Thursday, 28 June 2012

Mallorca Stingray Survey Update

From the Office to the Ocean has gone a bit Stingray mad in the last few weeks but fear not, I'll be back onto the sharks soon! However, you do need to know that Brad has now launched an Indiegogo campaign (click me!) and as you will see, there is one suggested donation of only $5, if you want to donate more, you can and that would be massively appreciated but times are tough for everyone, this is a community project and every cent is vital so we didn't want anybody to feel as though their contribution was any less gratefully received than those who make larger donations.

So where does the money go? As I have and will continue to repeat ad nauseum, conservation costs money, running costs, transport, equipment hire, electricity, support materials, all that stuff and more needs to be paid for and unfortunately, neither Brad nor myself is a millionaire and if this project can't operate, there will be nothing in place to go towards gaining a greater understanding and protection of something which is unusual in the Mediterranean, a healthy population of something living in the sea! We can either act now to keep it that way, or set up pointless Facebook groups in a few years saying "Stop killing Stingrays in Mallorca!!!" or as it's otherwise known, locking the gate after the horse has bolted.

A spearfisherman makes his way into a Marine Reserve to shoot Stingrays 

The Facebook group has 101 members now so that should really be a minimum of $505 in the campaign, then there's all the marine conservation groups throughout the social media world as well so this campaign should be really successful, as a very dear friend said to me once "if everyone who clicks 'like' on a Facebook group donated a bit of money to the cause as well, then things would start to change" and he was of course, correct. Although I probably don't need to, I will still point out that I am not part of the financial team behind this project, I don't see any money for my involvement and I paid for the production of the film entirely myself, I just believe in the project and help Brad with running it when I can.

If you like the project and think Stingrays in Mallorca are worth protecting, then please feel free to donate if you can afford to, if people donate to keep the project running, that then means you can even take part yourself, if nobody donates and the project cannot be maintained then nobody will be around to protect these stingrays with the passion and vigour that Brad does so it's $5 very well spent!

Donate here! 

Thank you. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

An amazing response and it's already making a difference!

It's been three days since A Ray of Light was launched and the feedback and interest in the project has been overwhelmingly positive!

The film has been viewed in 49 different countries and it appears that not only do people love the project and the concept of a small group of friends trying to do something because we think it's the right thing to do, people also seem to love Brad and so you should!

The purpose of this film is twofold, for me as a film-maker, it was to make an engaging short which showed the reality behind grassroots conservation, the lack of support, funding and commitment, the long hours, the personal strain and million and one thankless tasks, all to try and make your community a better place but which also showed why we do it and to draw attention to a brilliant and very simple, project currently being built in the Mediterranean. It wasn't intended to be, and nor is it, a "woe is me" piece, merely an honest reflection of the good guys you haven't heard of, because they're too busy outside trying to make things a little better for everybody.

What has been so satisfying for me is that people have really "got" what the film is about and have related to Brad in the way I hoped they would. The day after the film was launched, Brad got a call from a young couple in Spain who were so touched by the film they pledged to donate €1000 to the funding of the project...That's one thousand euros!

We have also been contacted by some very influential people, an NGO and an internet television channel who want to show the film but once again, the primary source of support for this project has been the "everyman," the ordinary man on the street, not involved in conservation or really nature at all, but who have been touched by the film and who want to learn more, to share it with their friends and to maybe even help fund the project with small donations.
From a professional standpoint it's a great feeling to have people comment on the quality of the film, the production, editing, filming, post-production etc, as it reinforces in me the feeling that hopefully, I am doing something right. It also goes to prove what I have been saying all along, that it is possible to make high end media with no money (and in this instance, no crew!) and gear that is easily accessible to the average consumer. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to say to anyone out there who may be in a fortunate position to help projects like this in the future, that I did this with no financial backing whatsoever, nada, imagine what can be achieved with your financial backing. Just saying...

I would like to thank everyone for their kind messages and support and huge thanks to those who have shared the film with friends and on social media, please keep doing so, we need all the exposure we can get. 

