Thursday, 21 May 2015

Your Chance To Get Cool Stuff And Help Release Of Shark And Man Is Coming!


I figured now is as good a time as any for an update on Of Shark and Man!

It's been a bit of a whirlwind the last couple of weeks, after Gran Canaria I had a lot of catching up to do and also returned home with thoughts on how to tighten up the edit of the film and make a few corrections so I've been working hard on that and now only have to slot in the updated Sound Design. The changes aren't massive but I have changed some clips and the new v.2 of the film is, certainly to me anyway, an even better film!

I've also been working closely with the wonderful people at EDNA Interactive to finalise the strategy we have for promoting the film upon its release. That means creating content, design work and most importantly, giving you the viewer, the absolute highest value I can. I have always been passionate about my audience investing themselves in to my work and feeling that they are getting a genuine return on that, films like this need support and that support is something I think should be rewarded.

I've been meeting with magazines, designers, manufacturers and supporters, discussing the best ways to achieve this and I am so excited that the people who are investing their expertise, time, product and above all else, their friendship into this project are all the people I had on my wish list because they're just so damn good at what they do.

With all that in mind, the next big milestone is the launch of the official website and social media platforms where you can finally start getting your hands on the kind of content you've been so patiently waiting for and also, start kitting yourself out with some truly incredible products, one off memorabilia items and also, maybe, just maybe, one hell of an opportunity to tell your own shark story.

So, here's the long and short of it, "Of Shark and Man," needs to get out there and that doesn't happen with the odd post on Facebook, it happens with a proper plan, a marketing and promotional strategy, screenings and attending events in person to get the message out there that this is the film that so many of you and your peers and friends have been saying for years you've wished you could see. If this film achieves its goal and gets out to a wide audience, it means more will be made which means that for everyone who's ever signed petitions or complained against what they see as low value and irresponsible shark based TV and film, you now have a chance to actually have an impact in getting what you say you want.

Here's a list of some of the things I need to cover costs of to realistically give me a solid shot at achieving all the above:

Marketing Campaign
Festival and Private Screenings
Legal Documentation and Insurance
Promotional Merchandise
Travel
Accommodation
Press Kit Materials
Licensing of Footage
Postage
Website Hosting Fees
Printing
Blu-Rays and Electronic copies of the film for Festivals

Of course it would be nice to make the film open access and free to everyone but in the real world it's just not possible. I've done that with all my other films and lost considerable amounts of money doing so in order to give people productions which, although free to view, are still of the highest quality. It's just not feasible to do that with Of Shark and Man and as such, I have to be very careful with having complete control over any existing copies of the film so it doesn't end up as a torrent online.

With all that being said, I have been working really hard to come up with a way to involve you in everything, give you opportunities to get your hands on some amazing, and I mean amazing stuff, including signed memorabilia, one off pieces of artwork, dive gear (yes, actual top of the range dive gear), invitations to screenings, extremely limited opportunities and also possibly the most incredible raffle prize I can think of for anyone who loves sharks. Not only that, but also the opportunity for you to see the film, in full in the comfort of your own home.


The way I will be doing all the above is by running a Crowdfund campaign, most likely through Indiegogo to raise the money needed to get everything off the ground. I ran one previously when I started this whole thing so this means all those who contributed to that will receive their stuff when this new one launches so that's pretty exciting too!

I already have two major dive manufacturers who make top of the range products who are putting forward some of their best gear for perks, not little stuff either, I'm talking products worth between £250-£1500! There is also a third dive company potentially joining  so if you're in need of dive gear this year and you only want the best quality and value for your money, maybe hold on a couple of weeks!

Other perks will range from smaller cost stuff like stickers and signed posters, through to T-Shirts, tickets to screenings and bespoke, one off pieces of artwork (believe me, these in particular will be really, really cool if I can confirm them). There will also be more personal stuff like Skype video calls so you can get any answers to any questions you have, advice or just talk about the weather or anything else you like with me, tonnes of stuff, all of which is designed to give you the best value possible for your donation.

In conjunction with the perks you get per donation, there are also going to be raffle prizes, the bigger the donation, the bigger the prize with one super mega prize I'm hoping to confirm in the next week which really is something special!

So, keep your eyes peeled, join this Facebook group to get up to date news and maybe start putting away some pennies. This will launch soon and will be something very awesome I can assure you!

In addition to that, if you're thinking of going to the 40Fathoms Film Festival in Hermanus, South Africa on June 5th, 6th and 7th, you'll get a chance to see three of my films, "A Ray of Light," "A Ray of Light II," and "Sea Dogs" which is pretty cool. They're also showing Mexico Pelagico I believe and that is well worth your time too!

 


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

11 Days in Gran Canaria - Angel Sharks and The Public Reaction To Of Shark And Man!

Not bad for a first screening of the Director's Cut!

So, I'm back in the cold and wet of the UK after a brilliant eleven days in Gran Canaria (including a day trip to Tenerife) where I met wonderful people, did some very cool dives, got a bit of a tan, ate some massive steaks, saw Of Shark and Man on the big screen for the first time with a public audience and even walked away with two awards!

Firstly Gran Canaria is great, the weather was hot, there is actually life underwater and the people I met were just amazing. I was a guest of Fernando and Manuela who run Alianza Tiburones Canarias, a small, grassroots conservation NGO which works to educate and inspire the people of the Canary Islands about sharks in their waters, in particular the Angel Shark.

The hospitality I received was second to none and I cannot speak highly enough of them, they are passionate, informed and ambitious and these are three things vital to running successful campaigns and above anything, they're really, really nice people!


I had been invited over as a guest for their annual film festival,focusing on marine life and films about the ocean for which they were incredibly keen to have Of Shark and Man screened. It was also a chance for me to do some diving and try to get some footage of at least one Angel Shark so I couldn't say no and off I went.

My day started at 3am for my 8am flight, I landed in Gran Canaria just past midday, met up with Fernando and Manuela along with David from EDNA and was immediately whisked off to a live radio interview, in Spanish to talk about the film and the festival! It was then off to the venue to discuss the structure of everything and meet a few of the volunteers who were (as was the case with everyone I met) really lovely people, I even had my own translator who was a real help, very kind and with whom, along with her boyfriend Christian, Dave and I went out for something to eat later and discuss all things shark.

Photo by Kepa Garmendia

So, to the festival itself!

