SDM JOURNAL FOR...
September 29, 2008
Ok its crunch time. Only one day till the screening, and I can feel the butterflies now. Today will be my last blog till after the event, because tomorrow I will be running around prepping for our showing. Tomorrow morning me and Steve will be going down to the theater and doing a sound and visual check to make sure that the DVD of our film is working right, and to make sure that it sounds ok. Rusty will be staying behind at the office waiting for our call in case things do not go smoothly or we have trouble with the format. He will be ready to make any neccessary changes to the film. We wanted to do this early last week, but we got shot down by their management. The theater is booked everyday, all week. So we could not get in to do any of this.
Then after we do a film test, we will then decorate the theater with posters and such. I will have a stack of magazines for give aways. SDM shooter, Paul Spielvogel also made a bunch of nice sized still images to hang up as well. The idea is to make it sharky as possible. Then its back to the office to do any last minute things before I go home to get ready for the event.
Today is split time...dedicated to working on the new issue and handing out a few last minute tickets to the event.The bookstore order came in this weekend, which is my reminder that we need to go to print soon.
September 26, 2008
All the stories have been picked out for issue 19. I am still not 100% about the cover choice for the magazine, but I am sure that I will choose it by Friday of next week. I have a surprise article in this coming issue that will blow your minds. When you see it you think..."what the hell is this doing in here?" But at the same time you all will be thinking, damn this is so amazingly cool... a small percentage of you out there are going to want to try this dive as well. I know I do, which is why I am putting the article in this issue. The images are blow your mind awesome as well.
And I know some of you will be emailing shortly after reading this asking me, "what dive are you talking about." Don't bother, I am not going to share this info with you all. (Paul, Chad - this means you as well) This one is my secret till the mag comes out. You'll thank me for it later. I finalized my story choices for this issue yesterday, and as I was penciling out the plans this morning, I got all fired up again. This is the part of creating magazines that I love... the idea, and dream phase. I love when I have all the story choices for the new issue in my hands, and then I love the part where I am thinking up how the mag is going to look and feel.
All 18 of my babies! I pulled them out this morning. 1st time I have put the mags together. Felt cool.
There is a mental ritual that I go though everytime I come up with new ideas for the next issue of SDM. I can't get into making a new issue until I have all my story choices that will go in the magazine. Once I do, I am sucked 100% into the creative process. Then I go through another mental ritual, which is the 'remembering all the doubters' ritual. With each issue, I always remember those people who doubted I would survive past one year. Then my most important memory... I think about the people who thought I would run out interesting stories to write about.
I remember one pro shooter who said to me in our second year how we would run out of stories after 2-3 years. I disagreed whole heartedly. And I was right! There are still so many stories left to tell. But I feel it is important to keep these things in mind when I get busy putting together a new issue. Because when the new mag gets into your hands, I want you all to get just as excited as I do...hopefully even more than I do. So to be sure, I do not get lazy, I always picture in my mind someone out there picking up a copy of our mag and saying, "new cover, same tired ass crap inside".
That is my worst fear, and it haunts me. So as long as I remember the doubting Thomas out there, I will always work hard to create an exciting and cool magazine that you all will continue loving to read. I never take anything in life for granted!
Have a good weekend everyone!
ONLY 4 MORE DAYS TILL WE SCREEN 'SUMMER OF THE SHARKS'!
September 25, 2008
Only 5 more days till our movie screening, and we have been running around here prepping for the event. I finally got the tickets in my hand and have been passing them out to the different parties and groups that will be going. This is where things go fuzzy for me. The craziness that is my life is upon me again. This morning, my good friend Mel was here at my office delivering the tickets to me and we were talking about Tuesday and what the plans for the day are.
He then wished me luck and said that things are going to go well. I reminded him about a phone call I made to him, the weekend before I left on the film shoot. This was back in 2006, right before we went off to film 'Summer of the Sharks.' I called him pretty late at night, and was sort of confiding in him about what I was setting off to do. I was nervous and excited, and unsure of myself. I mean this was the real deal, no more talking about it, no more dreaming about it, I was going out to do it. So yea, I was nervous, because even though I had a plan, and a vision of what I wanted to do, I still did not really know how I was going to do it, all I knew was I was going to do it... period.
