SDM JOURNAL FOR...
October 29, 2008
Another month is almost gone, and times are changing. Lets hope that the next president of the US has more of a green thumb, and will not only do more to protect sharks but the rest of the natural earth... because we are running out of time. All of us are. Especially our beloved animals, who knows what fate is left to the remaining mountain gorillas in the Congo?
I could go deeper into the political race, but I am not. In fact one of the main reasons I got into diving was to avoid all politics. Ha, I was wrong. There is so much politics in the world of scuba diving, so much. And it really is old school vs. new school. The old school thinkers still believe sharks are bad. I'll give you an example, we were speaking to one of the lead manufacturers about gear sponsorship. They of course wanted to know how many eyes were going to see their product, a typical but understandable question. I told them that not only were they going to get exposure via our mag and web, but also on National TV. Both Discovery sharkweek audiences and Animal Planet (this was right before our Animal Planet shoot, where I was co-hosting the show). Millions of people would potentially see their gear.
They said it sounded good, so they went back and had meetings and one of their guys said well that sounds good, but... we are really concerned about showing our gear next to sharks. I am thinking, "what the f#@*... Your kidding right?" They were not. They were worried that we would put their diving gear on and go diving with sharks. I couldn't believe it, I had to ask why they even bothered talking to us in the first place? No response- I guess they imagined we only talked about swimming with sharks... maybe they thought we were like the other dive mags (oops, more politics)?
Ok, enough ranting, I am going back to the finishing touches on the next mag, and finalize plans for our upcoming tiger shark diving trip!
see you out there!
October 21, 2008
I am not going to the DEMA show in Vegas this year. For those of you who do not know what DEMA is. It is the diving industries yearly trade show. I decided to skip it this year, which is the first time in 6 years that I will not be at the show. It was tough to decide not to go on my part, because the parties and hanging out with my shark diving friends is so much fun. Of course I will see them out there on the road, sometime during our travels.
The reason I am not going is I have an obligation that I just can't miss this weekend so DEMA is out. However, now that DEMA is here, and I know what is going on, I feel terrible. All those very cool shark people, talking shark, and sharing beers and laughing and planning out the 2009 shark diving season... and I am going to miss it. Shit, maybe I will sneak in a day out there. We will see!
For right now, I am in the heat of finishing issue # 19, and as I am laying out this issue, I am 100% in love with the way this mag looks and feels and damn I am excited about getting it into your hands. I am very proud of this issue and I think when you read it, you all will think just as I do, that this is one of our better (if not the best) issues we have ever put out. More about the new issue later, going back to work..
October 17, 2008
Issue 19 is moving along at a trot now. Most of the stories are finished, and I know you all are going to be totally blown away with the images in this issue. I can't wait to get the feed back for this mag from you all. Today I was struggling to find something cool to write in my blog. I have already talked up this issue enough. So I decided to give you all a sneak peek at the new cover. The image was shot by new cover boy, Felipe Barrio. I was going to make you wait till we began shipping, but what the hell...The mag is still a few weeks away from being ready, and like I have said in the past, once I pick and create the cover the rest of the mags energy just flows...
So without further adu'...
(dramatic music fills the back ground)
":I present to you - the cover for Issue 19! "
Have a good weekend everyone!
October 15, 2008
I forgot to mention to everyone that I was on a radio show on KPFT-FM, in Houston, TX. The show was called the 'Scuba Bob's Ocean Quest' radio show. It was live on the web the day we recorded it, and I was going to let people know about it before hand, but the show was rescheduled, so I was not able to let people know in time. It was a fun interview with me and the host, Scuba Bob, (Robert Knapick) talking about sharks and the state of the ocean. The interview is almost an hour long, so make sure you have some free time if you want to listen in, or you can download the interview and listen to it later. Just click here
, to get to their website and scroll down to the entry entitled, 'Open Journal',
show date; Wednesday, October 8, 2008 12:00 pm.
October 14, 2008
This weekend was great for sharkin! Stuart Cove
offers an amazing shark dive on Nassau island in the Bahamas. It is just as sharky as I remember it. Again this dive was the first organized shark dive I experienced, back some 10 years ago. 40 plus reef sharks swimming around in a competitive feeding situation is always awe inspiring.
This dive is just a hard core shark dive. its intense...
We arrived in Nassau on Saturday morning and Stuart's bus picked us up at the dock. When we got to the dive shop, Stuart was there waiting for us, we said hi and talked for a short while, catching up on things-film work, sharks and diving politics. He was on his way to Florida for the weekend so he did not have much time to visit with me. He introduced me to the dive staff, and the lead shark feeder. Stuart told them to give me and SDM shooter, Paul Spielvogel freedom on the dive. Which was awesome, that meant we could get right in the mud, inches from the action.
Owner Stuart Cove, of Stuart Cove Dive Adventures. He has carved a niche as the go-to guy for diving in the film industry. And very deserving as well.
