Friday, 26 September 2014

Mexico Pelagico - Brilliant!

THIS is how you do it!

Yesterday was really weird, really, really weird. Thank you to the 200 or so people for your very kind messages regarding the blog which, when I woke up in the morning, had exploded everywhere which I hadn't really expected at all as I was only chipping in my bit on a "hot" topic. Thank you also to the very small handful of people for the not so nice messages, whether you were in support of the overall message (as 99% were) or not, you engaged directly and I enjoy that so cheers, but I do ask of everyone, please, stop posting under the cloak of anonymity if at all possible. I put ownership on everything I say, I think it's fair to ask others to do the same although that does raise the issue that many of the people who contacted me who are active conservationists and advocates stated they were afraid of the backlash they may face from others if they dared speak out but that's for another time.

Today, I want to focus on everything right in conservation media.

I had a lovely chat yesterday with Jorge Cervera Hauser who is part of Pelagic Life, an organisation I have admired from afar for a while now and it appears we have a mutual admiration and he is someone who shares many of the same opinions and ambitions I have. In amongst the fallout from all the other stuff that's been going on this week, it was great to have an intelligent, articulate and inspiring conversation with someone representing a group who completely "get"what conservation and media messaging is about in 2014.

Pelagic Life was formed off the back of work they were doing in the Baja Peninsuala, paying fishermen to allow them to free the sharks they had hooked. It was a small gesture in the overall grand scheme of things but it is such a great message, to see passionate watermen and women giving something back to the ocean and the sharks who have given them so much pleasure and it also raised awareness of the issues facing sharks in Mexican waters. You can see several short videos of there work here and I strongly suggest you do because they are great!

These are not noisy, privileged, white people stomping into a developing nation screaming at people to "stop shark finning," these are intelligent, articulate, informed and pragmatic people who understand that shark conservation is a far more complex issue than mindless sloganeering and catchphrases, it's a socio-economic issue that is as much about social disparity and capitalist exploitation of the poor as it is about environmentalism. These guys get it and I respect them enormously.

I was lucky enough that Jorge gave me the chance to see their film, "Mexico Pelagico" and I have to say, I was mightily impressed. It's well made, with a great message and as a group, they all come across incredibly well, as articulate, well informed people with warmth and a genuine desire to do something good. This really is brilliant conservation media that has a soul and spirit you only really find in films that are truly independent productions. This is the kind of film we, as people passionate about shark conservation, need to get behind and push out there to a wider audience.

Check out the trailer, join their Facebook page and give them your support. These are people out there, boots on the ground, doing it off their own back with a sustainable and innovative long term goal.

Great stuff!

PS - More from Jorge here!



Mexico Pelagico | Trailer (2) English from Pelagic Life on Vimeo.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Curious Case Of The Shark Attack That Wasn't And Why It's So Predictable

Is this you?...

CAVEAT September 25th, 20:23pm :
I have spoken with Elissa who is obviously quite distressed abut the whole thing which has clearly got way out of hand and we have agreed to do an interview so she can at least give her unedited side of the story which I think is only fair. Her answers will not be edited, will be in her own words and will be presented on another blog here without bias as soon as they are ready.

I'm disappointed in myself, I wasn't going to do this but I've given in and wanted to say a little something about the bizarre case of Elissa Sursara and the shark attack that wasn't. It may well be that although you've already read a ton about her in the last 48 hours, none of it good, but I wanted to take a slightly different tack.

Firstly though if you haven't a clue what I'm on about I'll give a basic run down;

Elissa is a 26 year old Australian who nobody apart from her friends and family had heard of until Monday morning. Elissa likes animals, she's vegetarian, she went to the Australian National University, has blue eyes and doesn't wear much make up. She was also attacked by a shark in September 2013 and spent a week in hospital. 

Unlike 99.9999999999% of shark attack victims however, she claimed to feel "privileged" to have been attacked by a shark and decided to tell her story a couple of days ago to as many media outlets as possible to help protect sharks or something. Either way, her face and name were all over Facebook with many proclaiming her a heroine for sharks and that such positive in the face of such trauma was another win for the sharks. It was a wonderful moment indeed.

The only problem is I, like many others saw the photo of the wound and immediately smelled a rat because it looks completely fake. In fact, it is fake, the attack never happened and the whole story was dreamt up as some kind of bizarre publicity stunt. Drew Scerbo on the Facebook group White Shark Advocacy went so far as to analyse the picture and point out the Photoshop skullduggery leaving nobody in any doubt that this already fishy story was pure, unadulterated bullshit.

This is where it gets really weird... Elissa is someone who has something of a track record when it comes to bullshit. She describes herself as "an Australian wildlife expert and journalist" with a pretty decent list of credits in film and TV and whose profession is lisetd as "Australian biologist, broadcaster, filmmaker and celebrity conservationist" who has almost 60,000 "fans" on Facebook and legions more followers on Twitter. If you look at her IMDB page you will also see the following;

"Following the death of friend Heath Ledger, Sursara was targeted by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, for her friendship with the actor and for her support of Ledger's role as a homosexual in Brokeback Mountain (2005). The Church also attacked Sursara's support of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriages."

"From 2006 onward - before finding success as an actor - Sursara became a victim of social identity theft on networking websites MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. According to published reports, there were in abundance of 400 profiles on MySpace using Sursara's pictures. In 2010, Sursara and student Frieda Rose were named the Internet's "Most Faked Girls" after a study on social identity theft."

Not only all the above, but she also claimed to have been dating Justin Bieber at one point.

The problems arise when it becomes clear that pretty much all the above has been proven as a pack of lies and that the supposed celebrity status comes from nothing more than Facebook and Twitter followers that were bought and paid for and who don't actually exist.

The master and the student

At this point, while this looks like veering dangerously off into another hatchet piece on someone who is clearly a deluded fantasist, I want to point out that I'm not going down that route because there are parts of this whole charade which compel me to talk about it far more than slating this young woman for doing something so spectacularly short sighted and stupid with a lack of awareness I find completely staggering. When the story first broke, I was taken aback by the brass neck she has, I found some of her statements amusing but the more I have thought about it and the more I have seen the reaction, I have started to feel differently. Is she guilty of doing something utterly moronic? Yes, but I think there is more to this than that.

