Wednesday, 28 September 2011

"Of Shark and Man" Promo Teaser Trailer!

I've been a little quiet on here the last three weeks and there's been a very good reason for that.

On Saturday I screened a special promo teaser trailer for "Of Shark and Man" at the Bite-Back Charity Ball, an annual event run by the excellent Bite-Back shark conservation group, an organisation I support, run by some fantastic people with a real commitment to shark conservation so it was a pleasure to be involved and give the attendees a sneak preview of what to expect from "Of Shark and Man."

This year's event was sponsored by Fiji Me and the guests were made up of members of the media and dive community and was also attended by the acting High Commissioner for Fiji and his wife and like all Fijians, they were a joy to spend time with.

The deadline I had was almost impossible to hit but I managed it...Just! The trailer was finished at 3am on Friday morning and I was up to catch a train at 5.30am, the obligatory technical problems of editing HD video on a laptop using software that often doesn't work properly meant I was unable to avoid "squeaky bum time" but I just about managed it. It is by no means perfect however, it gives the first full concept of what you as a viewer can expect from the finished film.

You wanna see the world's biggest Bull sharks in the kind of numbers you won't see anywhere else? You want a totally different perspective on shark conservation? You want a bit of drama? You'll find it all here.

However, there's a catch. This isn't for public consumption so you won't find it anywhere, even on this blog, no embedding, no facebook, no file sharing, nowhere, so how do you get to see it? Easy...

Sign up to the mailing list at just below the "Behind Blue Glass" trailer. There is no spamming, no data collection or any of that nonsense, just updates on this film and future projects so if you want to see it, sign up, it takes sixty seconds. The trailer is hosted privately so you can't see it without a link or a password, this info will be sent out on Monday October 3rd to everyone on the mailing list.

The trailer lasts four minutes and nine seconds and I think you'd agree the leap in quality from previous projects is quite obvious, as for the shark footage, that kinda speaks for itself, Beqa Lagoon is head and shoulders above anywhere else in the world for Bull Sharks and it shows.

Spread the word, get your friends to sign up, things are just about to get exciting...

I will also have "Making it Happen part 4" coming soon, along with news about "Behind Blue Glass" so keep checking back!

As always, I welcome your comments, don't be shy and let me know what you think!


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Making It Happen Part 3

Okay, so we left part two after I made the decision to go it alone and stop trying to get a Production Company to help me shoot the film which ultimately, would make the already seemingly insurmountable mountain I had to climb even steeper and higher. Nobody really knew who I was, nobody really cared who I was and I had absolutely nothing to show to anybody that would illustrate where the hell I was coming from with the idea for "Of Shark and Man," so realising this needed rectifying, I did the following...

I shot a "Teaser Trailer."

You can watch it in all it's full HD, fullscreen glory here.

First of all, what problems did I have with this?
  • I didn't have an HD camera
  • The film is going to be based in Fiji, I have never been to Fiji, nor do I have any footage of Fiji
  • I was living in Leeds at the time. There aren't many sharks in Leeds.
  • At this stage, I had only ever shot and cut music videos for the band alongside two parody "rockumentaries" used merely as a way to put a load of live footage from different gigs on one tape, I had never had to storyboard anything or construct my own shoot.
The camera was the easy part. In a symbiotic illustration of things to come and something which would become a big part of "From the Office..." Liam at Banter Media and Hamish had, on the same day, told me about the range of Canon DSLR cameras which would also shoot broadcast quality HD 1080p video and it just so happened that Hamish had one, the Canon 550D which he very kindly allowed me to borrow and also volunteered to shoot the scenes with me in them. Result!

The lack of Fiji and the lack of sharks was a big problem, it's a teaser for a film about sharks in Fiji and it won't have either in it so what the hell was I supposed to do?! This is lesson seven, learn to make the most out of the resources you have available and more importantly, be creative with them!


I had some video which I had shot in the Bahamas in 2008 but it was only SD footage and would not have been anywhere near the quality required for this introduction to "David Diley the film-maker." It was in a meeting with Dave Glanfield of Ocean Leisure Cameras where I had a pretty cool idea, well, I say I had the idea, it was originally a suggestion made by Dave in regards to still imagery for promo material which inspired the idea but I figured it would be a cool idea to focus on the urban and very "un-sharky" nature of my everyday surroundings. Like I said, I wanted to be original. I would take the footage of sharks and subtly place them in the glass as reflections, they were the embodiment of my dream so I would show that dream following me through the mundanity of my life.