I would also love to enter this film in any suitable film festivals or competitions so if you know of any or have any suggestions, please get in touch!!

Before I share the film again, I am going to make a flagrant appeal to the wonderful people at Adobe. I have always edited on Windows and with your brilliant CS4 Master Collection, I love it, I happen to think Color Finesse III is quite possibly one of my favourite things on the planet. However, in order for me to continue with "Of Shark and Man," I need to upgrade to CS5.5 or CS6 but there is no way I can afford to at this present time, any chance you fancy joining the likes of Canon, Novatech and  Fourth Element and supporting what is probably the best shark based film project around at the moment? Get in touch...

If you don't shoot, you don't score I guess...

So here it is again, this time on Youtube if that's your thing, if not, watch on Vimeo  

Your feedback is important to me so please leave a comment and please, please, please support the Mallorca Stingray Survey 

Thank you to DaShark and RTSea Productions for such kind words and support!

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

"A Ray of Light" - New Short Film

Here it is, as promised, my new short, a film about the human aspect behind grassroots conservation, in particular, Brad Robertson and his project in Mallorca to help protect the visiting, breeding Stingray population.

Watch on Vimeo

Read more about the production here, there will be some more info in the coming days relating to how this film was shot on pretty much zero money with only one camera and some additional footage provided by Brad and his trusty Canon G9, if anyone is interested enough to get some behind the scenes info.

This is also the first project to be launched by my brand new production company Scarlet View Media through which everything I do will be released meaning I can ensure it is of the quality each project deserves and also that I can have complete control of the output which, to a control freak like me, is nothing short of essential. Website and more details coming soon.

As I say in the linked article, if you enjoy this, share it and don't be shy with it. The more people aware of Brad's brilliant project the better and it also might serve to open the eyes of people who think merely clicking "like" on a Facebook page is conservation. If more people start taking steps to protect what is on their own doorsteps, the world will be a better place, find out what projects are local to you or even start your own!

The Mallorca Stingray Survey Facebook group is here
The From the Office to the Ocean page is here
The Ondine Escape page is here

The film has been downscaled to 720p for faster loading and for you Windows folk, if you have the option to watch in HTML5 (Chrome, Safari) do so for a higher quality viewing experience.

I want to hear your feedback, if you enjoy the film, please tell me and tell me why, ditto if you don't like it, I'm a big boy, I can take it :)

Anyway, less talk more watch...Enjoy.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A new short film coming very soon...

Hard at work chasing Stingrays

As alluded to in my previous blog, I have recently returned from three weeks in Mallorca where, in rather typical fashion, I created a new mountain of work to get through by coming up with the idea to use my "holiday" to shoot a short film about a brilliant conservation initiative set up and run by my equally brilliant amigo, Brad Robertson. I am involved in that I support it and offer advice where I can, helping in bits and pieces where my skill set is needed but this really is Brad's baby.

The Mallorca Stingray Survey (click the link and join the group) is a simple and endearingly positive project whereby divers can volunteer to take part in regular Stingray counts throughout a twelve month period, in a Marine Reserve with Brad to try and gain better understanding of the visiting Stingray population and when they are present throughout the year. That's pretty much it, grassroots conservation that unites the local community and actually allows people the chance to get their hands dirty and contribute to the collection of scientific data. Once again, our friend, the immeasurably cool Gabriel Morey, is involved and giving us the political, governmental and scientific clout we need to actually maybe even make a difference.

 No photoshop on that, honestly!

As far as films go, it doesn't sound the most exciting, but if you're expecting a run of the mill film about people counting Stingrays then you're very much mistaken.

There are very few true conservationists out there in the world, by true conservationists I mean the spit and sawdust individuals who spend every waking hour fighting red tape, apathy, financial limitations, the weather, exhaustion and countless other obstacles. The people for whom conservation isn't a Facebook status but a way of life, the people who know all too well that glamorous photo shoots, glossy PSAs and clicking "like" on something hasn't saved a single shark, whale, rhino or whatever regardless of how many "fins up" you get.

