Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Films don't just make themselves!

Well yeah that's a fairly obvious statement but seeing as the lack of internet put paid to the video diaries about the crew I figured it would be nice to do a little blog about the people who helped me make "Of Shark and Man."

Probably the most important member of my crew was someone who has been with me on this since day one when I first came up with the idea not for this film, but the whole "From the Office to the Ocean" concept when I brought it up over a few beers in his garden a couple of years ago. 

He's been mentioned regularly on this blog in the past but Hamish Harper has been invaluable to me for a number of different reasons. From the second I first came up with the idea, Hamish was the only person aside from myself who had the faith and belief that I could make this happen and he immediately got on board and offered his services in whatever capacity I needed. Hamish's greatest strength is his ability to perfectly balance creativity and practicality and has provided me with the most vital element of support before and during filming, which only a tiny handful of people have done, and that is to give a constant stream of encouragement and enthusiasm, when I needed help, advice, encouragement or just a pick-me-up, it was Hamish who would do it.

It was Hamish who helped me shoot the teaser trailer, who introduced me to the Cameras Underwater crew, who found me a cameraman (see below) and who in Fiji operated as sound man, photographer, cameraman and general diving guru and provider of musical light relief and entertainment at which he was very, very good. Hamish's involvement won't stop there either as we will be doing some UK based filming and he will be involved with "From the Office..." moving forward as well. A great bloke, a great friend and a huge part of the making of this film.

Believe it or not the original plan, way back when, was for me to spend a year writing a book, that's what "From the Office..." was originally intended to be, then after encouragement from Jim Standing at Fourth Element I decided to go down the route I had always wanted to follow and that was film. Originally intending to spend the vast majority of time behind the camera, I was intent on doing the lion's share of the filming myself but when it became clear I would actually need to be in front of the camera most of the time it became apparent that I would need a professional cameraman and a good one at that. 

Having worked with him in the past, Hamish recommended Hugh Fairs so I called him up, he liked the idea and said if I could make it happen to count him in. I like to think I'm pretty good behind a camera but for this film I needed someone much better, with more experience and greater technical awareness and after twenty five years in the industry Hugh has that pretty well covered! Both topside and underwater, I learned a great deal from Hugh during the process of filming and that will stand me in great stead moving forward both behind and in front of the camera. One of the most important things was being able to guarantee that the footage we shot would look great so a very good cameraman was a must and Hugh is most certainly a very good cameraman! During an edit, it becomes much more enjoyable to work with great looking footage and it opens up more possibilities within the film's structure and in this case, I can't wait to start because the footage looks brilliant!

Without doubt the most vital component in all this happening in the first place is Fiji Me and in particular, the amazing Jane West and Martin Harlow. When others didn't want to know, Jane and Martin had the cojones to take a big gamble on an unknown quantity and put their money up to make it happen. They immediately saw the idea I had for what it was and were nothing other than incredibly supportive, enthusiastic and passionate not just about the film, but about the conservation message. Without Jane and Martin, this whole thing would not have happened full stop and when times were hard, when I was unsure whether anyone would be interested in what I was doing, Jane and Martin were there to give encouragement and support and because of them one of my life's dreams came true.

For Fiji Me the conservation message isn't just fluff to sell a product, it's something they believe in and support and as further proof, off the back of this film, Fiji Me are sponsoring this year's Bite Back charity fundraising evening for shark conservation. Jane and Martin aren't just amazing people, they are an asset to tourism, to Fiji and passionate lovers of Fijian people.

It's no secret I am a huge fan of the Canon DSLR range of cameras and obviously, to shoot a professional film, you need professional cameras and because of Canon, I am in the privileged position of owning and using the Canon 7D and an assortment of lenses, they even gave me use of the 10-22mm wide angle lens for the making of both "Behind Blue Glass" and "Of Shark and Man" for nothing!

This whole film was shot almost entirely (Go Pro footage aside) on Canon cameras (two 7Ds and a 550D with 10-22, 15-75, 70-300 and 50mm lenses and even the tiny Ixus 100) and the footage speaks for itself. Canon were behind me as soon as  approached them and have been supportive and enthusiastic since the moment they became a firm part of "From the Office to the Ocean" and because of them, I can now get the results I want. A special thank you to David Fidler and the brilliant Alan Harborne, it's a privilege to be a small part of the Canon family.

Alex Tattersall, a great bloke, an amazing photographer (see above image) and a man who got me out of a pretty sticky situation regarding housings for our 7Ds. Alex runs www.uwvisions.com/ and is a distributor for Nauticam housings which I can know confirm if they weren't aware already, are Bull Shark proof! (click the link for the video, I haven't decided when more clips will be made available but when I do, I will let you all know!)

The Fijian people are some of the greatest individuals on the planet, friendly, always smiling and always happy to talk to a pasty Mancunian with a camera in his hands, they are the real stars of this film. Fiji is a beautiful place, paradise in fact and this is augmented by its wonderful, wonderful people who, when they weren't joking about eating us, were all too happy to help with anything we needed and made us feel enormously welcome throughout the whole month. An extra special thanks to the people of Galoa village who allowed me into their homes and made me feel like a genuine part of the village, something I am hugely humbled by and as of now, I consider Galoa my special Fijian village.

The people of Fiji are undoubtedly behind the protection of their sharks and are refreshingly well informed about shark conservation. This tiny dot on the map is now on the brink of some major positive changes in the shark conservation world and that is down to its strongest, most valuable asset, the people themselves.

I have learned more about the process of film-making this last year from Liam Wright at Banter Media than from anyone else. Liam and I have worked together in the past and became friends after he interviewed me for a film he was making and who then worked alongside me on "Behind Blue Glass." Liam is an impressive individual who has built a successful production company from the ground up and is still in his mid-twenties. Always ready to offer advice and support, Liam has been vital in my development both creatively and perhaps more importantly, technically and has offered both his and the services of his team to me regularly this last six months when he was already snowed under with other work and for that I will be forever grateful. In the event I secure the post production budget I need, it will be with Liam and the BM boys and girls that I undertake the entire post production process and I have a feeling Liam will be involved throughout the lifespan of "From the Office..." or at least I hope he will, he's a very busy boy after all!

Last but not least is the unsung hero of "From the Office..." and along with the rest of the Nerve Engine boys, my best  mate for well over ten years, Kris Allen. Kris is responsible for my website and is forever providing technical advice to a total computer moron (err...guess who!) who also designs the graphics I use online and in emails. Without Kris, these promo materials would have to be done by me and ergo, would look utterly dreadful so at the expense of his own time, Kris helps me look good! Not only is Kris a thoroughly brilliant fella with tonnes of tech-knowledge, he is also a talented musician who has a new band in Leeds called Shields alongside another of my closest friends, the insanely talented Owen Wilson (not him, the "other" one!)

Big thanks to all the above! As you will have noticed I have been rather prolific on the blogging front of late and there are more to come in the coming days, I actually started this on Saturday so I am still catching up with a ton of work as we speak but there will be more Shark Week reviews coming, hopefully a photo special from Fiji and also, as promised, an in depth blog about how I actually managed to make this absurd concept actually become reality!

Spread the word, join the mailing list and the Facebook group and get in touch, your involvement is both encouraged and welcomed!

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