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SDM's official Weblog, with the editor of SDM, Eli Martinez

Febuary 26, 2007
It was such a busy weekend. I had wanted to do so much but I feel like I was spinning my wheels. I worked on show scripts all weekend. The pressure is on to get all our shows finalized, so I have been writing and editing like crazy. There is a good reason why this new pressure has been placed on us, but I have to keep tight lipped about it for a while. All the shows have been written out, but they still need to be fine tuned, and that is what I did. I wanted to work on them a bit more, but I had to get some family time in there. The diving season is about to kick off and I need to enjoy every moment available for my wife and kids while I am home.

I didn't even have time to work on my newsletter this weekend. I still have a bit of tweaking to do before its ready to email out, but I did not do it. I even felt a bit guilty about taking the time to write in my blog, but its been a few days since my last update, so I thought I should get it done.

I will try and organize my time this week, because I still have some finishing touches on the new issue and that needs some attention as well. But it is going to be hard. I have to be at Rusty's editing studio all this week trying to get as much work done as humanly possible. I will be working there so that there are no distractions. So I will take a few minutes out of each day to work on the mag as well.

I also booked myself onto a Flower gardens trip in March. (Finally some diving planned) I can not wait to see if the rumors are true. So many reports about big tiger sharks, and hammerheads that I just have to get out there and find out for myself. So the count down has begun... I will get wet (weather permitting) in exactly 13 days!

The Gulf of Mexico is such a sharky place. I am excited about all the possibilities that are out there. The exciting thing is that it is right in my back yard...


Febuary 22, 2007 10:29 PM
I did it again. I wrote my blog and after reading it decided it would be a great newsletter. But damn some people are going to be pissed off about it. I am stirring the pot. But it needs to be stirred around a bit. People need to be shaken and shown that the old way is not always the best way. I might sound over confident in this newsletter, at least to some of the industry people. Because I am talking about our magazine, but hey, SDM is a cool mag. But again, like my last newsletter, it is meant to make you think and get people off their ass.

Our last newsletter was cool. It did get people thinking and acting. My dad read it, and he sort of took offense to it. But you know what, that weekend he and my mom jumped in the car and went to the beach to go and have a good time. That is something he never does. It was cool, I felt like I did my job. The heart and soul of our magazine, and website, and films is lifestyle and adventure - period. I have no illusions about winning awards, or changing the world. My job is to get you all fired up about going diving, and maybe helping to save some sharks... and hopefully you will.

The newsletter will go out early next week. I just need to edit it a bit, and pass it around for others to review. Including my lawyer, he will probably ask for a few changes. Like I said it is going to stir the pot a bit (hee, hee).


Febuary 21, 2007, 5 AM
I am making plans right now to do a weekend at the Flower Garden Banks here in Texas. Winter time means big sharks in the Gulf, and all the reports say that there is a lot of shark activity going on right now. That report was too much for me to handle. I have got to get out there and find out if the reports are true. I need some shark action damn it! There are reports coming back about scalloped hammerheads, and tiger sharks, and dusky sharks, and spinners, it's killing me. I am all dry in the brain. So I am planning to try and get out there, weather permitting of course. And hey if you can make it out with us on March 10-11, come on out and lets go diving. Just contact Kickady scuba. They will get you the details of how to go diving on the Spree.

I am now in a mad rush to finish the next issue. I need to get it ready for the readers and to make it into the SeaSpace scuba show in Houston. I want to pass out the new issue there at the show. It has a killer cover and everyone will go mad. I of course am facing a dilemma though. I have two covers I am battling over right now. They are very different, one is controversial cool, the other is just narly cool. I am going to use them both this year, but I am torn as to which one to use first. I think I should use cover A first because it is really cool and will cause a stir (I am having fun causing a stir within the shark diving community right now- more on that later), but cover B is just as cool and very dramatic. They both are going to make it in, but it is hard to decide which one to use first? It's funny, for a while, I had no cover to pick from, which is why I did not put a sneak peek into issue # 13. Now I have 2 - such is life.