To be honest, before I even saw the "wound" I called "bullshit" on the story after seeing another picture, a shot of Elissa in full Sea Shepherd garb with the Jedi Master of lying to the media, Paul Watson. I have become so cynical that the second I see those black hoodies, I automatically think "whatever this is, it's at least 70% bollocks." Sometimes I'm wrong and I'm glad when I am because they do occasionally do some good stuff but usually, (and unfortunately) I'm right and being conservative with the 70%

You see, although Elissa has done something incredibly stupid, I don't think she should bear the blame alone because there are deeper issues here which I'll come to in a second but first, this statement from Elissa stood out to me when defending herself against a rising tide of criticism and some other, rather ugly, reactions;

"For the record, Paul Watson provided comments about this encounter to the Courier Mail, the incident was no secret to those in Sea Shepherd who needed to know. Unfortunately that does not include the 400,000 odd on Sea Shepherd's Facebook page and the millions who receive email updates. The decision to withhold my name at the time was calculated and strategic since I felt that any association with me or with Sea Shepherd would have been instrumentally negative toward sharks, the shark campaign and the work of third party groups -- and, quite honestly, I didn't feel the need to "share my story" with the newspaper since up until now, the shark cull has been in place. As the report states, there is slightly more freedom for shark advocates to speak their piece in the clearance of a WA cull..."

Of course it's difficult to believe anything Elissa says but given Sea Shepherd are yet to respond are we to take it, as that statement suggests, that this was a "calculated and strategic" press release executed under the watchful eye of Watson to raise the Sea Shepherd profile further through a magnificently misguided ploy to convince the public that being chomped by a shark really isn't so bad after all?
 
Has an obviously vulnerable and easily manipulated fantasist with possible psychological issues and stars in her eyes been convinced to take one for the team with a bullshit stunt concocted by people who think their followers and fans are really that stupid that they'd actually get away with it?!

 Sound familiar?

Elissa isn't the first person to say she thinks being bitten by a shark and having a cool scar would be pretty groovy, in fact, I've seen other people of varying notoriety saying the same, actually hoping it would happen to them because hey it's awesome, the psychological and physical trauma, not to mention the financial damage are just swell and you'll get your name in the news. Awesome!

The issue here isn't just the lie or the effect it will undoubtedly have on the view of Joe Public when he next sees someone on TV talking about shark conservation, it's the fact that something like this has been on the cards for ages and that Elissa is far from alone, the raging narcissists desperate to be the next Shark Girl/Man/Rider are everywhere and even worse, they're winning.

I don't know Elissa but I reckon deep down she's probably a nice girl, a nice, misguided girl who exhibits all the signs of someone with issues who finds a solace in Social Media and the completely false sense of popularity it imbues in those who are in desperate need of good, real friends, friends who will put an arm around you and make you feel good about yourself when times are tough.

The world of shark media and shark conservation is no stranger to narcissism, it infests its every pore, like it does in many niche interests, for all the good hearted, enthusiastic people therein, lies a (un)healthy amount of people whose sense of self importance, talent and worth far outweighs their actual importance, talent and worth.

Sharks are great for the ego, they make you look cool and in a world where you can look cool and make a bit of a name for yourself, those narcissists will grasp, claw and cheat their piece of the pie doing anything and everything to get one over on the competition. In a world where you can actually buy popularity you have all the tools to trick gullible people into thinking you and what you're selling (because everyone is selling something,) has value and meaning, tag on a cool image and some snazzy catchphrases, let other people do the hard work for you and you're good to go.

Unfortunately these people, and we all know who they are, are also smart enough to know how to manipulate enough gullible people into helping them become somebody and for people like Elissa, who obviously, desperately wants to be "somebody," they become the benchmark and inspiration as to how to get there and they must also shoulder some of the blame for this. Without positive role models the lowest common denominator can rule supreme, this is no longer a world where the cream will rise to the top, instead it remains hidden, slowly evolving into a grotesque new life form while you sit there drinking shitty coffee because you couldn't be arsed to look in the back of the fridge.

It's all very well rounding on Elissa, getting the pitchforks and flaming torches out but maybe we might want to start looking at the more uncomfortable truths, that the people looked upon as bastions of Shark Conservation because they ride sharks ("for the sharks"), wear bikinis ("for the sharks"), make crappy TV ("for the sharks"), get you to donate your hard earned money to their projects which don't actually do anything ("for the sharks") or simply spend all their time on Facebook telling you how brilliant they are ("for the sharks") aren't actually doing it "for the sharks," at all but instead, are doing it solely for themselves and that these narcissists are merely creating more narcissists who do nothing other than push their brand at people who believe they are helping by supporting them in doing so?

I'd say to anybody out there who knows Elissa, sit down with her, put an arm around her, talk to her and advise her to lay low, stop talking and let this blow over and learn from it and to anyone out there who, if it is the case, advised her in undertaking this "calculated and strategic" stunt, shame on you, I hope you're happy with the fact this young woman has now completely fucked up any real chance of making a credible career in conservation and who is now getting blasted by the mainstream media and anyone and everyone on Social Media and not only that, you've helped make genuine shark conservationists look really bad by association to people who don't know any better, predominantly most of the general public.

I actually feel sorry for Elissa, maybe I'm going soft in my old age, we all do stupid things from time to time and Elissa's seem to stem from deeper issues than just not thinking things through properly before we do them.

We must all be held accountable for our actions but sometimes, those who directly, or indirectly influence those actions might want to take a long hard look at themselves, suppress the narcissistic ego maniac within, and exercise a little humility and ownership of their own behaviour because if you do have a public profile and you use your platform to do stupid, worthless, self serving things and claim them to be anything other than what they are, even worse assign them to some kind of altruistic, humanitarian crusade, then you are telling people like Elissa that it's okay to be like you and I hate to say it, but it's not okay to be like you, it's not okay at all.






Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Vision Realised - How "Of Shark and Man" is finally becoming what it was always meant to be!


Our second day in Fiji, visiting Galoa

It seems about a squillion years ago now that I decided I was sick and tired of doing what everyone else expected of me and not fulfilling my dreams, ambitions and potential and decided to just jack it all in on the back of an absurd notion that I could just swan off to Fiji and make a feature length film that would get on TV, okay, maybe not a squillion but it's been four years and that's a long time to go through the trials and tribulations I've faced.

The constant threat of always being on the verge of going broke, giving up my home, constant (and I mean constant) rejection, self doubt, crises of confidence which literally left me a complete wreck, unable to create anything for weeks, ridicule and criticism, you name it, I've had it thrown at me over the last four years but in amongst the hard times there have also been some glorious highs.

Despite practically everyone telling me to stop being so stupid and just give up, I made it out to Fiji and it only took me nine months and twenty seven days to achieve everything I needed to to do that, a first time film-maker with no pedigree, gaining the funding to shoot a film in which he has complete creative control and 100% ownership of a film with no debt is almost unheard of and for that I have to thank the wonderful, innovative and forward thinking Jane West and Martin Harlow at Tourism Fiji for taking a huge gamble on me and who have offered nothing but support, encouragement and enthusiasm. Anything I achieve in my career will always owe a huge debt of gratitude to them.

