Short Term 12

I was pleased to attend the UK Premiere of 'Short Term 12' on Tuesday evening, screening as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2013.  My short film 'Solstice' features in the background in a couple of scenes of the film as part of the plot/character development.  I can't say too much more as I wouldn't want to be the cause of a spoiler, but you'll probably work it out by the end of the film! Happy


Leicester Sq, Central London.  BFI  London Film Festival 2013.

I've got to say that all bias aside -  'Short Term 12' is a truly outstanding film.  It is rare to feel so connected and so involved with the story and the emotions of the characters from the very first scene, but this film sucks you in for a roller coaster ride of raw emotion, sadness and ultimately hope and the potential for happiness.  This is not a Hollywood feel good, hero saves the day type production.  It will have you laughing out loud while still having a tear of sadness in your eyes.  It will leave you feeling raw and possibly a little more alive than when you went in.  Only a handful of films each year come close to achieving what Director/Writer Destin Cretton has achieved with this marvel.


From Left to Right:  Short Term 12 Producer John Astrachan, Simon Spear, Short Term 12 Director/Writer Destin Cretton.

It is released in UK cinemas on Nov 1st and if you only see one more film this year then make sure it is this one!

Basking Shark Filming Workshop

I know it is short notice but due to an opening in my schedule and the fact that I am increasingly desperate to see some Basking sharks again, I'm now running an informal filming workshop in the Hebrides from 28th July - 2nd August 2013.

We'll be based in Mull and travel around the nearby islands including Coll, Tiree and Gunna which are possibly the best hotspots anywhere in the world to see Basking Sharks!   It's not just Basking sharks either as Common & Bottlenose Dolphins, Minke Whales, Orcas, Grey & Common Seals, Golden Eagles, Sea Eagles, Puffins and a host of other wildlife are all commonly seen up there. 

In addition to your own filming equipment I'll have a host of cameras with me including the Sony PMW200, Sony FS100 and Canon 7D and of course I'll be around to offer any advice and support that you need.

The trip is designed with filming/photography in mind, but if you are not interested in that and just want to come along on an amazing trip to get really close to the second biggest fish in our Oceans, then that is absolutely fine too! Happy

Please contact me for full details.


The Socorro Islands (Revillagigedos Archipelago) are an amazing dive destination that we had the good fortune to visit in February aboard the Solmar V.  Often overshadowed by their perhaps more famous eastern Pacific cousins Cocos Island and the Galapagos, they are certainly a world class destination in their own right with some amazing diving and big animal encounters.

Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Manta Rays, Tuna and Sharks (Hammerheads, Galapagos, Silky, Whitetip, Silvertip, Whalesharks) are frequent encounters and these islands can claim to have some of the most diver friendly animals we have ever experienced.  The Dolphins and Manta Rays in particular appear to actively seek out diver interactions with the later basking in the jacuzzi created by divers bubbles.

Unfortunately due to bad weather we didn't manage to visit Roca Partida which is one of the three main islands of the archipelago and where the Solmar V went on to experience 2 months of in water interactions with a Humpback Mother and Calf.  Oh well, it looks like we'll have to go back again one day then doesn't it!! Happy

Filmed by:  Simon Spear & Zoe Spear
Edited by:  Simon Spear
Music:  Requiem For Your Soul / Smartsound Royalty Free Music

Note:  This was our first trip diving and filming with the Sony FS100 and Amphibico Genesis housing.  We experienced significant issues with both the camera and the housing which meant that 90% of the footage we shot was basically useless.  This film has been made from the remaining 10% that was salvageable.  The majority of the footage is from the FS100 while the surface shots and a couple of underwater clips are from the Canon 7D.  If you would like to know the issues filming underwater with the Sony FS100 and the Sony NXCAM range in general then please feel free to contact me.

Magical Moments | Shark Attack!

This is quite a short clip for "Magical Moments", but it is not every day that you get attacked by a shark is it?!  Of course popular media would have you believe that if you jump into the sea then you will be devoured almost instantly, but despite their fearsome reputation these days there are just not that many sharks out there and they very rarely attack humans.  Very rarely, but not never...