It was only a small project but provided great experience in actually structuring my own shoot and coming up with ideas which not only reflected my idea, but were achievable.

The trailer was edited on an ordinary laptop using Adobe CS4 Master Collection and the music was my own, recorded in my close friend, Mark Burrows' bedroom on a desk top PC where we also did the voice over. This trailer cost in total, £2 to make and that was for the bus tickets to shoot the shot on the bus!

The reception was very encouraging and despite not really knowing what I was doing or how to get to grips with the camera, I don't think it looks too bad. Most important, I had something to show people how I was behind a camera but perhaps even more important, what I looked like in front of one!

Crowd funding

First things first, crowd funding is ace.

For those who don't know it's a way for cool people who like your idea to donate towards the cost of whatever it is you're doing and it could be anything. The concept is simple, you advertise your project and people donate whatever they want in return for a variety of "perks" like credits, merchandise, premiere screening tickets etc.

I used Indiegogo and found the whole process simple and effective and I raised $1000 which ultimately went towards the purchase of vital equipment needed to make the film and I cannot stress enough just how appreciative I am to the people who gave their hard earned money, in a time of extreme financial downturn, to help me make this happen. I can't wait to start giving out the perks when the film is complete!

I was always highly dubious of trying to source funding from ordinary people as the concept made me feel uncomfortable, however, it actually became something I considered when people started asking me how they could donate money to help me. It was immensely humbling and also went to show that people really did want to see this film get made.

Assemble your crew

I'll admit, my single biggest mistake came at this point and it's one I would urge you not to repeat yourselves. I didn't allow myself anywhere near enough people to actually help me make this film. The point of a crew is that their expertise and energy ultimately make your life easier in your role as director/producer/talent (eurgh, I hate that phrase!). However, in my paranoia about escalating my budget further, I simply employed people to do the things I physically couldn't do due to me operating in another role simultaneously as opposed to thinking about my own workload. 

I was used by now to working stupidly long hours and overloading my plate with too much responsibility and I should have thought that during production, I should give myself less of a workload than I did. I should have taken a co-producer and co-director who could help me with the mountain of responsibility I had in making production run as smooth as possible. The major role my co-producer would have been given would have been to log and back up all footage whilst editing dailies because alongside directing, filming, producing and on-camera responsibilities every day, I would have to do this every single night, all footage and sound from three people and listen to me when I say that it is a huge pain in the arse, by the end of production I was an exhausted gibbering wreck. I won't be making that mistake again.

I like to think I'm pretty good behind a camera but if I were to ask someone to hand over their hard earned money I could hardly ask them do it on the basis that I think I'm pretty good and I shot a three minute trailer and nothing else, so I needed a pro cameraman with a proven track record to guarantee the footage would be broadcast standard. On Hamish's recommendation I got Hugh Fairs on board and I'd already promised Hamish he could come to fulfill a variety of roles, many of which he'd have to learn on the spot and that was it, that is literally how I put my team together! Like I said, I didn't really know what I was doing and was making it up as I went along, to go into a production like this with a crew of only three people is ridiculous and not something I will ever do again, however, we pulled it off and that is testament to all involved but I would suggest to you that you save yourself the headache and try to cover all the bases.

Promote yourself

I already mentioned using social media to announce you and your project to the world but the big thing you have to do is get some media attention and this isn't easy! I spent a good while emailing and phoning all the major newspapers and although they thought it was a nice idea, none really thought anything would come of it so decided against committing to speaking to me about the film, which to be fair, I can understand.

A couple of websites had featured little bits about me but it was, bizarrely, the BBC of all places which gave me my first break. In December last year the shark attacks in Egypt made sharks front page news in the UK and it was the usual Daily Mail-esque scaremongering and nonsense for the most part. Hamish called me one day to say he had heard people discussing it on the radio and that I should try to call the radio station and provide a more balanced and informed opinion on what was happening, so I did! I was surprised to be put straight through and the journo seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying, we must have been on the phone for at least forty five minutes and lo and behold, the next day I'm on the front page of the BBC website!

Within a couple of days I had been approached by the local newspaper who wanted to do a feature on me (see above) and since then I have been featured and interviewed by numerous places, a particular favourite being this interview with Beyond Limits. The main point here is that when you get your first bit of coverage, use it cleverly and others will follow if your story is interesting enough.

I often feel uncomfortable putting myself out there as the figurehead of these projects. I'm not some attention seeking primadonna desperate to be a star, in fact, I'm quite the opposite, but I have to appreciate that I am the glue which binds all these films together, therefore I need to be a recognisable element throughout the lifespan of "From the Office..." after all, the films are, to some degree, about me and my passion so it's unavoidable, you gotta bite the bullet and put yourself out there, it gets easier the more you do it, I promise.

