Making Dream Life Real Life – How One Yacht Crew Member Turned Their Passion Into A Paycheck

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by Randi Barry

     Now more than ever, yachts are exploring off-the-beaten path destinations and exciting new cruising grounds. Whether these new frontiers are the balmy South Pacific Oceans, or the rugged icy landscape of the Arctic – the desire to have these unique journeys documented is growing daily.  As an award-winning filmmaker, Shelton Du Preez saw an opportunity for his craft within the industry – launching Luxury Yacht Films in early 2018.

     We sat down with Shelton to find out about his path of discovery from Yacht Crew to Entrepreneur before he set off on his next adventures to Croatia, the West Coast of Canada and beyond.

Diving into the waters of Croatia off of a yacht
📍Croatia © Shelton Du Preez | Luxury Yacht Films

Randi: First let’s start with, how did you get into yachting?

Shelton:
I first heard about it through my sister, who is a chef in the industry, when I was 14 years old. Once I heard about the traveling, adventurous lifestyle… I was like “Ok yes, I know exactly what I’m going to do”. I finished high school in Canada,  worked for a year at a surf shop, and set out to Fort Lauderdale to join yachting right after my 19th birthday back in 2007.

R: You’re so lucky you heard about yachting so young!

S: Yeah I am very fortunate for that! Getting in at that age definitely had its pros and cons. It was great to get a head start in my career, however quickly climbing the ranks had its own set of hurdles. I’m a huge advocate of the industry and appreciate the doors and possibilities that can unfold from being involved in it, for example, the niche position I have been able to create. It would be difficult to even think up an idea like this if you weren’t initially exposed to this world. I love it!

Crew on board a yacht in Galapagos
2nd Officer Dan Smith on M/Y Savannah keeps a lookout | © Shelton Du Preez | Luxury Yacht Films

R: How did you get into filming?

S: As a youngster, my friends and I would play around with filming and making silly videos on the beach. It always felt pretty easy, but It was just for fun.  It wasn’t until the spring of 2015 when I was Chief Mate on M/Y Latitude in San Francisco that I really picked up the video camera again. We had just completed the Northwest Passage the previous summer, and once we found out that we would be doing the passage for the second time, I thought “Someone should be filming this”. I told my Captain that I wanted to focus on filming the passage and he was very encouraging. I practiced and made a few small movies leading up to it and when the owner came onboard and caught wind, he too was keen and excited. Right time, right place, I saw an opportunity and grabbed onto it with both hands.  I had a fantastic start with the owner, captain and crew, plus getting to film in super unique places.
We did the Northwest Passage the second time and the resulting film had a ton of positive feedback throughout the industry. It was kind of the first of the ice-related movies; there were not a lot of boats doing these things in the past so it was well received.
Our 3rd Arctic summer was spent circumnavigating Svalbard in Norway. That’s when I made “The Highest Latitude” which was a major turning  point where everything snowballed into what is now “Luxury Yacht Films”

R: When did you know it was time to take the leap?

S: The timing was due to a large combination of things really. The idea first came to me while filming in the Arctic. I realized that boats were doing these cool off the beaten path cruises and with the huge advances in consumer camera technology – we now have the ability to take a mini studio with us, including editing ability. Additionally, I recognized a massive shift in privacy and social media within the industry. More Owners were happy and keen to show their boats and tell their stories in magazines and online platforms.
I then received a huge boost of encouragement and confidence when “The Highest Latitude” won Best Amateur Film at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York City late last year. The idea was brewing.

Attending the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York City © Shelton Du Preez | Luxury Yacht Films

The final straw was soon after when I found myself in the Galapagos on holiday with my sister. I was fortunate to have met and become friends with a highly respected yacht agent who believed this kind of service was a brilliant idea!

If there was ever a time I was going to do it – it was now!

Since pursuing this full time at the start of the new year, I have had a very successful first half of the year filming and photographing onboard a variety of high-end motor and sail yachts, including Savannah, Spirit and Antara, throughout the Galapagos, Cocos Island, Croatia and Canada.

galapagos seals playing on the beach
📍 Galapagos © Shelton Du Preez | Luxury Yacht Films

Luxury Yacht Films ascribes to the axiom of superyacht standards for which yacht owners and guests have become accustomed to. Shelton’s professional and confidential work captures the array of adventures, emotions and memories on-charter. His unique approach to videography not only means that the results are instantaneous, but also contribute to the thrill of the expedition – delivering completely edited photos daily with an exquisite film screening on the final night.

He takes pride in the fact that the results are instant, in the moment and the perfect culmination to the onboard adventure. Depending on how long the trip is and how many activities, the films are 10-15 minutes and integrate drone footage, on deck footage, and underwater filming. A certified Master 3000gt, FAA Drone Pilot, Dive Master, and Accomplished Freediver – Shelton is as comfortable under the sea as he is on deck, which comes through in the fluidity and ease of his productions.

Luxury Yacht Films is a stand-alone freelance filmmaking and photography service for private and charter guests trips, anywhere in the world. Knowing the luxury yacht industry, its owners, captains and crew dynamics inside and out, now puts him in a position to seamlessly join any kind of vessel.

To offer this experience on board for your guests, get in touch with Shelton for a detailed information package: shelton@luxuryyachtfilms.com

Follow Shelton’s exciting journey through his lens: Luxury Yacht Films on Instagram

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