Thursday, 30 December 2010

2010 - What a year!

Firstly I'd like to wish each an every one of you a very happy Christmas! I know it's a little late but still, the sentiment remains and with the onset of 2011, I thought it would be a good idea to cast my eye over what has been a pretty amazing, humbling, challenging and sometimes bizarre 2010!
2010 has probably been the biggest year of my life so far, certainly the most important in terms of my long term future, with some major decisions and changes taking place. To establish whether this year has been my most successful would depend upon how you define "success," if you define it merely in financial terms then 2010 has been my most difficult year since I first left university and was a penniless out of work musician in a brand new city, struggling to juggle the responsibilities and expectations I put upon myself. If you define success through emotional and spiritual fulfilment and achieving goals you set yourself, no matter how big or small, then 2010 has been a roaring triumph I would say!

There have however been a few downs, I lost a good friend at the age of only 21, someone who shared my adventurous spirit and lived every day to it's fullest, there have been frustrations and difficulties, disappointments and worry but all of these contributed to me making the decision to make changes which, for many years, I had dreamed of making, the first six months of this year unquestionably shaped the last.

I'm gonna list the moments which shaped the year for me and in turn, thank some incredible people for their support, generosity, kindness and encouragement, people without whom, I would not be going into 2011 with a sense of excitement, belief and expectation.

1. "Googling" myself!
Seriously, this was possibly the most important moment for me in 2010! Everybody does it, I think I'm just one of the few who is sad enough to admit it! I was browsing the internet on a Sunday afternoon before having to catch a train back to Leeds and as I occasionally do, popped my name into Google. The results were pretty surprising, the first page was made up of a number of blogs discussing both myself and more importantly, this article (the second down).

Coincidentally, one of the blogs belonged to a dive operation in an area that upon further inspection, was instrumental in a story with which I have been fascinated for years. With the help of Patric Douglas, another man who had responded warmly to my article, I tracked down the author of the blog in question and from then on struck up a friendship, the man in question, Mike Neumann, also responded with support and encouragement for a project upon which I had been working for eighteen months, "From the Office to the Ocean." In the following days I came up with an idea for a film, pitched it to Mike and I was on my way.

2. Leaving my job
Without doubt, the most important big decision I have ever made. At this point, I think it only fair that I offer my sincerest thanks to Dean, Lisa and Joe at Nixon Allen where I worked as a recruitment consultant for professionals within the insurance industry. I was pretty good at my job, always wanted to do my best and was extremely lucky to work with some brilliant people and for a boss who was supportive, trusting and always keen to reward hard work. I enjoyed working with my colleagues and friends and enjoyed some great relationships with some brilliant clients and candidates but the major issue, as with probably 95% of people, I wasn't passionate in the truest sense of the word about my job, it didn't get my blood pumping and  never saw myself doing it until I retired. The last few years have been very difficult for the industry and the problems and difficulties started to outweigh the rewards, I woke up one morning, fed up of not fulfilling my potential or stretching myself creatively so one Monday morning, filled with dread at another week of wishing my life away, made a huge decision and resigned. My boss was brilliant about it and very supportive and by the Wednesday, that was it, I was on my own with a seemingly impossible task but feeling absolutely brilliant, like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

3. The idea 
I left work on the Wednesday and was up at 8am on Thursday to start the very long process of learning how to get what was in my brain, onto a definitive document which clearly laid out every facet of what, why, where, when, who and of course, how much. I am not going to lie to you, when you haven't done this before, this is really, really difficult but spending time, hours and days, on sometimes the smallest detail is absolutely vital. I had the benefit of ten years in the music industry with four other brilliantly creative and passionate people who's talents and strengths were always underpinned by abject poverty and lack of resources. So, what do you do in this situation? You work with what you've got and you work ten times harder than everybody else. Throughout those years I learned the skill of promotion and how to make as many people know as much as possible about what you do whilst spending little, if anything and in my current situation, this is possibly the most important skill I have.

Richard Theiss and Jim Standing of Fourth Element, all the while, my ever-present, erstwhile friend and companion Hamish Harper was there to provide his endless enthusiasm and support, for which I will be forever grateful.

4. Going it alone
The first plan was to pitch my idea to people within the television and film industry, get one on board, work with them and make this film with their professional and financial backing, easy! Well, no, quite the opposite in fact. Production companies get people like me contacting them all the time with ideas and to say they're a little weary of entertaining dreamers with grand ideas is putting it lightly! After one such conversation during which one television exec made no secret that "if they wanted to take your idea they would and there was nothing you can do about it..." I decided instead to go down the route of doing it all myself and then approaching the relevant organisations with a finished product. This type of undertaking is extremely difficult but in this situation, is most definitely the best route to take, it is also incredibly daunting but I've done this all before with huge success so I'm no stranger to doing things the hard way!

5. Support and endorsements
"Hi, my name is David Diley, I really love sharks and although you have never heard of me, I'm making a brilliant film but I have no money, can you help me please?" Although this isn't quite the approach I have been taking, it is in essence, what I am saying. It still amazes me when looking back to when I started this journey, how truly isolated and alone I was whilst trying to make this all become reality, I had the goodwill and support of friends, acquaintances and strangers but that can only get you so far. 

