Tuesday, 28 September 2010

September update - Bite back, looking forward and the gravy train...


It's been a manic few weeks and when I say manic, I mean MANIC! There has been charity balls, dying computers, video diaries, radio interviews, filming the trailer and a whole host of other exciting things so here is a bit of a run down of the last few weeks.

Last Saturday saw me returning to London for the Bite Back charity fundraising ball where I was part of the Cameras Underwater table and once again got to enjoy the hospitality and warmth afforded to me by Dave Glanfield who is truly one of life's good guys and who was kind enough to pay for my stay in the Strand Palace Hotel.

We were joined by Dave's lovely fiance Silvia and another of the Cameras Underwater team Paul Duxfield or "Duxy" as he is more commonly known. Duxy is a great guy and a well of technical knowledge on the subject of photography and film-making. What always strikes me about these guys is they really, really know their stuff and that's because they've been there and done it in the field, it's a huge pleasure to have them on board with "From the Office..."

The evening itself was fantastic, the food superb and the amount raised over the course of the night was a magnificent £11,500. Full credit to all the team at Bite Back who put in such a huge effort to raise money, not just for shark conservation but also the Marie Curie cancer charity, it is always heartening to see people putting their time and energy aside to support worthy causes and it was a pleasure to be in attendance.

The other big development this month is that filming for the trailer is now almost complete with only a couple more shots to film and I have already started editing with very pleasing results. You may ask how I can film a trailer for a film about sharks, a film which has not even had a frame shot yet, in an urban English city, you can also add on to that the fact there is no music yet and a computer which died at the precise moment editing was due to start and you will appreciate this is not an easy task, however, I am confident I have cracked it regarding the concept and I have an idea of the music also, which I will write and record. The footage is all in broadcast quality HD (thanks to Hamish kindly letting me use his camera which I am dreading having to return!) and the edit is really starting to take shape so I have high hopes. I am hoping for the finished version to be available to stream online within the next three weeks.

In regards to progress with the project as a whole, things are moving in the right direction. This blog for example is averaging around one hundred unique views every day, the website is seeing very positive traffic and meetings are being arranged all the time, there are preliminary discussions with some very high profile name organisations which I am hoping to take to the next step and I am gradually building greater media awareness of what I am doing. It is also positive to see the facebook group attracting increased numbers every day and due to requests on both that group and via email, I have now added an option to donate towards the cost of making the film, via paypal, to the website simply click on "The Project" then the link to "Contribute."

It is somewhat overwhelming to hear that ordinary people, people just like me, want to contribute in some way to the cost of this first film. People really want to see it and the feedback both on the facebook page, this blog and via email is really giving me the strength to push on and make this happen despite the obvious difficulties one encounters when without a regular income of note. I have committed to, in the event the full cost is covered by corporate sponsorship or funding, donating the full amount raised by the kind people who have so far donated, to a shark charity and a charity that works to help disadvantaged youths in inner city areas.

It puts into perspective then, the general apathy from some people already within the conservation and shark based diving industry, including some with a high media profile and those who purport to make ethical shark based films with an emphasis on fact and conservation. We have the individual who was insistent the concept of an ordinary working class man risking everything to pursue a lifelong dream was already covered because Monty Halls lived in a cottage in Scotland for a few weeks (good programme but insert laughing smiley here...) and the delightful person who informed me that if they wanted to steal my idea they would and there would be nothing I could do about it (my lawyer friend begs to differ...). 

There are also the people within the industry I want to work in, people for whom I have great respect for the work they do but are seemingly averse to a simple reply to an email. Make no mistake about it, people make a living out of working with sharks and even the conservation of sharks and the marine environment, there isn't a great deal of money in the industry though so is it a case of those already in the "inner circle" being afraid of having to share their bit of the pie with someone who isn't in their social scene? Puts a bit of a downer on things really doesn't it, particularly when the in-fighting, petty squabbles and cliquishness threatens to detract focus on what is actually important, i.e. the conservation and ethical treatment of sharks through informed film production and eco-tourism for example.