We got a new wetsuit sponsor. Pinnacle Wetsuits is now providing the SDM staff with wetsuits for the 2007 diving season. I pick mine up from Kickady Scuba shop when I head out to the Flower Gardens. I am looking forward to it, I haven't had a new wetsuit in over four years, and my old one was getting pretty rank and torn up. It was starting rip on its own. When I would pull it on, the holes would stretch and get bigger. I think my suit earned a break. We already have a drysuit sponsor with Whites Drysuits, but we have not had to many opportunities to test them out anywhere, well Andy has but he lives in Canada. But if the team gets out to Alaska to find salmon sharks this year, we will need them. I think I need to get some training though, the last time I tried using a dry suit, I ended up floating upside down underneath the boat. Of course my team was there to document the moment. The films mysteriously disappeared... So weird???


Febuary 19, 2007, 11:28 PM
I called my good friend Gary Adkison today just to see how he was doing. For those of you that don't know Gary, he was once in charge of the dive resort on Walkers Cay island, in the Bahamas. Walkers earned the name shark island, and it deserved that name. It once had one of the largest populations of reef sharks in the Bahamas. Gary also developed Bull Shark Beach. A healthy population of bulls and lemons hung out around the island's shoreline. At one time, the island was one of the most exciting shark destinations in the world, but that was then. I could go further into why it is no longer on the A-List, but its best that I leave you all with pretty pictures of Walkers Cay. Gary now spends most of his time in Fiji and abroad, helping to develop eco-shark tourism and protected marine reserves.

Anyway I called him, and he was sitting under a palapa, probably sipping something cold, out in Mozambique, Africa. He is out there currently doing some whale shark sat tagging. We were both blown away that his cell phone had a signal out there. So we chatted it up, and he got me up to speed with the project he was working on ( I wish I had a tape recorder plugged in, it was a good conversation.). The weather was fouled up and he was stuck at the hotel waiting for it to clear so they could continue their research. While we talked I convinced him to write another article for us in an upcoming issue of SDM this year. Maybe issue # 15, if I can get him to sit down long enough to write it. I also got him up to speed with our project. I hung up the phone smiling, Gary is one of my favorite people on this earth. He is one of the elite few who has ventured out of the cages to swim among white sharks, he has even had his fin grabbed and shaken by whitey. Gary has always supported what we do, and what our magazine stands for. I know I sound kind of mushy in this blog, but it's not often that I get to talk about my heros. I am going to make it a point to stop in and see him the next time I am up in Florida (where he calls home for now.) I think the last time I saw him was in Fiji? I had the pleasure of diving with him out there. 8 species of sharks on one dive... you gotta love it.

- ADD COMMENT -


Febuary 18, 2007 9:41 PM
The film festival was a success! We had a positive response from the viewers who saw our show. It was great to be there to see their reactions. They laughed at the right spots, and the action and music looked really good. Only one person left during the show, and she came up to me when I was leaving to see if it was going to be on again later that night. She left because a band she had been waiting for had just come on and she wanted to watch them. Bands were also playing during the festival. But she did say she liked what she had seen and wanted to finish watching it. I was happy, everyone was glued to the screen. No one seemed bored, or distracted. No one was fooling around with there cell phones, or looking at their watches, or talking. It was a good feeling. I felt like we made some progress, and are on our way to creating a good reality series.

Rusty and Steve (our editors) were at the show with me and they were happy also. As the editors of this project, it's hard for them to look at this project the way a viewer would. All they see is a film they have been working on for months now. They have cut, then recut, then recut, then recut the show. They have done it so many times trying to get it right. Trying to make sure the story comes out really clear, and that the shark action is insane, as well as making sure that the music sounds good. So by the time they got to the film festival, they were just sick and tired of seeing the show, and hearing those same words, and those same scenes all over again. But the audiences response was what they needed to recharge them and get them excited about the project and finishing the rest of the episodes.