Find your sponsor

I had my idea, loads of detailed proposals, a buzz, media coverage and was gaining industry support for my project but all the while I was still skint, so much so that by this time, January 2011, I had had to give up my flat as I couldn't afford the rent or the bills anymore, financially, I was on my arse at this point so in the highly likely event I wasn't going to win the lottery, it wasn't going to be me paying for this production.

I had spent a week or so sending emails to an enormous list of companies and corporations along with famous and wealthy individuals like Richard Branson, Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne, Karen Brady and I even tried to get in touch with Lars Ulrich but all to no avail, I had sent approximately a thousand emails in this week which remains possibly the most tedious and boring exercise I have ever undertaken, with no serious nibbles on my proposal I was starting to worry but I had an ace up my sleeve...

The previous October, I had swapped a couple of emails with Jane at Fiji Me who had responded positively and said she would discuss it with her partner, Martin, and get back to me. That same month, at the Dive Show at Birmingham NEC, I stumbled across the Fiji Me stall and thought I had nothing to lose...

"Hi, is Jane about?"
"I'm afraid not but Martin is, would you like to speak with him?"

It turns out that Jane had spoken excitedly to Martin about my idea and we got on like a house on fire, his energy and enthusiasm was a breath of fresh air for me and he gave positive signs that they might just be interested in helping me out! They were passionate about animals and conservation and even more passionate about the people of Fiji, I knew they were the ones I wanted to work with. The saying goes that you "shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket," I always say it depends how strong the basket is, Fiji Me were the obvious choice for me and I thought if I was already gambling everything, I should back the winner and the winner in this race, was Fiji Me, I was certain of it...

The next few months consisted of hundreds of emails back and forth and a couple of really enjoyable meetings with Jane and it was looking good, they were definitely interested...

Shoot a short film

This was an obvious thing to do and in all fairness, I should have done it sooner. I had had an idea for some time and out of the blue I was contacted by a complete stranger who I didn't realise at the time was going to become a close friend and a big part of "From the Office..." The email was from an Aussie called Brad Robertson who, along with his lovely wife Bea, had set up a conservation focussed eco-business in Mallorca called Ondine Escape and I liked him immediately, he shared my enthusiasm and passion and he was responsive to ideas and advice. Soon we were talking on Skype about my project and during one of these conversations, I mentioned I had always wanted to shoot a film about sharks in Mallorca and his response was typical of the man he is, "why don't we?" 

Brad was running a PADI Shark Awareness course in conjunction with Palma Aquarium and within less than a week Brad and I were discussing my idea with two amazing people, Debora Morrison and Roman Gradel who both held educational and conservational positions within Palma Aquarium;

"I want to take a group of non-divers, train them up to dive then put them in your tank with the sharks and document their reactions, it won't cost much, barely anything and would be a nice short, ten minute, pro-shark piece..."

They thought it was a great idea and it was then I asked a question which popped into my head, remembering the main feature of the idea I had had for a few years, "I don't suppose you know anyone who has any photos or first hand experience of the Great White Sharks caught there do you?"

It turned out that they did and "Behind Blue Glass" was born (full HD trailer here). 

We got out micro budget funding within three weeks and three weeks later I was on a plane to Mallorca for pre-production, returning a week later to put the script and screenplay together before returning with Liam in tow, for the two week production on April 14th, only two months after Brad's first contact.

Shooting "Behind Blue Glass" will always be one of the happiest periods of my whole life. Three people who barely had any idea of what they were doing and poor old Liam, trying to make sense of my explanations of what I wanted in garbled, pseudo techno speak but in all honesty, he was brilliant, he knew I was new to this and that Brad and Bea had basically had things thrust into their hands to record sound, operate cameras, translate and be interviewed on camera and instead of getting frustrated or narky, he was immensely positive, gave encouragement and advice when needed and took a lot of the workload off my shoulders. 

Brad and Bea were nothing short of a revelation and I would have them in my film crew again in a heartbeat, professional, enthusiastic and energetic they never moaned once despite being driven way harder than they should have been, we all worked far too long hours and were emotionally and physically drained by the end of shooting but it was a hugely enjoyable two weeks and we managed to get some really, really great stuff. 