Photo by Kepa Garmendia

 Photo by Kepa Garmendia



There were, if I remember correctly, sixteen films spread out over two days, two feature length films (including OSAM), a few animations which were great, one of which, "The Health of Our Oceans" had a super cool credits sequence at the end at which both Dave and I were salivating it was that good. Most of the films were shorts, split between pros and amateurs even including first time film-makers (which I love), most of the films had little to no narrative and topics varied from sharks to plastic pollution, to location pieces and everything in between. Friday's highlight for me and most of the audience was without question a short film by Alberto Ramos Rodriguez called "Utopia" which was both surreal and at times ingenious, I loved the fact it thought way outside the box. The audience seemed in agreement that the other highlights included the beautifully shot "Secretos de Macronesia" by Rafa Herrero Massieu, "The Azores in 5K" by Nuno Sa and Lee Burghard's "A Fight for Survival."

Saturday saw the screening of "Of Shark and Man," and to be honest, I was quite nervous, there was a lot of expectation and I was worried about the duration of the film as it is all in English and would play out in front of a majority Spanish/German audience. At 104 minutes with an enormous amount of content, I had visions of an audience gradually sneaking out to go to the bar during the film leaving only David and I in the theatre...

Photo by Kepa Garmendia

With that being said, it came as a very happy surprise that throughout the film, not one person left, even to go to the loo, people reacted to the film, there were laughs, the odd "woah" and audience members exchanging nods and smiles of approval with each other. When the film came to a close, the applause started immediately as the credits rolled and lasted almost the entire duration, leaving me, having been invited up on stage, rather embarrassed by it all. I don't really take public displays of praise too well when I'm there in front of a room of people!

What was particularly encouraging was the Q&A session, people were picking out parts of the film and quoting bits back to me, asking intelligent questions about everything and most importantly telling me what they liked and how they felt when they watched the film which isn't really the norm in a Q&A. Not only that but there was a genuine enthusiasm for not only the three stories in the film but the technical aspects of the Cinematography and Sound Design.

What became apparent over the remainder of the evening was not just that people liked the film, but that it awoke something in them, either a reminder of the kind of films that inspired their love of the oceans originally, or the desire to perhaps rethink their own opinions of things, discuss the incredible story of Shark Reef and also to readdress how they saw the portrayal of sharks in the media. What people really seemed to love is that the film does not claim to be or have a message, it just does what it does and encourages the viewer to think throughout and as such, amazingly for a foreign language audience, they felt the film's length was perfect as it passed by quickly.

They also mentioned it had an approachability in that instead of making breathy statements or trying to push ideas on the viewer, it informs by simply telling a story through one man's eyes and also, the people in the film itself were extremely popular because again, no caricatures or considered personas, just honest, decent people speaking from the heart.

To go in thinking I'd see people quietly sneaking out to the bar and instead to have more than one person tell me after the screening that "Of Shark and Man" was "the best shark film I have ever seen" (honestly, we have it on camera) is something I will never forget.

See what an audience mamber, Marjo, had to say about the film here.

Photo by Kepa Garmendia

Even saying all that, when I found out there would be awards presented, I didn't expect to win one, I thought maybe I'd get a small one for taking part and making the effort to attend the event but that's it, so it all came as a bit of a surprise that OSAM was chosen as the "Best Film" by both the City of Aguimes and most importantly of all, unanimously apparently, by the audience.

Photo by Kepa Garmendia

So after the evenings wonderful event and a celebratory meal in a cave (ginormous steak obviously) the focus turned to diving and trying to get some shots of what is likely the world's rarest shark, the Angel Shark.

Photo by Yuneysa Garcia Flores

The diving in Gran Canaria is actually really good, I've become accustomed to the Mediterranean in the last few years and there is so much more life around the Canary Islands, the water was a mild 19 degrees, the viz pretty good and on most of the dives we'd see some big shoals of fish which I always enjoy filming.

Photo by Yuneysa Garcia Flores
The dives felt wilder than in the Med and I like that, there was always something to see but what made the dives so special were the people I dived with. Mareike from Diving Centre Nautico with some additional RIB support from Jerry at Canary Diving, Kepa, Yuneysa (who took the two shots above), Felipe, Eugenio and of course, Fernando and Manuela.

Kepa and Manuela

Mareike and I

It took a few days but I saw my first Angel Shark (two actually) on a night dive at a place called Sardina but it was a couple of days later at El Cabron where I really got to have a proper encounter with a nice sized female we found towards the end of our dive. They may not be one of the big, charismatic species but it was so exciting to see one because they are so very rare and this particular shark really co-operated for the camera which is of course, always appreciated!


 Photo by David Diley

 Photo by David Diley

 Photo by Fernando Reis

 Mareike with the Angel Shark - Photo by David Diley

Fernando with the Angel Shark - Photo by David Diley

So, Gran Canaria was brilliant, I loved it! In the week I also did a press conference and an interview with VIVA Magazine alongside filming some more stuff for the Making Of features we will be releasing on the official website. There will also be a short film of some underwater footage coming up so keep an eye out for that.

I was also invited to the University of Las Palmas to give a talk about Shark Feeding and the Shark Reef story which was really cool as the students seemed really enthusiastic about it and asked some brilliant questions. It's nice to be a part of getting this story out to a wide audience.



I want to thank everyone I met for their hospitality, warmth and most importantly, their friendship. Huge thanks to the City of Aguimes for putting me up in the beautiful Casa Aldaba, which, if you ever plan to visit there, I strongly recommend, I loved it, it's a gorgeous little house in a gorgeous, quiet little town.

I'm feeling ever more confident about Of Shark and Man, it won over an informed audience of people in a foreign country for whom English is not a first, or often second, language and people didn't only like it, they loved it!

Lots of good stuff is coming your way so keep your eyes peeled, this journey is about to get very interesting!


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Trailer Feedback Is In And There Was a Clear Winner


So, the feedback from the two versions of the trailer came back and firstly it was overwhelmingly positive, secondly there was a clear "winner" and I'm glad to say it was the one which I would have chosen myself. I like both but there was one I thought flowed better and gave a better overall representation of the film and that will be the one which goes out as pretty much everyone agreed!

