March 16, 2010 – The Sensational Seas Two DVDs are here! I wasn’t expecting them until next week, a day or two before we fly to New Jersey for the debut at Beneath the Sea, but Debbie Hardin and Greg Helstrup of Collateral Resources came through a week ahead of schedule.
As we freed the first box from the pallet strapping, Ned and I marveled at the size of the total shipment. We had the same number of DVDs replicated as we did for the 2004 production but this pile of boxes was much smaller, the result of our decision to go with a more environmentally friendly packaging. I had tried to use a wallet-style cardboard package in 2004, but met resistance from several angles and ended up settling with the traditional plastic DVD case. After Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth DVD hit the shelves in a recycled cardboard package, I knew we could get what we wanted and more important, the retailers would accept it. I gave Greg the wish list: Recycled paper case, soy ink and no shrink-wrap.For whatever reasons I didn’t sort out, the quote came in a little higher per DVD for low-impact packaging than for the plastic, but no matter – this was important to the entire production team.
The package is just what we wanted and I’m so pleased with the way it all came together at New World: Eric Riesch did a marvelous job with the entire jacket design, incorporating Joanne Kidd’s front cover design and adding all the right touches to the back and inside sleeves. Ned’s classic shot of the yawning Rhinopias on the front and Jeff Yonover’s swimming elephant on the back are both attention grabbers.
All of the contributors to the project have been so generous with their images and time. It’s difficult to include everything we’d like to say in this short anthology format. I hope viewers of the DVD will visit the “Meet the Contributors” section of the website to learn a little more about the filmmakers and photographers who were so important to the project.
Co-producer Nancy McGee lives in Texas, writer Bill Warmus, in New York, DVD software author Kris Wilk is in Canada and sound engineer Bill Fisher is in Chicago. The modern marvels of ftp, e-mail, Skype and cell phones allowed us to collect video and photographs from contributors around the world and communicate with each other through every step of the process even as we all traveled and continued our regular work.
During the nine months of production, we only had one glitch that even came close to being what I would call a “show-stopper”. The most nerve-racking part of the 2004 production was obtaining the license to use the Elvis recording that Scuba Zoo had incorporated into their energetic piece, “Scuba Wow.” I received quite an education in music licensing then, including the nuances of dealing with a musician’s estate and the importance of allowing plenty of time to obtain approvals from the myriad parties who must sign off.Music licensing requires the acquisition of two licenses: one from the publisher of the original song and one from the owner of the particular recording of that song. For this new production, we applied far ahead of time for the use of Billy Preston’s song “Outa-Space”, which I used in the opener “Wow.” The license from the publishers came through immediately, so we were confidant that we were on our way.
The glitch came in the form of a phone call, one week before Kris was to send the completed DVD master to the replicators, informing us that the music license for the Billy Preston recording was tied up, possibly with his estate and there was no guarantee we would have it in time. Since we had the publishing license, we could have another musician record the song but I had edited the video in “Wow” so tightly to the recording that it was down to the frame on the beat. A different recording would mean re-editing the finished piece that had already been shipped to Kris. Nancy, Kris and Bill were in Chicago at the Our World Underwater Dive Show and I decided to wait until after the show to break the news to them. Musician and friend Mark Cunningham, who had already donated three songs to the production, helped me keep my sanity by assuring me he could chart the song out, record it in his studio and get it to me for re-editing within 48 hours. I kept busy by re-editing the end-credits to reflect the change.
We had been scrambling for 36 hours when the second call came in – the music license came through! I caught Mark right before he went into his studio then spent the next two hours on the sofa, catatonic, trying to recover from the events of the last day and a half. I was really glad that I had decided to wait until after the weekend to tell Nancy, Kris and Bill!
So here we are, DVD in hand and ready to head to Beneath the Sea in New Jersey, where Sensational Seas Two has been given a prominent place on the evening film festival and where we will join REEF in its booth to sell the DVD and to talk fish to the show visitors.
March 26, 2010 – Beneath the Sea, Meadowlands, NJ
REEF’s heart is its volunteers who do everything from take fish population surveys (over 130,000 surveys in the data base) to help run outreach events such as the booth at Beneath the Sea. Lureen Ferretti and Beth Olsen flew in from South Florida to help set up the booth. Their job this weekend will be to keep the rest of us coordinated and to “talk fish” to booth visitors.