And here we are, two years later, and 5 days away from our first big screening. Its awesome. My biggest dream in the world would be, to be sitting in a theater filled with all our readers. Having you all there to watch this film with me, and then going out to talk shark till the bars kicked us all out. That to me would be a great thing. Maybe one day that will happen. Maybe during the Hollywood red carpet screening of 'Summer of the Sharks, part 5!'
If your gonna dream... dream big!
September 24, 2008
I just got the posters for our movie screening next week. They came out pretty good. The key art for our film was designed with inspiration from the cult classic movie 'Endless Summer'. In fact Bruce Brown's movie was one of my major inspiration for our movie Summer of the Sharks
. When Rusty and Steve came out with the poster idea, Steve contacted Bruce Brown films to ask them for permission to use their theme idea and poster as key inspiration art for our poster. They gave us their blessing which I was thrilled to get. They also asked to see a copy of our movie, which was mind blowing. Bruce Brown giving us their blessing, and watching our film... awesome! I could not be more honored. I grew up watching his films, and to have him as part of the movie process is freakin' amazing to me. You never know when and where life is going to sweep you off to.
My desk is normally not this clean.
I took a picture of the posters on my desk and then looking around, I just started snapping away. I thought I would show you my office and where I spend my days. So for those that are interested here is an inside look at the walls in my office...
I did not shoot the 4th wall, because it is loaded with crap, camera boxes, and mags, and just junk that probably should be thrown away I just never have. Plus I have been planning to frame up all the mags and place them on my wall. I have not done it yet, so I will wait to show you all when they are up. Anyway, this is what it looks like in my office. Maybe too much information but, I thought I would share.
Oh yea, issue # 2 is off the market! We are officially sold out. I still have a few copies but those are not for sale. It's posssible a complete set of mags will be auctioned off when I reach the 25th issue mark, but not until then. Issue 18 will be following #2 as well. I did not make too many extras and suppiles are low.
September 23, 2008
I am putting together an ad for the next issue of SDM. The ad is for our movie, Summer of the Sharks. I wanted the ad to be different and fun, so I decided to make it a collage of production stills from our trip. But damn, where to start? We were shooting stills the whole time, so we have so many images to choose from.
I can not stress enought to you all to keep a journal and a photo record of the things you do in life. Especially if you live an interesting life. Those thoughts and those moments are the things us mortals feed on, for inspiration and pleasure.
It is not enough to try and remember it, because you will forget most of it. That is what time does, it makes you forget as you move forward. Now some of you may have photographic memories, but I know most of you don't, so for those normal people who do not have a great memory catalog... keep a record, and years later, you will so happy that you did.
My good friend Andy Mitchell has been shooting for National Geographic for 15 plus years. They had always told him to keep a journal, he did, well sort of. What he did was write one line in a notebook from each adventure he was one. Things like...
August 23, 1996 -Africa. Got chased by elephants today. Our truck got hit by the bull.
September 15, 1996 - Hawaii. Volcano errupted while filming, had to run for our lives.
Stuff like that. Anyway, there was a contest by American Airlines. The first place winner would win a million frequent flyer miles. He turned in his journal and won. Since then he and his wife have travelled all over the world. I think he has less than 100,000 miles left.
Keep a journal... the world is your playground, so write about it!
September 22, 2008
We have sent our movie out for reviews! Now the crazy pressure of having the pros critique our film is for real. This is the part that filmmakers love and dread. We sent it out to a few film websites that review movies. So it will be interesting to see how those reviews go. I also sent out our film to a few producer friends that make shark shows for a living. Its going to be interesting to see what their thoughts on our film are as well.
I know not everyone is going to like our film, but thats life. Some people are gonna like your shit, and others are going to think its terrible.When you put yourself out there you do risk getting rejected, or laughed at, or kicked around but again that's life. This is the part that paralizes most people, and stops them from putting themselves out there, and trying new things... the rejection, many people fear getting rejected. And rejection is a scary thing to deal with. I learned how to deal with rejection and failure the hard way, I learned it, when I was riding bulls. Riding bulls taught me how to deal with it. Or more to the point getting my ass kicked around by the bulls taught me to deal with it.
Jumping on the back of a 1200-2000 pound bull, strapping my hand to his back, and then having to knod my head for the gate keeper to turn him loose is the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. And I did it, over and over again for 6 years. I never lost that fear of getting killed or hurt by a bull, no matter how good I rode or how bad I rode. I carried that fear, from my very first to my very last bull.