Here's a selection of quotes from the feedback:

"...the Everyman target audience - you got that passionately and perfectly done. Well done for that accomplishment. People will definitely get that and effectively put themselves as 'you' when they watch this film if that angle comes across as well as it does in the trailer."

"WOW great effort with both! Gave me shivers of excitement while watching both."

"I whacked this onto a 42" telly with surround sound and it just booms with awesomeness. It's true to the region, is enchanting, almost haunting, and sent shivers down my back."

"...congratulations it looks WOW!"



And some more feedback from the full film itself:

"...I think this can become an atemporal reference film for the world's 'shark conservation tribe'. With 'Of Shark and Man' you have just started a debate... you know, and we all conservationists, we need so much to be united around a global and ethical shark conservationism movement... that this debate is so needed right now"

The trailer will be out as soon as a few promotional details are sorted.

The very first screening of the film for a public audience takes place two weeks today! (Saturday April 25th) and next week I travel to London for an interview with DIVE Magazine and to screen the film for Jane West at Tourism Fiji along with a few others and that is a big thing, if Jane likes it then I will be stoked as it is she and her former colleague Martin Harlow who actually gave me the chance to make the film.

I have also started talking to some potential sponsors of the film's website and promo materials and not only that but also worked on the crowdfund campaign and can tell you that not only will there be some cool perks for every donation but also, some really amazing, and I mean amazing prizes to be won by some very lucky donors. Keep your eyes peeled for that!
If you're interested in potentially becoming a sponsor, email me at david@scarletviewmedia.com and if you haven't already, join the Facebook page here.

Have a great weekend!



Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Of Shark and Man - Big News And Major Progress!

Yes, that would be your first look at the official branding for the film

First of all, behold, the first public look at the branding for "Of Shark and Man." I love it and I think it captures exactly the mood I'm going for, gritty but with a Fijian flavour and a marriage of the industrial urban north of England and something far more exotic. I wanted "different" and that's what I got. I have Sue and David at EDNA Interactive and Kris Allen to thank for the logos and in my opinion, they have absolutely nailed it.

Its been a mad few weeks since the last blog, consumed in the main by completing the Sound Design which meant 12-14 hour days in David Lawrie's studio composing the final pieces of music and constructing and mixing the film's sound.

First of all, I'll say this, the Sound Design in Of Shark and Man is phenomenal, it sounds dynamic and at times monstrously big, all the while retaining the subtleties which aide each facet of the story telling. The attention to detail has been ridiculous, I was adamant I wanted everything to have, not just sound, but a designed and descriptive sonic aesthetic, sound which didn't just offer a simple description of the surroundings you see on screen, but which reaches out of the screen, grabs you and pulls you in there with me. Bad sound design kills a film, no sound design is inexcusable but great sound design can elevate a film beyond anything it could have ever been without it.

I am incredibly lucky to have had a friend in David Lawrie who not only was able to technically do what I wanted, but who also, most importantly "got it." I have heard sporadically over the last few years "but that's not how they do it, you're supposed to do it like this" but I've never really cared how "they" do it, only how I want to do it. That's probably a bit naive but so be it, thus far it's worked and as the saying goes if it ain't broke...

It's a rare person who is willing to spend their first trip back to the UK in a while, sitting down with someone demanding such rabid attention to detail it means going through more than 100 minutes of footage with a fine toothed comb to pick out every single thing that needs a sound (including underwater) and work together to put those sounds in, knowing full well the challenge of actually mixing it all coherently is going to be even more difficult than usual. The simple brief was "don't think documentary, think feature film event." Needless to say, Dave absolutely smashed it out of the park.

So I guess that means I should let you all know that the Director's Cut is finished and not only that, it has actually been seen by a small handful of people, one of whom was London based, Cypriot Singer/Songwriter Eleni Skarpari, also known as Echo Wants Her Voice Back. Eleni was in York, recording with David and I was asked to be the Cinematographer for her new Music Video and so afterwards, David, Eleni and I sat down to watch the film and having seen it, I got her on camera to give her thoughts on the film itself, completely impartial and honestly.



Eleni Skarpari - Reaction to First Viewing of "Of Shark and Man" from Scarlet View Media on Vimeo.

Feedback so far from the people who have seen it (David Lawrie, David's mum, Eleni and David Edwards from EDNA) has been quite overwhelming really in that they all essentially said exactly the kind of things I hoped people who see the film would say. The opinions of people like these are crucial to me, they are all highly skilled and talented individuals with little patience for mediocrity. They judge the work of others based on their own high standards and were all too aware that merely stroking egos was of no use whatsoever. Four people have seen the film thus far, two who were already interested in sharks, two who merely had a normal, passing curiosity in sharks, all different age ranges and all loved it.



There is also a trailer, in fact there will be two trailers as of the early hours of Thursday morning but only one will be released.

I've taken a big risk with the trailer. Basically I got bored of seeing the same thing over and over again and as this film is geared towards a mass market audience, I need to appreciate how that audience works. The shark crowd will look after themselves, if you like sharks or films about sharks, you shouldn't need too much convincing to make the effort to see the film. Unfortunately, to the average person, pure conservation films are "boring" and their trailers often don't do anything to convince them otherwise. They've been at work all day (probably at a job they hate), they're tired, they want to be entertained so the thought of a plodding documentary talking at them about something they really don't care about is not going to rev their engine so to speak. Of Shark and Man isn't really a pure conservation film either, it's an engaging story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a tropical paradise.

The idea here is to use those preconceived misconceptions against those people in a way, to hook them in with something they can totally relate to, then let them choose to ask questions of what they thought they knew whilst getting a bit of a thrill along the way. They are in no way being misled, they are instead being told "hey, all those other documentaries you would never normally watch, well this isn't one of them."

Look at the trailer for Blackfish, a trailer I think is one of the best I have seen in a long time and it's no coincidence the film was such a big success because the trailer screams out "watch me!"





With regards to the trailer, I did a first edit and showed it to a few people, here's an excerpt of feedback I got one from one very trusted person who knows about this stuff:

"My husband and I sat here together and watched the trailer. After it was over, I looked at him and said, "What did you think?" His eyes were huge, and his mouth was slightly agape. He said, "I just realized I was holding my breath." He was so mesmerized by what he was watching, that he didn't even realize he was holding his breath. So that's definitely a good sign! 