The gravy train certainly exists, as it does within every industry and as is usually the case, does very little, if any good. It's all very well bombarding us with petitions to sign and reminders of your latest documentary film etc but where you can do the most good is to inspire a feeling of community and one which supports the efforts of others to do some good in your chosen field, affording opportunities for enthusiastic individuals to make the most of their potential. When I was eight I wrote to Valerie Taylor and guess what she did, she replied straight away. This continued for a few years, she even sent me a pressing of one of her books and that explains why I am here today, doing this, it made me feel like it was possible to achieve my ambitions because the number one person in my chosen field told me I could. 

I have received probably around one hundred emails in the last two months from people who feel a kinship with what I am doing, one from a girl in America even said reading my blog had made her rethink her decision to give up trying for a career in diving and that she would keep going until she achieved her dream! I appreciate that I won't receive the volume of emails they do but nevertheless, I have replied to every single one of the emails I have received, it might mean staying up until the early hours but it's common courtesy isn't it? With regards to the shark gravy train, I will make it very clear that if I am successful with all this and force my way on there, I'll be opening the doors for others like me to do the same..."There goes the neighbourhood!"

Okay some other bits and pieces...The Dive Show in Birmingham is fast approaching, October 30th/31st to be precise and I'll be there on the Cameras Underwater stand with my own little section, please come and say hello! There will be a video diary coming soon as well as the promised "Shark feeding controversy special" and the videos don't stop there! In 2009, for a bit of a laugh really, I made a feature length video diary type film of my (rather eventful) trip to film Oceanic Whitetip Sharks in Egypt and due to persistent requests will be uploading said film in sections, to the youtube page, keep an eye out for that.

At the moment my focus is on finishing this trailer (I shouldn't really be doing a blog but it feels like ages so what the hell!) so as soon as that is finished, you can be sure I will make you aware of it and would appreciate if you could spread it far and wide on my behalf!

Homelessness is also fast approaching so if you think you can help, maybe there is an email in your inbox from me, or you might be able to offer services of some respect, printing, promotion, design etc, please feel free to contact me! This isn't manufactured television reality, this is actual cold, smelly and difficult reality so any act of kindness or benevolence, no matter how small you think it is, is always humbly and gratefully appreciated.

I'd like to give a shout as well to Mark Thorpe and www.idivesharks.com it's a great site, kind of like facebook but for people who love sharks and shark diving and without endless status updates about what people have just had for tea! Also, Cameras Underwater don't let the website put you off (it will be totally revamped soon by all accounts) if you are in the market for underwater camera equipment or even if you just want advice, look no further than these guys. Do I get paid to advertise them? Unfortunately not but if I did I'd be in Fiji now, these guys are the dog's dangly bits.

Stay safe, be nice to each other and feel free to email me direct or comment on this blog, I love hearing from you!


Mark Thorpe said...

Great post David as always. Am off to Singapore tomorrow for a day but will chat when I get back.

The iDive Sharks guy.

Anonymous said...

You're safe with the camera for now, might need it Sunday maybe!? Depends on Bob... Might need it to shoot some gig stuff that night.... Great blog mate - I knew that photo would come in handy! Lemme know when you've got some more bits of trailer to inspect!?

To the dream!


Anonymous said...

A pleasure to read as always Dave, keep it coming.

an ex collegue at a certain insurance company!


Liam said...

good post Dave, keep it up! you'll do it mate!

We NEED to talk soon! This week may be out but next week we're pretty free. Got a few things to run by you... RE: your 'donate' idea... go to indiegogo.com NOW! You have to set up an account on there it'll be perfect for this project.

I'll syndicate your posts on the Banter site too to help generate traffic.

OfficetoOcean said...

Thanks for the comments guys!

Liam, yes, we will defo have to get together next week, let me know when is good for you and we'll sort something out :)

David Blatt said...

Maybe a bit obvious david, but as far as background music is concerned, what about "Echoes" by Pink Floyd?

OfficetoOcean said...

Would be a good choice but unfortunately I can't use any music that would require licensing...Plus, on the upside, it's a good reason for me to get back recording some music again :)

Duncan said...

I'm glad the conversations/meetings with possible sponsorship companies are going well. I hope they actually come up with the goods.... my gut feeling from seeing what you've managed to achieve so far, in such a short space of time, and hearing you talk on the radio, is that they will. I think you have the ability to convince them to do the right thing :-)