We decide that sometime this week we will air a teaser from the show. Me and Rusty talked about it and decided to post 5 minutes from episode one. I am not sure if it will be early during the week, or possibly late in the week. As soon as we do have it up, I will send out a newsletter letting everyone know that it is online for everyone to see.

- ADD COMMENT -


Febuary 16, 2007, 8:03 AM
I remembered a call I recieved a few years ago. This guy called me, I don't even recall his name anymore. He told me about a large aggregration of bull sharks that he had seen around Mexico's Yucatan Penninsula. I listened to his tale and I had mixed emotions over it. Was it true or was it another fisherman's tale. He told me for a few years now he has seen while diving a monster school of bull sharks in his local waters. Of course I hear stuff like this all the time. People call or email me with stories of big schools of sharks in their local waters. Sometimes the stories are confirmed with photos, but more often then naught there are no photos or film to confirm them, just a guys word. And if you don't know these people, it's hard to believe them. Especially when they start talking about huge schools of sharks hanging around. Well a couple of days ago I found out the stories were true, and of course I found out the hard way.

It saddens me that this is the reality of our beloved animals and it scares me that this is how we will find all the unique spots that shark inhabit. Unfortunately this is also how I find new places to dive in my local waters, out in the Gulf of Mexico. I ask the local fisherman where are they seeing sharks at, and/or whos catching them? It seems it is a neccesary evil.

So I have decided to listen a little closer to these yarns. And the next time someone calls to tell me about some large schools of sharks in their area, I might just hop on a plane and do a little investigating. Maybe it will be a ghost chase, but then again... maybe it won't!

- ADD COMMENT -


COMMENTS

It's terrible to hear about the fate of these sharks. We are in their home when we enter the water and we can't punish sharks just because they are doing what sharks do. Education and awarness gets the short end of the stick when it comes to sharks but it's a good thing that there ARE people out there who are teaching and letting people know that sharks need protection too. The public need to know the dire consequences of what would happen to the balance of our oceans if sharks were eradicated. Thanks for sharing the story. -Steph & Dwight.


Febuary 14, 2007, 10:43PM
I did an underwater shoot for a local newspaper back in January. They were going to do a story on one of the high school swim teams, and they wanted some underwater images to go with the story. The writer of the column did an interview with me sometime last year, so she called me and asked if I would help them out. I said sure no problem. Of course the day of the shoot gets here and it is nasty as hell outside. But the team was going to practice, so the shoot was on. It turned out to be an indoor heated pool so that was a relief. Not only that, it was the same pool I trained in to get my c-card. I thought that was kinda cool. It was a total full circle, the first time I was there, I was a green and wet behind the ears newbie. Now years later, I am the hotshot underwater photographer- Ha-whatever. But I did take some nice shots that day. And when the article came out in the newspaper, I was pleased with the image they used, and it covered almost the entire page of the newspaper. So that was cool.

I am really getting frustrated with this Gulf weather, I have been tracking it and this week is blown out with no chances of getting out there to do any kind of diving. It looks like I need to travel out to other areas if I am going to get any sharkin done. Which sucks, because I just don't have the time to travel. So much is going on with the show right now, and the next issue still needs to be finshed and sent off to print. And our budget is really tight, so I need to count all our pennies so we can sqeeze in as much filming as possible in 07. But the sharks are calling, and I really need to get out there and find some sharks.

What has made it worse is I talked to a guy yesterday who lives out in Baja and offers humbolt squid diving. He called me up and we started talking extreme animal diving, him with his narly humbolts and me with my sharks. He was telling me about the kind of experiences he has had, and what it feels like to get slammed by a 6 foot long squid. He said when a squid hits you, it sort of feels like someone just soaked a very large beach towel with water and then throws it at you- very hard. The towel feels heavy, and just sort of wraps around and sticks to you. Then he said, now imagine that, but over and over again. That is what it feels like, when lots of squid attack you. I was listening to him, and just on fire. Talk about narly. I want to do that now.