I mean, I want him to start breathing again eventually, of course. So here's my impression: For me it was like taking a short, powerful journey. The first minute or so I felt like I was looking at myself in the mirror - sitting in a stale office, the vacant expression, just existing from one day to the next. Then the swimming scene - it really resonated with me, and I think it will with your audience too. How many of us just want to dive out of our mundane existence, and go toward something meaningful? Something completely different from what we experience every day? 

Then to suddenly get that break, where the music becomes stronger, the colors brighter, the motion faster.... I feel like I'm traveling with you because of how you have engaged the senses of the viewer. And I keep asking myself, "What's going to happen next?" 

I think that is the mark of a great storyteller, if the audience is so engaged that they have to know what happens next. And part of the reason the viewer wants to know what happens next is because early on in the trailer, by relaying your story of your unfulfilled life, and your desire for something more, you have made the audience care about you and what happens to you. The viewer becomes emotionally invested in the first few seconds, and that emotional investment only becomes stronger throughout the rest of the trailer. 

I thought the footage and music tied together beautifully - I know you were especially conscious of the music, and it shows. There was only one little nagging question mark I had in my mind at the end of the trailer, and that had to do with the ambiguity of the plot. I was trying to view the trailer as someone who maybe doesn't know your story. So I was asking myself, "What is the ultimate reason he is doing all of this? Is it to face fears? Challenge himself? Tell the story of the sharks of Fiji? Tell people why sharks are important and need to be helped?" But I don't think that ambiguity is necessarily a negative thing. Asking those questions of oneself would make the viewer want to watch the entire feature to learn the answer. So while part of me was wondering, well, what EXACTLY is this about? The other part of me is thinking, actually that's not a bad thing to leave it a little ambiguous in order to pique curiosity. 

But what it comes right down to is that I thought the trailer was exceptional. Obviously my husband did too, and I'm happy to inform you that he is indeed breathing again. Anyway, I hope all of this is helpful, and I didn't mean to write a dissertation. Well done, David. Very, very well done"

I was of course delighted with this feedback, especially with the comment about ambiguity which may surprise you, as I think ambiguity can drive an audience to watch the film to find out what the trailer i actually alluding to. My idea is, as a very good friend once said to me, "sell the sizzle, not the sausage." Give them just enough to pique their interest and curiosity so they have to see the film.

By the weekend there should be two functioning trailers and some of you out there will actually get a chance to see them and give me feedback which helps me choose which I release. It's not often a film-maker does that so if you're interested, email me at david@scarletviewmedia.com



Finally, how about this... "Of Shark and Man" will get its first ever official public screening on April 25th at Il Muestra De Cine Submarino De Aguimes in Aguimes, Gran Canaria!

Fernando who runs the festival and also Alianza Por Los Tiburones De Canarias was super, super keen to screen the film, which at that point, hadn't even been completed and when the city offered to put me up in my own Villa to go and screen the film along with a Q&A, it was an offer simply too good to turn down! This is going to be an amazing event and a great opportunity to see the reaction to the Director's Cut from an International audience.

I am really looking forward to this, Spain and the Spanish territories have been very supportive of my work, my career started there with A Ray of Light so Fernando's enthusiasm really meant a lot to me. Not only that, it was even announced on TV there that I was going!

Watch from 46:28!

 


So, if you're in Gran Canaria on Saturday April 25th, come along. The new David Doubilet film is also showing so I'm looking forward to that too!

Bit of a longer blog this time but I thought you all deserved a proper update! Keep an eye out for the trailer and remember, if you want a chance to choose which one goes out, email me!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

I Have Finally Watched Of Shark And Man In Full

Click photo for detail

Today I did something I've been wanting to do for four years, I actually watched Of Shark and Man start to finish in one full go.

That might sound odd but during the edit process the intro section was in a separate timeline as about a year ago I decided what I had wasn't cutting it and ripped the whole thing apart. This was stressful for me as I initially really liked it but as time wore on it just started to seem a bit...ordinary. These days shark films all tend to blend into one another, some good but unoriginal, others utterly turgid and uninspiring, occasionally there is the odd gem (Mexico Pelagico immediately springs to mind) and of course it's impossible not to judge the work of others against your own, so while watching other films was motivated by an interest in anything that had sharks in, there was also an element of seeing what others were doing, with or without proper budgets.

I never looked at these films as a possible source of inspiration though, even the ones I liked (and believe me, if there's a shark film available out there online, on TV or any other format, I've seen it) because I have known what I was going to do with "Of Shark and Man" for almost ten years now and my inspiration comes less and less from shark documentaries as time progresses because I don't just want to be the same as everyone else or take an easy option and I certainly don't want Of Shark and Man to simply become "just another shark film."

So, back to my original point, I was stressing about the intro because although it was certainly different, its execution was ordinary and a bit corny. It took probably a full year to come up with something that really presented the film as it deserves in the first few minutes, both conceptually and artistically because, as wanky as it may sound, I do see Of Shark and Man as a piece of art but of course, art is subjective...

Over the last year we (myself, David Lawrie and various talented Musicians) have been working (and losing sleep) on the soundtrack and sound design for the film and now the intro music has been finalised and believe me, that was a big, big job, I was able to actually take the intro and stick it onto the rest of the film and thus, tonight I got to watch he whole thing as it should be seen.

Screen Grab from Of Shark and Man

Theoretically I could have watched it sooner extremely easily but truth be told, I almost didn't want to, I was nervous, what if I didn't like it? What if I thought it was boring or kept seeing mistakes? I had actually been putting off watching the film because although people tell me I'm quite good at what I do and people seem to like it, when you've had the amount of people telling you that you're wasting your time or kidding yourself as I have had in the last few years (if I had a pound for every time I heard the phrase "cloud cuckoo land"...) then you undoubtedly experience periods of intense self doubt.

I exist in a bizarre mindset of supreme confidence shadowed by crippling self doubt all of which is driven by an almost psychotic desire to achieve perfection, if that even exists, all of which has both inspired and almost destroyed me in the last few years and all because of a film. It's kind of ridiculous when you think about it but hey, none of us are perfect right?... I am course, trying to address that...


Screen Grab from Of Shark and Man

So tonight was the night, the volume levels were all over the place as there is still a bit of sound design to add and a couple of music tracks to complete (next week) but it was still a functioning piece of work. So what did I discover?