The trailer was incredibly well received and off the back of production, a shark conservation initiative is being launched by Palma Aquarium, not only that, shark conservation is now being discussed in Mallorquin media now, not bad considering all we had was an idea a couple of DSLR cameras and a load of enthusiasm! "Behind Blue Glass" will have its premiere screening in Mallorca in October and will then be available for you to buy, shortly afterwards.

Full speed ahead Fiji!!

In keeping with the way I seem to do things, I was about to get the news I wanted at a time when it would challenge me the most.

Having still been unsure as to whether I would source the funding I needed when I committed to doing "Behind Blue Glass," I figured it could be the thing that would be the final piece in the jigsaw that would encourage Fiji Me to take the plunge and finance "Of Shark and Man." It turned out that I didn't need that final piece of the jigsaw after all because on March 27th, two days before I set out to Mallorca for pre-production, I got confirmation that I had secured full funding to go to Fiji and make this dream a reality.

Less than a year previously, I was nothing more than a dreamer sat in an office wishing he was doing something else, now here I am with not one but two films to make! I would return from Mallorca on April 28th and have to start editing "Behind Blue Glass" immediately in order to finish that before I flew to Fiji. On top of all this I had to write the guide screenplay and script for "Of Shark and Man" and stock up on everything I needed for production and make sure that both Hamish and Hugh were ready to go as well, I still can't quite believe I actually managed to do it but it did entail working through to 5am pretty much every single day for a month so here is lesson eight, if you can, put gaps between your projects!

It took me nine months and twenty seven days to go from nothing to actually changing my life forever, endless days work, long sleepless nights, no money, highs and lows but here I was, this stupid gamble had paid off, this naive belief that yes, anything was possible, had actually got me over the finishing line of my single biggest obstacle and I couldn't quite believe it. I felt two distinct feelings, absolute, utter joy and vindication but also the weight of pressure that came with knowing, the hard work was only just beginning, I'd been given the golden ticket, this is my one and only chance, whatever you do, don't blow it...

To be continued...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

South Pacific leading the way in Shark Conservation (again!)

With news of AB376 passing in California, it's shaping up to be a positive year for shark conservation but while this news is of course, excellent, we must ensure the efforts from other, much smaller nations do not go unnoticed. Following hot on the heels of AB376, the tiny South Pacific nation of Tokelau has also announced a shark sanctuary covering the entirity of its economic territory.

Alongside Tokelau, the Marshall Islands (pictured above) are also on the brink of passing their own legislation to protect sharks which is really, quite amazing. These tiny South Pacific islands, which most would struggle to locate on a map, have been for some time now, working towards ways to protect their sharks. The Marshall Islands, if the law does indeed pass, along with Tokelau, will be joined by the likes of  Guam, Honduras, Chile, The Bahamas and of course my beloved Fiji, in taking positive and inclusive steps towards what will be a better world and they and their governments should be roundly applauded for their efforts.

A friend of mine suggested I should write to the Senator in The Marshall Islands to see if I could lend my (albeit tiny) voice to the cause from the perspective of someone on the other side of the planet who would one day, love to visit this beautiful piece of paradise to film and document their sharks so I did and thought I would share the letter with you, so, here it is.

Dear Senator Kabua,

My name is David Diley and I am a director and producer from the United Kingdom.  That the Marshall Islands is considering implementing laws for the protection of sharks is already an amazing thing. A great many larger and more powerful nations are doing too little to protect the world's sharks and the fact that the Island nations of the Pacific are, in many respects, leading the world on this vital matter is of great credit to their people.

Sharks are incredible animals on many levels and as a film-maker who focusses on the relationships between sharks and humans in different parts of the world, it fills me with hope that, as these stories progress and the world changes, often for the worse, the stories of these relationships are actually becoming more and more positive as nations around the world begin to appreciate the importance of their sharks.

Not only are sharks vital to healthy marine ecosystems, a balanced food chain and general marine health, they are also, as has been proved around the world, an enormously valuable asset to tourism. Divers all around the world will travel far and wide to locations where sharks are plentiful to have what may be a once in a lifetime experience with sharks both large and small.

I recently travelled to Fiji to shoot a film about the benefits of shark conservation and shark eco-tourism in a location where sharks were once plentiful before their numbers were decimated, destroying all life on the reef (Shark Reef) and how, when they were encouraged to return through the establishment of a specialised shark dive, the reef blossomed back to life. This shark eco-tourism brings in approximately three million Fijian dollars every year, creates job opportunities and training schemes and benefits a great many of the non-diving businesses with ancillary financial input from the tourists visiting the island to enjoy the shark dive. This sustainable and profitable industry is reliant upon healthy shark numbers and illustrates just one of the numerous benefits of having a protected shark population.