I went from not even owning a camera and having never even attempted to make a short film, with zero experience, credibility, contacts, support or money, straight into making my own feature film, for which I would be 90% responsible for all the work, fulfilling every role imaginable along the way. Now, here I am in 2014, a professional full-time film-maker with, I'd like to think, a good reputation around the world, working in film, TV and commercial promo work, I'm a dad to an awesome little boy, I'm involved with some incredible conservation projects around the world and am finally getting a growing platform upon which I can help spread positive messages about sharks and also inform the public about important issues, being regularly approached to discuss in particular, shark feeding and shark attack.

This isn't a "hey look how great I am" post, I hate all that bullshit, anyone who feels compelled to constantly convince people of their talent, knowledge or credibility has nowhere near as much of any of those as they think, in my opinion, (I prefer to let my work and work ethic do the talking), no, instead this is hopefully encouragement for anyone else out there on the verge of taking the leap of faith I did. If you believe in yourself absolutely, you have thick skin, you can take rejection and you are willing to sacrifice and risk everything, go for it. It's a hell of a ride with more downs that ups but the ups will define why you did this in the first place and the downs will only confirm and define your character. If you give up easily or you have serious doubts, stay where you are, choose safety, this isn't for you...

So why all the above?

The last two months has seen massive progress on the film, in fact, it's really not far at all away from a completed first cut and my life has been consumed with Grading the film and overseeing the Sound Design, both of which have made everything explode into life and jump out of the screen at you. The addition of great sound and a great aesthetic has been the realisation that I may be sitting on something pretty amazing here...

Given the above retrospective look at how far this has all come, I figured I'd touch base on a few technical factors and also look back at the progression of the film and myself as a Film-Maker, from a naieve amateur who didn't know what "aperture" or "shutter speed" meant, to someone who people actually pay money to make films, and good ones at that too! :)

First up a few technicals...



A major aspect of this film was that I wanted to shoot it on pro-sumer equipment, that is, gear which is high quality but affordable and available to the man on the street so not the Reds and Arri's of the world but cameras and production equipment most people can realistically afford to buy themselves.

So, a list of the main production equipment:

Cameras:
2x Canon 7D (with 2x Nauticam NA-7D Housings)
1x Sony XD Cam
1x GoPro 2
1x Phantom Flex (Absolutely not affordable! For the "dream sequence" pool shots)
1x Canon Ixus 100 (seriously!)
1x Nokia N8 Mobile Phone (honestly, I'm being serious...)

Lenses:
Canon 15-85mm EF-S
Canon 10-22mm EF
Canon 50mm f1.8 (£60 in Incheon Airport!)
Canon 70-300mm
Canon 18-55mm EF-S
Zeiss 50mm f1.4
Sigma 70-300mm

Audio:
2x Rode Video Mic


Post Production:
1x Custom Built Novatech 32GB RAM Desktop Edit Suite
1x Custom Built Novatech 16GB Laptop
Logic Pro

So that gives you an idea on the budgets I was working on, thankfully and for which I am eternally grateful, Novatech build me my computers for free as a brand ambassador (and they are awesome!) and Canon gave me my camera. The Phantom we got to use for free as part of a test for a TV documentary and the XDCam belongs to Mike who became a member of the underwater cinematography team for a month! I won't say what our budget was but in Film-Making parlance it would be classed as "Micro Budget."

To give you a comparison, the average Shark Week production has a budget of around $200-300K and according to the production release from the company, for the recent "Shark Girl" show they needed to raise between AUS$850,000 - $1,000,000 to get it made.

Needless to say, my budget was a grain of sand on their mile long budgetary beach, but from the outset I set my "competition" not as the amateur "passion pieces" that are becoming more widespread, but films with budgets of £1,000,000+. I'm a one man band doing ninety percent of what's required from a spare room at my parents' house, I can't compete with the BBC but what I felt I could do is aim for a higher quality than that which is typically broadcast on the commercial terrestrial channels, in both content, style and technical film-making. Of course the single most important thing is content and story but the first way a production will be judged against the rest is in how it looks and how it sounds.

With that in mind, here are a few (heavily compressed) screen shots from the sections which have been graded so far so you have an idea of what to expect:








I have gone for a complex grade made up of five separate stages to give the film that "epic" cinematic film look you don't really see much in factual film these days. Colour is a big part of the story and is used very much as a storytelling tool, I may do a breakdown of the grade for the Behind The Scenes film when I've finished everything...Maybe.


Regardless of how amazing your film might look, if the sound sucks, then so will your film unfortunately, you can cheat badly shot footage but bad sound is the killer of films and if your sound is amateur, you will be viewed as "just an amateur." Your story deserves better.

The above is a screenshot of the Sound Design for just a few seconds of "Of Shark and Man," which is being put together by the brilliant David Lawrie and it sounds spectacular. I knew I wanted a huge, ambitious and complex sound design for the film so finding Dave has been such a blessing, not only can he decipher what I am saying in regards to what I want in there and take on board my suggestions of how to achieve that, he uses his considerable expertise to take what I want and make it so much better. Every frame of the film will have probably between 15-20 "elements" of work in it and that is why the film has taken so long to get this far but this was never a sprint, quality is the key and that sometimes takes a long time.

There are four sections remaining to be graded thus meaning the grade will be finished this week, the Sound Design is about halfway done and the intro titles are also almost complete, when all this is done, the film will have a first cut ready for industry tests. I appreciate everyone's patience, most of all Jane, Martin and all associated with Tourism Fiji who made this possible however, I can guarantee the wait will be worth it.

If you want to jog your memory, check out the three teasers below and in which, you can also see the obvious progression the film has taken along the way.



"Of Shark and Man" - Teaser Trailer 1 from Scarlet View Media on Vimeo.


"Of Shark and Man" Teaser Trailer 2 from Scarlet View Media on Vimeo.


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

Thursday, 24 July 2014

That is one badass shark!

Michael's Mako. A badass shark for a badass dude!

I'm lucky to be friends with some truly great photographers including many of the underwater variety and one of my favourites is Michael Patrick O'Neill. Not only one of the very best pros out there, but a down to earth, intelligent and downright cool human being to boot.

All of that makes me even more stoked he managed to get this shot of a 4m Shortfin Mako off the Azores (story here)

The world we live in now seems to be full of people trying to make sharks cuddly, friendly and benign little cuties that just want to give us all a hug and be our pals but anyone who knows sharks knows that's doing them a great injustice and sharks like this badass girl remind us why. This is how I like my sharks, big, gnarly looking and with attitude, look at those scars, a big girl like this will no doubt have a colourful history so what a great stroke of luck for MPO and the others on the dive.

