It all started with sharks. A small child staring at a nature documentary of a shark and not believing the creature could be real; it must be CGI. But Andy Casagrande soon found out that sharks were very real and remarkable. Now considered the “shark guy” of Discovery and National Geographic, Casagrande has been filming sharks since 2002 and has made 57 shark week films.
Andy is low key in his waders as he sits down with us for a cup of coffee in between a busy shooting schedule. He talks with passion and his hands as he goes into tangents of stories and adventures.
He’s been all over the world shooting wildlife, almost bitten by a King Cobra, put a go pro on the fin of a shark, and he’s won an Emmy. But behind the man that has had so much success on camera looking for sharks is just a guy that is fascinated by wildlife.
“It’s always about the animal and how graceful and beautiful and majestic they are,” he said.
He started studying marine biology until he realized that he would still have awhile until he could work with the animals he loved so much. So he got up close and personal behind the camera.
“I realized that if I was a cameraman or a filmmaker I could still work with scientists and be involved with marine biology but get to do the fun stuff.”
Then, Casagrande switched between National Geographic and Discovery working on Shark Week and other documentaries like Earth Live where he’s filmed many apex predators.
“It’s just addicting, once you start to film predators,” he said. “It’s pretty horrific but at the same time it’s Mother Nature.”
He admits that he doesn’t have much control over what Discovery does with what he shoots. They’re trying to cater to everyone and as a result, the shows can be quite dramatic. Some complain that Shark Week is too much fantasy like while others think it’s too science heavy. However, Casagrande said that his time with sharks is simpler than seen on television.
“I’ve never been underwater with a Great White where I hear death metal playing,” he said.
Casagrande believes the images and stories that are told through his shots inspire people to care about sharks. Poaching is a big problem with Great White Sharks- He’s a big conservationist so he wants to help change public perception. He thinks getting celebrities involved like Michael Phelps, who is in the latest season, can change the perception.
“On one Shark Week show or one National Geographic show, fifty million people can watch it in the weekend,” he said. “It’s really powerful.”
Casagrande thinks being passionate is the biggest asset for what he does. He said you don’t have to be the best in the world but you have to do it for the right reasons.
“Live the life you dream,” he said. “When I was a kid I dreamed of studying sharks.”