Every single healthy marine environment on the planet is balanced by it's localised shark population, without these sharks to ensure that balance and health, the quality of these environments would degrade rapidly, affecting everything within these habitats. In areas where tourism and sustainable indigenous fishing are vital parts of the economy, this degradation of marine environments would be catastrophic and have a direct influence upon the people who call these locations home.

The problem with industrialised fishing in shark rich marine environments is that once those sharks are gone, they are gone. The monetary value of a dead shark varies around the world with a median value of around only US$150 – 200. The estimated value of a single, live shark in Fiji, using the example above, is US$600,000. A dead shark can only be “used” once where a live shark can be “used” many thousands of times within it's lifespan and will also, if their habitat is protected, make more sharks to benefit the local economy.

Legislation to protect the sharks of The Marshall Islands would be of great benefit not just to The Marshall Islands but to the planet as a whole and would be welcomed by a great many people around the world and I look forward to the day when I can visit your islands and enjoy diving with your sharks myself!

I would like to thank you for considering legislation to protect your sharks and wish you and the people of The Marshall Islands great success for the future.

Sincerely yours,

David Diley
Producer & Director
From the Office to the Ocean

Simply writing an email is of course a mere drop in the ocean of the efforts that have gone into getting the protection of sharks in these areas to progress to the point where it is either being put into practice or faces a real prospect of happening. There is a small band of people out there working tirelessley to make these things happen, in particular people like Stefanie Brendl and the brilliant PEW. It doesn't take much to write an email or sign a petition, what these guys do is an often labourius and thankless task and I, for one, would like to offer my continued support and eternal gratitude for their ceaseless efforts in making our world a better place!

I also want to give my eternal thanks to the people of the countries listed above for going to great lengths to protect one of the things which means more to me than anything else in the world. You may be a world away but your efforts and foresight are making positive changes for everyone. Thank you.

My profiles: Blogger

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Making It Happen - Part 2

In part one I gave some background information to give you a bit of an idea of where I was coming from when starting this whole thing, you may see a lot of myself in you, you may see me as a totally different person but that doesn't mean you can't achieve your own dream. I'm not the oracle on how to make things happen, far from it, I just made what I have work for me. I can't stress enough, you will have skills and strengths I, nor other people out there doing this stuff, have, you just have to believe in those strengths. As a no doubt great man (who's name  can't remember) once said, success is based on 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration and he was right. Don't expect a free ride from anybody, this is your thing, get out there and make it happen.

In this blog I will focus entirely on the first steps I took  to make the production of "Of Shark and Man" happen but remember, I haven't even started the edit yet, post production has begun but the early stages are unbelievably tedious and drawn out so there is still legs in this story yet. I hope you can get some snippets of inspiration you feel could be of use to you and your own challenges. 

Let's get started...

Have an idea!

Yes it's blindingly obvious but it's also one of the hardest parts of the whole process. An original, viable idea isn't something that shoehorns the things you like into one little box, you need to have that first spark and then work on that initial flash of inspiration and that can take years.

I first had the idea for what would become "From the Office to the Ocean" over twenty years ago believe it or not and it was just one aspect of what I wanted to do with my life. What would become "From the Office..." was actually, originally intended to be a book. I would spend twelve months travelling the globe exploring the stories relating to the human relationship with sharks in different parts of the world and include lots of lovely glossy photos and stories of my adventures with the sharks. As it transpires, it seems Juliet Eilperin recently had a similar idea and was able to go and write "Demon Fish". I haven't read it yet, I will of course, but by all accounts it's very good and although vaguely similar to my idea, it's not the same so the book is still something I will be doing in the future.

However, I digress. In 2007 I was sitting on a beach in Egypt dreading the return to work and decided that I would go ahead and see if I could make this book happen so on my return to the UK I did some research about the basics of putting a trip like that together and also, most importantly, this... Lesson five, check everywhere you can that your idea has not already been done by someone else! 

In July of 2008 I visited the Bahamas for a shark diving trip and by now the fire was raging inside me to get out and do what I wanted with my life. I was pretty successful at work at the time, hence the trips to Egypt and the Bahamas, so if I were to give up work and go for it, I knew I would be risking a hell of a lot. At that stage I was still quite vague on just how to go about putting a twelve month round the world trip together and more importantly, getting someone else to pay for it because there was no way on earth I could!

