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SDM's Web Journal ...

January 30, 2007
I was at Rustys office today filming more clips for the shows. I think I understand why movies and some of these network TV shows cost so much to create, there is so much work involved and so many people doing so many things. But then again, money isn't everything, because I have seen some monster budgeted films that were terrible, and not even watchable. I guess I need to be cautious of my criticisms because we are about to release our show, and it may suck royally. But even though we filmed it all on a shoe string budget, we did it right. From the camera work, to the original music being written up, to the amazing editing. We have been very careful, and I have a great team that is really putting their heart and soul into this project, so I know it will be good. (bold, but true.)

Another thing that has helped (or hurt, not sure yet!) is I am very picky about the look and feel of the show. I keep asking to change it and refining it. Much to my editing teams frustrations. I stay out of their way creatively, but I do stick my two cents in when it comes to story flow and story line. It is so important that we get this right so that we tell a good story, and we excite you and get you all pumped up with the shark footage. If your a Shark Diver, you're going to wish you were there with us, or you're going to want to grab your gear and go sharkin'. Of course if your not a Shark Diver, your either going to want to be, or you'll be scared, because it really is an emotional overload, or your going to be amazed by these seemingly crazy guys in the water.

Mag Notes;
I also got the last article from Australia, for issue # 14 in the mail today. Nigel Marsh sent it the images for his story, which are awesome. It's a new species for you all to read about...The Colcloughs Shark. I was going to do a two page spread for it, but the images are really good so I am adding an additional page, so I can have a little creative freedom and publish more pics for you all.

SDM also has a page on My Space. Yes we have joined the growing army of people who use this site for both hanging out and marketing. It started out as kind of my personal page to talk back and forth with some of my high school buddies, but it evolved into the mag site. So if you visit it, it is sort of a mix of both...

January 29, 2007
I had a meeting saturday morning with a marketing team about the show. They are working out our marketing schedule and some of the places it will be aired this year. We also discussed more ideas for promoting the show. Which means I need to go back on the PR trail. We had started to do a bunch of PR stuff last year, but it got too time consuming, and at the time we were working out ideas for the show and what it was going to look and feel like. So my attention was diverted to that. Now that the show has a pulse and a life of its own, I can go back on the PR trail, to get some exposure for what we are doing.

I did not work on issue 14 at all this weekend. Saturday was spent at the meeting in the morning, and then I spent the day with my family. hanging out with the wife and kids. (Way more important than anything in my life.) And on Sunday, I spent all day working on the show. Getting it ready for another viewing by the big boys. Another network meeting. I turned my computer on at 12 Noon and did not turn it off till after 11 PM. I had to go through episode one and tighten it up. Currently the show was too long for a 30 minute show. I had to chip off about 3 minutes worth of footage. And it is not easy trying to cut that much time off an already short show. But it was needed.

To tell a real good story, you need it to be short and tight. Long winded stories will put anybody to sleep. A real good writer friend of mine first gave me that advice when he began editing some of our magazine articles for me. He is a very good writer, and a very hard editor. He does not sugar coat anything he says. He once said after reading one of the articles I sent him, "trying to make this a good story, was like trying to shine shit." So anyway, I took those same principals and I am applying them to the show. We need to be short, fun, hard, and to the point, so that we don't bore you and you don't change the channel on us.

I really can't wait for you all to see the show, I am really proud of it. At the Houston Scuba Show this coming March we will have a trailer for episode one at a booth we will be sharing with Kickady Scuba. They are sponsoring us this year, so we will be there to say hi and pass out mags, and hang out with some old friends. Its going to be fun. There is going to be a plasma screen up so we will have the trailers there looping. We also will have a few more clips up to show you all, just to get you all pumped up about the show and to go diving!

January 23, 2007
I am heading out to Rusty Armstrong's editing studio tomorrow, we need to film some pick ups for the show. So he set up an area to shoot everything we need in the building. We are filming a reality show and so much of it is us out on the road doing our thing as we film the experience. But when ever there is some missing piece of information from the show, we need to set up the camera and film it.

