Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Behind Blue Glass - Finished!

Great news about Behind Blue Glass, after a total of approximately one thousand man hours work, the film is now finished! A master DVD is ready and the full HD 1080p version is exporting as we speak, twenty hours in, only fourteen more hours to go!

From day one, this was a big task, not only was it my first ever attempt at making a film having no experience of doing so before, the opportunity also happened to arise at the sharp end of the major preparations for my first feature film in Fiji, production of which begins in only one week and six days. Behind Blue Glass was also made on what can be described as a "micro budget," a four man crew, three of whom had pretty much zero experience and has been edited solely by myself on a £500 laptop which has made some of the post production process a very slow, laborious experience.

With all that in mind however, I am more than confident in saying that the quality of the end result, far belies the limitations in regards to resources, it looks great!

As for the content, I am more than happy, the film features interviews with Xisco Perez and Sr. M Ferrer, two men with first hand experience of Mallorca's Great White Sharks, Gabriel Morey, Marine Biologist, Fisheries and Conservation Minister and member of the IUCN and Brad Robertson of Ondine Escape. Behind Blue Glass also stars some brilliant members of the pubic, from the ages of 16-62 who get confronted with the opportunity of a lifetime but how do they react? Of course, the film also features underwater footage of the other stars of the show, the sharks themselves!

The film clocks in at just over thirty eight minutes and in keeping with the highly independent "DIY" approach, the film's original music comes entirely from unsigned, underground artists and bands, including Lifescreen, Ten, Back Page First and the one and only Rock behemoth that is Nerve Engine.

The film was shot entirely on Canon 7D and 5Dmkii with a little help from a small palmcorder and the quality of footage is outstanding. The premiere will be held in Mallorca at Palma Aqauarium, most likely at the end of August and looks set to be a pretty fancy affair. After the premiere, you will of course, be able to see the film itself. I am looking into the best ways to do this and it looks like the most likely scenario would be to make it available on two formats, a DVD with additional extras like behind the scenes stuff, the trailer and production stills and also as a HD digital download. 

Keep your eyes peeled for updates, the best way to do that is of course, to go here, scroll to below the trailer and join the mailing list. In the event I can make special offers and discounts on this and future films, they will be for the mailing list members only, maybe something worth looking into?

Spread the word, it's a great little film if I do say so myself and some very dedicated people put a hell of a lot of effort into helping me make this, with no gain for themselves, purely because they believe in the message. Because I went over to Mallorca to shoot this film and because of the press coverage I got whilst there, the issue of shark conservation is now being discussed in the national media and in the coming weeks Palma Aquarium will be rolling out an anti-shark finning campaign across Mallorca and hopefully Spain as well. This wasn't achieved by an NGO or expensive marketing campaign, it was achieved by a small handful of people who believed enough that we could make it happen which just goes to show, it is possible for ordinary people to change things for the better.

Coming soon: News on what to expect whilst I am in Fiji!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Sarah Shark and Great White Life

As a film-maker making films about sharks myself, I am always interested to see what others are doing in this medium. For the last twenty-seven years or so, I have greedily digested pretty much every shark doc or film ever made so I know my subject. I'm always excited when new things come along and this week I saw two very different films about sharks and their effect on the individuals making them, one seems to be getting a bit of exposure, the other I had never even heard of and stumbled across by mistake so thought I would give my thoughts on both, if only to serve as a way to let other people who love shark films as much as I do, know that they are out there.

The first film is the first in a five part series about Australian sharks by Sarah Richmond or Sarah Shark as she prefers to be known, called "Wobbegong - The Forgotten Shark."

I quite enjoyed this actually, it was well made and the enthusiasm and passion for the subject was apparent from the start. Coming in at just under twenty-four minutes, I'm not sure if it was made specifically with television broadcast in mind as this is the actual time length for "thirty minute" television slots to allow for advertising, or if that was a coincidence.

It reminded me very much of the old Australian series "Shark Gordon" but in this instance, Ian Gordon has been replaced by a young Australian woman. What they both share however, is an obvious love of the subject matter and an ability to take a soft approach and condense some interesting information into an easily watched, sub-half hour, fun "television" show. The footage is pretty good, very nice at times and Sarah articulates her points well and is obviously well researched, it was nice to see footage of the Hales Wobbegong as well as it doesn't get much time in the limelight. Sarah makes an engaging host and the structure is uncomplicated and fluid.