The one thing we both agreed on is how once you experience scary diving like that- it is all you want to do. You want to get scared like that all the time. It is a dangerous thing when you get into that mind set, because you crave it. I know I do. I want to be right in the middle of that bait ball- right in the line of fire. Inches away from a shark swimming through it, mouth open. I want the sharks bumping off my dome port all the time. I want to look up from behind my view finder and see a 16 foot tiger shark starring right back at me. YEA! That's the wild side of shark diving, when things get narly and nasty, that is where the fun is...maybe I'll write about that in my next newsletter? Then again, maybe not.

I am still not sure what time our show will be played at the Festival. As soon as I find out I will post it.


Febuary 13, 2007, 10:49 PM
There is no turning back now. I have turned in the DVD for the Film Festival. We are committed to the event. I am very confident that it will be a success, but I am human and there is still that tiny little voice in my head that always says -what if they don't like it? - Fortunately the 'what ifs' in life have never ruled me or persuaded me in any way. If I allowed those things to influence me, then I would of never published this magazine, or created these films. In fact the 'what ifs' have a reverse effect in my life. They actually push me forward and beyond the norm.

I guess it goes back to my bull riding career. I rode bulls for 6 years, and for 6 years I was getting pounded into the dirt, stomped into the ground, gored and kicked around. Bulls broke my ankle, blew out my knee, and cracked my hip. They stepped on my head, stepped on my neck, I got knocked out twice. And yet I still feel like I fared better than most in my riding career.

Bull riding wasn't all bad, because if it was, then why would I have rode for 6 years. I rode bulls for those golden moments. Bull riding is about freedom, and defeating the odds, and winning battles within yourself. To be successful at this game you have to not care whether you live or die, its total commitment. During that time I was willing to do anything for the sport. For me it was all or nothing, and I chased that dream until that fateful day when the ocean found me, and sharks changed all that. But that's another story, for another day...

So to me bad days are normal, its part of the experience. And that nagging little voice in the back of my head is just that, a nagging little voice- totally meaningless. If I listened to it and allowed it to lead me, it would not propel me forward, or help push me to the next level. What will help push me to the next level is to dig deep, especially when things are hard, and scary. So onward and forward, the Film festival this weekend awaits! I will let you know what the crowd thinks after the show is over. Hump day tomorrow. We need to get some press stuff done for the show.


Febuary 12, 2007 11:39PM
The pressure is on. I am trying to finish the next issue while also helping to edit the next episode of our TV show. It is so much work, its rewarding, but damn its a lot of work. We also entered our 1st episode into a local film festival. We were too late to enter into the contest, but I just found out about it yesterday. We would of won! - Says the proud papa. It was cool, I called them this morning to see if we could still enter the show, they said NO, that the schedule was full. So I asked to speak to the man in charge of the event. It turns out that he knew about us and our project. He had seen our trailers online, and he was excited about us wanting to have our show in the festival. He told us it was too late to enter into the contest, but if we wanted to we could show our episode in the festival. That was fine with me. It will give us an opportunity to get a peer review of our show to an audience that is not a bunch of shark lovers to see how they respond to the action, as well as our story line. So this Saturday - my baby - this project that I have dreamed about, and worked on, and poured my heart and soul into will have her official debut... Shit! Like I said, the pressure is on.

If your in the area on Saturday Feb 17, the festival is at the Mcallen Chamber of Commerce's Creative incubator, (1001 S. 16th st., 956 687-2787) Presentations are at noon and 4 PM. I have no idea when they will show our stuff though. I will find out and let you know.