I am glad we are filming it there because it will give me an opportunity to check on the the shows progress. They bring me rough cut DVD's every other week to show me where they are at with each show, and then we go through the footage together and I can give them my opinions on certain scenes. If I think its good, or if the scene sucks and needs to be cut from the show. But its been a while since I have been to their studio, and it would be good to sit down and talk about the project without any distractions.

I am really happy with the team I have picked. Everyone loves what they do, and everyone is putting their heart and soul into this project. When you surround yourself with that kind of positive energy, you can't help but get charged up also. There are so many things in this business that I have no control over, and when it gets over whelming, I can always go to my team for support, and I will find it.

I have this sign that hangs over my desk that says; "No one ever wins alone."

January 22, 2007
I had a very good day today. I talked to TJ of Equinox Housings and he is going to customize our housings for us. Yep, my Shiela and Big Bertha are both going to get face lifts for the 2007 season. After spending all of 2006 filming with them, we discovered a few things that we wanted improved so we can continue filming with them throughout 07'. (Picture above is me and Shiela in action). So TJ asked me to send them back and he would make all the alterations for us. I will gladly send them back, but I am having seperation issues with Shiela. I am just having trouble letting her go...

I spent all of 2006 filming with her. And when I wasn't filming with her, I was tinkering with her. Here she sits quietly by my desk, waiting for me to take her out again. She is there at a moments notice if I need her. If I were to get a call tomorrow from my buddy shark photographer, Paul Spielvogel that the Gulf is flat and he's got a boat, I could just grab her and go. But if I send her off and she is sitting in some factory warehouse, collecting dust on some techies service table, waiting for him to put his dirty hands on her (ok, maybe I do have a problem) I will have no camera to use. If and when I get the call from Paul, and she is not here, I am screwed. So far the weather has been really bad and I haven't had much cause to get out there to dive, but I am waiting; watching weather bouy reports, and wind speeds and weekly weather forcasts. I feel like I am surfing, not shark diving.

It's so much fun here at SDM, now that we are spending our free time diving in uncharted waters. We get to study maps and plan out new locations to try out. We spend time talking to the local fishermen, asking them where they have had fish stolen by sharks from their lines. What is exciting is that we are diving in areas where no one has ever dove before. So we are really getting to do 'First Descents!' In time, we may be able to name some new spots... And its great because you never know what kind of sharks you're going to find. We spent the day chumming an area known for blacktip sharks. The fishermen swore up and down that we would be able to find them here, and we ended up top water diving with a mako shark. With the ocean and uncharted waters, you just never know what your going to get. Now I am all fired up to go diving again. Maybe... I can get TJ to fly down here and fix her up at our home office? It's a long shot, but the answer is no if you don't ask...

January, 21, 2007
I have been editing issue # 14 this weekend. As I was going through the stories, I realized that I haven't been writing stories about my own adventures anymore. I know I write up things in my journal about the entire experience, but not about any particular dive like I had in the past. Sometimes when I am diving, I can see the story unfold as I am in the water. I will be swimming along searching for say... angel sharks and the story starts unfolding as I am experiencing it. And by the time I get out of the water the story has been written. But this year, I have not been writing them down anymore. By the time I get the opportunity to sit in front of my laptop, the angel shark story has been cut down to a couple of paragraphs in my journal entry. The story I write becomes my entire day. I write about the people I have met, and what we went through to get to the dive site, and what we did to capture the real experience of life as a Shark Diver. When I finally get to the part where I see another species of shark, and how I filmed it, I keep it short and simple. And thats pretty much it, I don't go into the experience of the dives like I used to.

It is good and bad I guess. It's good that I am documenting more of what is happening to us and this life we lead, and the entire adventure. But its bad because I am missing the details of a special moment in time underwater. I am never going to get back that day, or that encounter. It is unique, and different everytime. I really do like looking back at my adventures and rereading them. Its fun. Writing about those moments is what I always encourage everyone to do.

