Craig Foster (filmmaker)

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Craig Foster
NationalitySouth African
Occupation(s)Documentary filmmaker, naturalist
Known forMy Octopus Teacher
SpouseSwati Thiyagarajan

Craig Foster is a South African documentary filmmaker, naturalist, and founder of the Sea Change Project. He is known for the 2020 film My Octopus Teacher, for which he won an Academy Award in 2021.


In 2012, Foster co-founded the Sea Change Project, a nonprofit group to protect marine life and raise awareness of the importance of the kelp forest in South Africa.[1][2]

When making The Great Dance: A Hunter's Story (2000) and My Hunter's Heart (2010),[3] he learned some of the animal tracking techniques from the San people of the Kalahari Desert.[4]

My Octopus Teacher[edit]

Foster was the subject, producer,[2] and photographer of a 2020 Netflix Original film called My Octopus Teacher, directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed.[5][6] The movie is about his experience diving in the kelp forests at a remote location in False Bay, near Cape Town, in the Western Cape of South Africa.[7] During that time, he found a common octopus who began to trust him, and he revisited and filmed her every day for that year.[8] Foster started filming in 2010 and the project was ten years in the making. It was the first Netflix Original South African nature documentary.[1]

Underwater footage not shown in the movie but filmed by the same team, at the same location, and about the same subject, had been shown previously on Blue Planet II, episode 5.[4][9]


During the course of his underwater tracking, Foster discovered eight new species of shrimp. One of them, Heteromysis fosteri, was named after him.[4][10]

Personal life[edit]

Foster is married to Indian documentary filmmaker and environmental journalist Swati Thiyagarajan. He has a son, Tom, by his former wife.[11][12]


Foster is the co-author of Sea Change – Primal Joy and the Art of Underwater Tracking.[4]

Selected filmography[edit]

Foster's film projects include:[13][3]

  • The Great Dance: A Hunter's Story (2000, director)
  • Africa Unbottled (2001, director)
  • Cosmic Africa (2003, director)
  • My Hunter's Heart (2010, director)
  • Into the Dragon's Lair (2010, cinematographer)
  • Wild Walk (2010 television series, director)
  • The Animal Communicator (2012, director, producer)
  • Touching the Dragon (2013, director)
  • Dragons Feast (2014 television documentary film, director)
  • My Octopus Teacher (2020, producer,[2] cinematographer, subject)


  1. ^ a b Stark, Vicky. "'Octopus Teacher' Lets Filmmaker Into Secret World". Voice of America - English. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Projects". Sea Change Project. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b Craig Foster at IMDb
  4. ^ a b c d Allie, Mohammed (4 November 2018). "'How I became friends with an octopus'". BBC News. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  5. ^ Jeffs, Kathryn. "Filming the octopus Houdini in South Africa". Archived from the original on 6 March 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Filmmaker Craig Foster Talks About My Octopus Teacher on Fresh Air". Northern California Public Media. Archived from the original on 18 October 2020. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  7. ^ InterNewsCast (19 September 2020). "Where was 'My Octopus Teacher' on Netflix Filmed?". Internewscast. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  8. ^ Foster, Craig. "Filmmaker Finds an Unlikely Underwater Friend in 'My Octopus Teacher'". Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  9. ^ Kathryn Jeffs. "Filming the octopus Houdini in South Africa". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  10. ^ Wittmann, Karl J.; Griffiths, Charles L. (13 July 2017). "Three new species of Heteromysis (Mysida, Mysidae, Heteromysini) from the Cape Peninsula, South Africa, with first documentation of a mysid-cephalopod association". ZooKeys (685): 15–47. doi:10.3897/zookeys.685.13890. PMC 5646659. PMID 29089836.
  11. ^ Pomarico, Nicole (7 September 2020). "Meet Swati Thiyagarajan, Wife of 'My Octopus Teacher' Star Craig Foster". YourTango. Archived from the original on 8 September 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  12. ^ Rego, Anoushka (7 September 2020). "Craig Foster, My Octopus Teacher: Is He Married? Who Is Craig Foster's Wife?". The Cinemaholic. Archived from the original on 22 September 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  13. ^ Fogarty, Paul (16 September 2020). "Who is Craig Foster? The human star of My Octopus Teacher has left fans in tears". HITC. Retrieved 17 October 2020.

External links[edit]