January 1, 1999 - Corpus Christi, TX
This was an emotional battle, and I worked hard everyday trying to find a way to lose that fear, I wanted it to go away. Till one day I realized that the fear was part of me, and it was never going to go away. Once I figured that out, then the fear drove me, and I used it to help me ride better. I knew I was always going to be afraid, so I learned how to keep it in check. So when those feelings of fear and doubt ran through my body, I would know that it was normal to feel this way and I would just continue prepping for my ride. I would then throw my energy into focusing on technique, or my gear, or what I thought the bull was going to do when he left the gate, or whatever. My point is, nothing is as scary as dealing with that everyday. So if a bad review comes our way, I know we just read it and roll on, because getting kicked around is just as normal as breathing.
Only 8 more days till we screen our film!
September 15, 2008
Finding stories for our magazine is sometimes real easy and sometimes very hard. Its hard because I want to make each issue unique and I want to introduce new species to our readers. But I also need to include the fan favorites as well, because those are the common species that people dive with, so those are the ones they want to read about. So I try to find uniques stories or angles to look at or think about. Giving you all a new reason to read about whites, or tigers again.
The cool think about Shark Divers is everyone dives for different reasons. So everyone has a unique story to tell. I have some people who send me stories about their photography challenges, and I have others who send me stories about their video filming challenges, and so on. It's awesome, I love reading each and every story that comes our way.
Last night my 13 year old son David came up to me with a homework assignment, which was to write a short story. They asked him to write in the first person as if he lived in the ice age, and what would life be like for him. The trials of life. I gave him some advice and told him to write it as a travel journal, that it would help him sort of get into character. It worked, he wrote a very interesting and fun short story thats going to leave the reader wanting more. And that is the point of writing stories, to leave the reader wanting more. To leave the reader unsatisfied, and fired up, to want more than this article has to offer. I once recieved advice from a good friend about writing articles. He said, "you don't need to be a great writer to get people to love what you write... the most important element in story telling is to always include your emotion, and always include the weather. You want people to go their mentally, and to get sucked into your story."
A reader will always be asking this, "Why are we reading this? Why do we care about these people, or this moment?" So as a writer if you can answer these questions then you will have a reader that gets fired up about what he is watching or reading.
I always try to remember that when I write. And to you new writers out there, I pass that on. To the expert writers out there, that may not be the proper advice, but that formula works for me. A guy I know often critizes my magazine. He never really liked it, saying the writing was not well done, sometimes really surprised and discusted with some of the articles and writings I chose to publish. I never took what he said to heart, because what I always want to do with my articles is have fun... period. If I was not having fun, then I did not want to do it, and the articles we publish are fun. I love this magazine. I read every story that goes in our magazine, over and over again, until I think its ready for a layout. Its only then that I can visualize what it needs to look like and feel like. With FUN always being the most important thing! Because without fun, what is the point of doing anything.
September 10, 2008
I am done dreaming, I am going to start doing!
I have been thinking about next year and how crazy busy it is going to be, with promoting our movie, Summer of the Sharks. But I am also thinking about my shark diving time as well. I am finding myself at a point in life where I want to spend as much time in the water as possible. Living so far away from some of the great shark diving hot spots is taking a toll on me. I only live an hour from the Gulf of Mexico, and the Gulf is one the best places in the world for big shark encounters. But she is so moody, and only diveable a few times a year. And all the best spots are only accessible via long boat rides, so I do not spend much time out there.
So I may be moving around a lot over the next few years, and maybe making a sharky spot permanent within the next five years. I will spend the entire month of July on Holbox island, MX next season, and staying out there during the heart of the whale shark season. I have already been talking to my friends out there about finding a beach house for me and my family. So I should have it set up before the end of the month. After that I am strongly considering spending all of August in Southern California.
California has the sharkiest beach dives in the world. Not as sharky as Australias beach dives, but still damn good. I would love to spend everyday, traveling the coastline seeking out horn sharks, angel sharks, swell sharks, soupfin sharks, leopard sharks, sevengill and smoothhounds, and what ever else I can find. Not to mention that offshore are my beloved mako and blue sharks.
