Friday, 8 July 2011

T-Minus 73 hours! What to expect while I'm in Fiji...

Twelve months and eleven days ago I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock and the sense of dread that another week lay ahead doing something I didn't want to do, purely so I could merely exist and scrape by in the world, that was when I said to myself, "sod this, I've had enough" and decided to go after what I have wanted my entire life. In the doom and gloom, recession laden UK it seemed an absurd thing to do, no experience, no money, no support system, no contacts or links to the film industry and no idea of how to start putting this whole thing together.

Now, I am only three days away from boarding the plane to Fiji, with one film under my belt, to make a film I have wanted to for the last fifteen or so years, if you don't mind me saying, it is a hell of an achievement I have got this far. With that in mind, I hope you take from this that it is possible to change your life for the better, with hard work, dedication, commitment and a never say die attitude, ordinary people like us, from average working class backgrounds, can achieve the things we believe in.

So, what can you expect while I am out there? Firstly, you can be sure you will be with me every step of the way and 'll be updating you with blogs, video blogs, behind the scenes footage and photos, not only from me but also my crew, Hamish Harper and Hugh Fairs. You will get all that here on this blog, my Twitter, the Facebook Group and the Youtube Page and for the extra special, first in the queue updates, scroll to below the trailer on the front page and join the mailing list!

I intend to answer the kind of questions I always wanted the answers for on these types of adventures that people never seem to answer, unlike all the other film shoots that give the fortunate few a chance to chase adventure around the world, this is not a closed house, I'll tell you how we are doing things, what gear we are using, what problems we are facing and give a real insight into what it is like to be doing this, I want to inspire you to follow your dreams, if I can also help by letting you in on the "secrets" behind my adventure, then that will do for me.

What about the film itself? "Of Shark and Man" tells two stories, firstly the story of how one man's desperate urge to fulfill his lifelong ambition leads him to take the ultimate risk, gamble everything and actually manage to achieve that dream, secondly, this film will tell the full story of Shark Reef. This will be the most in-depth and detailed film in existence, about this incredible story and will be different to anything else out there that deals with sharky subject matter. You'll meet the people at the core of what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest marine conservation success stories ever, you'll get a totally different insight into why shark conservation and a healthy shark population is a good thing, it will look and sound different to all the other shark films and perhaps most importantly, will give you, the viewer, the credit of being able to think for yourselves. This isn't a pious, chest beating declaration of impending doom or ego driven shark porn, this is for the sharks and for you, the ordinary man on the street who has been, for the most part, neglected as a target audience for intelligent pro-shark media.

Sound good? It will be...

I can't stress enough, this film has been driven by passion, honesty, will and positivity, all of which is geared towards making something artistically creative, cool and informative, not with agenda driven statistics, but with facts, to me, it's all about inspiration, heart and soul.

When this is all done, I will be able to look at it and know that I went from nothing to finally having a finished product and I did it my way and I did it on my own, however, there are some things one individual simply cannot do and without a small band of incredible people, this film would not be getting made at all. These are the people and organisations at the core of what I hope to achieve, not just with "Of Shark and Man" but with all my future films, inspirational, enthusiastic, positive people who walk the walk and people who had the courage to get behind someone the vast majority wouldn't even bother responding to emails from. These are people who I admire, respect and for whom I will have enormous gratitude until my dying day.

Martin and Jane at Fiji Me have been nothing less than amazing and they are the reason I am going in the first place as it is they who are the primary sponsor of this film. They haven't just provided sponsorship though, they have worked tirelessly the last six months or so and have given invaluable enthusiasm and support in what has been an exceptionally difficult time. In short, they have been a dream come true.

Mike Neumann at Beqa Adventure Divers (here he is stuck on the business end of a local Tiger Shark called Scarface) has been an invaluable source of advice and information, along with positive words and guidance when needed the most. I wanted to tell this story in the best way possible and I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else. Thankfully, he had already heard of me by the time I contacted him when he was passed an article I wrote for DIVER Magazine a couple of years ago and from that and me chancing upon it when googling myself (ahem, yeah...) a beautiful friendship has gone from strength to strength and in a few days we'll be sharing a beer over some nice food and shooting the sharky breeze. I can't wait.

Canon  have been incredibly generous and supportive and both Alan and Dave have been brilliant. I couldn't be happier to be endorsed by these guys for the simple reason that the Canon DSLRs which are revolutionising the film industry are the best things to happen to underwater film-makers for years, they are the dog's dangly bits and I can see myself using them for years. Not only do they look better than many of the six figure price dedicated film cameras, they are also a lot cheaper and give greater artistic flexibility. I am smitten.

Mario Vitalini, Dave Glanfield and Paul Duxfield have been with me since the start of this journey and are an invaluable source of advice, information and support, they're also just about to launch their new venture and their help and the help from their colleagues at Cameras Underwater has been outstanding.

Believe it or not, "From the Office to the Ocean" was originally intended to be a book (and will be one day) but it was during a conversation with Jim Standing of Fourth Element that the concept of making it a series of films came about. I had always wanted it to be that way, however I thought it would be impossible, it seems that thankfully I was wrong and the Fourth Element guys have been with me since day one. They make the best and coolest looking dive gear around and in the Proteus, the most comfortable, warmest and best looking 5mm wetsuit I have ever used.

These companies and people have either provided funding, equipment or advice but all have given encouragement, guidance and support which has got me to where I am today. I would also like to extend the warmest welcome to the newest member of the "from the Office..." family, Alex Tattersall and Underwater Visions, the UK's primary distributor for Nauticam Underwater Housings. My camera is now my livelihood so putting it in water is nerve wracking enough, putting it in water filled with very big sharks is off the scale so confidence in its protection is vital and these housings are pretty much bullet proof. Both myself and Hugh are now proud owners of the NA-7D and not only did Alex get us out of not one, but two potential disasters, he's also a photographic genius, see the pic of the Lionfish above which he actually took whilst I was next to him and remains to this day one of my favourite photos ever.

I contacted hundreds of individuals and companies for support in the making of this film and the guys above were the small handful with the cojones to back me and with the desire to support grassroots, pro-shark media and I couldn't be prouder to be associated with them all.

I just want to point out as well that donations made by a number of generous people, some of whom I have never met in my life have also got me to this position. The Indiegogo campaign raised $1000 alone and that this came from ordinary people who must be going through financially tough times like everyone else, means the world and I cannot wait to start giving you the goodies when I get back. You are all amazing!

In three days my life is going to change for ever and I can't wait. full speed ahead Beqa Lagoon!!

Oh by the way, don't forget, "Behind Blue Glass" is coming soon...

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