Within a couple of weeks, Britain's premier supplier of underwater photography equipment and advice, Cameras Underwater, were on board and backing me. The support and generosity shown me by Dave, Mario, Duxy and also Mario's partner, Caroline, made me feel on top of the world because they too believe in what I am doing. Mike Neumann at Beqa Adventure Divers has been invaluable to me, because of him I have full access to everything I want to cover and huge support in many other areas. Fourth Element have been around the longest, going all the way back to the very first, embryonic stages of this project in 2008 and only recently I became fortunate enough to be endorsed by Camera giant, Canon. There are also exciting things in the pipeline for early 2011 so to think it was only six months ago that I was at the bottom of what seemed an almost insurmountable mountain to climb, it's pretty amazing what I have achieved at the turn of the year!

6. Getting out there
Since returning from the Bahamas in 2008 and formulating the basic ideas behind "From the Office to the Ocean," I have focused on getting out there and meeting people face to face, nothing can beat discussing ideas about which you are passionate with people face to face, it is the moment these people can see what you're all about and how genuine you and your ideas are. In 2008 I bought a ticket for the Dive Show at the Birmingham NEC and sent out about one hundred emails to exhibitors, explaining my idea and that I would be coming to talk to them about it at the show. Most emails went unanswered, most conversations on the day were brief and rushed due to the nature of these shows but it was at that show in 2008 that I met Steve Weinman from DIVER Magazine and Paul Strike from Fourth Element. My meeting with Steve led to the publishing of my shark feeding article, the article which opened the door for me to make this happen and meeting Paul in turn, led to me forging a friendship with Jim Standing, both have been key in me getting thus this far at this stage of the project.

This year has been no different, I continue to attend the shows to promote "From the Office..." and this year  achieved my goal of being an exhibitor, albeit a small one, and am on target to hopefully achieve my next, that I will be a guest speaker within two years. This year I had numerous meetings with some great people, many of whom had already heard of me prior to my introduction, proof that doing your research and meeting the right people, alongside tenaciously chasing personal goals, does work!

7. Publicity and promotion
"From the Office to the Ocean" has been featured online, on the radio and in print in the last six months, the BBC, Rock Radio 106.1, The Yorkshire Evening Post and numerous online blogs and websites have carried positive and enthusiastic coverage of what I am doing, in fact, every piece has looked upon this with enthusiasm and actively supported the inspirational and conservation value of this film, it started with me contacting them, now, they're contacting me. It's also worth noting that in less than six months, this blog now attracts an average of 5000 unique visitors every month and that number is increasing every month!

8. The generosity of strangers
We hear a lot about how awful the world is and how horrible people are to each other, if this project proves anything, it is that that claim is nonsense. I was contacted via the Facebook group by a couple of the members asking how they could contribute financially. I had thought about the use of fundraising from the public to raise the amount needed to make this film but was unsure how to go about it, we are after all, in the grip of financial meltdown and how much interest will total strangers have in a guy who loves sharks trying to make his dream come true (and do his bit to save sharks along the way) anyway? Well, the answer is quite a lot actually! People want to see this film made, people like me, like you, who can often feel helpless when trying to make a difference and who see somebody doing what they can to change their life for the better and inject some positivity into the world as a good thing and something worthy of support. I have been overwhelmed by the generous donations and every penny will have been instrumental when this film is completed, these people can also watch it and say, "I helped make that," this isn't a film for me, it's for everybody.

If you like the sound of that, feel free to click this Indiegogo link.

9. Self belief
Believing in yourself is not a bad thing, in fact it is a pre-requisite of success and something which should be admired. Not arrogance or conceit, the belief that anything is possible and that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve what at first might seem impossible. If you don't believe something is possible then it isn't but if you do, then it is, I truly believe that. In fact, I will go so far as to say this film could be one of the best shark based films ever made, it's different, innovative and inspirational, whether it is or not depends solely on me and I can assure you I and the team making it, will do absolutely everything possible to make it as good as it could and should be, I owe it to myself, to my supporters and perhaps even more importantly, the sharks to make this fulfil its potential.

10. The Trailer
It took a long time to film and edit but I am really happy with it, it was also my first foray into HD and the creative aspect of being responsible for everything, from the direction, filming and writing to the music was something I thoroughly enjoyed. It also opened doors for me with regards to promotion and publicity and has proved an invaluable tool in the last couple of months.

This year, at least the second half of this year, has been a positive and fulfilling experience and has set me up nicely for 2011 which will be the most important year of my entire life, I couldn't have got this far without the support of my friends, both old and new, from those in my personal life to those who work in the industry so to all of you and especially those below, I offer my heartfelt thanks, admiration and humble gratitude to everything you have helped me achieve this year.

Hamish Harper, Kris Allen, Mark Burrows, Nicky Crawford, Andy Richards, Steve Hayward-Jones, Rock Radio 106.1FM, The Yorkshire Evening Press, Amanda Robinson, Susana Navajas, Colour Copy Express, Brian Barnes, Red Issue, Jan Bailey, anyone who has ever read this blog and all of you who have contributed, no matter how big or small, it means the world to me.

Fingers crossed, I will have some more great news in the early stages of 2011, I feel closer than ever to making this all become a reality and not only that, even have parts 2 and 3 being formulated, you never know, if all goes well I may even be starting filming on those in the coming year as well!

Have an amazing New Year, be safe and be good to each other and because of you all, I'm on the verge of something pretty special in the coming months.

All the best and lots of positivity to you all.


scuzza said...

Fantastic as always Dave can not wait 2 see the film but looking forward 2 following the blog while you make it. Also don't forget where I am if you need a guest diver!!! On a more serious not I'm raising a glass to you for a fantastic dream filled 2011.

From the only girl in the Bahamas 4 xx

OfficetoOcean said...

Thanks Caroline, that's awesome!

We defo need to go for a dive sometime soon, we can get Robbie out as well :)