Stuart also provided us with some chainmail sleeves just in case the sharks got a little too frisky, which of course when you have that many sharks competing for scraps, they do. We did not have any incidents, but just having those sleeves on gives you some confidence to get deeper into the action.
The action. Here you can see a reef shark accidentally biting another shark on the head, trying to get the food.
The action was intense. I experienced this dive, something like 10 years ago, when I was green, and I remember it being pretty scary. I had a few moments where I felt like bolting to the surface, but self control got the better of me, and I stayed for the whole dive. This time though it was just a fun dive, it felt like a home coming for me. The sharks were not scary, but when your just a few inches away from sharks that are snapping wildly for scraps you do have to give them some respect. They bit the feeder a couple of times, of course he was in full chain mail, so all he felt was strong pressure on his limbs, nothing serious.
So many sharks on this dive. Its crazy.
The feeder said the sharks were more amped up today, acting more aggressive then they normally do and were a bit bitey. I believe it is because me and Paul were right there next to the feeder, something the sharks are not used to dealing with. Stuart does this dive everyday, so the sharks have developed normal habits when it's feeding time. We disrupted their routine, so they were a bit more nervous and anxious. Probably thinking we were there competing for their food.
A good day in the water... I'm going back!
We ended the dive and headed back in. I was pretty happy with the shots Paul captured for the mag, and it was great reliving this blast from the past. I am looking forward to going back. This time with my HD camera in tow.
A huge thanks to Stuart and his crew for an amazing day in the water.
October 7, 2008
The sharks are calling, so I am going sharkin' this weekend! It has been a while since I have been in the water, my last dive was on the Animal Planet shoot, so this weekend seems like a good time to go. I am taking my wife on a cruise this weekend, and the ship stops for a full day on Nassau Island, in the Bahamas. SDM shooter, Paul Spielvogel invited us to join him and his friends for a weekend Bahamian cruise, and I said yes. My wife was in need of some R&R, and I need to spend some time relaxing with her as well. It has been a long busy year for me and she has been great about it.
But you can't go to Nassau Island, and not go shark diving. That would be rude. So I sent an email to my good friend Stuart Cove and told him I was coming out. He said he would be happy to pick us up at the harbor and take us out to play with his sharks. Paul is bringing his camera, so we can document the adventure.
This is where it all began for me...
Nassau Island is my birth place. This is the location of my very first organized shark dive. It was right after the experience I had there, that I wanted to go shark diving for the rest of my life. I know I often say it was the first time I saw a shark, which was in Cozumel, MX. However, that experience made me want to see more sharks. Which is what I did. After seeing that shark in MX, I went home and started searching for places to see sharks. I found out about Stuart Cove's shark dive, and I booked it straight away. My trip to Nassau was a magical life changing experience. When I left the island, I was hooked on traveling and adventures and diving with sharks. It was an amazing time, and I am excited about going back. More about the adventure in issue 19.
I met Stuart at a diving trade show a few years back. We both new about each other but that was it. When we ran into each other, it was sort of a polite, "hi I am Eli," and a "hi I am Stuart," that was about it. Then last December Stuart was on the trip when we were filming the Gurney Productions, Surviving Sharks episode for Discovery's SharkWeek. In the evening, Me and Stuart hung out and talked sharks, family, films and such. We spent the day working with each other in the water, and at the end of our time together, I developed a respect for the guy. He's straight up, friendly and pretty humble. I am looking forward to sharing time with him this weekend.
October 6, 2008
All is back to normal here at SDM. The high is gone from our screening success, and is now another great memory to visit with every once in a while. Although next year will be full of movie nights, the one we just experienced is special. Maybe because its the first, and also because it was with family and friends.
On Friday Rusty came by the office to say hi. This was our first sit down together after our screening. We talked about the details of it, and it was neat how we each took in different things. At the end of our film we handed out a card and we asked everyone to fill it out, basically what the card said was, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being great.What did you think of our movie? We also asked for comments or suggestions. We did not want names, so we could get an honest opinion. We told everyone that it was important that they be as honest as possible so that we could make any changes to improve the film. On a 5 star rating card, we were given 41/2 stars, which was exciting. And what was really cool was this was not a shark diving crowd. Which was a real test to me, because shark divers are going to watch it because of all the shark action, but non-divers will want a story, and we gave them one. It was exciting.
During the film, I also was watching for consession stand activity. The theater sold alcohol, so it was a good excuse as any to leave your seat if the movie sucked to go and grab a drink or popcorn, just to kill time till the movie ended. But the lobby was virtually empty, and their sales dropped to almost nothing. People were glued to their seats, which is a good sign that we made something pretty good.
It was funny, Rusty told me that he walked into his office the following morning after the event, and was alone in his office, Steve is still not back yet. He sat behind his computer, thinking... 'this sucks.' After the craziness of our screening the night before, he was still on that high, so to go back to his quiet office was a snap back into the realities of life as a film maker. Its years of lonely work, and so very few nights of any glory. 2009 is going to be an interesting year!
