Interview: Joe Romeiro

Jo Romeiro interview on Wetpixel

Joe Romeiro of 333 Productions has just released his demo reel for 2013. He saw his first shark when he was just 5 years old and has been captivated by them ever since. A self-taught filmmaker, he founded 333 Productions in 2007 with fellow producer and shark conservationist Bill Fisher. Since then, 333 Productions has created four award-winning films, “Silent Requiem”, “Death of a Deity”, “A Lateral Line” and “Shark Culture”.

Joe aims to capture images of sharks in ways that no one else has. He tries to portray them as beautiful creatures that are an important and critical element of our oceans eco-system.

Wetpixel caught up with Joe and asked him a few questions about his filmmaking, his inspiration and the new demo reel.

WP: When did you start shooting video underwater?

JR: I started diving about 9 years ago and I’ve shot a professional video system for the past 6 years.

WP: Why did you start shooting video underwater?

JR: I had a friend who started me off. Initially, one of my biggest goals was to find out what had been stealing my lures and hooks when I used to fish as a kid. It felt almost like solving a crime to find out what was under us.

WP: Where was the demo reel filmed?

JR: All over the place! Mexico, Bahamas, New England with multiple locations in each place to find exactly what we wanted.

WP: Where is you favorite dive site (if you had to choose one)? Why is it your favorite?

JR: If I had to choose only one, I guess it would be diving with makos here at home. It’s not really a site as such but it is a dive all its own.

WP: What is your favorite animal to photograph and/or film?

JR: I’m still very partial to the mako shark. It is the fastest of all sharks and possibly all fish. It is like a bullet and amazing to experience in a good interaction. They can make for some high adrenaline shots and also for the beauty stuff. In my opinion, nothing is as “lit up” as a mako . Their skin is alive with color and reflection. Absolutely amazing!

I guess second favorite would have to be greater hammerheads. They were like the unicorn to find and film until recently .

WP: Do you have any long-term projects that you are working towards?

JR: We actually have 2 that we have been working on for a couple of years. It sounds strange to say “years” but it really has taken that long. The longest runing project is to do with makos.

WP: What is your most hair-raising (underwater) event so far?

JR: I am always excited when I am diving and filming, but I guess the most hair-raising would be some of my dives at home where we get lots of blue sharks and makos. I remember one day in particular when we had a great time with upwards of 14 or so blue sharks. Just when we were going to call it a day and review the day’s footage, a 7 to 8 foot long mako came along. Although not huge, she could hold her space and had no problem interacting with the camera. She was constantly investigating the camera with bites and moving quickly in and out. Within an hour, she had destroyed a $5000 dollar lens beyond repair! This was memorable as one of my favorite and most exciting dives to date.

WP: What has been your most difficult shoot technically and/or physically?

JR: All of them have been tough especially with regard to weather. The weather is the deciding factor on whether a day even happens and is one that everyone that dives or shoots can relate to. Bad wether means being stuck somewhere and being unable to do anything about it.

WP: What do you like to do when you aren’t at work?

JR: It seems like there isn’t a time when I am not at work. I’m always planning or trying to get to a place and then stressing out about whether will be good or not. I try to spend time with my family, friends and people that I don’t get to see as much as I would like and to share some of the things I’ve seen with them. I also spend time in my art studio and play a lot of video games .

WP: Can you name your favorite underwater photographer or filmmaker?

JR: Brian Skerry, Howard Hall and David Doubilet are some of my favorite legends and I am a big fan of Andy Murch and Andy Bandy Casagrande too. They are both close friends and I really respect their work.

Erick Higuiera is a newcomer who has produced some amazing work that has really impressed me as well.

WP: Who is your favorite photographer or videographer period?

That’s difficult with all the great ones out there but I guess filmmakers would be Bob Talbot and Howard Hall. I couldn’t really pick one over the other and they have both moved me emotionally. Bob Talbot’s film “Ocean Men” is one of the best underwater films I have ever seen.

WP: If you had to name someone that has inspired as a filmmaker, who would that be?

JR: Peter Gimble and Valerie and Ron Taylor are ones that really moved me and made me want to to get in the water and do something. Whatever it may be!

WP: What cameras did you use to shoot your demo reel?

JR: I used a Sony EX1 with a Nano flash drive, a Fathom lens and a Gates housing for 99.9% of it. The alligator sequence was shot with a GoPro.

WP: What is the best advice you can offer an aspiring underwater filmmaker?

JR: To keep with it and always be ready as you never know what you can’t predict. Know your camera system as well as possible.

WP: What is the greatest threat to the oceans’ health?

JR: I think it is imbalance. The ocean is something that has regulated itself for millions of years. Now there is this pressure due to fishing and pollution and this has created some serious imbalances all over the world. We need to be able to live symbiotically with the ocean and not just plunder it.

WP: Is there an environmental cause that you are especially passionate about?

Shark finning and shark conservation. Sharks are truly the wolves of the sea. Eliminating all the big predators causes incredible imbalances of all sorts and could cause cataclysmic repercussions. I really believe that it is vital that we look at the whole ocean and not just sharks as they are just one part of this incredible realm. However, they are very close to my heart.