Conservation projects like this cost money, create mountains of work dealing with people who ultimately let you down, offer glimpses of hope before inevitable crushing disappointment and for all you romantics out there, believing in something enough to dedicate your life to it fucks up relationships. We can all live in a world where "A click a day keeps the finners away" or we can start living in the real world and that is what this film is about.

I decided to approach this film looking not primarily at the project, but the person behind it, my "thing" is animals and people and the relationships bound by a very one sided passion. Brad is a very close friend and someone for whom I have the utmost respect and he was very brave in opening up over the course of three interviews during which we discussed pretty much anything and everything relating to the reality of starting a conservation project in a hotbed of corruption and bureaucratic fuckwittery and most importantly, the effects on his and wonderful wife Bea's life.

I also shot the film in a very specific way, filming often when neither Brad, Bea or anyone else for that matter were aware I was even there so this is very much a look into the lives behind what seems on the surface, a small, embryonic conservation labour of love.

So why shoot it like this? A number of reasons really, firstly, I wanted it to be interesting! In this world of instant gratification, platitudes, back slapping and the sycophantic felching of the self proclaimed conservation heroes who don't actually do anything, I once again (much like in "Of Shark and Man") want to focus on the real heroes, the ones you haven't heard of because they're too busy working their arses off to try and make the world a better place while everyone else is limiting their contribution to 140 characters or less.

This is the reality behind grassroots conservation, of all the NGOs contacted for advice and/or support, (as far as I am currently aware) not a single one has responded despite the project having governmental support, every single cent spent on the project has come from Brad and Bea's pockets whilst they try to build their business after a Winter of barely working at all. This is the sixteen hour days, the strain on relationships, the continued disappointments, the apathy, rejection and sacrifices made because they believe in something enough, but it is also the wins, the people who begin to believe in Brad and his project and the moments which make it all worthwhile (car sized Stingrays anyone?...)

Incidentally, this film also received no outside funding support, I paid for the whole thing out of my own pocket and Brad and Bea's involvement in regards to doing the dives etc was entirely funded by themselves also so once again, this was a case of three friends doing something on their own because they felt it was the right thing to do.

It was an interesting experience for me as this time I was the entire film crew. This was a "one camera" shoot which creates very specific issues when it comes to the edit and getting the shot. Being responsible for every single shot, the sound, the lighting and of course direction and production was an enjoyable challenge, dealing with whatever arose, both opportunities and problems was a hugely rewarding experience, especially with having a very specific look and flow in mind for the finished result before a single shot had even been done. As always, I filmed everything with the edit in mind and when capturing reality that can be a very risky thing to do but I am happy to say that the end result will more than exceed my expectations.

Aside from "Of Shark and Man" of course (which is looking sumptuous by the way,) this is very likely my favourite thing I've ever done and you should be able to see it in the next week to fourteen days, for free, in the usual places so I'll leave it up to you to judge for yourselves.

As always, when I have the final cut, I will send it out to a select group of industry people and subscribers to the mailing list first and shortly thereafter it will be online for everyone. With projects like this, if you like it, or you know someone you think might, share it, please share it! The Stingray project needs support and Brad can only maintain it if we get that support and interest in the media we produce is a great way of showing potential investors that it has the backing of public support.

The film doesn't have a definite title yet and will be around the twelve minute mark. I am actually interested in putting it forward to any film festivals that may be interested so if you have any suggestions please feel free to put them forward to me.

Anyway, not long to go now and I have an edit to finish so keep an eye out over the coming days to find out when and where you can see it.

Finally, a huge congratulations to my mate Colin and his lovely wife Emma on the birth of their second little person, Oliver. Col is a big supporter of "From the Office..." and a reader of this very blog so well done mate, pass on my best to Emma and tell Lily uncle sharkboy will no doubt see her again soon!


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