October 1, 2008
I am still on my high! What an amazing night. Before I begin the details of the event I want to say thanks to everyone who came out to support us; family, friends, and friends of friends. Thank you for being there and sharing this very special night with us Tonite you made this film officially a film!
Outside the theater. It was cool seeing our name up on the marquee.
We had an amazing turnout to the event. Over 200 people showed up to show their support for us, which was beyond our expectations. Realistically I thought that maybe we would have between 50-100 people show up. It was a Tuesday night and people have work and kids have school, so I figured our head count to be a modest number. We were pleasantly surprised when we were looking around to see so many people show up.
Me, director - Rusty Armstrong, u/w cameraman - Rafa Flores, SDM shooter - Paul Spielvogel, and Michael Pavon, (Steve's brother -Steve could not make it to the event, his wife went into labor the night before, so he stayed at the hospital with her.). We got to the event early to greet any arrivals and take a few snap shots. This was such a special event for us, as this project has been going on for so very long. So to finally have the finished product in our hands and standing at a theater all dressed up was such a great feeling.
A quick shout out to the SOTS crew that were not able to make the event. All these guys contributed to the making of this film. They were missed;
Andy Murch - SDM shooter/ costar in the film.
Steve Pavon - Music editor/cowriter/cameraman/editor
Tyler Ham - Graphics
Pete Oliva - Music
Jason Paul Smith - Musician/composer
Me and Rusty (film director) in front of the theater... A truly happy moment for us! Wish you were here Steve.
Steves brother, Michael filmed the behind the scenes footage for us.
Me and Rafa (u/w cameraman/co-star) lovin every minute of this day
The film was scheduled for 7PM but we waited till about 7:30 to start the film, just to make sure that any late arrivals did not miss too much of the film. The theater sold beer and mixed drinks so most did not mind the wait. At 7:30, me and Rusty grabbed a mic, and went on stage to thank everyone for coming out, and to give them a brief history of our magazine and how this project evolved.
Rusty never gets dolled up, so you know how pumped up he must have been
The audience waiting for the show to start.
We did a general thank you to everyone who had touched or helped this project in any way, shape or form, and then I made the most important thank you of all... I thanked my business partners, whom without them this project, this magazine, and the past 6 years of my life chasing sharks would never have happened. My dad, Johnny Martinez, my brother Johnny Martinez Jr., and my beautiful wife, Marti Martinez. Love you guys!
My business partners... My brother Johnny, and my dad... love you guys!
My wife Marti, and my daughter Sophia. They had just arrived, I think she was blown away by the size of the crowd.
We started the movie, and me and Rusty stood in the back of the theater watching for peoples reactions. We got laughs when we were supposed to get laughs, and we got the shock when they were supposed to be shocked. It was great. Rusty and Steve put together an amazing movie. When it ended we got a loud round of applause, which was nice. We then heald a quick Q&A session with the crowd. There were a few questions about the sharks, getting chased out of the water and what was next for us. We answered everybody then went outside to say our last minute thank yous and goodbyes to everyone.
Towards the end of the night, I met the guy that was originally hired to cut a trailer for us over 2 years ago. He was too busy to do it, so he asked Rusty if he wanted the job. Rusty was working at his dads auto body shop, hungry for any kind of film work, so he said yes. The guy shook my hand and relayed that story to me. He finished it with "I guess I missed the boat... literally". No regrets from me!
Rusty - Where he was meant to be! Making films and livin like a rock star... well at least he looks like one here
After the event, me, my good friend Mel, Rusty and his wife, Steve's bro Michael, Rafa and Paul Spielvogel (Paul shot all the images which is why I don't have any photos of him.) all went for a late dinner and a few more drinks. We toasted to a successful first showing, and hopefully a busy, busy year with all the festivals that we will be in. We all said good night around midnight, and as we were walking to the jeep, the phone rings. It was Andy Murch, he had just finished watching Summer of the Sharks and was calling me from Canada. He had been travelling all over the world during the past year, and has actually never seen the film. Last night was the first time he got to sit down and watch it. He was completly floored. He loved it and could not praise it enough. I smiled and laughed with him, getting all fired up again.
I hung up with him, and called Rusty to tell him what Andy said. Rusty was pumped with the fact that Andy was stoked. I can't even imagine the high Rusty must of been on, here is this kid fresh out of film school, not really sure what he is going to do, all he knows is he wants to make films. Two years later he has his first full feature film... and it's a film that many people will love.
After he hung up with me, he headed down to the hospital to go see Steve. Rusty and Steve worked on this film side by side for 2 years to make SOTS. It was a shame that Steve could not be there. Steve deserved to be in the spotlight last night also. This film is as much his, as it is mine and Rustys. So much blood, sweat, and beers went into making SOTS. But his beautiful little girl was born and he would not trade that moment for the world.. So Rusty, his wife and Michael went over to the hospital to share the rest of their evening with Steve.
This was a perfect night!