Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Only 3 more days to go!

Just a quick pointer that the Indiegogo campaign now has only 3 days left to run. We haven't hit target but I didn't particularly expect we would, very few projects on there do, however, the money raised will go a long way towards the post production costs and getting this film out there to you and to distributors to get this film the audience it deserves!

If you feel so inclined, all donations regardless of size, are enormously appreciated!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

On the street, on the telly and another almighty Discovery Channel cock up!

I knew it was gonna come sooner or later, I had kinda hoped it wouldn't but it's fast approaching, that's right, come January 31st, I will be "of no fixed abode." This may come as a surprise to people who might have thought I was just saying it for dramatic effect and to add a bit of weight to the story but no, I will in a couple of weeks time, be leaving my own little haven and become solely reliant on the kindness of others.

Think for a moment of what this would mean to you, it's pretty much keeping me awake at night lately because the people who know me best will tell you that I like things "just so," in their own place with my own little ways of doing things. I have my own spot on the sofa, I must have the remote control at all times and woe betide you if you try to get in the way of me watching Manchester United. I like eating what I want when I want, I want to lounge around in nothing but board shorts and I want to stay up 'til all hours messing around on After Effects and listening to old school Metal. I can pretty much kiss those days goodbye for at least twelve months...

At my age, losing your own place is a bit like regressing back to childhood and living with mum and dad again, like it or not and perhaps contrary to what your gracious temporary host tells you, you will always be a guest. My independence is one of the most important things I have, this whole story is, in a way, a testament to that independence and it is somewhat ironic that part of achieving full, independent fulfillment requires giving that independence up for the best part of a year. Anyone who has doubted how serious I am about all this would be well advised to come see me on January 31st when I leave pretty much all my belongings in various places for safe storage and wave goodbye to a flat that I really, really like...The hardest thing of all though will be leaving my closest friends who really are family to me, that, I am not looking forward to!

I met two great lads from a PR company called Multitude Media last weekend, Will and Rory met with me to see if they could help me in any way and I was impressed at their approach and most of all impressed with the fact they were genuinely enthusiastic about "From the Office..." As I said to Will, if I step back from all this and look at it objectively, it sounds absurd, quit a secure job that pays enough to have a decent enough standard of living, make yourself homeless and risk absolutely everything to travel to the other side of the world to make a film about sharks which you then intend to get on the television for as many people in the world to see and then start work on parts two and three... Is it absurd though? If I didn't have 100% confidence that this film will be as good (or even better) than I expect it will be do you really think I would go through all this? It would be a lot easier to just accept a life of mediocrity and the safety net of a guaranteed monthly wage but that ain't living, it's existing so as the saying goes, "go hard or go home" and in a couple of weeks I won't have a home to go to so I better go hard!

Let me tell you, having a reason and motivation to get up every morning is brilliant but in this situation life isn't easy, in fact it's very tough, get ready for rejection, prepare for people to completely and utterly miss the point of what you're doing and be prepared to say goodbye to the little luxuries you may have taken for granted previously and get yourself in the right frame of mind to do the biggest thing of all, accept that you're on your own.

Doing something like this is incredibly lonely, given how fortunate I am to be surrounded by the people I am lucky enough to call friends and to have the support of all the people around the world who have helped me get this far, that might seem an odd thing to say but it really is you and you only when it comes to the crunch. It is you who makes the life changing sacrifices, it is you who puts your neck on the line, who opens yourself up to ridicule, negativity and in some cases maybe even jealousy. It is you who deals with the failures and disappointments, you who spends every second of every day focused on one thing only and ultimately you bares the brunt of any mistakes. The simple fact is that if I don't do what needs to be done, it won't get done and all this is for nothing, thousands of emails and the constant wait for replies, telephone calls, spending money you don't have travelling to meetings, promoting yourself and your project, writing and then re-writing proposals and business plans and endlessly wondering how the hell you're gonna get in touch with person X who you think might just give you the time of day to have a quick chat. Unless you've got a load of cash behind you, don't even think about going into something like this and it being an easy ride!

So I must have some regrets right?

Hell no! Sure it's tough but anything worth doing usually is and the sense of spiritual and emotional wellbeing you get from doing something truly worthwhile, whilst also fulfilling long held ambitions, is worth the hardships. To wake up everyday with a purpose other than doing something you may feel forced to do, is a liberating feeling and something which motivates me to keep going, working harder and putting everything into making this a roaring success!

I've also stated on here before that whereas much of this project is lonely in the extreme, the other aspects prove that there are some amazing, kind, supportive, creative and generous people out there who want to see people achieve their goals, without those people I wouldn't be where I am today and the connections I have with these people are ones I sincerely hope will only strengthen in time.