My biggest fear is that the film would drag and get lost in a morass of self indulgence, at over 102 minutes, it would be really easy to bore an audience into a stupefying coma of disinterest and thankfully, even as my own biggest critic, the film absolutely flew by and that, to be honest, surprised me.

When you venture over the sixty minute mark, you're taking a big risk that you will lose your audience, sharks are awesome, we all like sharks but there are people out there who don't and it is they, if you have any aspirations of "changing the perception of sharks," who you need to engage.

Thankfully because of the sheer weight of content and calibre of the people on camera, the film carries everything really well. If anyone was going to get bored of the film it would be me, I have lived with it for almost five years now but at no point did I feel I was being weighed down by the feeling I had to finish it because I'd just spent the last hour watching it.

The music works really, really well and the sound design is fantastic, lack of sound design will kill a film before it gets going and that was a major reason why, when I started the edit, I spoke to David Lawrie about my idea to have sound be another character in the story, to accent, intensify and breathe life into the images on screen. Needless to say Dave has done an incredible job.

Screen Grab from Of Shark and Man

Also, and this was a big thing for me, the film just looks totally different to any other shark film out there and absolutely nothing like a documentary and that is exactly what I wanted because I don't see Of Shark and Man as a documentary, rather a feature length film with factual content. It was a difficult process to get that look right and it started with the filming itself. There is not a great deal of the "guerilla" style of cinematography, achieving this meant impressing on anybody filming when I wasn't, to see the beauty and the drama in what they were shooting. Cinematic was the order of the day and I think we achieved that.

The grade of course plays a big part in the look of the film too and I leaned heavily towards the filmic look, quite high contrast and using colour to tell the story with an almost 1970's look but brought into the modern era. It's not as super sharp as had I shot it on C100/300/500 or RED as I would have done if I were shooting it today (I own a C100 now) but the slightly softer edge actually gives the footage a more distinctive look from everything else in these days of 4,5 and 6K and lends itself well to that filmic look I was so passionate about capturing.

Now, of course it would be easy to say I was biased, of course I am and I certainly wouldn't be here saying "hey, I watched my film tonight, guess what, it sucks!" but I do think anybody with an interest in sharks will enjoy it, learn from it and take something, probably many things away after viewing it, but more importantly to me, I think it fulfils a goal I set from the start, to appeal to people who have no interest in sharks.

Screen Grab from Of Shark and Man

I think the thing I'm happiest with is the concept itself, bridging that gap between the urban landscape and a South Pacific paradise, the "everyman" idea which drives the whole story. Of Shark and Man is not merely people sitting down reeling off facts, it's a journey, a very real story told be real people who are being honest. I had no interest in taking a scientific approach, I didn't want to talk to an endless conveyor belt of researchers in labs repeating statistics, this is about visceral escapism.

That's not to say the film is light on facts, far from it, factual content drives everything in the film and regardless of your level of knowledge, you absolutely will learn something you don't already know, not only that, you will see things you have never seen before and that can only be a good thing can't it.

So what now?

Well, the official trailer is now almost complete and will give you a far better idea of what to expect than simply reading the above. The plan for that is that I will allow a few people to see the trailer privately and give their feedback before its release and this could include you, more on that in the coming weeks.

The website has been registered and is being designed, as are the Twitter and Facebook pages. Behind the Scenes videos will be coming out soon and most importantly, opportunities for you to actually see the film and make up your own mind!

There is also a brilliant opportunity that has been presented to me which I am 99.9% certain I will be able to to do which excites me enormously!

Finally, I just want to say this, if you are an independent Film-Maker who has made or is making your own film about sharks, I applaud you for getting out there and having a go at doing something. The more independent shark films out there the better in my opinion. If you're an aspiring Film-Maker and you have no idea where to start or you have questions nobody else seems willing to answer, please, always feel free to drop me a line and I will always try to help you if I can. I may not be Fincher, Kubrick or Spielberg (obviously, I wish I was!) but I'm always happy to be of any assistance I can.

As always, keep your peepers peeled for updates, after years of hearing "it's almost done," I can now tell you that unequivocally, it's almost done!


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Eugenie Clark and Richard Theiss

Dr Eugenie Clark - A True Pioneer
 
 I know it's probably a little late but I still felt I should mark the passing of Eugenie Clark, a woman who was a massive influence on me and who can claim some responsibility for the existence of this blog and everything I have done in relation to my work with sharks over the last twenty or so years.

The world of shark diving and its influence on popular culture, although seemingly a macho pursuit was in fact pioneered by women and none more so the Dr Clark. She was a lady with bigger balls than most men I know, a huge intellect and passion and by all accounts a truly lovely, down to earth and friendly person.

As a kid I vividly remember being in 2nd year at primary school, what is now known in the UK as Year 4 (I think) and already being shark mad, I found a book in our classroom about Eugenie and her adventures with sharks, it may have been the original pressing of "The Lady and The Sharks," and reading about when she and her kids were at the beach, all of them in the water when a large Hammerhead approached, as everyone else made a swift exit from the water, Eugenie described how she and her kids just stared in wonder, overjoyed at such a close encounter and that really stuck with me. There was also the National Geographic documentary featuring her work with the Moses Sole and both the book and that film were staples of my formative passion for sharks.

Thanks for the inspiration Dr Clark.
 
 Richard Theiss - A great pro and a wonderful man

I also want to mention the sad passing of Richard Theiss. A passionate shark lover, great pro and a really nice guy, Richard and I would chat via email intermittently and he helped me a lot when I was starting this journey. Richard really was one of the good guys and his immense popularity amongst his peers is testament to this. I won't post lengthy platitudes about Richard as that is for people who knew him far better than I but I do want to say to Richard, thank you for everything.

Condolences and best wishes to his family and close friends whom it was obvious he cared for deeply.

We've lost two of the genuine leaders in our world and they will be greatly missed.



Thursday, 5 February 2015

More Pelagic Life Awesomeness / Of Shark and Man Update!


I'm a really big fan of Pelagic Life, I love their media output, I love their ideas, I admire their professionalism and approach to their work but most of all I love their attitude. They're genuine, passionate, informed and they have that cool edge that you can't teach, that streetwise approach to achieving goals that doesn't come from a textbook but from dirt, sweat and long, arduous days battling against the odds.