Did I mention? Michael also makes a valuable contribution to "Of Shark and Man" too. Here he is in the last teaser trailer.


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

Brilliant shot as always mate!

Friday, 11 July 2014

A Welcome Reminder of a Bygone Era

The greatest...

Last night just as I was settling into bed after finishing the grade of another section of "Of Shark and Man" (I say "night," it was 3am...) a link popped up on my Facebook timeline which genuinely excited me, it was a Youtube link for the full hour long, 1983 National Geographic special, "Sharks" or "The Sharks" as it was titled on its VHS release.

I can't tell you how many times I watched this as a kid, a hundred plus easy, but since the advent of DVD and Blu-Ray (and laser disc but the less said about that the better) and the phasing out of VHS players it must be around twenty years since I saw it last.

Coincidentally I had been speaking to my friend Jason earlier that evening, about how much of a drastic nosedive the genre of factual shark film has taken in the last fifteen years or so. Of course there is still some good stuff, "Sharkwater" for all its flaws is still a great film, I enjoyed "Extinction Soup," I love the "Sarah Shark" series and every year Shark Week seems to come up with the odd gem here and there ("Alien Sharks," "Great White Highway" from last year as two examples) but the good stuff is becoming increasingly more difficult to find in amongst the various vanity projects, hyperbolic exploitation pieces (Red Sea Jaws) and the downright cheap and nasty (feeding watermelons and hot dogs to sharks anyone?) so this was a really welcome reminder of a time when people actually respected the craft of film-making.

The heyday for shark documentaries is unquestionably the period from the greatest of the all, "Blue Water White Death," (1971) to the mid-nineties when the technology had advanced but not to the point where it was ultimately detrimental to the art of storytelling. If you watch "Sharks" you will not only notice the obvious amount of time spent making the film (something incredibly rare these days, after all, why bother going to the effort of shooting your own footage when you can just use stock footage on the cheap right?) but also the cinematography, the sound design, the raw, natural and unscripted aspects, the almost poetic narration and perhaps most of all, the sheer weight of content within the hour. This is honest, beautifully crafted and real documentary film-making and reminds those of us old enough to remember, an hour long TV slot used to mean an hour of content as opposed to 47 minutes of content wrapped around what the broadcaster really wants you to watch, the 13 minutes of commercials.

Look at those involved on screen as well, The Taylors, Eugenie Clark, John McCosker, Richard Ellis, all of whom are there because they have earned the right to be there, they have something of value to add, they're not there because they look cool, because they do as they're told or because they've bought their way in, they're there because they're awesome.

I make no bones about it, "Of Shark and Man" is a throwback to this golden age, I am purposefully constructing the film almost as an homage to the films that inspired me so much as a child and as I say in the film itself, "...nobody is making the films I want to see anymore so I figured I may as well just go and do it myself."

So all you shark lovers and documentary fans, take an hour, sit back and enjoy.





Big thanks to Scott Curaloto-Wagemann for linking it up in the first place

Monday, 7 July 2014

An Intelligent Shark Feeding Article!

Worth a read. Check it out!

Quite a long time ago now, 2008 to be precise, when I was a failed Rock Star stuck in an office working in Recruitment, frustrated my life wasn't going where I wanted it to, I decided to start working on my exit plan, an exit plan that would get me out of the office, out of the UK and finally in to working with sharks which is where I had always wanted to be and where my talents would finally not be going to waste like they were then.

I'd been writing articles for press and media about sharks already for years, since the age of 11 or 12, and at 15 had been invited into the now sadly defunct European Shark Research Bureau as an honorary member (the only "civvy" member as well I believe), so figured I'd dust off the computer and start doing that again. I had written primarily about shark attacks, shark behaviour and the sharks of the Mediterranean previously so wanted to choose something different, chose shark feeding and the rest as they say, is history.

That article, which appeared in DIVER Magazine was ultimately the catalyst for me being where I am now, it led to my friendships with Mike Neumann and Patric Douglas, two of the most influential people in the Shark Diving world, it opened doors for me in regards to discussing the issue to a wider audience and led to me getting full access to the Shark Reef story. Had I not written that article, it's conceivable I could still be stuck in that office today...

These days, a million Facebook threads abut the subject later, I lean towards offering my input only in a professional capacity, I just get too frustrated with people, (I shouldn't but I do) so when I was contacted by SCUBA Diver Australasia Magazine to contribute to their piece about Shark Feeding (ironically the same title as my own article eight years ago) I was more than happy to do so given Alice Grainger's very open and pragmatic approach.

Having now read the full piece I am not disappointed! I was told very honestly that Alice would indeed wield the editorial axe over all the submitted comments to aide the construction of a cohesive piece (fair do's!) and I was pleasantly surprised to see most of what I had put forward actually made it in which was nice.

The article features input from various experts with actual in-water experience with sharks over many decades and even the comments which are less favourable towards feeding are measured and well thought out, in short, this is essential, required reading for anyone with an interest in the issue. Mike's input did suffer somewhat from the editorial axe so he was kind enough to post it in full here. Read it!

Thanks again to Alice for the kind words and the opportunity to contribute to an intelligent piece about a subject desperately lacking in cerebral discussion.

Edit:

I found my full answer so here it is for you, unedited!

What is your opinion on baited shark dives and shark feeding dives, and why?
It’s a strange one, I am neither “pro-shark feeding” nor “anti-shark feeding,” it would be more accurate to say I wholeheartedly support projects which encourage conservation initiatives for sharks whilst involving local communities and tourism, all with a goal to create long term, sustainable and economically successful alternatives to the short term financial gain of commercial or sport fishing. In short, that generally means eco-tourism shark diving and if you want to ensure your business is sustainable, your clients need a guarantee of sharks and in most places, that means baiting or feeding.

People have been feeding sharks since the dawn of civilisation, as soon as we stepped aboard boats and into the water, sharks have benefitted from our being there, it’s not this new thing people seem to think it is. This idea that politicians or just the everyday man on the street is going to want to protect something simply because it’s the right thing to do is not only naive, it is grossly misguided. People need incentives to commit to things long term and that incentive has to be financial for it to work properly. 


Most of the best places in the world to see sharks are third world or developing nations, these nations are already being exploited by fishing fleets looking to empty their waters of fish before leaving them with nothing and heading on to the next location to destroy and for people with nothing, short term financial relief offered by destructive industries is going to be preferable to seeing your family starve. What shark dive operations in these areas can do is provide long term careers and financial stability to areas in desperate need, not just directly linked to the shark feed either but to all the other ancillary businesses which benefit from an influx of tourism capital.