So we were in the Socorro Islands recently, a wonderful place full of Sharks, Mantas, Dolphins and Whales which reminds you a little of what the ocean should look like without human interference.  One natural phenomenon that they have been seeing a lot of lately are baitballs, which is when fish group together for protection as they are hunted by a predator or predators working as a team.  The baitball that we encountered at Socorro was of juvenile Jacks which were being hunted by Tuna, Silvertip, Silky and Galapagos sharks.  

As soon as I'd entered the water I felt an almighty smack on my back and I was pushed underwater.  I assumed that someone had jumped off the RIB on top of me, but when I turned around no one was there.  I later found out from the guys on the boat that a Galapagos shark had literally jumped on top of me as soon as I'd entered the water!

The action was fast!  The bait fish were swimming everywhere in an effort to confuse the predators and make their escape.  It's not advisable to get into the ball of fish themselves as sharks will often lunge through with open jaws hoping to snag a fish and if you are in their way you could get a nasty surprise.  So when the fish start to congregate around you for protection you know it is time to try to move out of the way. 

The Baitball had broken up and I was backing away from a group of fish heading in my direction when the Galapagos shark from earlier made its return.  It had obviously taken a liking for the electronics in my camera housing because rather than following after the fish it diverted towards me and as I pushed it away it proceeded to take a chunk out of my brand new Amphibico housing.  It was the first time that the housing had been in the water and it was attacked by a shark!  Believe me that is quite an achievement!

So not really a shark attack on me, but certainly a reality check and a reminder that you can never become complacent when sharks are around and in hunting mode!  And remember - sharks are in far more danger from man that we are from them!

Magical Moments | Friendly Manatee

During cold spells Manatees head in droves for the fresh water springs around Crystal River, Florida as the water temperature in this area remains a constant 72 degF. 

On one exceptionally cold winter day a few years ago I managed to film this incredibly friendly Manatee.  They really are wonderful creatures and although it is illegal to pursue or harass or even touch a Manatee they will often seek out snorkelers and divers to interact with them and maybe get a belly rub.

Sadly their numbers appear to be in a steady decline so it is unknown how much longer we will be able to share experiences like this one.

Magical Moments | Common Dolphins

The west coast of Scotland is a truly magical place and it is one of the few places on earth where I feel totally at peace.  Something about the light, the air and the lack of people no doubt!

In June 2011 I spent a week sailing around the islands of Mull, Tiree, Gunna and Coll looking for Basking sharks.  We had some amazing wildlife encounters and (Baskers aside) one of the most special was with a playful pod of Common Dolphins.

Anyone who has spent any time out on the water around the UK knows just how unpredictable our weather can be.  The number of days I have spent in harbour looking out at rough seas is uncountable and up until that point the spring and summer weather of 2011 had been atrocious.  Yet occasionally, very, very occasionally we can chance upon perfect conditions and that day was definitely one of those days.

As we were heading out from the harbour of Tobermory over totally flat seas we came across this pod of anywhere between 50 - 200 dolphins.  I sat on the bow for an hour or more as the dolphins surfed the bow wave and played all around us.  Most people wouldn't even believe that encounters like this were possible in UK waters.  Truly Amazing.

Oliver Spear - Homo Aquaticus

For someone who is in love with water, watching your little boy or girl learn to swim is a joyful experience.  We first introduced Oliver to the water when he was 12 weeks old as part of the same structured training programme which enabled his big sister Gracie to earn her 100 meters distance badge only a few weeks after she turned 4.

From birth babies have a natural reflex to close their epiglottis whilst submerged underwater but unless trained they have normally forgotten this by the time they reach 6 months old.  The Homo Aquaticus (Aquatic Ape) theory has now been largely discredited, but it is nice to let your imagination run wild for a bit and imagine that it was our ancestors interaction with water rather than de-forestation in East Africa due to climate change that set man on a different path to the other creatures on our planet.

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