Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A huge thank you!

Shooting of my first film, "Behind Blue Glass" is almost totally complete, with only one shot left which we will be doing tomorrow.

The last two weeks have been gruelling to say the least, sleep has been at a premium, there have been no wild parties or nights out, okay, well one night out but it wasn´t really wild, incidentally, the night in question culminated in us meeting the famous Spanish actor Jorge Sanz during which (whilst a bit pissed, like the rest if us) he told us, on camera, how much he likes sharks and that he wants to see more sharks in Mallorca, and also, the rather amusing sight of the Mallorquin police driving around shouting "Tiburones! Tiburones!" ("Sharks! Sharks!") from the loudspeaker of their car!

That aside, it has been a punishing work schedule with early mornings and late nights and I am not ashamed to admit that the crew behind me have been pushed to their limits in the same way I have pushed myself and a lot of what we have is looking pretty damn awesome because of that.

At this stage, instead of giving more detail about the film itself (fear not, that will come in the next few days) I will focus on the people who have helped make this what it is.

I have said from the beginning that all my films will be as much about people as they are sharks and two people who embody everything in which I believe and without whom, none of this would have been possible, will forever be at the top of my list of vital participants in the making of this film and as I move forward. 

Brad Robertson and Bea Esparza have been nothing short of monumentally amazing since I first had this idea. I have lived with them, they have been my sound department, camera operators, local fixers, translators, chauffeurs, chefs and general dog´s bodies at times and without them both, I could never have made this film. Brad and Bea are in the early stages of running their own business, Ondine Escape an environmentally aware wellness and adventure company which has a heavy focus on conservation and environmental sustainability, in particular, that which relates to the ocean and their diving services. They love people and they love nature and their approach to their clients in these tough times is astonishing in its dedication, often to the detriment of their own livelihood. People like Brad and Bea are the reason I am so passionate about everything I do with "From the Office to the Ocean," they believe we, the people, can make things better for future generations and as I write tis, they are fast asleep, exhausted due to the gargantuan effort and energy they have put into this film. If you are coming to Mallorca, do yourself a favor and get in touch with them, you won´t regret it!

Palma Aquarium feature heavily in this film and working alongside them has been a pleasure. Whether you agree with aquaria or not, the simple fact is that they provide an outlet for education of various marine animals and a chance for people to see animals, sharks in particular, they may not normally see. The animals in the aquarium are in tip top health and it is the cleanest I have ever visited.

The main reason for this has to be the staff who have been a joy throughout, giving me unlimited access whenever I want it and in particular Deborah Morrison, the head of education and conservation (who is also tirelessly leading a "Save the Tuna" campaign) and Roman Gradel, the Curator. They have been instrumental throughout the making of this film and again, without the support of Deborah and Roman, I would not be here. They are not only a credit to Palma Aquarium, but a credit to Mallorca.

Liam Wright, a talented film-maker who owns and runs Banter Media has been an enormous help in getting the shots from inside my mind, on to the camera and they look superb! His help and guidance for me, a film-maker starting out in the profession, has been inspirational and enormously useful as I move forward with my career. He also took twelve days out of a busy schedule running his own Production Media House, to help me make this. Top man!

I also want to mention Gabriel Morey, a fisheries minister for the Balearics and, like me, complete shark nut! He has been awesome and on my birthday, took Brad, Bea and I diving at El Toro, a great way to celebrate turning thirt...twenty two ;)

Our twelve participants, Palmi, Johnny, Jaime, Alistair... the list goes on, I just could´t find time to thank them all enough however, the full list of people who have made this grueling and punishing schedule, thoroughly enjoyable will appear on the film of course!

I also want to thank Cameras Underwater for the loan of the underwater housing, Canon, Fourth Element for keeping me warm and making me look good and everyone else who has supported me thus far.

I return on the 28th where work on the edit and sound will begin immediately. It´s been a hell of a ride and I can´t wait to see the finished product, I hope you can´t either!

I´d like to go int more detail but I just don´t have the time, all that will be coming soon though so keep your eyes peeled!


P.S. Please forgive any spelling mistakes, spell check is in Spanish here and my eyes just can´t hack endlessly reading, looking for spelling mistakes!

Friday, 22 April 2011

First Film - In Production!

First of all, please forgive the short post! Internet access and time here are both at a minimum but I am delighted to tell you that I am nearing the end of production for my first film, "Behind Blue Glass."

The film is a short piece about sharks in the Mediterranean, in particular around the coast of Mallorca and in which, I take unsuspecting, non-divers to meet sharks for the first time to see how they react! The film also features the incidences of large Great White Sharks off the coast of the Balearics and features interviews with fishermen, government officials, museum curators and ordinary people.

It is my intention to stream this film for free, online for everybody to see however, it is also a possibility that it may also air on Spanish TV. The people here from Brad and Bea with whom I am making the film, to the guys at Palma Aquarium, Gabriel Morey, Juan Andreas Ruiz and pretty much everybody have been overwhelmingly supportive, enthusiastic and helpful in making this as easy, interesting and exciting as possible.

Filming Wraps on Tuesday 26th and I return to the UK on the 28th to start editing.

Keep your eyes peeled for further details as this could be something pretty awesome!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Things are looking good!