People who say that these feeds condition sharks to view humans as food or as a source of food simply do not understand sharks, sharks are not mindless killers, to imply that seeing a diver behind a cage will condition that shark to equate a diver outside a cage, in a different location, as food is just complete nonsense, akin to claiming a dog can learn to drive a car because he sits in the back seat when you take him to the park. The people who continue to make these claims are implying, whether they realise it or not, that all cognitive development in sharks is in someway ultimately geared towards aggression towards people which is obviously untrue, but also reduces sharks to nothing more than the big dumb animals portrayed in the movies.

Not all feeds are safe, not all feeds are well intentioned and some are downright irresponsible, but we cannot condense an industry which on the whole does some incredible things for shark conservation, into one which is creating man-eating sharks prowling the coasts looking for people to eat because the facts don’t lie, shark feeds have not increased the number of shark attacks or the risk of shark attack, anywhere on the planet, the link just does not exist. Those with moral or ethical concerns about the practice need to consider what is better, shutting the feeds down and letting the fishermen in to wipe out the sharks, or choosing not to partake personally in these dives but appreciating the conservation benefit they can provide.

A protected site under  the stewardship of local employees which serves as a site to take tourists out to see what magnificent animals sharks are is the best available scenario we have and shark eco-tourism, is possibly the last remaining realistic way we can halt and then hopefully reverse the alarming decline in global shark numbers. 

Or even, how do you feel about the controversy surrounding baited dives?
It’s a controversial issue surrounded by myths and untruths perpetuated by people who really don’t understand the issue of shark behaviour. The primary concern has always been the increase in the perceived risk of attack but it just simply isn’t true, there is zero evidence that a shark feed operation increases the risk of attacks on bathers, divers and surfers, in fact, if you look at the statistics, you are less likely to be bitten by a shark in a location where feeding occurs, than you are in a location where it does not. I recently saw a claim that the cage diving operations at The Neptune Islands, South Australia, could be directly linked to the attacks in Western Australia which is of course ridiculous, but indicative of the kind of opinions some people will believe are credible.

It must also be said however, that if you start a shark feed 100 yards off shore from a popular beach, you will likely encounter problems, not because of the implausible notion that feeding sharks conditions them to humans as food (something which has been largely disproven) but because you will be aggregating sharks, at least periodically, in areas of high human recreational water use. More people, more sharks, more risk of a bite, it’s that simple.

 

If you are going to open a shark feeding site, you must use common sense, pick a site not used by recreational water users, protect the site so you don’t aggregate sharks for the fishermen and put in place protocols from which you never ever deviate. The basic logistics of a shark feed should be exactly the same every single day, the sharks need to learn what is expected of them and also, your clients must also be aware of what is expected of them, too many shark feeding sites these days are letting clients dictate what they want from a dive as opposed to the operator having full control over their input to the dive. If multiple operators use the same site and the same sharks, but their protocols are wildly different, that could confuse the sharks and could lead to issues later down the line and nobody wants that.
It’s all about common sense, a long term initiative which has the sharks best interests at heart and also, involving local communities. Shark feeds run purely for commercial gain, with no thought for the wellbeing of the sharks, are no good for anybody other than those looking to make a fast buck.




Thursday, 12 June 2014

Of Shark and Man Update!



A very good bit of editing trickery

Its been a while since the last blog, I had three weeks in Mallorca then came back to a mountain of things needing to be put in place so I could crack on again with Of Shark and Man and as I am now at that point, I felt an update was long overdue but first...

That video all over Facebook of the dude jumping into the harbour in Manly, it's a fake, a very clever and creative one but a fake nonetheless. The big cut is not the one at 59secs, it's the one at 38secs, it's been uploaded at 480p almost certainly to hide the cuts, the water in which we see the shark is clearly open ocean, not least because the shark is accompanied by pelagic fish species which would not be found in a harbour environment and also, the main source of the video initially was SourceFeed, which is a "Discovery Channel Digital Network" and what do we have just around the corner? Yep it wouldn't surprise me if this was another (admittedly brilliant) viral by Discovery who are quickly becoming the masters of this type of advertising. Shout out as well to the editor, a very skillful piece of cutting!

Okay, on to more pressing and very real matters!

Where is progress with "Of Shark and Man" at the moment? 

The other night, the final section of the voice over went into the edit which is a major step towards completion of the first cut. Basically, the whole thing was cut together to a "rhythm" I had in mind which I felt would work best, the script for the voice over was then finalised and slight changes made to the edit so it all fit together as closely as possible. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Banter Media studios to record the voice over with Adam Steel who was brilliant, the whole thing was done in about five hours and sounds absolutely superb and that's without any eq'ing being done yet.

Bad sound will kill your film, it doesn't matter how great it looks, sucky sound screams out "I'm an amateur" and you lose your audience so the voice over for this film has to sound good and I'm very confident it does. I won't lie though, I'm not a fan of recording them, I certainly don't speak "Queen's English" (I detest that term) and I swear a lot so ensuring people like Americans can actually understand what I'm saying whilst also sounding like me is easier said than done. It's accurate to say the end result sounds like I'm meeting a new girlfriend's mum for the first time and I can live with that.
Recording the Voiceover
Putting the voice over into the edit has really helped as it has streamlined everything and also highlighted where any changes needed to be made, all of which have been done so as of tonight, the process of sending everything off to David Lawrie will begin so he can complete the sound design.

Sound Design has already started and sounds amazing, David and I have been in regular contact where I have been explaining exactly what I want. It is very complex and ridiculously ambitious but then, hasn't this project always been this way? As I said to David the other day, everything these days is so safe and derivative, let's do something completely different, we're not just making "another shark film."

The intro title sequence is currently under construction as well and I am really excited to see what Dave Whittle has done with it, the guy is one of the best graphics guys out there in the UK right now and I am beyond stoked to have him be a part of this film!

The process of sound tracking the film is in it's early stages but will pick up momentum likely next week so currently, we have the final sound design to be completed, the title sequence to finish, the music and next week the colour correction and grading will begin. In short, we are very very close to a finished first cut!

As I have enlisted the help of external experts, I obviously have to wait until they have done what they need to do and at no point will I be rushing them but I would like to say a first cut will be finished and ready for industry screenings by the end of August, start of September and that is allowing plenty of time for the soundtrack to be completed.

So, when each section has gone to David Lawrie and every single clip of audio split into its own track (the most mind numbingly tedious thing ever) the grade will start, whilst at the same time music is being composed and recorded and the title sequence finished... We're almost there folks!

