Steven on Pi Raft
Photo: Jamie Bishop
Life of Pi Wave Tank & Raft

Suraj and Steven
Photo: Peter Sorel, Courtesy Fox 2000 Pictures
Discussing a Scene with Suraj Sharma as Pi

Kathy, Benjamin Walker
Ben Walker with Kathy & Me

My Film-Television Services & Background

BBC Speaking EngagementMy services aim to aid film makers in planning and executing the most cost-efficient and creative theatrical or television film that involves the marine environment and/or survival subject.

To address a film maker's diverse needs, I can bring both an unusually eclectic marine and survival background as well as a holistic approach to a project. My experience—in sailing for half a century with nearly forty years of venturing offshore, in designing and building boats stretching back to the 1960s, in surviving a two-and-one-half month liferaft drift, and in training other mariners in seamanship and survival issues—can bring authenticity and realism about marine and survival issues to the screen. In addition, the contacts I have made with top boat designers, builders, sailors, other survival experts, and survivors worldwide provide me not only with further real-world knowledge but also with additional resources on which I can draw to help produce a film. The books and hundreds of articles I've authored, edited, and/or illustrated, give me the skills and ability to balance and coordinate the practical and authentic concerns of a project with others' creative desires and any creative license required. From pre-production through principal shooting and post-production, my services include:

  • • Analysis of and commentary on real-life marine and survival events

  • • Story, script, and story board development and review

  • • Researching or otherwise providing reference materials for various departments

  • • Practical planning and overall design of physical elements required for dramatizations, such as the overall    environment, locations, boat design and construction, and other details

  • • Training and general briefing of actor(s)

  • • Consultation with art, wardrobe, makeup, props, and other departments throughout shooting

  • • Design and creation of props

  • • Assistance with setups, arranging details, and rehearsing actors

  • • Review and tuning of footage and visual effects

I can also aid film makers in obtaining rights to and development of other marine-oriented stories involving universal themes that appeal to general audiences. I maintain film and dramatization rights to some stories, including my second book, Capsized, which has been adapted for stage and radio dramatizations previously. Rights to Adrift have been purchased, but still may be available for development as well.

Life of Pi

My first film experience culminated with the release of the 20th Century Fox film Life of Pi in late 2012. Among the many awards and award nominations, Life of Pi has received nine Oscar nominations. It won four, including a second Oscar for director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Sense and Sensibility, among others). The script garnered script writer David Magee's (Finding Neverland) second nomination. Both Ang and David have been generous in their comments about the critical nature of my role in the making of this film, which include the services listed here and other contributions, such as my testing and directing the operations of a unique wave tank. Please see details of my filmography below. Click links for articles and videos about the Life of Pi and here for an article that I wrote specifically about my work on the project.

In the Heart of the Sea

At the end of 2013, I consulted on In Heart of the Sea, a survival film directed by Ron Howard and released by Warner Brothers in December 2015. The film chronicles the disaster of the Essex, a Nantucket whaling ship that was rammed in the Pacific by a large sperm whale in 1820. The film was adapted from Nathaniel Philbrick's book of the same name, which won the National Book award in 2001. I worked specifically with the actors by explaining and showing them how it felt to be adrift at sea and starving. They had to handle a balanced but regimented diet to lose weight, and many lost as much as 10 percent of their normal body weight with perseverance, exercise, and endurance. During the filming, the actors asked me to give them the words to express their agony and stravation. Benjamin Walker also told my wife, Kathy, and many who observed the filming that "I finally understand how Steven Callahan felt on his raft." Some actors, like Ben, had to deal with depression from this weight-loss regime. Please see my 2014-2016 News page for further details about the film opening.

Selected Filmography

• Discovery Channel: "Naked and Marooned with Ed Stafford" (self & commentary on Ed surviving 60 days on a remote Pacific island), aired in 2013

• Fox Studios 2000: Life of Pi feature film (marine and survival consultant from 2009 to 2012), premiered at New York Film Festival in September 2012; shown in worldwide theaters in November 2012

• Animal Planet Network: "I Shouldn't Be Alive," season 4, episode 6 (self), first aired on November 17, 2010

• Discovery–E-Networks: "Against all Odds: 15 Greatest Survival Stories" (self & archival footage), aired on 24 April 2009

• Fox News: "Assignment Danger: Alvah Simon's exploration of the Darien Jungle" (self & archival footage), aired on 23 June 2001

• BBC: "Ray Mears, Extreme Survival" (self, consult, & archival footage)

• Discovery Travel Channel: "To Survive: Alvah Simon's Panama Expedition," 2002 (self & archival footage)

• National Geographic: "Pacific Rescue"(script consult via Cruising World magazine), aired in 1995

• Joan Rivers Show: "Beating the Odds" (self & graphics), aired 15 January 1993

• ABC & Internationally Syndicated: Oprah Winfrey Show (self & graphics), aired on ABC on 21 December 1992

• NHK Japan Public Television and Discovery Channel: Programs focusing on the human body (self & archival footage), aired on various dates internationally

• WBZ-TV Boston (CBS Affiliate): "Evening Magazine" (self, consult, & archival footage), aired on 20 February 1986

• NBC: "The Today Show" (self & graphics), aired on 21 January 1986

• NBC: "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" (self & graphics), aired in 1986

• Lancit Media Productions: "Survival" A Health Reading Video (self & consult), aired on PBS as an episode of "Reading Rainbow" in 1983

• ABC: "Chronicle" (self & archival footage), aired on 7 January 1983

• PBS: "Late Night with Dennis Wholey"(self), aired on 12 December 1982

• CBS: "Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt" (self, consult, & archival footage), aired on 7 November 1982

• NBC: "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" (self), aired on 12 November 1982


Copyright © 2011 Steven Callahan