It was summer 2008 and I was still working through the minefield of logistics of putting a book together, I was emailing everyone I could think of about this great idea I had had and by now had attended my first Dive Show (more on that later).

It was at this first Dive Show where an important thing happened. I was going from stall to stall trying to discuss my idea with anyone I could in the hope they might be interested and the second stall I went to was for a small dive shop in Harrogate (or somewhere like that anyway) where the guy running the stall gave me thirty seconds of him half listening to what I was saying. 

"You written anything before and had it published?" he asked, 
"erm, no but I've...."
"Sorry mate, not interested."

He had a point so I was on my toes straight over to the Diver Magazine stand where the editor, Steve Weinman had already agreed to meet me for five minutes. He'd had a little nibble on my idea from an email I had sent him so when I asked if I could write him an article about sharks he was more than happy to let me. So I did, and my article about the benefit of shark feeding operations and addressing the misconceptions which go with them was published in the August 2008 edition of the mag.

It was also around this time when I met up with Jim Standing from Fourth Element and we discussed my idea for the book and the various pitfalls and logistical problems I would face in the coming months. It was then he said something which would change everything and start a chain of events which would change my life forever, "you'd be better off doing a film to be honest."

I explained to Jim that making films about sharks was what I had always wanted to do more than anything, that I had chosen the book route because I thought it would be easier as I knew I was a fairly good writer and I had only limited experience behind a Sony DV8 Tape Camcorder to call upon in regards to film, despite having a passionate interest in film-making but he was adamant the film option would be more likely to yield the results I wanted. I bounced out of that meeting, buzzing from the excitement of various ideas spinning around in my head and over the coming months started to look into how I could put a twelve month film production together.

Fast forward to late summer 2009 and the defining moment of this whole process. I googled myself, "David Diley Shark" and was perplexed by the results. My article, the one I had written previously was all over the net and two people in particular were saying some very positive things, Patric Douglas at Shark Diver and a guy calling himself "DaShark" in Fiji. "Da Shark" in particular interested me because he seemed to be involved in a project about which I had been fascinated for a good few years, over a decade anyway, the Shark Reef story, so I did some research, all the while, remembering an idea for a film I had had since first hearing the story around 1998 (I think). That was it, this is my idea, I was going to go and make a film not over the course of a year all over the world, but break it up into separate films and I was gonna start with the first film in Fiji, the story of Shark Reef Marine Reserve, an amazing tale and even better, nobody else had gone and done it, something I could never, ever understand. If they're not gonna go and make the film I want to see then sod it, I'm gonna do it myself!

Do a proposal

I did one for the book and I did a new one for the film, in fact, it was the very first thing I did. I knew I needed a document I could send out to people who had even a tiny bit of interest. I'd never done one before so in keeping with what would be a theme for this whole project, I learned as I did.

The proposal would be done, then re-done, then re-done, the re-done again and again and again, often to focus on a specific potential sponsor so a huge amount of time was spent staring at a computer screen often until 3 or 4am and bear in mind I was still working at this point and having to get up at 7:30am so for months, I was utterly exhausted!

My proposal contained several key points, about me, about the story I wanted to tell, why I wanted to tell it, how much I would need, how I would get the money, what I was going to do with the film and perhaps most importantly, what benefits I could offer to a sponsor in return for their hard earned cash?

Putting together your budget, in other words, how much you need to make this happen, is not easy. My first budget was about £3600! Let's just say that fell way, way, way short of what it would end up costing to put this production together. That amount was with the first idea in mind, I would go alone, be the only cameraman and it was reliant on services and accommodation being provided for free. I very quickly realised the numerous mistakes I had made.

I will admit to being nervous as the cost of the project continued to escalate, I was worried that the higher the cost, the less likely it would be that someone would invest in my idea but the truth of the matter is this, lesson six, if you have a good enough idea, a good enough approach and enough benefits on offer to potential investors or sponsors, if your budget is realistic you stand a good chance of getting financial backing, in fact, the higher your budget (within reason) the more likely you are to get it, remember the old saying, "you get what you pay for!"

Make contacts!

Good, credible contacts who might just be able to help you are your most valuable asset, you need them, don't underestimate how much either because without them, you're screwed.

As I mentioned before, I had started going to the Birmingham and London Dive Shows, I have done about seven now and to this day, I haven't once done the mooching around the stalls and looking at dive gear thing, I am there solely on business and to meet people I think might see the benefit in working with me. What you will no doubt find, as I most certainly did, is that most people, to put it bluntly, couldn't give a shit about you or your idea, be ready for that and be ready to hear "no" a hundred times more than you hear "yes," further to that, expect not to hear anything at all two hundred times more than you even hear "no!"