The content is light and upbeat and to my mind would have particular appeal to kids and also girls as well as Sarah seems approachable and very non-threatening, it's also worth pointing out that her graphics guy is very good, that was the real stand out for me, the creative and slick usage of computer graphics to illustrate certain points.

It won't be winning any awards for originality and although connecting with the camera is hugely important (and from experience it really isn't easy) at times, Sarah connects possibly a little too much, veering towards the kind of camera connection more generally found in the kind of films made for, how shall  put it, a more predominantly adult male audience *ahem*. The music also, as is pretty much always the case in nature films not made by the BBC, is pretty cheesy but these slight imperfections aside, I was impressed and most importantly, I will be watching part two when it comes out. Kudos to Sarah and her team for making an enjoyable, well thought out short film and actually making the effort and taking the time to get out there and do something creative and worthwhile.

The second film I stumbled across whilst searching for something else, "Great White Life" is the story of Kevin Mcrath, a man battling obesity and depression who has a real passion for sharks, in particular, the Great White.

The premise is simple, Kevin needs to lose weight and overcome bouts of depression in a bid to fulfill his lifelong dream of doing a cage dive with Great White Sharks in Guadalupe. That's pretty much it really.

I'll be totally honest, from the outset, it's blatantly clear that Kevin is no Scorcese, it's clearly done on the cheap, by a man who isn't a seasoned film-maker, it's very much a "get your mate to hold the camera when you need to be in shot" production and the music, although actually not bad, doesn't always work. The real shame is that the film doesn't pick up at all on the battle to lose the weight and the previous, unsuccessful attempt to see White Sharks at the Farrallons, so the real, wide appeal drama and jeopardy is completely missing. "Great White Life" is essentially a collection of home videos edited together to make an amateur film, I can relate to that, I have done that myself!

At this stage it seems like I wasn't overly taken with this film but hang on a second, that wouldn't be accurate. I actually, really enjoyed it. It has a charm of its own, an open honesty and warmth which drew me in. I enjoy watching low budget films by complete unknowns, a lot of the time I find them far more interesting because the "star" is more engaging and what they lack in production values, they can make up for in reality and honesty and to Kevin's credit, he put it all out there and I could relate to him. He's obviously a nice guy, his wife is a nice lady and his friends, who provide regular soundbites, all clearly hold him in high regard. It's like watching a mate's home videos of a special holiday and actually enjoying doing so as opposed to just saying you are. Yes there are deficiencies if you look at it as an exercise in film-making but you'd be doing Mcgrath a disservice if you were to do so, he wants to tell a positive story and reflect sharks in a positive light and he just about manages to do it. I enjoyed it, well done big fella.

If you have some time to kill, you could do worse than checking both these films out and another I watched that wasn't about sharks, "Famous in 31 days" which was very enjoyable, another low budget and pretty funny, "ordinary guy on a crusade" handicam odyssey.

Barry Norman eat your heart out.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The New Mailing List

Just a quick note to say that there is now an official From the Office to the Ocean mailing list.
This won't be used to constantly fill your already bulging inbox with pointless nonsense so don't panic, instead, you'll get all the latest news and on location updates from all the films in the series and all other relevant news. Obviously by now, judging by the content of this blog and everything else, you can be assured it will only be highly exciting and informative  literature, video and photography of the highest standard! ;)

Whilst in Fiji I will be making sure you all feel like you're there with me with blogs from not just me, but Hugh and Hamish, along with videos and photographs and unlike everybody else who gets to go gallivanting around the world on sharky adventures, I'm actually going to open the door and tell you how I did it, what I'm using and give you an insight into all the goings on involved in making this year's most awesome shark film.

Aside from all the Fiji news you'll be kept up to date with absolutely everything "From the Office..." related and signing up couldn't be easier, just go to www.officetoocean.com scroll down to the bottom of the front page below the trailer screen and fill in your details, easy peasy.

Hope to hear from you all soon!


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Der der, der der, der der, der der...Silly season is upon us again!

Every year without fail here in the UK we have the "Jaws off the Cornish coast" story but it's started a little late this year.

These stories always seem to materialise when the weather forecast for the next week looks good, that is, when summer looks like it might actually make its annual two week stopover in the UK because that is precisely the time us limeys don the string vests and tight shorts, inflicting our pasty (later burned to a crisp) skin on the world and head to the British riviera.

For those who can't be arsed to click the link, the long and short of it is that apparently two separate fishermen have been "attacked" by an Oceanic Whitetip Shark off the beaches of the beautiful St Ives in Cornwall. Funny thing is, it's usually a Great White but the Oceanic Whitetip seems to be the shark of the moment after its month in the spotlight in Egypt last year.

