• Celebrating SeaWeek: Meet Harriet & Woody of Grumpy Turtle Creative

    March 7, 2022 • STORIES

    Meet Harriet and Woody, founders of Grumpy Turtle Creative, based in Townsville, on the Great Barrier Reef. Together, they help individuals, businesses and organisations bring their vision for a better world to life. To celebrate SeaWeek (5-13 March), we had a chat with them about their incredible work.

    Celebrating SeaWeek: Meet Harriet & Woody of Grumpy Turtle Creative

    Tell us a little bit about yourselves…

    We met dive instructing on the Great Barrier Reef around ten years ago. I was working on a diving boat in the Whitsundays and Woody was a British backpacker who got hired and we hit it off. Now we are married and live in Townsville, on the Great Barrier Reef. Woody is an underwater cinematographer and I am a content producer. We work together in our business Grumpy Turtle Creative.

    How did Grumpy Turtle Creative come to be and what kind of work do?

    We are dive instructors, so we have spent a lot of time underwater with sea turtles. One thing I love about them is their faces – they always look like they’re frowning, and well, grumpy. As I began to combine diving with filmmaking, I kept thinking about turtles and the fact they probably look so grumpy because of our actions – our use of plastic, our inability to act on climate change on a broad scale and everything else we’re doing to impact the marine world.

    Everything we do, has the goal of making these sea turtles a little less grumpy by supporting businesses, organisations and individuals who are doing the same. We work with organisations that give a damn and are really focused on short-form documentary and brand films.

    Celebrating SeaWeek: Meet Harriet & Woody of Grumpy Turtle Creative

    What do you value most and how does this influence your work as creatives?

    I really value integrity and authenticity. I think ‘authentic’ gets thrown around a lot now and while the rise of more profit-for-purpose businesses and organisations is wonderful, it does mean there is also a rise in greenwashing.

    We really try and work with people who are genuinely driving change and have a proven track record of doing so. We are both inspired by films like My Octopus Teacher, which are visually stunning but also show that human-nature connection – it’s so important to showcase stories that put this kind of relationship front and centre.

    Visually, I am really drawn to dramatic light, particularly underwater. At sunrise and sunset, you get these ethereal rays of light beaming through the surface of the ocean and it is truly beautiful. It is my favourite time to be in the water.

    Do you have an experience through your work that will stay with you forever?

    We have been lucky enough to share a lot of magical experiences in nature together, above and below the ocean’s surface. A highlight was visiting the Banda Sea in Indonesia and diving with hundreds of schooling hammerheads.

    Last year we headed to South Australia for the annual cuttlefish aggregation. In the small coastal town of Whyalla, giant cuttlefish gather in the tens of thousands to mate. In the late 90s, 38 boats caught 270 tonnes of giant cuttlefish in just three weeks, nearly wiping out this astounding species. The cuttlefish are now protected during their breeding season between May and August, and it is such an incredible experience to dive with them, they’re like alien lifeforms.

    Celebrating SeaWeek: Meet Harriet & Woody of Grumpy Turtle Creative

    We’d love to hear what you’ve been up to recently? Any cool projects you can share with us?

    We’ve just wrapped up some cool work with Greenpeace, shooting some underwater actions to coincide with the release of the latest IPCC climate report, and worked with WWF on some Reef stories for their Earth Hour campaign.

    We’re also working with a couple of other people based on the Great Barrier Reef on a digital storytelling platform called Reef Fever that shares Reef news and policy explainers, storytelling, local voices and inspiring solutions to the climate crisis. And finally we’ve been editing our next Salt Water STEMinist film with an amazing researcher who studies epaulette sharks – they’re a species only found on the Great Barrier Reef that have the unique ability to ‘walk’ between shallow tidal pools.

    SeaWeek is Australia’s major national public awareness campaign to focus community awareness, provide information and encourage an appreciation of the sea. What does it mean to you to work within this educational space and inspire change?

    Protecting the ocean or the Reef is not always immediately what we think. The climate crisis is the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef, and to our oceans in general, and it can feel overwhelming impossible to fix this on an individual level.

    However, by being an active citizen we can have a big impact. That means doing stuff like contacting your local MP, divesting your hard-earned cash from fossil fuels via choosing a green bank or super fund or showing up at a climate rally. We try to showcase the beauty of the ocean but also link people back to tangible actions.

    Celebrating SeaWeek: Meet Harriet & Woody of Grumpy Turtle Creative

    Any parting words of wisdom?

    You need to keep working on things that ignite that get-up-and-go feeling so you stay inspired and creative. This isn’t always paid work, but it’s the kind of stuff that keeps the fire in your belly going. For us, that is working on films about unique and wonderful characters working to protect nature. Find your thing and hold onto it!

    Learn more

    Learn more about Grumpy Turtle here > grumpyturtlecreative.com

    Learn more about SeaWeek here > www.aaee.org.au/events/seaweek/