Claire Davies is here with her famous hand-knitted fish hats. She has been selling them and donating the money to REEF. Claire is on Sensational Seas sales duty this weekend. Our screenwriter, Bill Warmus arrives with a great New York welcome gift: a copy of the Times and a box of macarons from the Bouchon Bakery. I text Eric Cheng founder of Wetpixel and Sensational Seas contributor, who is a macaron fiend, and tell him we’ll try to save him one. Eric is busy working the show floor but manages to get by for a quick hello.
March 27, 2010 – Beneath the Sea Day Two
Before the show, we contacted local REEF members to see if any could help us in the booth. The response was great, so we are fully staffed and ready for the throngs of visitors we were told to expect.
We are selling Sensational Seas Two in the REEF booth. All of the proceeds from the sales will go to REEF and Ocean Pals, so we are hoping for brisk sales. Mary Lynn Price founder of DiveFilm and Sensational Seas contributor (Under Antarctica Ice) has volunteered to help us in the booth – we are a merry bunch, all diving and fish talk. We set up a time for the other DVD contributors who are at the show to meet at the booth and sign DVDs and it turns into a happening! Stan Waterman, Leandro Blanco, Kris Wilk, Mike Elliott, Annie Crawley, Rick Morris, Mary Lynn Price, Ned – it was a thrill to have so many of my heroes in one place!
Eric Cheng missed the signing but has great coverage of the show on his Wetpixel site including a group shot taken by Steve Perez.
The day ends with the evening film festival. Show producers Sue and Jack Drafahl have chosen to use five pieces from the DVD. Besides Nancy’s piece, and mine they show Howard Hall’s incredible mating Giant Cuttlefish from Australia and Champ William’s Emmy Award winning short film, The Secret Weapon. Our collected work ends with one of my all time favorite video clips, Edi Frommenwiler’s Coconut Octopus, rolling down a hill. Seeing Nancy up on stage introducing our production and watching the finished work on a big screen in front of an audience tops off the day.
March 28, 2010 – Beneath the Sea Day Three
Beth gives us an estimate of the count of new REEF members signed up at the show. She is sure we’ll go over 200! We’re joined by more local volunteers who are talking non-stop to people who are interested in learning more about our programs.
Jason Heller from Dive Photo Guide shows up to talk more about REEF and its programs.
Rick Morris from the Census of Marine Life and Sensational Seas contributor (Arctic Plankton) is dubbed the Energizer Bunny by our group. He shows up today with an energy drink in one hand and his camera in the other and amid all the “ah ha’s”, swears that he is just trying a sample that someone was handing out.
We’ve all been on our feet too long and we’re getting punchy.All weekend, REEF has been selling raffle tickets for a chance to win one of the hand-made fish hats from Claire. We wrap the day by drawing the winning name. Although the participants did not have to be present to win, the winner is actually still at the show, so Claire and I take off for the Wetpixel booth to deliver the one-of-a-kind hat to winner Sandrah Gurash.
The weekend was a great success for REEF. We met lots of new people, sold lots of Sensational Seas Two DVDs for REEF and Ocean Pals, and had a chance to thank many of our volunteers and supporters in person. Mary Lynn Price’s husband, Steve Perez, posted an article about Sensational Seas Two at Beneath the Sea and includes a video of the REEF booth.
Shawn Heinrichs gallantly agreed to hand-deliver Sensational Seas DVDs to John Thet at the Asia Dive Expo in Singapore, April 9. We all know what a sacrifice it is to give up even a little of our precious luggage allowance, but all sales of the DVD will go to Asian Geographic’s anti shark-finning campaign, so we really appreciate Shawn’s help.
Janna Nichols, REEF’s West Coast Outreach coordinator will be at both the Scuba Show in Long Beach, May 15-16 and the Dive Travel Expo 2010 in Tacoma, May 21-23. Nancy McGee will be there to help sell Sensational Seas and participate in presentations at both shows, including acting as emcee for the film festival in Tacoma.
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