I was lucky enough to see Mexico Pelagico which I thought was an absolute triumph. There's a lot of shark films coming out at the moment and in the last few years, some with bigger budgets, other with smaller more indie set ups, I take my hat off to them all for getting out there and doing something, most aren't really my cup of tea to be honest but that's just a personal taste thing, however this really stood out for me (as did Extinction Soup which I also enjoyed) as being way ahead of the pack in terms of quality. Everything about it was testament to what is good in conservation media and of which there should be so much more.

I was excited then to see that the guys and girls at Pelagic Life had released a new film which you can view here (please do so!) and having just watched it, it's more of the same. Good, genuine and honest media by a group of people who truly understand what it is they're doing. The best thing about Call of The Shark is that it highlights once again that PL are not just highlighting a problem but proactively trying to fix it. They get it, they understand the wider issues affecting sharks and they have obviously committed to something which is a long term goal. I also love the idea of the collective working together to achieve that goal. They are absolutely one of my favourite sharky things around at the moment, I especially like that they clearly enjoy doing what they do, there's so much po faced schmaltz attached to conservation that seeing genuine joy and fulfilment at fighting the good fight is inspiring.

One of 2015's major goals for me is to get over to the States for a couple of months as part of the promotion for "Of Shark and Man" and during that time I would be in California and if the chance arose, I would absolutely love to see for myself what they are doing, if they'd have me of course!

Speaking of OSAM...


Last night I recorded the guitar tracks for another piece of music for the soundtrack which sounded awesome (natch) so progress is being made there. There are two other pieces being worked on at the moment which means there is the last dive segment music and a short piece in the middle of the film left and that's it. The end credits have even been done, it's at the stage now where I am waiting for the finishing touches and mastering of tracks to be completed and I can then get the official trailer out and also, I have been toying around with releasing a couple of short clips from the film so you can see and hear for yourself what you're going to be getting.

I can confirm at this stage, the soundtrack is not going to be what you're used to in this kind of film, not at all what you're used to. There is no Arabic wailing music or symphonic orchestral pieces, nor is there any Techno (sorry Mike!) I have no problem with any of that kind of music, it's just not where I'm going. There are varying styles in there (there is a lot of music) and each piece has been chosen and composed specifically to complement the accompanying segment of the film and contrary to what you might be thinking and despite the occasional urge, there is no super heavy stuff either, it just doesn't work.

The approach to the music has been a cinematic one, not just shoving something in there because it sounds nice and is free to use. The sound design and soundtrack sessions for the film have taken a year, there's a reason for that and it will show because I am extremely lucky to have some stupendously talented friends who are some of the best musicians and producers around at the moment and the advice to all of them has been "express yourselves." I have provided ideas and guidance on what I'm hearing in my head but I want them to feel free to be able to put their talents to good use and gain fulfilment from being involved and they certainly seem to be.

The official trailer will start being put together when I have one specific piece of music back so that shouldn't be long and there will be some out there getting access to the first cut in a password protected streaming copy. There will also be an official website, the www.officetoocean.com site has not been updated or used for ages, that will be replaced by the full site which will be regularly updated and will host everything. That is part of the marketing for the film and I need £5000 to pay for everything so if your company wants to know more about very affordable sponsorship packages for the site (which will be the central hub for an aggressive marketing campaign) then please get in touch at david@scarletviewmedia.com

So there we are, we're metaphorically applying the film's lipstick and final splashes of expensive perfume before I send her out into the wild to turn some heads and break some hearts!

Speaking of music, recently, after breaking out the axe again and playing properly I've been feeling all nostalgic about my old life as a penniless wannabe Rock star so I uploaded some tracks from those days, almost 10 years ago, time really flies! If you're bored and fancy checking them out, please feel free to do so and run around your bedroom smashing the place up in glorious riff fuelled over enthusiasm.

Rock on.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Does Film Have a Role To Play In Shark Conservation?

Photo by the amazing Michael Patrick O'Neill

Marine Conservation is a pretty big thing nowadays, to the point where it regularly gets media exposure and every day on Social Media, I am being asked to sign a petition to do with some aspect of saving/protecting some form of marine eco-system or animal.

Once the preserve of the scientific community, Marine Conservation is now so mainstream that a phrase now exists for ordinary members of the community getting involved in Scientific research and studies, "Citizen Science." I don't really like that term though to be honest, science is science even if it's carried out by people who aren't actual "scientists" and the disconnect between the two is something I feel only serves to alienate the everyman further from the scientific community.

I'm interested in Marine Science and Science in general but more in its practical application and its effects in the outside world, I have no desire to sit indoors writing papers or any of that stuff, I like what it teaches me and I like how it helps me understand the world and without the people who actually want to do the paper shuffling and late nights behind a computer, I wouldn't have that so they are undoubtedly a valuable commodity.

However, more and more of the scientific community are now creeping out from the labs and classrooms into the social media world and utilising Twitter and Facebook to spread news of their work, take Matt Taylor, he of the ludicrous "Shirtgate" controversy in which he was the victim of a baying (albeit small) online mob of people desperate to be outraged by something who single handedly ruined his experience of achieving something truly, mindbogglingly incredible with his life and bullied him into a tearful apology on TV all for the heinous crime of wearing an awesome shirt. Regardless of all that, Taylor is clearly a cool guy, the opposite of what many think of when they think "Scientist." He's a rockabilly type dude, tattooed with a love for cool music and the esoteric, he's engaging, funny and clearly, astonishingly intelligent and because of all that, people who don't normally "like" science, like him and as such, it helps to inform "ordinary" people further about the work he and his colleagues undertake.

There are others of course, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye and so on, all of whom are proving a bit of a hit with Twitter, not only that, there is of course I Fucking Love Science with almost 20 million likes on Facebook. Some are, of course, better than others, more entertaining than others and most importantly, more engaging than others. Whilst there are those who stick to sharing their work, there are others who invite us into their lives and those who, through having a few Twitter followers are now actively courting the media as they attempt to grow their own perceived "celebrity" status.

With this growth in the use of Social Media outreach, has come more interest in using Film and Video as a tool to spread word of their ongoing research and this is something being embraced most by non-scientists and that is the point of this blog.


A Scientist and Film-Maker are two totally different things, Film is art and Science is the pursuit of knowledge. Facts are facts whereas art is a subjective thing in which reality can be manipulated, messages can be hidden and in which interpretation is something which may differ from individual to individual so how can the two worlds meet? How can something as "rigid" as science be presented in art which by its very nature is totally open to personal interpretation?