Keep a journal, and every once in a while open it up and see where you came from and how far you've gone. I can look back at my beginnings and I have a record account of the very first time I penciled the idea for a shark magazine (Sept. 2002). I was sitting out side my house writing up some thoughts, and it went from just random ideas, to some scribblings for a magazine.

The same is true for our TV show. I wanted to document our very first Chasing Sharks adventure. In fact, we did document it. But there was no real plan and the video really sucked, so I canned the project. I still have the scribblings from that time as well.

Our Show
I made a very big decision. I decided to air our pilot episode on our website this year. I am still not 100% sure of the date yet. But it will probably be May or June. I want everyone who has been following our project and our activities to at least see what we have been talking about for so very long. In 2006 we had around 200,000 people visit our website, so I know there is alot of interested people. Its cool. Now, I am not sure if the other 5 episodes will air on-line, but for sure episode 1 will. And at the end of the year we will be looking to put them all on a DVD for you. With plenty of behind the scenes footage. Its late and I am tired... more later

January 19, 2007
I remember a discussion I had with one of our contributors from the early days. I ran into him at a Dive Show. He told me that because I was not using his and a couple of his buddies images and articles anymore that our magazine was going to go down hill. That it would not be the same quality mag anymore. I listened to what he said and just nodded politely, just to be agreeable. What was I supposed to say? You are right, without your images our magazine is going to suck. I remember listening to him, then picking up our latest copy at the time and handing it to him. This issue did not have his stuff in it. I just watched his face as he critiqued it. He just thumbed through it, put it back down on the table and said, well I got to run, take care.

The reason I brought that story up was that I got a disk in the mail today from my good friend, Jimmy Hall of Hawaii Shark Encounters. When I opened up the disk and saw the images he sent me, I was just blown away. Beautiful, was all I could say. That, and damn I wish I was there. I saw the images and it reminded me of why I started this magazine in the first place for. I created the magazine because I wanted to show hard core shark divers doing what they loved. Livin the life that they dreamed up. That is what this mag is all about, shark diving, and the Shark Diver Lifestyle. I called up Jimmy and told him I wanted to write up another piece on his op and these images he sent me. He got all pumped up and we began talking shark and we started talking about all the different adventures we both are planning out this year. I hung up the phone on fire to go diving again. His article was not slated for issue 14 but I bumped a story and pushed it into issue 15. The images for Jimmy's article are some of the craziest images I will have ever published. I am sure some people will be bothered by the images, because they do push beyond the confort zone. In fact my wife took one look at them and told me we were going too far with this hard core concept. I remarked that shark diving is a hard core sport and I really want to show this side of the sport because it's real and people out there are living it.

I also talked to Jimmy about going out there to film his sharks as well. Sandbar and Galapagos sharks. Two new species to add to the list, plus it's a shot to hop on over to Kona and try and find oceanic whitetips. When I told my team that Hawaii was on our shooting list this year, they got all pumped up. It was thumbs up and cheers from the crew. I also told them we were going back to California to find the sharks we did not film in 2006. Again thumbs up across the board. I then mentioned Fiji; this time they were singing praises to me. I mentioned Alaska and Canada, and the room sort of went silent, as they began pondering water temperatures, and air temperatures. Not to mention big rolling seas, and murky water with big aggressive sharks. I don't know if salmon sharks are really that aggressive, but if they act anything like their close cousins, mako sharks. It should get pretty interesting.

Either way, with the locations we have chosen, season II of Chasing Sharks should be a lot of fun, with some amazing shark footage.

January 18, 2007
I found my cover shot for issue # 14! It was a major struggle to find it. I was very unhappy with most of the images I have seen and I wanted something that would blow peoples minds. And this image will. I won't talk about it, nor will I show anyone the image until the mag comes out. No one is going to know what image I am going to use. Not even the photographer who shot it...Well maybe he will know, maybe. We also have a new contributor coming out in the next issue. He is from Australia and has documented and written up articles on some of the local shark species from the area. I am excited about having shark photographer, Nigel Marsh come on board. It will keep our magazine fresh and fun. Plus you all will get to see some new and cool shark species. Living vicariously through his eyes.