So where am I at the moment? There is a lot of very exciting stuff on the horizon, unfortunately I can't go into too much detail yet but two particular things stand out as having a huge impact on this and future projects and I expect some exciting announcements in due course. Will I be filming in February? Unlikely but I am hopeful, dare I say quite confident, filming will start in the next couple of months and what is particularly exciting are  the ways in which I can get this film to you, the viewer, some of which are quite different to the norm, others perhaps more commonplace but all will mean that widespread, global distribution is on the cards. Keep watching this space for updates!

Some good stuff this week!

Channel 4 are running a week of programmes focusing on the problems facing the world's oceans through certain fishing practices and started with three programmes over three days with the wonderful Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall looking at the issue of discard and certain EU regulations. I love Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, I think he's brilliant, he's a genuine bloke who attaches himself to causes he cares about and actually gets out there to do something about it, he's done it with chickens and now he's doing it with fish and you know what, the whole country has been talking about the issue, well done Hugh and Channel 4!

Gordon Ramsay, or "Chef Ramsay" as you Americans insist on calling him, is doing his bit on Sunday with a programme all about shark finning and about time too. It's a subject the UK media seem to have a complete blackout on and the fact the world's most famous chef is fronting it guarantees good viewing figures so fingers crossed it's done properly with the focus on the sharks not the chef. Gordon Ramsay gets a bit of a hard time off a lot of people but I actually really like him, (never met him in person so basing that entirely on his television shows) he's a passionate fella, he's not afraid of getting stuck in and he speaks his mind so I have high hopes for "Shark Bait" (awful yet predictable name by the way) and Gordon, if you read this as I hope you might because I've been mithering you on Twitter, get in touch!

Some bad stuff...

I've seen this doing the rounds recently and it still amazes me the lengths the Discovery Channel and Shark Week go to to shoot themselves in the foot. You may already have realised but I love sharks and my career is now focused on working with sharks, in particular on television so this should be right up my street yes? Well, no actually. Part of my old job in recruitment was attracting candidates through online advertising so I know a fair bit about this lark so for all of you out there thinking of applying, let's have a look at this epic fail of a job advert...

Job Requirements: Must enjoy exotic, waterfront locations, buff bodies in bathing suits and having the bejesus scared out of you. Looking delicious in a wet suit is a plus. Sense of humor required.

Salary: Chump Change (we spent an hour coming up with that!)

Benefits: Lots and lots of insurance and some great dentistry, naturally.

Job Description: Discovery Channel is looking for a fun‐loving, fast‐swimming personality to be the first ever Chief Shark Officer for this year's Shark Week. As we circle in on our 24th year, Shark Week has captured the zeitgeist that began with Jaws and is synonymous with summer. As the CSO, you will be required to swim with sharks (accompanied by professionals, of course), attend Shark premiere parties in NY, LA and Miami (accompanied by celebrities, of course) and help spread the word about the world's most misunderstood predator.

Please forward resumes, audition tapes and blood type to Discovery Channel c/o Elizabeth Hillman.

In the interests of clarity in the event you don't get why this has wound me up so much I'll pick out the highlights.

Since when did it become acceptable to judge a candidate's suitability for a presenting role on "looking delicious in a wet suit?" Take that as "no fatties, over 35s or ugly people please" then...

"Salary: Chump Change" Excuse me but are they for real? Who in their right mind thinks that is the way to describe a salary? It is also another example of a large organisation taking the piss out of people with passion and enthusiasm for a vocational career which sadly, is the norm when it comes to working with animals and/or in television. These industries are so tough because they're so incestuous and the people within these industries, often the few who can make a good living, know people will accept poorly paid jobs because of their desire to get a chance to shine so offer "chump change" in a way that says "and you should be grateful for getting that!" It stinks.

They certainly have "captured the zeitgeist that began with JAWS" and they've been doing what they can for twenty four years to ensure the misconceptions and stereotyping of sharks continues and then have the nerve to use the old "world's most misunderstood predator" sound byte...I wonder why that might be eh?

Nowhere does this job advert mention sharks or at least a passion or even passing interest in sharks, sure the majority of people applying will want to work with sharks but will it go to one of them? Unlikely I imagine, nobody enjoys sprightly young women bouncing around and bursting out of their bikinis more than me but I prefer my shark stuff with a bit more substance thanks...

With all this in mind, I imagine the above has ensured Discovery might not be so keen to speak to me about my film when it's finished, however, I can look beyond it if you can, let's work together and see about sorting this dreadful mess out with the kind of stuff I, and many others, want to see during Shark Week. If you're reading, get in touch.

That's it for now, if you have approached Discovery for the job, let me know how you get on, I'd love to know!! Also let me know your thoughts on everything shark related in the media at the moment, I love your input.

Sharks rule.


Edit: I have just watched "Gordon Ramsay: Shark Bait" and I have to say a thoroughly well deserved "well done" to Gordon Ramsay who delivered this message in the perfect way. Well done to channel 4 for giving this vital message a platform and to all involved in its production. Not keen on the overly provocative title but that's small criticism of something which really deserves nothing but praise. If you missed it, check for streams online, it's well worth it...