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On Location in Kona with INTO THE DRINK Scuba TV Show contributing writer Stacy Amberson recently participated in a production shoot in Hawaii with the Into The Drink TV show. Here’s her “on location” report:

I just spent an amazing week diving on the Kona Aggressor, out of Kona, Hawaii.  If that’s not great enough, I was there at the invitation of my friends to observe the filming of an episode for the second season of their travel show.  It’s called “Into the Drink” produced by and features exotic locations, diverse diving experiences and uncommon cultural exploration.  Just the type of thing I enjoy best in an exciting dive adventure.

When Mark Santa-Maria invited me to come along I couldn’t turn it down.  Of course the chance to dive the beautiful and wild Kona coast but also the excitement of catching a glimpse of the man behind the curtain, a backstage pass so to speak.  With absolutely no interest in being on television personally (the camera adds 10 lbs you know) I’m nevertheless fascinated by the workings, the things not seen by the general public; planning, logistics and technical aspects.

I got a good dose of technical when the gear was loaded onto the boat.  There were enough cameras, strobes, underwater housings, computers and editing equipment to open a shop. The counters in the salon were often covered with cables, lenses, monitors, ball joints and nameless but expensive looking hi-tech paraphernalia.  The techno-speak was in full force and was mildly interesting and even a bit sexy at first but then faded comfortably into a gentle drone that was easy to ignore and nice to fall asleep to.

Besides all having decades of experience in the dive industry and thousands of dives between them, every member of the production crew are people you’d want to hang out with anyway.  They are all consummate professionals and take their work very seriously. However this does not preclude them from being a fun and hilarious group to be around.  Artistically talented people work, play and relate to the world in a uniquely individual way.  They would intermittently sing aloud bits of random songs and spout pop culture catch phrases that never failed to suit the situation and/or mood perfectly.

Mark Santa-Maria is the director, cameraman and head editor – he actually works hard enough to justify all those titles.  Probably about eight hours a day on each, the man doesn’t sleep.  He’d be at the computer when we went to bed at night and often there again or still when we woke up.  All this and still very fun and witty, as long as you never bring liquid, dampness or comb out wet hair near his equipment.  I especially love his irreverent tee-shirts, not for the dim or easily offended.

Travis Matteson, a cameraman is extremely talented and has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things marine life.  His resume must read like a dream-travel wish list.  Although he explains it away as experience gained with 3000 plus dives… I’m still not convinced that there wasn’t something supernatural at play with his unbelievable luck finding and filming the rare fish or incredible encounter.

Johnny Reidt, a cameraman and also something of a rock star in the actual sense of the word.  In addition to a phenomenal instinct and ability with the camera, he used to sing and play guitar for a popular rock band.  He has a great voice and an infectious laugh.  He always seemed to be the one ready to go the extra mile, or rather do just one more dive, whatever it took to get the shot.

Nick Lucey the host of the show is television handsome of course, but not freakishly so.  Well spoken as you’d expect but surprisingly down to earth and funny.  He is also an absolute font of historical, geographical and ecological information on each and every shooting location.  He dropped these nuggets of data casually into conversations until I was retaining facts and actually learning things against my will.
Finally, Randy Harris, the producer.  He possesses the uncommon ability to have everyone cracking up one minute, and then providing direction and guidance and imparting facts and information the next.  He has put together and keeps running smoothly a fun, rambunctious, artistic and eclectic team of highly intelligent and talented personalities.

With three underwater cameramen and both the shows’ host and producer also possessed of videographer skills and equipment, not much of interest was ever missed.  Because it was serious work for them and they evidently don’t need to breathe they often stayed down longer and saw so much more than the rest of us. It was tempting to follow them around to see everything they saw. However, some divers who will remain nameless found it difficult not to smile and wave happily each time a big bubble- looking lenses turned their way, thus ruining the shot.  I quit following them around after a while.

At times you could almost forget they were there on serious professional business, as they all appear to truly enjoy their vocation and working together.  Make no mistake though, this was a work trip and they put in extremely long days and worked late into the nights, while the guests slept on in ignorant bliss.
It was a great dive trip but also a major learning experience.  Unbelievable just how much planning and hard physical work goes into each stunning shot to be enjoyed on the living room TV screen.  I can’t wait to see it; all those great shots put together into a show.

Watch the show!.  It will be so much better than I could ever describe here.  Check out the web site to find channels and times in your home town or maybe live the adventure and go on location with them!  You won’t be disappointed.

One last shout out to the “Into the Drink” crew: It was a fantastic experience and I hope to be invited out with you all again.  It was way better than a double rainbow!

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