Right now July is real, and my August plans are still a dream, but I have got it in my head, and I want to make it real. The holy trinity... think it, say it, do it!
Texas is my home, and it will always be my home, but adventure and the sharks are calling me... and I have to go!
September 9, 2008
I just got an email from my buddy Nathan Meadows. He is a writer/shooter contributer for SDM, and is a hardcore 'Off the beaten Path'
Nathan taking his kids on a blue shark tagging expedition. He is in the black wetsuit
He is a total shark junky, and like many of you, wants to do something more than just go diving with sharks. He wants to help sharks, but also like many of you, he was not sure how? So last year when I returned from our 07' exploratory porbeagle expedition, in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. I had a long discussion with Dr. Turnbull about coming back out and trying to help with their ongoing project by chartering the boat, and helping to maybe purchase a sat tag to try and learn more about their local population of the threatened porbeagle species. Nathan looked at this as his opportunity to give back to the sharks he loves so very much. He decided to purchase a sat tag and donate it to Turnbull's research program.
I organized the trip but was not able to go, because I was hired to help co-host a shark show on Animal Planet. So Andy Murch lead the troops and they had a major EPIC adventure! Tagging two porbeagles with sat tags, and tagging identity tags on another 10 sharks. So it was something like 12-13 sharks that visited the boat in three days. Porbeagles are one of the hardest sharks in the world to find, and here we were (they were) on a 3 day adventure with 13 sharks at the boat. One of the most published shooters in the world, Doug Perrine was on the trip. He had never seen a porbeagle shark so he was stoked over the results of his long journey from Hawaii.
He was a bit skeptical about this trip and the chances for success. Why wouldn't he be, this is not an easy shark to find. In fact Andy Murch's images from our 07' exploratory trip were some of the first underwater images of porbeagles in the world. I felt really good about the trip... I knew we were going to get sharks, I just knew it!
A big porbeagle getting raised onto the boat for, measuring, weighing, and tagging.
I researched this trip intensly, because I wanted it to be a success. And I nailed it on the head and picked the perfect date for the trip...I would go into the details of what I did for such a great trip, but I can't, for two reasons. One is - this major chumming secret (its not that secret, buy me beers and I will sing like a canary), is why we are able to bring in the sharks on all our trips. And two, I don't want some yahoo fisherman checking out our blog, and finding out when and how to chum in these sharks. As I get more experienced at bringing in sharks, I am learning one major thing, time of year is important...but it is not the most important element for success. There are a few things that are way more important than that, and that will determine your outcome!
Ok, enough tooting my own horn, back to my good friend Nathan, he wrote me today and told me that both tags have been released and the results from the sat tags are still coming in. Here is his email;
"I got an e-mail from Emmerson of Sharks Unlimited last night. Both of our sat tags have surfaced. One came up in St. Margrets Bay, N.S. apprx. 300 miles from release point. The second came up 100 miles southeast of Yarmouth N.S. 400 miles from release point. He is going to update me later, it will take a couple of weeks to do a complete download of the information...very exciting stuff. While I was there one of the important things Dr. Turnbull was working on was whether or not the sharks leave the bay because although there is no commercial shark fishery in the Bay, there is outside the bay. This proves that they leave the bay so perhaps the info will change some laws."
Thank you again Nathan for what you did... your giving back and Livin the Dream!
September 8, 2008
It seems everything I read on the web these days is about overfishing, and sharks facing extinction. We are living in dark times, and the greed of big business is running through our oceans. Its a scary thought to think that one day, I will wake up and read that the last mako shark has been caught, or the only sandtigers left are in aquariums. If we allow the commercial boys to continue depleating the oceans, that is a reality we will have to soon face.
I know we will never stop people from fishing our oceans, that is a fact. People love to fish, and the masses love to eat fish. So that is something that will never be stopped, but we have to manage what is being caught, and when. We need to give our sharks a chance to breed and create new generations of sharks. Conservation groups are fighting hard for this everyday, and I give them props for their work. But the only way for sharks to get saved is for the masses to cry out for more laws to protect sharks. We need for people to care, because like I have always said governement officials only care about 2 things... money or votes. If you don't have money, you better have the voters support behind you.
I know none of what I said is the answer to our problems, but I just had to say my piece. The more we talk about it the more people will listen... and maybe one day the right person will be listening.