February 11, 2007
I was working on some more pages of issue # 14 this weekend, and all the while I was trying to think up what the topic is going to be in my next editorial. And right now I don't have a clue. I have a few ideas, and some scribblings, but I am not sure if it would better serve as a write up in my web journal, or as the subject of my next newsletter, or what? Thats the problem with writing in so many places, and about so many things. It all becomes a blur as to what goes where. Like my last newsletter, it started out as a write up in my journal, but when I was through writing, I thought it would be better served as a newsletter. I guess if I just keep typing away it will come to me.
February 8, 2007
We have our new trailer up for our pilot episode! The count down will be starting soon. I am really interested in your comments on this one, so if you get a couple of seconds, let me know what you think...

cheers and I hope you enjoy it.
Eli


February 7, 2007
The weather is finally clearing up and it looks like we will find a window to get out into the Gulf and find some sharks real soon. The weather has been terrible. We spent all of January trying to find a day to get out there and dive, but the entire month was bad. I am hoping that it was bad enough to keep the longliners in port as well.

There has been some exciting news lately in the shark world. Up in Japan, it seems two deepwater sharks have surfaced - a frill shark and a goblin shark. Both these sharks spend their entire lives in extremely deep water, and have never been seen alive before. A frill shark popped up to the surface on its own, it was probably dying when they found it, but it was alive long enough to photograph it, and get some video footage of the shark swimming around.

Some fishermen also pulled up a goblin shark. The shark was spotted struggling in the fishermen's net as it was getting hauled to the surface, and the researchers said we will take that! I don't blame them, I would of also. I would not of put it into an aquarium, I would of released it. But my cameras would of been on just before I said release. They put it in an aquarium, and the shark died soon after. But they had an opportunity to film and photograph the shark before it died. The photos of both these animals are amazing and I am hoping to find the owner of those images and publish them in the mag for everyone to enjoy. Those images belong to the shark lovers of the world and need to be published in our magazine, damn it!

I am starting to sound like Indiana Jones, "it belongs in a Museum!"

Anyway, things are going smoothly here. But there is just not enough time in the day to do anything anymore. At least that is how I feel. Time is racing by. Between the magazine business, and web work, and our TV show, the day just disappears. But thats ok, because everyday that flys by means that I am closer to good weather, and that means I can get back out into the ocean to chase sharks again.


February 5, 2007
I am happy to report that episode one is finally in the bag! I am really excited with the show as well. The shark action is insane. My production and editing team did an amazing job putting it together. We started working on the show I believe in August, and we finally finished it Thursday of last week. It took us 6 months to edit the first show, which is really a long time for a 30 minute show. But it was the first one, and it had to be right. It had to be something I was proud of, and it had to be a show that you all would not turn off, or change the channel on us. I once read that film lasts forever, so it is important that you don't create garbage, because people will remember you for the garbage that you create.

We went through so many different versions of the show, trying to get it right. I also screened it to several people trying to work out all the bugs in the show, and to get the constructive criticism I needed to see where the kinks were. I would watch people during certain parts of the show and see what they were doing. If they nodded off, or lost interest, or left the room, Or started doing something else, I would take a mental note to change that part of the film, or edit it out completely. It was important for me to get the show right.

I thought editing magazines were hard. Mags are easy compared to creating a TV show. We put together a 30 minute show, from about 30 hours worth of footage. So when I do the math, we have a filming ratio of 90 to 1. That means we poured through 90 minutes worth of film to find one minute worth of footage that made it into the show. So now you can kind of see why it takes so long to put together a show like ours. Added to the fact that since its a reality show, we have to work backwards when finding our story. What that means is we review ALL the footage, and find the ending to our story before we do anything else to it. Then we go back to the begining and find all the footage, and clips that will support our ending. This helps streamline the story.

Rusty and his team put together the first draft of episode one, and of course it was way too long, maybe around 30 minutes long. And at this point we still had not added the underwater shark footage, so it was all talking heads at this point. From there, we cut it down to maybe 24 minutes. Tightening the story up, but it still lacked any shark footage at this point, so the story still needed more cutting. We still needed to add about 5-6 minutes of shark footage, so we had to cut an additional 5 minutes of story line out of the show to stick in our shark footage. We just kept cutting, and cutting, and then adding, then recutting, until finally we were happy with it. The end result is a show that is about 21 minutes long, with a good story in it, and some crazy shark sessions. So one down, and five episodes to go!

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