Well, it can and has been for centuries but it's not easy and is a scientist the best person to create art which highlights his work? Short answer, no, he is not, much like if my car broke down, I wouldn't ask an Opera Tenor to fix it.

Of course there are exceptions, Scientists who are skilled Film-Makers and Film-Makers who have an expert understanding of Science but with Marine Conservation Science, it's slightly different because it's all about hearts and minds, you need to get people to care about your science if you want it to be effective and simply grabbing a camcorder and telling people about your findings will not do that because your intended audience simply won't have an interest in watching it, you need to make them care and doing so in Film is very difficult and a skill not many people have.

I saw a Twitter discussion a while back where one scientist was asking others about "making a video" about their work, i.e. doing it themselves and at no point in the long discussion did anyone even think of suggesting they actually speak to a Film-Maker and get their advice. They've got a camera and iMovie so it's easy right? Wrong. Yes you could shoot something and cut it together but it being any good and actually engaging enough to reach an audience is another and although its all very well if your friends, family and other Scientists watch it, it's of no use whatsoever if your film and therefore message, fails to reach a wide audience.

There are also those, often lamented (rightly so) by the Scientific community who are making films about Marine Conservation issues and getting the Science completely wrong so therefore spreading a message which is at best misleading, at worst damaging to the cause as a whole.

All this highlights the single biggest problem, the Scientific and Creative communities just don't communicate with each other enough.

Mallorca Stingray Survey

Now of course, the big stumbling block is money, no professional worth his salt will work for free on what could be a long, arduous and time intensive Film project because, believe it or not, we have bills, rent, kids etc and we have to eat, not only that, we don't conjure up the thousands of pounds worth of equipment we use (and need) out of thin air. You don't work for free, why should we?

With that in mind, Science is not an industry where money is easy to come by and that brings me on to my next point, another recent Twitter discussion, that of crowdfunding scientific research projects. This is actually a great idea but if you're going to do this, first of all, speak to a proper Film-Maker with experience of this kind of work and discuss what you want from your film and most of all, listen, he or she knows a lot more about this kind of stuff than you do. When you have your idea, find out how much it will cost to make, don't offer them a figure you've plucked out of thin air, actually ask them. When you know, add it to the figure you need to crowd fund, don't do what so many others do, raise an amount then ask a professional to work for free because you didn't plan your campaign properly.

You may be planning to make the film yourself, after all, you have a GoPro and a Mac and you're a PADI Open Water Diver, that's all you need right? If you have £20,000 to spend on your wedding, would you get Uncle Bob to do the photos because he has a DSLR or do you hire a pro?...

If you're a Film-Maker with dreams of making a Marine Conservation film, talk to experts in the field and get your content rock solid and not just scientists either. If a Scientist is an expert on Shark Biology and spends their life in classrooms, labs, or on boats but barely, if any, time in the water, can they ever claim to be an expert on the shark behaviour in your location? No, they can't, speak to the divers who spend every day in the water with the sharks as well as others who can give you the expert insight you need. You may have seen a few documentaries and read a few books, that doesn't make you an expert, make sure to include those who are!

When I began my career as a Film-Maker I did it for two reasons, neither of which are particularly noble, I wanted to make myself happy and nobody was making the films I want to see so just figured I'd just do it myself. Overly dry and science heavy films bored me to tears and the hyper-sensationalist macho man/hippy chick films were equally as boring with the added annoyance factor thrown in, nobody was making films about real people and most importantly, where was the storytelling?

So can using film media help your cause? Undoubtedly, I know this from personal experience, A Ray of Light helped raise upwards of 80,000 Euros for Asociacion Ondine to fund ongoing grass roots conservation projects, of which I didn't take a single penny (I actually paid for that production out of my own money) and A Ray of Light II is proving hugely popular, most importantly with ordinary people of all ages who are now showing passionate interest in the marine animals in their own back yard.

 

A Ray of Light II from Scarlet View Media on Vimeo.

A Ray of Light II focuses more on the actual work undertaken by Asociacion Ondine so fits the style more appropriate for all you Scientists out there, the idea however, still being to engage the public through a story they can relate to, thus drawing them in to the actual research project itself.

The reason this was such a successful production was down to something extremely simple. The Research team (proper scientists) were left to do what they do best, I had complete control over the production of the film and the boat crew were in charge of running the boat. Much as I didn't tell the Research drew how to tag the Stingrays, they didn't try to tell me how to do my job, in short, the experts were allowed to do what they're experts at and the results are clear.



"Of Shark and Man" Teaser Trailer 3 (Letterboxed Version) from Scarlet View Media on Vimeo.

With Of Shark and Man which will be released this year, this is undoubtedly the most in-depth look at the Shark Reef story in existence and also the most comprehensive look at Shark Feeding on film certainly and probably anywhere else but that aside, this was always intended to be a hugely ambitious and complex piece of art, Marine Conservation inspiration delivered through absolute free creative expression.

Put simply, if you believe your Scientific work and credentials deserve the absolute best, do not scrimp on your film output if that's an area you want to explore and do not think it's something you can do yourself. Speak to Film-Makers with the appropriate expertise and if you're a Film-Maker, don't cut out the Scientific community, we should all be working together and remember, some people are made to be in front of a camera, others are not, if you have an ego, leave it at home, it won't do you any good in the long run.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Some More Press For Of Shark and Man And A New Milestone


I got a nice surprise the other day from Mike who emailed me a link to an article about me by the very cool people at "The Coral Triangle" that I didn't realise had been online since November!

If you went to any of the Beneath The Waves Film Festival events in 2013 you would have almost certainly seen the film "The People of The Coral Triangle" which really is very, very good. James and Jonny are both very talented guys and are doing some great things so please check them out!

I did the interview with Jonny ages ago and had forgotten about it so it was a nice surprise when it landed in my inbox. You can read it here.

Speaking of Beneath The Waves I have entered A Ray of Light II into this year's festival. The criteria for film's is that they must be ten minutes or less and with A Ray of Light II coming in at 28 minutes 40 seconds, I was unsure whether to apply but they actually asked for it personally so I'm hopeful it gets in as I think BTWFF is one of the best underwater film festivals around and I like Austin a lot. I'm not going to lie either, if it gets in and is considered for an award, I hope it gets one!