I spent months sending emails, a minimum of twenty each day, on one particular day later into the process, I sent almost seven hundred. For all the good emails do, a phone call is better and even better than that is meeting people face to face. In the early stages I approached at least one hundred people and in that first wave of action, I met Jim Standing of Fourth Element, Steve Weinman of Diver Magazine and Mario, Dave and Duxy, then of Cameras Underwater. All these people bought into what I was doing and not only did they offer their support moving forward, their outward expression of enthusiasm and belief gave me an enormous boost.

I quit my job!

It was early June 2010, by now I had been in regular contact with the aforementioned "DaShark" who I had discovered via Patric Douglas, in a wonderful twist of fate, was none other than Mike Neumann, the man behind the Shark Reef Marine Reserve in Fiji! A rare stroke of luck indeed and I had made my contact, I had discussed my idea with him and sent him my proposal to which he responded extremely positively and it had come to the point when I had to ask the burning question, "Mike, if I can make this film happen would you facilitate my diving and support me in Fiji?"

I was confident he would say yes due to the nature of our previous correspondence and thankfully I wasn't disappointed but both Mike and I knew that in order to make this work, I would have to make a number of sacrifices and commit to it 100%

The weeks passed and I spent every second, of every day developing my idea and daydreaming of the moment I would set foot in Fiji for the first time. I became more and more energetic for the idea, more and more insistent that I could pull it off and even more determined to actually go and do it. Conversely, my commitment to the boring rigours of daily life went the opposite way and I viewed anything which took me away from working on my project with disdain at best and at worst, utter contempt.

The one thing which was taking up far too much time and energy better used elsewhere was my job. I've had some pretty shitty jobs for some pretty shitty bosses, I worked on the produce department at a major name supermarket chain whilst at university for a boss who was sixteen, three years younger than me,  I worked for a sports shop chain which actually paid you less per hour the more you worked, I was a steward in the away end at Barnsley FC's Oakwell ground and was paid £25 to spend match days battling with various sets of supporters from around the country, this was infinitely preferable however, to stewarding the entrance to the toilet, a vantage point where only one thing was actually visible as the game went on and that was drunk, urinating men. You get my point...

In June 2010 however, I worked for a great boss at a great little company. A boss who would actually reward hard work and endeavour and who went out of his way to make his tiny little team happy. I loved working with Dean, Lisa and Joe but I didn't love what I was doing. The rewards were good, the people great, but the actual day to day stuff was as far removed from what I wanted to do as you could get. I would view each day as one wasted which was taking me further from fulfilling my ambitions and I would dread the sound of the alarm clock. On that morning, June 28th 2010, as the alarm clock interrupted my three hours sleep, a distinct depression flowed through me, a dread, an overwhelming urge to scream from the rooftops, "f**k this!"

The voice inside me was repeating over and over again, "just quit, do it, do it, do it!" so I did. I walked in, asked Dean for a word and that was it. I have always wanted to leave a job in a blaze of glory, screaming obscenities whilst turning desks over and disappearing, leaving nothing else in my wake aside from open mouths and scattered post-it notes. I was never going to do this with Dean though, I like him far too much and hugely appreciated everything he had done for me, if I had wanted recruitment to be a career, I would have stayed there forever but I didn't and obviously, I didn't.

That Thursday was the first day of unemployment, the first day of the rest of my life and for the first time in thirty one years it felt exactly that, my life! It was a little nerve wracking but I figured the desperation of my new situation and the enormous risk I had taken would motivate me everyday to make my dream become a reality, I could concentrate full time on this gargantuan undertaking and I knew I was going to pull this off, like I said in part one, failure was never an option.

Tell the world what you are doing

The very first thing I did was to make a public commitment to seeing this through and there were two reasons for this. Firstly, I needed to build interest and initiate discussion about what it was I was doing, the more people talking about it, the more attractive it becomes to potential sponsors. Secondly, it was a way for me to get extra motivation, nobody likes to fail, even more so, nobody likes to fail in public. The more people I told, the greater the expectation on me to pull it off and alongside that, the greater the sense of embarrassment if I failed or even worse, gave up.

I started this blog, I set up a Facebook group, a website, a Twitter account and posted on various websites and forums and that was it, people were talking about this guy who had done something which looked very stupid, in the hope he could do something which looked impossible!

Go it alone or hand your idea to a Production Company?