Sorry for the radio silence once again, I'll try to find time for more regular updates in the coming weeks!




Wednesday, 16 April 2014

"Of Shark and Man" Pogress, Something New and Something Very Cool!

 Going back to the sun for a bit!

Sorry for the silence lately, it's unusual for me to neglect the blog for so long but there is a very good reason for it. In the last couple of months I have been absolutely swamped with work, both for "Of Shark and Man" and for the day job, although Scarlet View Media isn't something I'd consider a day job, more a passion which allows me to survive through doing something I genuinely love to do. Since starting the company I have always focused on doing commercial work of the highest quality to earn a living and grow the brand's reputation and the last twelve months has seen more interest in what we do, more work and a growth I'm really happy with, plus the feedback from our clients is nothing short of exceptional.

Wanting to build the company is twofold, firstly, I have to eat and have bills to pay and even more importantly, so does the little sharkboy Lucas and secondly, when I come to release Of Shark and Man it will be through Scarlet View Media as our first feature length film and I want the platform to be as strong as possible.

As well as completing a hugely time consuming commercial project, a music video and pitching for some very exciting and big jobs, the Of Shark and Man juggernaut continues to roll. We have started the "Making Of" featurette and I did my first interview a couple of weeks ago along with getting some of the footage together.

Sound Design is coming along very nicely, it's amazing the difference a proper layering of sound can make to the footage, it's not merely background sound however, every single element is carefully thought out, constructed and mixed to really bring everything to life and aid the storytelling in the film. I am approaching this in the same way big budget features are put together, it is of course way more time consuming but will provide a far more satisfactory experience for you the viewer, essentially, absolutely everything you see must come alive and put you in a position where you feel a part of the action.

The system for doing this is that I am cutting the whole film into sections, the sound design I created as a guide has been separated into dozens of different tracks, some of those tracks featuring only maybe two seconds of a particular sound. If you can imagine doing that for a two hour first cut, you might be able to imagine just how mind numbingly tedious a job this is, definitely worth it, but tedious nonetheless. These sections are then sent over to David Lawrie in the States and he works his magic and sends them back over to place back into the edit.

Work has also started on the title sequence, this is something I am really excited about. In a weird sense of serendipity, one of my best mates from school, just so happened to become one of the UK's leading graphic animation artists for film and TV, doing a lot of work for the BBC alongside the band Gorrillaz. Just before Xmas, he got in touch to say he'd seen the trailers and wanted to offer his services, I was absolutely over the moon to say the least! I can't say too much about what we have planned but as with everything else in the film, it will stand apart from everything else going on at the moment and given his stupendous talent, I am sure it's going to be incredible.

As it stands, until I get the go ahead from the studio on recording the voice over, I am now in a position of farming out the work I can't do, to the talented people who can.

The timing is pretty handy as well as I fly out on the 22nd to do a short commercial job in the Med but not only that, I am using the time over there to finally get around to shooting a project I have been working on for the last two years, if you are a regular reader, you watch my stuff and you've been following the journey, you don't need to be a genius to figure out what it might be and to say I'm excited is an understatement! I am away from the 22nd of April for two and a half weeks and to be quite frank, for reasons I won't be going into here, I need a break and some time away, it's not a holiday, it's work, but if I had two weeks doing nothing but spending time in my own mind, I would most likely end up in the puzzle factory, as such, it's a much needed break with close friends, an awesome project to get my teeth into and some sun on my back and salt in my gills.

I've spent the last month burning the candle at both ends to get all the pieces in place so I can go away and have work being done on Of Shark and Man whilst I'm out of the UK and when I come back, come back to completed Sound Design sections, a closer idea of the title sequence and a date to record the voice over. I really need this but not only that it's also another project out there in the smaller and more niche festivals whilst the main event takes on the gauntlet of screenings, big festival submissions and yes, distribution (hopefully).

So that's where we are with everything at the moment, completion of Of Shark and Man is now something which is going to happen in the short term future for the first time and it's a pretty incredible feeling to have made it here!

As I leave you here until the next blog which won't be as long coming as this one, I promised you something cool. You may well have seen the promo video for "Gimme Chocolate" on social media, but I wanted to share this as this just blew me away when I heard it for the first time. Regular readers know I love my music, especially Metal and *bold statement alert* BabyMetal are the only band I can think of other than Gojira who have made me sit up and say "wow!!" (in a good way) in quite some time, years in fact, yes it's manufactured, yes it's probably highly cynical, yes it's really, really weird, but who gives a shit, I think it's really fucking cool.

Yes seriously, I think this is one of the coolest things I've heard in a long time.

Enjoy.

 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Public Likes Of Shark And Man

Talking to ClubSub about Of Shark and Man

On Monday, I went to Leek, having been invited by the guy behind ClubSub, to give a bit of a talk about "Of Shark and Man," for an audience of about thirty or so people of all ages and during which I showed each of the three teaser trailers.

I hadn't actually thought about it prior to speaking but I realised just before I was due on, that this would be the first time I would ever screen the trailers to an audience where I was actually present. I know I'm not too great at self-promotion and certainly not as keen on it as some others out there, but I really do not enjoy watching myself on the telly, even worse is watching myself on the telly when other people are present, also watching. It makes me very uncomfortable but I am fully aware that I just need to suck it up and get used to it, in fact, I need to embrace the whole "self-promotion" thing, maybe even come up with a snazzy catchphrase or something, I don't know but either way, I digress...

I was originally planning to speak for around ten minutes max but ended up going over the half hour mark, the reason being that the response was really, overwhelmingly positive and there was a genuine interest and enthusiasm about not just the film, but my own back story, the story of Shark Reef and shark conservation in general so, in super-efficient presentation style, are a few bullet points of the stand out things I took from this really quite pleasant evening;

  • Not one of the people there, all of whom were divers, knew anything about the story of Shark Reef. This was very encouraging to me as it makes the film more interesting!
  • People responded extremely well to the notion that it's just an ordinary bloke with a dream fronting the film and not just another "TV person" or someone making a vanity project.
  • The idea of shooting and producing everything using the kind of gear they themselves can realistically go out and buy was also a huge plus point for them.
  • The assumption prior to the first trailer however, seemed to be that the quality of the film would not be very high, the kind of "shaky GoPro footage where everything is a slightly different shade of blue" kind of thing.
  • After seeing the trailers, everybody seemed not only hugely surprised but also really energised by the quality of everything.
  • Delivering a story in a way which resonates with the "everyman" is definitely a winning idea, questions started before I had even got to the "has anybody got any questions" bit.
  • Everyone seemed to love the story and the idea of weaving the "everyman" story in with it seemed to help everything stick so to speak.
  • The people I spoke to afterwards are very, very interested in shark films and stories relating to sharks but not really at all interested in what they are seeing either on TV or online from Independents currently and all of whom mentioned they thought that this would finally give them what they actually want to see.
  • I spoke with two very nice gentlemen, one a 59 year old diver with an interest and passion for sharks going back half a century and another, probably in his late sixties who has dived all over the world chasing the big stuff and both of whom were very excited by the 70's and 80's influence on the film, the former immediately mentioning the "Blue Water White Death" influence. This pleased me enormously.
  • After screening the trailers, answering the questions and chatting to everybody afterwards, it seemed that everyone would definitely make an effort to see the film.
It was a really enjoyable evening and everyone was so nice, thanks to Dave for having me and also to Ed and Anna from EDNA who filmed everything for the Making Of featurettes. They've also done a little blog themselves about the evening which you can read here.

