Synopsis: Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.
Production: Magnolia Pictures
  Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 6 wins & 38 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
83 min


Orange County Fire Rescue.

6600 Sea Harbor Drive.

SeaWorld Stadium.


We actually have a trainer in the water

with one of our whales--

the whale that they're not supposed

to be in the water with.


We'll get somebody en route.

Okay, through gate #3 to Shamu Stadium.

Gate 3.

Orange County Sheriff's Office.

We need SO to respond

for a dead person at SeaWorld.

Uh, a whale has eaten one of the trainers.

A whale ate one of the trainers?

That's correct.

Do you believe?

My parents first brought me to a SeaWorld park

when I was very young.

From that point forward, I was hooked.

It meant everything to me because

I'd never wanted anything more.

I remember being probably

in first or second grade

watching National Geographic specials

or Mutual of Omaha specials

and seeing whales and seeing dolphins

and as a little kid

just being really incredibly inspired by it.

I never went to SeaWorld.

I grew up in New York,

so I went to the Bronx Zoo.

Grew up on a lake with horses.

We'd swim the horses.

I grew up around the ocean.

I came from the middle of the country

in flatland Kansas.

I'm from Virginia.

Traveled down, did the theme park thing

in Orlando when I was 17

and saw the night show at Shamu Stadium.

Very emotional, you know, popular music.

And I was just-- I was very driven

to want to do that.

Then I saw what the trainers did...

and I said,

"That's what I want to do."

One of the trainers there, he goes,

"What are you doing out there?

You should be a trainer."

I go, "I don't know how to train animals.

I've never trained animals

in my life."

How do you prepare yourself for an encounter

with an 8,000-pound Orcinus orca?

I always thought

you needed, like, a master's degree

in marine biology to be a trainer.

It takes years of study and experience

to meet the strict requirements necessary

to interact in the water with Shamu.

Come to find out, it really is more about

your personality and how good you can swim.

I went and tried out, got the job right away.

I'm like, "Yeah!"

So excited, you know.

I was so, so excited.

I really wanted to be there.

I really wanted to do the job.

I couldn't wait to get in the water

with the animals.

I really was proud of being a SeaWorld trainer.

You know, I thought this was

the most amazing job.

I showed up there on my first day,

not really knowing what to expect.

I was told to put on a wetsuit

and get in the water.

Hi, Mom!

Oh, I was scared out of my wits.

First of all, I put my wetsuit on backwards

because I was raised on a farm in Virginia.

- Hi, Dad!

- My first thought

and memory of that time

was that dolphins are a lot bigger...

...heh, than they look

when you get in the water next to them.

Well, I watched the Sea Lion & Otter Show,

and this guy, Mike Morocco,

he comes out during the show

with a dress on as Dorky,

the alter ego of Dorothy--

in a dress with a sea lion,

the Coward Sea Lion, right?

And he's walking along with this little basket,

and I go, "I will never,

ever do that."

You know?

Two months later...

Hi, I'm Dorky!

Walking out onstage with a sea lion.

I was overwhelmed and I was so excited.

I mean, just seeing a killer whale...

is breathtaking.

I was just in awe.

It's shocking to see how large they are

and how beautiful they are.

Being in the presence of the killer whales

was just inspiring and amazing,

and I remember seeing them for the first time,

just not being able to believe

how huge they were.

You're there because you want to train

killer whales and that's your goal.


I didn't know it was going to happen,

so I wasn't expecting it.

And one day they say,

"Okay, Sam, you're ready to go."

Come on, you got it.

"You're going to stand on the whale.

You're going to dive off the whale.

The whale's going to swim under you

and pick you up again.

And then you're going to do

a perimeter ride around the pool."


Keep moving.

Ride him to the slide-out.

They just told me to go do it and I did it.

Wow, I did-- I just rode

a killer whale.

Yay, girly!

When you look into their eyes,

you know somebody is home.

Somebody's looking back.

You form a very personal relationship

with your animal.

There's something absolutely amazing

about working with an animal.

You are a team.

You build a relationship together.

You both understand the goal

and you help each other.

I've been with this whale

since I was 18 years old

and I've seen her have all four of her babies.

We've grown up together. Huh?

That's the joy I got out of it.

It's a relationship like I've never had.


I have to know-- are you nervous?

I'm scared.

- Oh, no.

- Nice hair, Jeff.

Did you see anything?

Projection for the future of Jeff Ventre.

Jeff Ventre is going to go over there,

he's going to shine.

- You're going to notice...

- Dawn.

- Oh, that's Dawn.

- Wow.

He's going to be my supervisor one day.

There you go.

I knew Dawn when she was new.

She was a great person to work with

and she obviously blossomed

into one of SeaWorld's best trainers.

This is Dawn Brancheau.

Dawn is the senior trainer

here at Shamu Stadium.

I guess you could say

I kind of knew Dawn in a past life.

It's a tough job, isn't it?

Yeah, we really do go through

a lot of physical exertion.

You can see in the show

Rate this script:4.4 / 8 votes

Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Gabriela Cowperthwaite (born 1971) is an American filmmaker, with two documentaries and a feature film released. Her films often deal with social, cultural and environmental issues relating to real life events. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Blackfish" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 17 Jun 2024. <>.

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