September 5, 2008
The official website for our movie, Summer of the Sharks
is up! It is such an unreal feeling now that we are the end of the post production journey and at the start of our promotional tour for the movie. Rusty and Steve were at our office today and we were discussing the upcoming movie screening on September 30th, posters, gear with our movie's logo on it, and of course the wrap party we are going to have after the movie. It is such wild rush thinking about it. The guys reminded me about my very first blogs, and what the subject was about. It was about this film project and how it has morphed and changed and evolved, and morphed again, till now here we are with a finished movie in our hands and a whole new world and adventure in front of us! Its not diving with sharks, but sharks are involved and thats pretty cool.
We have a busy schedule coming up in 2009, with the upcoming 2009 Film Festival season that we will be on to promote our movie. So much to do, but what a ride. A huge thank you to everyone who has stood by us through it all. We are no where close to being finished and more people need to be thanked, but I do feel a thank you is in order for everyone who was a part of this ride up till now.
Have a good weekend!
September 4, 2008
The date for the screening of our movie Summer of the Sharks has been set. September 30 will be our official screening date. The theater holds over 300 people, so if everyone we invite shows, it should be a great audience. I will admit, I am a bit nervous about it. I am excited to finally get a wide audience to show off our movie, but nervous as well.
We have rented the Cine el Rey event center for our show. It should look really cool.
Trying to create a film about shark diving and what we do has been a long process for me. I have been working at it as long as I have been working on our magazine.My first attempt at documenting the Shark Divers lifestyle was back in 2003 on our very first reader trip. I hired this guy to help me film it. The end result was this short film you would get at the end of one of your touristy dive trips. Along with the same regurgitated classical music you see in almost all underwater films. I can't blame the guy though, he could not grasp what I wanted, or did not understand it.
In all fairness, it was probably me that was not clear on what I wanted, or what I wanted to show. Plus I should not have been trying to make shark films so early in my career, when I was still so very green. Shouldn't be telling stories about something I knew almost nothing about. So I abandoned the project, and decided to wait till a later date. Until I was ready, and until I could find someone that understood what I was trying to do and say.
A still from that 1st shoot. On location Olympus Dive Center, NC. Thank you Kaz and Marilyn for being there
So in late 2005 I am sitting around thinking about things and the thoughts of documenting what we are doing surfaced again. This time, I was dead serious about making it happen. I started penciling out ideas for a short story I wanted to tell, and then I started creating a shot plan. It was a rough idea, but at least this time I knew what I wanted to do. So began my quest to make a film about the sport of shark diving. I did not make the total plunge into it till somewhere around February of 06. That was when I was totally commited to breathing life into it.
"They say when the student is ready, the teacher will come,"
During this time I also met the guy who would help me film, direct and edit the project for me. This guy helped me make this project into a reality. Rusty Armstrong was this kid right out of film school who was working a job he really did not want to do, and here I show up asking him to help me make this project work... and with his help, two years later, our first film Summer of the Sharks is days away from its first really big audience... more later!
September 1, 2008
The new month begins. Damn how time flies. I hope you all have been travelling this year? It would suck to find out that you have been delaying plans to hit the road to have adventures of your own. Life is way too exciting to just sit on your ass, surfing the web and dreaming of far off places. For those of you who read our blog and magazine, hey! it is meant to be a starting place for you -not an end. The articles we write and stories we publish are meant to inspire you.
I love writing and I love sharing our adventures with you all, and my hope is that you all like them enough to want to get up and charge the world. I want you to read our stuff and get pumped up to pack your bags and hit the water. Seek out EPIC adventures of your own. I know many of you all are doing that, but I also know that many of you all are not. So this blog is for you. DO NOT let 2008 end without you getting lost somewhere. Don't blame work, don't blame the kids, those are lame ass excuses. My buddy Nathan Meadows last blue shark adventure he chartered the boat for himself, and brought his kids along. And like a friend of mine once told me when it came to work and play. Work will always be there, bills will always be there. That will never stop. So don't worry about it, take some time for yourself, because you will never-ever be laying there on your death bed saying, "Damn I wish I would of spent more time in the office!"
September is here my friends... Live it up!
Oh yea, the hurricane made me cancel our oceanic whitetip trip to the Bahamas this year. We have rescheduled it for April of 2009