It's the same every year, fisherman says he's seen big shark, press splash it all over front pages after contacting Richard Peirce of the Shark Trust who quite rightly doesn't dismiss it outright, saying nothing can be confirmed until a picture is taken, a few days later a picture appears of a Basking Shark which is claimed to be the offending "man eater" and that picture is then debuffed as a Basking Shark by someone at a university or aquarium and the whole thing is over and done with.
That's not to say there haven't been some viable eyewitness accounts and evidence to back up the claim that large predatory sharks do visit the UK's coastline. I have been saying for twenty years that Great White Sharks do visit our shores but the Oceanic Whitetip? It's a stretch too far for me I'm afraid so I'm calling shenanigans on this one.

Call me cynical but you would struggle to find anybody in the country these days without a mobile phone and on top of that, a mobile phone without a camera on it. Is anybody seriously trying to say that not one but two fishermen saw an Oceanic Whitetip and didn't think to get a quick snap on their phones to back up their story? Not a chance as far as I'm concerned.

On the upside however, at least it looks like the weather is looking good for the next week or so!



As if to completely prove my point above, British tabloid newspaper, The Daily Express, are running this abomination of an article today and not only is it nothing more than a load of non-facts thrown together, the grammar is appalling, "a oceanic whitetip" I mean, seriously, come on!

My point above was these fabricated stories serve only one purpose and that can be proven with these passages in the article, "...Fishermen have booked out hotels in St Ives..." and "Hotel owners yesterday told of a “last-minute flurry” of customers desperate to hunt down the shark."

Crappy weather means less people booking UK breaks so in order to get the punters down there they make up a story of a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a "killer shark."
Yep, they really do think we're that stupid.

Monday, 6 June 2011

"Behind Blue Glass" Post Production Update

The production of a film is hard work, very hard work. It's not just going somewhere, pointing a camera at some scenery then reading a script. A good film looks great, sounds great and has interesting, engaging content that people actually want to watch, but for all the blood, sweat and tears (thankfully we avoided the blood and tears) the real hard work comes in during post production.

Post production is like building a house, the footage, story and sound are your foundations and upon those foundations, you build your film using the tools at your disposal, building layer after layer to hopefully have the kind of end result your efforts and the content deserve.

Using the house building analogy, "Behind Blue Glass" is currently in the stages of having its interior done. The edit is done, voice overs done, primary colour correction done, lapel and external mic sound done and colour grading will be completed tonight. Left to complete is the final audio mix, subtitling, music, intro and and outro credits, the final, brutal axing of any superfluous footage which isn't totally necessary regardless of how good it looks and a lovely, delicious final master of the whole thing.

The trailer gives an idea of the quality of footage. The whole thing was shot in full HD 1080p and it looks great (honestly, I'm actually looking at it now on a 32" LG television...) and I must say I am very happy with it all. The overall "look" of the film is unlike anything you will have likely seen in regards to shark documentaries, far more cinematic and stylistic, also, shooting these films on the Canon 7D, with the inclusion on this film of the Canon 5D MKii, gives them a look of their own, naturally more cinematic than most HD video cameras and with a glorious, full depth of field. In the coming weeks, I will give a full introduction to the shooting rig I will be using for my films, all of which is affordable and easily accessible to the average consumer.

Speaking of the trailer, since being uploaded six days ago, it has been viewed over 3000 times and shared by over three hundred different people on Facebook alone! Not bad considering the only promotional links I have are social networking media.

I would like to think that the film will be completed in full, in the next two weeks, in fact, I would say that is highly likely, the sooner I can subtitle it and settle on the final music, the sooner it will be done.

Please keep sharing the trailer, I want as many people to see this film as possible, it tells a story you don't know and one which has a message to which most people could easily relate, plus it's not too shabby at all in my honest opinion ;)

Trailer - Youtube
Trailer - Vimeo

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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Here it is..."Behind Blue Glass" Trailer!

Finally, here's the trailer for "Behind Blue Glass." It's in full HD 1080p and I fully recommend making sure HD is on and "full screening" it for optimum effect. Please share with likeminded souls and as always, your comments are welcome and gratefully received so don't be shy!

As for progress on the film, I am now onto the sound/music/colour correction stage with a bit of work still left to do but we're getting close now and I am really happy with it all so far!

Not long to wait now ;)