Changes in Latitude
Little to my surprise, transitioning from a Discovery Channel treasure hunting series in South America, to a web-based documentary series in Colorado took a little adjusting on my part.
The project I was on prior to the A Rising Tide production would easily fall under the category of high-stakes, hair-raising adventure. For two years I was working as Divemaster on an elite treasure-hunting team for the Discovery Channel. Our expeditions had me traveling several months out of the year and were later featured on a series called, Treasure Quest: Snake Island. A typical day’s work while out in the field often involved jungle trekking in 100+ degree temperatures, dodging deadly pit vipers, and diving in piranha-infested rivers, which more closely resembled café con leche than water. On other days I might have been spelunking in bat-infested caves, freediving at the base of waterfalls, and on particularly lucky days, unearthing hidden treasures that could reveal clues to the past.
In contrast, a production day on the A Rising Tide show definitely was a lot more low-key. Thankfully lacking the regular encounters with deadly snakes, jungle spiders, and other unsavory ways one could meet their demise in the jungle. Working with A Rising Tide involved assisting with the scholars’ scuba skills review, training sessions in the pool, sitting in on marine scientists’ presentations, and open water certification dives when we were in the Florida Keys. As the series host, I spent many days trying to find a decently quiet and attractive location to play backdrop to my on-camera “host bumpers” as we called them, that were used in the series to help guide and tell the story. As we dug further into the series schedule, a fair amount of time was also spent on Executive Producer duties, assisting with post-production and recruiting media promotion and partnering sponsorships for the show.
In addition to the above, there were many other differences between the two projects – they are completely different animals after all! Among them, the day-to-day tempo of production, what could be included in the show, broadcast platforms, target audience, and understandably quite a difference in the available production budget. The latter was a welcomed challenge that ultimately encouraged our creativity and had all of us wearing multiple hats. A couple other differences on this lengthy list also worked in our favor and could not have been more desirable. In particular, was the ability to work one-on-one with the scholars, and the intrinsic value of this investment in our future. The other was in the absence of the usual red tape and multiple hurdles often encountered in navigating network television. A web-series meant that we had the latitude to tell the story, and let the kids tell their stories, as we all saw fit! In that way, A Rising Tide was our show, and that was priceless.
While I still seek out a heavy dose of hair-raising adventure in my life, I have also come to equally crave the balance that comes from giving back through my work. Truth be told, working with A Rising Tide and being mentor to this awesome group of kids left little to be desired.
In my view, there are not many things out there as rewarding as working with young people. Especially kids in their mid-teens, when they’re getting ready to jump in and discover what they want their next steps in life to be. The individuals for this program were particularly eager to learn more about the ocean environment, the issues facing the ocean today, and what can be done to better protect it – a variety of topics that I’m extremely passionate about and that are near and dear to my heart!
Being part of this project and joining the scholars on this watery journey has been an absolute honor for me. Getting to work with the students and helping to cultivate their connection with the sea is not only very rewarding on a personal level, but is also what I believe to be a huge investment in our future and the future of our oceans. Empowered through hands-on ocean experience, newfound knowledge, and access to new possibilities for their next steps, these kids - even when living thousands of miles from the coast - can become our ocean heroes of tomorrow. In fact, I’m counting on it!