So we decided to can the first dive/film trip of the year. The weather is totally shot and trying to get out there is just too risky. I talked to shark photographer, Andy Murch yesterday. He had just arrived in Houston from Canada. We were planning on diving together but since the trip was shot, he is trying to push the second leg of his adventure forward. He is heading off to Guatamala, or something, to hang out with the local shark fisherman, and document the rare sharks they are bringing in. It sounds like a wild adventure and an interesting subject to document. I would love to go, but I am stuck here working on our TV series. Talking it out with the cable networks, as we seek out our home for the show.

I sent out our newsletter yesterday afternoon and so far the response I have gotten has been great. I was hoping it would strike a nerve. So many people take life for granted, and do nothing with their time here on earth. Then when they get the tragic news that their time is running out, they freak out and start wishing they had spent their lives differently. Wishing they had done more with it. I have seen and heard that so many times, it is such a waste. Sometimes I feel like the newsletters I send out feel like broken records, repeating the same message over and over again... but the more I get to know people, the more I feel it is needed. People need to be bashed over the head with messages like - "Get off your ass, and live your life!" Turn that damn TV off and go somewhere, anywhere. Do great things, so when you are on your death bed you can reflect back on a life well lived. Do things that will inspire the people around you to live a better life!

Anyway that's what I really feel like saying sometimes. But you just can't say those things in a newsletter. Its way to blunt. But I can say them here. Have a great day everyone!

Dive Hard!
Eli Martinez

January 16, 2007
Well our first dive was smashed by the cold front. Damn it. We are still hoping to find a window this weekend but it does not look good right now. If we can get out there, it will be a cold, cold dive. But if we find sharks, it won't matter, the cold will be forgotten. Plus it is good training for our Alaska and Canada dives we have planned this year. Salmon sharks and sixgills! If I can handle the cold here, then I will do all right once we hit the freezing North country.

The show is moving along nicely. More red tape and politics when it comes to the TV end of things, but our crew thats busy in the editing room are really kicking butt. We have ironed out episode 2, and drafted up episode 3. The stories are there, and so is the shark footage. In fact the shark footage is insane. The hard part for us is finding out exactly how much shark footage to put in, as well as how much story to have in there. There is a very fine line between story and shark footage, and we need to have that balance. Telling a good story is an art form. If you have too much shark footage then you lose that edge of excitement and you can make something that is intense and exciting, very boring. And if you tell too much story, people will turn you right off. So timing is the key to all this. I think after we put episode 3 to rest, we will have our formula down and the last 3 episodes will be just fine.

The plan now is to get the show on the air. If we go with a major cable network, we will have to wait till 2008 to get our show aired, but if we go with local network affiliates, we can buy the air time and start airing our series as early as March or April of this year. The problem with this is someone somewhere will not get access to our show. Weather it be someone without cable access in the US, or someone over seas who has been following what we have been doing. So I am going through some major turmoil with how to go about all this. Yes we want to get on National television, its important for exposure, but I also want our many readers that are on the other side of the world to have access to the show. Our readers are why we created this series in the first place. So somehow, someway I am going to include both into the mix. We will somehow incorporate out show onto the world wide web, so that all our friends and readers will be able to watch the show. Its all about you guys, it always has been!

I will keep you posted...

January 12, 2007
A cold front is threatening our first shoot of the year for us, but we did schedule five days for this just in case this happened. I am hoping that is enough. The film crew that was going to follow our film crew decided to postpone filming us for that reason. They did not like the idea of being on a small boat in 3-4' rolling seas all day. Thats the norm for us, but they are land lovers, and it was too much adventure. I am just happy to get back into the water and seeking out sharks.