So it would seem then that even at this early stage, people really want to see this film and there is a genuine excitement growing that people might actually be getting something different, creative and innovative.

Which was nice...



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

Monday, 3 March 2014

Of Shark and Man Update


So here we are, three years and seven months into the making of "Of Shark and Man..." three years and seven months!!

I am of course including the first year which centred entirely around making a hair-brained, absurdly impossible dream become a reality but even at two years and seven months, it's still a hell of a long time. "Is the film finished yet?!" is something I get asked a lot and yes, it does annoy me a bit on one hand but on the other, it makes me feel good because the interest is still there and not only has that interest been ever present but it keeps on growing and growing and I need that, it helps me keep going.

When I started filming in Fiji, I never once thought I'd be here, almost three years later still working on the post-production but there is a very good reason for that. The film is so huge, so ambitious and so complex that to do everything on my own and try and balance it with everyday life and the outside expectations that come with that, is such a monumental task that it could easily send someone over the edge, it almost has in fact, numerous times. I am in the single most difficult period of my life ever whilst doing the single most important professional undertaking of my life ever and I'm doing all the lifting and carrying, the admin, the technical parts and everything which keeps a film moving, alone.

The film will be all the better for the time it has taken to produce however because it's been given time to breathe and to almost take on a life of its own, as I have become more skilled over time, the film has benefited enormously and the biggest help in everything has come from Tourism Fiji. It was Jane West and her associate at the time, Martin Harlow, who pulled the trigger on funding for the film, it is they who believed in the project and most importantly me and it is they who have not once put pressure on its completion. They want to see it as much as anyone and their patience and understanding has been nothing short of astounding and because of that, they will see that patience and belief rewarded ten times over. This could not have been achieved without them and I am eternally grateful.

This seems like a life time ago

Whereas this has very much been a one man job, from the idea, to getting funding and getting out to Fiji, to handling all the media, editing and constructing a feature length film, I always knew (and was enormously excited) that there would come a point where others would be drafted in to help the film go to the next level and I am pleased to say that we are now at that stage and I have not felt this optimistic about the film since I first secured the funding.

So, where are we?

The first cut is done and has, last night, been split into far more manageable segments. When I first saw the almost two hour long timeline, I'll be honest, it intimidated the hell out of me because I need to grade the whole thing, add vfx where needed, I need to construct a soundtrack and do all the things which make it come alive. I also finished the voiceover script this weekend. Narrative for the film comes primarily from conversational, organic interviews but there is an element of scripted content and that has been a big job, ensuring the mood is just right, it sounds natural and engaging and ties everything together as it should.

In splitting the timeline into chunks I am able to concentrate on smaller parts and refine them, grade them separately and it helps enormously in deciding upon the music, all of which streamlines efficiency.

As I said above, I am also enlisting the help of some ridiculously talented and passionate people who will help elevate this film above what I could achieve doing it all myself so here's a little rundown of who is involved and in what:

Music:
Musically the film will sound like no other shark film. I don't have the BBC Philharmonic so trying to compete with them is a waste of time, plus, it's not really the mood I want, there will be no percussion heavy techno and no "Arabic wailing music," not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just not where I want to go. Currently I have Hip-Hop producers, Rock Musicians, Electro Producers, Ambient Producers, Avant Garde Composers, Pianists and of course myself, all of whom are contributing to the soundtrack. It's varied, evocative and will be of an immensely high quality coming from both UK and US based talent. At this exact moment in time, as I type this, I am going through a huge list of tracks and am receiving more on a daily basis. expect a Soundtrack to be available as a crowdfund perk or to be available to buy when the film is released.

Sound Design:
A huge job being handled by a talent as equally huge in US based Producer and Sound Design Artist, David Lawrie. I have been very exacting in what I want and suggested a ton of things I want to incorporate and his creativity, talent and total understanding of what I want is very impressive. David is working on Sound Design as we speak.

Colour Correction, Grade and Look Build:
I am doing this myself and it will start in the coming weeks, as soon as I have settled on any refinements to the edit. The look will be stylistic, cinematic and specifically designed to augment the footage. The last Teaser Trailer is a good reference point to how the film will look when it's finished.



Branding &Marketing:
This is a major part of any film as it creates the identity and mood of a film for an audience yet to see it. It also ensures that you the audience, get the most out of your experience before, during and after you actually see the film.

I have enlisted the excellent EDNA who will handle everything from branding, logo design, poster and cover art, merch design, a centralised movie specific website which will feature everything OSAM related, the focused marketing campaigns and it is they who will also be producing the warts and all full "Making Of" story of the film.I still need to raise the funds for this so if you are part of a company or organisation which you feel could benefit from advertising gained through a staggered sponsorship scheme on the site where absolutely everything film related will be hosted, please do get in touch. It's a small amount of money with a potentially huge audience and a great deal of goodwill for you to reach! david@scarletviewmedia.com

Graphics and Title Sequence:
This is something I have been sweating about for ages, I really wanted a jaw droppingly good intro title sequence and it was something I knew I wanted external help with so to say I am over the moon about getting the person I have to help, is a massive understatement. No names yet but he is an industry leading graphic designer and motion effects artist who has worked for some enormous clients including the BBC and Gorillaz and we are on completely the same page as to what we want. I wanted the film to come in with a bang and with this guy involved, that's pretty much guaranteed! The work on this will start in the coming weeks.

Crowdfunding Campaign:
This will start as soon as all the branding is in place and will have some pretty awesome perks involved. The sole reason for the campaign is to raise the funds needed to give the film a proper release and to ultimately achieve international distribution. The money raised will go towards covering Festival costs, screenings, prints of the film, paying for the very small amount of footage I have had to get from outside sources (i.e. footage we couldn't shoot in Fiji), promotional events, legal costs, documentation and everything needed to get a film out in to the wild.

