosaurs as a kid (my favorite being the Triceratops), and although I am not in the science field, per se, I always jump at the opportunity to tell science stories.

What do you personally hope to gain or experience while on EXP383?

  • I hope to make a powerful documentary that will help change the world.

What message do you have for anyone considering a career at sea or a career involving the ocean sciences?

  • Do it!

What do you do back home when not on the JR?

  • Spend as much time with my wife as I can – before being pulled away for the next project.

Do you get sea sick? If yes or sometimes, please also select the other tab and describe how you cope with it.

  • Sometimes – in rough seas. I take whatever drugs the doc prescribes, stay hydrated, and rest as much as I can.

The need for space comes in many forms. Which type of space, in general, is the most important to you?

  • _X_Personal Space
  • ___Creative Space
  • ___Outdoor Space
  • ___Emotional Space
  • ___Physical Space
  • ___Spiritual or Meditative
  • ___Outer Space
  • ___Community Space
  • ___Quite Space
  • ___Productive/Work Space
  • ___Digital/Virtual Space
  • ___Public Space
  • ___Inner Space
  • ___Other:

Why that type of space? What makes it important to you and will it be available while on the JR?

  • The work that I do involves getting to know strangers rather intimately. A lot of that means quickly learning about their work/craft, assessing who they are (tics, likes, dislikes, how best to work/film with them), and becoming empathetic. It can be quite taxing – emotionally and mentally… but also physically, as documentary work typically involves filming 12-hour days, lugging around a camera and other gear, and then managing footage and equipment AFTER filming (as well as assessing what was filmed, what needs to be filmed, how best to film it, etc.) I need my own “downtime” to decompress, focus on myself, and just take a moment to breathe. I often find that downtime in the gym, which allows me to mentally tune out and to burn off whatever excess energy I have from the day.
Sian Proctor
Dr. Sian Proctor is an analog astronaut, geoscientist, and science communicator with a passion for space exploration. She believes that when we solve issues dealing with space exploration, we also solve for issues on Earth. Dr. Proctor is a geology, sustainability, and planetary science professor at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science, an M.S. in Geology, and a Ph.D. in Science Education.
More articles by: Sian Proctor

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