I'll be entering it in some other festivals as well so watch this space.

As for Of Shark and Man, we are half way through the music which is the last thing that needs doing so there will be an official trailer soon! On Wednesday we are doing some more work on the marketing side including the website which looks absolutely fantastic! The branding is done, the content is being readied and as we start 2015, a release of the film is not far away at all. All this means that very soon, there will be some exciting stuff coming your way including content from the film, merchandise and ways you can help get the film out to the masses.

2015 marks the 40th anniversary of JAWS and later this year, the BBC are airing a three part series dedicated to sharks which will be incredible, I know this because a good friend is working on it and from what he has told me, it will be yet more world beating brilliance from the best in the business at this kind of stuff.

This year has also seen his blog reach a bit of a milestone as it has now surpassed a quarter of a million views! That is no mean feat given its only promotion comes from links shared on the Facebook "shark community" hich is pretty over saturated with content meaning these kinds of shares get lost easily and quickly. Pretty amazing that with that in mind, this is one of the most popular shark related blogs in the world!

Here's to reaching half a million before 2016! ;)

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

I Was Interviewed By Save The Sharks

The other day I was asked to do a short interview with Save The Sharks about the process of filming A Ray of Light II and my approach to work in general, alongside a few thoughts about the issues facing Conservation Film.

Have a read of it here!

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to all!


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Gigantic Great White Shark in Mallorca

At Biel's house with a jaw taken from a Mallorquin Great White

Any reader of this blog should know by now I have a special passion for sharks in the Mediterranean, especially around the Balearic Islands and in particular Mallorca. For those that don't know, Mallorca actually has a fascinating history with the Great White Shark with twenty seven confirmed captures between the 1920's and 1976.

My good friend and Mallorquin Biologist, Gabriel Morey and I, will often talk about Great Whites around the island, not only does he share my passion for the stories but he also happens to be one of Europe's leading authorities on Great White Sharks in the Med and is the go to guy for everything related to sharks around the Balearics.

One of the main topics which always arises is that of the gigantic Great White captured in El Delta in 1969, a 6.2m specimen captured close to shore, the primary reason being that El Delta is where we handle our work with the Stingrays featured in both A Ray of Light and A Ray of Light II. It's amazing when I dive that area to think that such a huge White Shark was once swimming around there and to be honest, I get a kick out of it.

Today, Anton at Shark Alley (Anton's a cool guy, go like them on Facebook) posted this video:



I have already seen this footage a few years ago but it has now found it's way online and I originally thought this was one of two sharks given the date, a 5.5m specimen taken from Alcudia by Oscar Pinet or the first shark (5.35m) caught by Xisco Perez, who would later catch the second biggest Great White captured anywhere on the planet (1976) and the final confirmed Great White caught around the island.

However, after checking with Biel it turns out the date on the footage is wrong and that this is actually the specimen caught by Guillem Farragut in El Delta in 1969, coming in at a whopping 6.2m! I never knew this was in fact the shark we have talked so much about. There is video footage of a few of the White Sharks taken around Mallorca but much of it is unavailable online but I have been fortunate enough to see it all and one thing which stands out about these sharks is that they are huge!

Not only that, but they are very much still there, only recently there was proof of this but I'm afraid I'm sworn to secrecy on that...

Anyway, if you want to see the area where this shark was caught, check out A Ray of Light II!


A Ray of Light II from Scarlet View Media on Vimeo.

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Ray of Light II - Online And Available Now!


The wait is finally over!

You can now watch A Ray of Light II in its entirety, free of charge, HERE (Click this link)

If you have any feedback, comments or anything at all, please leave a comment in the comments section of this blog or if you're registered on Vimeo, in the comments section of the film itself.

If you want to help us continue to make these films, the Tip Jar feature is enabled on the Vimeo page, it's non-obligatory of course but any donations, big or small, really do help and they are hugely appreciated!

If you want to embed the film on your websites or blogs, please feel free to do so and if possible, let me know so I can point people towards your site!

So, what are you waiting for!? Watch it and if you like it, please share with friends on Social Media!

Please support Asociacion Ondine as well because without funding, they cannot continue the vital work they are doing! Link here - http://www.gofundme.com/asociacionondine

Edit: - Thank you Mike!




Thursday, 4 December 2014

A Ray of Light II Going Live on Monday, December 8th

Ready and waiting for you!

It's not been easy sitting on A Ray of Light II for so long, it seems like forever really, but I'm excited to say that it will finally see the light of day on an internet near you sometime around midday UK time on Monday, December 8th.

If you haven't already seen them, please do take a bit of time to check out Lockie's two "Making Of" featurettes below:








The three weeks in Mallorca shooting the film was a big challenge to say the least, exhausting both physically and mentally and at times emotionally draining and it shows in the film.

Whereas the first film was a pretty straightforward affair, this was anything but and has a far more expansive, documentary feel to it. As opposed to taking a retrospective look at things that have already happened, A Ray of Light II gives you an insight into things as they happen and an intimate and deeply personal look at how Brad's life has changed in the two years from the first film.

It's a longer film, coming in at just under 29 minutes, the cinematography is better, the sound is better, the story is better and the overall look of the film is a vast improvement from the first, which people still comment very favourably on. The post production of the film was a big job, much bigger than I expected and I think the time and effort I took to get the film how I wanted really shows in the finished result.

A small group of people have already seen the film outside of the premiere and feedback from both has all been overwhelmingly positive so I'm pretty confident if you liked the first, you'll hopefully like (maybe even really like) A Ray of Light II.

As with the first film, A Ray of Light II will be free to view online wherever you are in the world (barring maybe North Korea), that doesn't mean it was a cheap production, far from it! With that in mind, Vimeo's "Tip Jar" feature will be enabled so if you enjoy the film and want to show your appreciation, feel free to chuck a few quid/dollars/yen/whatever in there, every little bit helps recoup costs but of course there is no obligation.

I do ask though that if you enjoy it and value the film and/or the project featured within, that you share the film on your Social Media, Blogs and Websites with a description of why you're sharing it, the more people aware of the work of small, independent Conservation orgs like Asociacion Ondine, the better, they really are a shining light in the marine conservation world.

So, set a reminder, mark your calendars, A Ray of Light II is out this coming Monday. As always, feedback is warmly welcomed!