There will be one more trailer coming, an official, full trailer which will be the official advertising to the world that the film is done and ready to go, so full look, sound, music, everything.


This time in my life is as equally difficult as it is exciting and having put every fibre of my being into it, will either make or break me, the very message carried by the film, one of positivity, belief and love has been permeated by heart breaking difficulties and upheavals throughout the last three years. The highs and lows have been ingested by a project which has pushed me to the absolute brink, all because I want to do something different and primarily, because I believe in the pro-shark message the film carries so much and to know I am reaching the point where all this work will be put out to you, is both exhilarating and terrifying. To now have a clear idea of how the finished film will look, feel and sound makes me immensely proud but then, it's out of my control and over to you. With your support this film and its heavily pro-shark message will be a success, so please, if you dig the idea, the concept or just sharks in general, let me know how you can support this film.









Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Sharon Burden Speaks Out - Has The Anti-Cull Movement Finally Found Its Spokesperson?



 

I've been a little concerned of late that the anti-cull movement in Western Australia was in danger of turning into a bit of a circus, too many people seeing it as an opportunity to create or further careers, too many hangers on looking for a bit of the media spotlight and then the all too predictable and equally repulsive news that Chris Boyd's girlfriend had received threats from the rabid and oh so terribly brave keyboard commandos who worship at the alter of the PETA's and self appointed sharktivist Svengalis of this world. It looked like it was in real jeopardy of unravelling completely.

Then I saw this, Sharon Burden's address at an anti-cull rally which is everything you wish for in a rallying call for sense and reason. Ms Burden is erudite, articulate, passionate, intelligent and honest and her fifteen minute speech is both moving and inspiring.

I have for a while now, thought that the anti-cull movement needed that one spokesperson, the focal point of the issue to whom the wider public could look to and with whom they could relate and engage and although I am sure Sharon Burden may not want that level of attention, she would, hearing her speak, be the obvious choice. If she were to decide, understandably that this were a role she would not want, then this video of her address would serve as an ideal alternative.

Also to counterbalance my opening paragraph, whilst I and many others have some concerns over the anti-cull protests, for  the most part, in fact, the overwhelming majority of the protest, has been really quite inspiring and well handled, especially those beach rallies. It's also worth noting the efforts in South Africa to organise a protest there to coincide with Barnett's visit. Well done Sharon!

I and all other lovers of sharks and the ocean will continue to stand with those protesting this archaic and pointless throwback to the 1970's. Keep up the good work.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Of Shark and Man Update - Sound Design Has Begun!

 The almighty task begins...David Lawrie hard at work

Today was a bit of a milestone in the production for Of Shark and Man, in fact, so was Tuesday because on Tuesday, the final clips went into the timeline of the first edit, in simple terms, for the first time ever, I can watch the film start to finish without any gaps! Pick up shots were filmed last week (thanks for your help Olli!) and I received the small handful of stock clips I need to accompany a small part of the film we simply couldn't shoot in Fiji (thanks Duncan and Jillian!) All this means that "editing" now makes way for the part of post production I really enjoy the most, making that edit come alive!

So, back to today, well, today saw the first day of active work on the sound design of the film.

What is Sound Design I hear you ask? "Sound Design" is the process of creating what the film sounds like, from ambient, environmental sounds, to recreating incidental sounds which can't be recorded in the moment, mixing the films audio, cleaning everything up so it hits that "broadcast" standard and as I said above, ensuring what you see is augmented and brought to life by what you hear.

The Sound Design is enormously important in a film but is something which in modern times has been largely ignored, or at least treated as an afterthought by factual "documentary" based film-makers, of course there are sounds and sound effects but the artistry in creating an audio landscape which tells a story in itself seems to be a rare commodity in factual film, outside of the BBC and the theatrical IMAX releases of course. It's not a criticism that it's not there, it's just not really seen as a necessity outside of the fictional realm which is fine but from the outset, I always wanted Of Shark and Man to have a ridiculously ambitious and detailed audio identity, it would be another aspect of ensuring this entire project is as good as it deserves to be and if your film looks great, sounds great and has a great story, then you stand a much better chance of it being a success but primarily, the motivation has been to approach the crafting of the film in the traditional sense in that it should be treated lovingly, respected and allowed to grow, almost organically into the film it deserves to be. I appreciate how pretentious and wanky that sounds but it is what it is, the art of film-making, like music, fine art, architecture, cuisine etc is a craft which deserves to be respected.



I recommend you take ten minutes to watch this brilliant little look at the sound design on "Monsters University" as it gives an insight into the kind of sound design I am talking about, layer upon layer of sound that fills the areas around the viewer to create the world in which I am asking you to join me, the idea being a truly immersive experience that is not just a visual feast but one which envelops all your senses.

The idea is create the kind of sound design that the big budget productions have, there's no point setting your sights low after all and given my almost OCD level of obsession for every single tiny little detail, that is a huge task and not a task I can do to the level I want so, enter the incredibly talented David Lawrie. David is a professional musician, artist and producer with a serious level of ability in this field and I am absolutely delighted to have him on board.

We spent most of today going through the concepts for the sound design I have in my head, some of which are very specific and quite avant garde and what really gave me a buzz was that he is on exactly the same page, even making some sounds on the spot for me which I had tried my best to articulate, but far exceeded what I had in mind. I am of the belief that every texture of each sound has to have a reason for being what it is, it must be descriptive and emotive but mustn't become overbearing. The art of sound design is complex and distinct in that it relies on the obsessive attention to every detail in each shot and the themes of the film, not only that, but also the underlying sub-text and depth that creates the subconscious bind between film-maker and audience.

I'm starting to sound like a bit of a chin stroker I'm aware of that but I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's really important to me that all of you who watch the film get the absolute maximum bang for your buck and to feel like you are right there with me on this journey every step of the way. The single thing which lets low budget films down more than anything, is bad sound. Muffled voice overs, badly edited audio tracks and no environmental ambiance. The sound on the cut as is, is already pretty good but with David on board, I know it's going to go through the roof quality-wise.

I'm not going to give away any secrets or any conceptual elements but the sound design will be featured in detail in the "making of" documentary so you will get a really in-depth and detailed look at the process. What I heard today though makes me confident it is going to be pretty incredible. You will get your first glimpse into the completed sound design and look of the film when the official trailer is released sometime in the next couple of months.

Once again I am reminded how lucky I am to have so many talented friends and people who believe in this project. When I started out all that time ago, I could never have imagined where this film would take me on my own creative journey and right now, I have never been more excited.