The first plan was to get a production company on board who would put the production together and let me control the shoot, the story and the final edit which was admittedly, insanely naive. However, within less than a month, through an introduction made by Hamish, I was on the cusp of a meeting with a chief exec of a London based production company with a very good track record in factual programming and who's development producer was actually really keen on my idea.

Unfortunately and through no fault of my own or on the part of the production company, this meeting didn't take place and I was back to square one, a blow of course but I knew it wasn't going to be easy and there would be plenty more false dawns to come yet.

I did my research on suitable companies and did the rounds, emails, phone calls, those first two months or so were filled with conversations with producers, development execs and surly receptionists. When I got past the dreaded gate keeping jobsworths on reception (only joking, okay, half joking...) the conversations were helpful and pleasant, a little dismissive but they were polite nonetheless, but they didn't go anywhere. It was frustrating but at least they were all nice people and wished me luck!...Apart from one.

I have toyed with the idea of naming the absolute horror of a woman I spoke to at one production company in particular but I don't think that would be very professional, nor does she deserve to have her name linked with this project in any way shape or form, especially because, in being utterly detestable during our twenty minute conversation, she actually did me a huge favour! I have hinted at this story before but never told it, however, it's an important part of the journey so I'm going to tell it now because the chances are, you'll have your own story just like this to tell in the future...

I had spoken to this person's assistant twice already and she was enthusiastic, helpful and very friendly so I was feeling good, especially when she said to expect a call back when she had spoken to her boss. The phone rang the following day and thinking it was the assistant again, I answered cheerily greeting her by name and thanking her for calling me back;

"It's not ***** it's ****, I have a message to call you about something or other, what is it?"

I was taken aback by her somewhat confrontational approach but put it down to her being busy so gave my elevator pitch, a brief description of what I wanted to do...Silence.

I asked if she had any questions;

"Why do you want to do this then?"

"It's a fresh approach to shark related media, it's exciting, it's an amazing story and it's never been done before" I answered.

"Yes it has, we've done it." she barked.

I was surprised at this because I knew they hadn't and when I questioned this, the example she gave was so far removed from what I was doing I had wondered if she had heard what I said, it featured someone almost as far removed from the "everyman" as you can get, was based in the UK and had nothing to do with sharks or shark conservation. At that point, I knew the conversation wasn't going to bare fruit, but she continued;

"Who are you anyway, why should anyone give a damn about you and your story?! I'm sorry but people want to see familiar faces, you're a nobody, nobody is interested in watching other nobodies on television!"

This wasn't going well and she smelled blood, it was then I ended any hope of her taking me seriously;

"Why do you think someone like you can do something we haven't already, if you were worth knowing, I'd know you and I haven't a clue who you are!" She said.

"To be honest," I replied, "I think people are tired of seeing the same things in regards to sharks, the same places, the same people, the same stories and the same sharks, I know shark media better than most and in regards to television documentaries, it's stale, it has been for the last fifteen years, it's all been done before and to be honest, I think it's lazy, I want to inject new vigour into it."

"I've been making those shark documentaries for twenty years."

Oops!...To be honest, I didn't really care that I had offended her, in my mind, she needed telling and I just wanted the call to end, "so I take it you're not interested, thank you for your time anyway, I do appreciate you calling me."

"The only thing we would do is invite you for a screen test..."

Hang on, what's this? Maybe she's been breaking my balls to see what I'm made of and she is interested? I've more than fought my corner, maybe she is getting a modicum of respect for me?

"You need to send me full details of your idea, a screenplay and what you've done so far and we'll see about arranging a screen test afterwards."

Alarm bells started ringing, "what if you decide you don't like me after the screen test? I'm a little nervous at basically handing my idea over to you on the strength of you saying I might get a screen test." There was a pause...

"...Look, if we don't like you then we don't like you, do you want this film to be made or not? You have to realise though, if I want to make this film and take your idea I will and there will be nothing you can do about it. I have worked in this industry a long time and you're just some bloke with an idea, you ain't gonna make this on your own so you need me but I'll be honest, the chances of you being in it are slim, we have people we use all the time for stuff like this so why shouldn't I just replace you with them?!"

I was incredulous, maybe naively, I couldn't believe she would be so up front and arrogant about stealing my idea. Needless to say, that was the end of the call and the email was never sent. At that moment, in a potentially reckless display of defiance and with a "f**k you" attitude I said to myself that I was doing this alone and I didn't need a production company, I was going to set about doing this whole production entirely independent of the bullshit I had just had to put up with. It was one of the best decisions I would ever make...

To be continued...