I've been a busy boy of late, hence the lack of a blog for a month, which is of course, unacceptable, please accept my humblest apologies!
The frustrating thing is that I'd love to tell you all what I'm doing however at this stage I am unable to do so for a couple of reasons but fear not, you will hear all about it in the next week or so! Things are really starting to go in the right direction and my decision to quit the rat race and go for my lifelong ambition is looking more and more like the best and bizarrely, most sensible thing I have ever done.

Life is pretty good right now, yes it's still tough, I'm still skint, my stuff is spread out in different houses around the country and there is still a lot of uncertainty as to what the future holds but believe me, I have never been as happy and satisfied with my day to day life as I am right now. It's all relative I guess, different people measure success using different parameters, if financial gain is the yardstick of success then I still have a hell of a way to go but I don't see financial gain as a measure of "success," to me the ultimate definition of success is setting ones' self goals and achieving those goals whilst enjoying the process of doing so and in that regard I'm flying at the moment!

Rewind ten months to July 1st 2010, waking up that Thursday morning in the knowledge that I was at square one with nothing but an absurd belief that I could actually make the things I had dreamed about for over twenty years actually happen was both exciting and terrifying. When I say to people that I had nothing, despite the fact as time goes by people may cast an accusatory glance in my direction, claiming slight exaggeration, I can guarantee I had nothing, no family ties to the industry, no confirmation of any help, financial or otherwise, no plan of action and barely enough money to get me through the next six weeks. The only thing I had was an idea I believed in, and my friend Hamish giving me the encouragement when I needed it.

Now, in mid April 2011 I am on the brink of some amazing things which I have achieved pretty much single-handedly with nothing to rely upon other than the stubborn belief that if you want it enough and work hard enough at it, you can achieve. I say "single-handedly," i have had the support of some amazing people but I'll come to that in a minute. Somebody said an interesting thing to me last year, I was at the Dive Show in Birmingham discussing "From the Office to the Ocean" with one of the people who has shown support from the very beginning when they said "the reason you're gonna make this happen is because you have this naive belief that anything is possible and you won't let people tell you otherwise." The use of the word "naive" wasn't derogatory by any means, it was merely a statement that backs up everything I have said from the beginning. We are told by society that we must fit a certain mould, get a job with a regular income, pay your taxes, don't complain too much, raise some kids in the right way and when you retire (if you live that long) hope that they will look after you before putting you in a home to die. Well that's not the way I intend to live my life.

It's considered "naive" to believe that you or I, ordinary people, can step outside of that and say "no, I'm going to do things my way, it's my life and I'll make my own rules." Because of that I am now on the brink of something which is pretty much unheard of or at least extremely rare, breaking in to an industry without the benefit of a famous surname and doing it on my own terms, they have come to me, not the other way around.

I am in regular contact with a major production and distribution company with a serious pedigree, an OSCAR nominated pedigree no less, who are both enthusiastic and extremely interested in helping me move forward. Their approach is outstanding, supportive and creative and because of that I look forward to working with them moving forward. There is a long way to go yet but it's all going in the right direction, people almost always say the same thing to me, "if it doesn't work, at least you can say you tried." They are almost always surprised when I reply that that would almost be as bad, if not worse than not trying at all. To go for it and fail is to say that everything you have believed in for years is fake and that you are destined for the life that society thrusts upon you. Failure is not an option, obstacles are there to be overcome so you can then view what once was an obstacle as a success, you pick up and carry on making all the other obstacles into successes along the way, it sounds simple but every problem has a solution, find the solution and it's not a problem anymore, predict the obstacles and arm yourself with the weapons to defeat each and every one.

Which brings me on to my next point. I said above that I have done this alone, relying solely on myself to make it happen which to a major extent is true however, through the effort and work I have put in I have been fortunate enough to become involved with so seriously amazing and supportive people. Hamish started this by opening the door for me with the guys at Cameras Underwater who have been amazing to me. Shortly after and with the help of Dave Glanfield I managed to speak with the guys at Canon and became incredibly fortunate to be associated with them and both Alan and Dave have been superb throughout.
There are a number of people and organisations who have supported me on this journey and who continue to do so, one of those, Fourth Element, one of the first companies I approached in 2008, have been brilliant in providing help when I needed it, some excellent advice and now, a box full of awesome Fourth Element gear which I received on Saturday. Fourth Element not only make some of the best and easily the coolest looking dive gear and apparel out there, they are also big supporters of shark conservation who donate money from T-Shirt sales to the Shark Trust. Their ethos is outstanding and not only will I be toasty and warm in whatever ocean I am in, I will also look good in and out of the water which, let's face it, is pretty important in my line of work!

The list of organisations and people backing me is now pretty huge and throughout this whole process I've learned an important and humbling lesson. People are actually pretty bloody decent. It's easy to view large organisations as faceless entities trying to extract every last penny out of you but in many of these organisations are enthusiastic, energetic, creative and cool people who are only too happy to help something they too believe in. Without the help of these companies and individuals I would not be where I am now so to them I extend my humblest and sincerest thanks and guarantee that your support will not go unrewarded, nor will it ever be taken for granted. I am exceptionally proud to be associated with all of you.

I could do a blog thanking everyone who has helped so far but it would be huge and for you, the reader, a bit boring so the thank yous will be made in context over the course of various blogs so with that in mind, keep an eye out over the coming weeks, there are some major announcements and also some creative content of interest which I hope, you find almost as exciting as I do! In the next week or so, my inactivity in here will be explained in full and it's something I can't wait to clarify and publicise so thanks for your patience and strap yourselves in because things are about to get interesting ;)

Stay safe.