We are going out to an area known for blacktips and silky sharks, but January in the Gulf of Mexico is also a great time for scalloped hammerhead sharks, whihc is why we are headed out there. I have never seen ascalloped hammer in the wild so I am very excited about it. I hope we get to see one, but like on all my adventures, I just hope we get to see any sharks.

Next newsletter will be from the trenches!

Eli Martinez

January 5, 2007
I had a meeting today with a local cable company that has an in house production company. They are asking to do a short documentary on us. They want to follow us around for a day, sort of a behind the scenes look at what life is like for a profesional Shark Diver. So I began telling them about our first film shoot of the year in the Gulf of Mexico. Now they want to tag along and film the whole thing. I kind of found it a little wierd. A film crew, filming a film crew, filming a reality show. It sounds funny when you say it that way, but it sounds like fun. I still need to check into the lagistics of it all and see if we have room on the boat and such for extra camera people, but we will see.

I also got to see the first rough draft of episode 2 today. It was good. It was very rough and needs to be shortened and tightened up, but the story is there.I will spend this weekend cutting out all the clips that I feel do not support the story, as well as find the gaps in our story so that it flows better. Either way it is going to be a busy weekend for me. As is, episode 2 is 25 minute long, and it needs to be from end to end, no more than 22 minutes including credits, and that is because we did not have any of the underwater shark action in it yet. So now imagine how much of the story clips that still need to be edited out! Its going to be a long weekend.

January 4, 2007
Happy New Year everyone! I hope your 2006 was an exciting one. It was a busy one for us, and it is hard to believe it is over and we are now in 2007. It went by with such a blur. But it is cool because a new year means that a new shark diving season has begun. Our film crew is less than two weeks away from our first film shoot for season 2. We are headed out to a spot near the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico to seek out scalloped hammerhead sharks, and close up encounters with some of those big schools of blacktip sharks. Weather permitting of course (the Gulf is so moody)

Now I know what your thinking, "how can we be filming season 2, no one has seen season 1 yet?" Well the reason why is that we are still editing season 1, and currently the way things look it will be January of 2008 before the public will actually get to see it. Along the way we found out how the TV world works, at least the way it was explained to us; 'we filmed our 6 episode show in 2006, edit it in 2007, and air it in 2008.' The place where we will air our show is still in the negotiating phase of things and it is bad luck to discuss it, so I will just pass this part by as if I did not mention things to you all.

So anyway we will be out trying to find scalloped hammerheads and blacktips out in the Gulf. If we can get the scalloped hammers to come in then we will be topwater diving with them. No scuba, only snorkel. It is funny how people have responded to us this year when we mention topwater diving with sharks. Most just don't get it, I mean they got into scuba to slap on tanks and drop down and breath and see what the fishies see. And snorkeling is for the non-diver, or the tourist who does not dive. Snorkelers are those guys that are stuck at the surface watching the real divers who are down on the reef swimming around, right? Wrong, topwater diving is insane and is one of the best ways to get near even the most skittish sharks.

This year we spent hours filming sharks while topwater diving, and the interaction is beyond insane. All our best film footage for the show is while we are on snorkel. It is intense, hardcore, scary diving. The few times that we had to leave the water because the sharks got too crazy is while we have been topwater diving. As you can tell I am hooked on it. Of course I started out like most divers, I did not want to go on snorkel, I wanted to be on scuba. Hey I am a diver, not a snorkeler! I did not want to lower myself to going back on snorkel. But I was forced to a few times. But the more I did it, the closer the sharks came, and the wilder the encounters got, till I really do not like using scuba tanks anymore. I still do of course, but only when the occation calls for it. Now it is all about the skill of diving and how long can you hold your breath for till you get the shot you want, and how many times will the shark bump your camera before you need to replace the dome port lense. Its just cool.

I kind of lost track as to what I was talking about when I started this blog. So be it, I guess I just felt like rambling. Anyway, welcome to 2007...Dive Hard!

Eli Martinez

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