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Short Film Showcase: Underwater Filmmaker Faces Off With Sharks

Underwater filmmaker and artist Joe Romeiro saw his first shark when he was five, and he’s been hooked ever since. In a short portrait with extraordinary close-ups of sharks underwater, filmmakers Jon Betz and Matt Weiss capture Joe in action, filming and sketching the predator that has fascinated him since childhood. We asked Jon and Matt to share a bit more...

Underwater filmmaker and artist Joe Romeiro saw his first shark when he was five, and he’s been hooked ever since. In a short portrait with extraordinary close-ups of sharks underwater, filmmakers Jon Betz and Matt Weiss capture Joe in action, filming and sketching the predator that has fascinated him since childhood. We asked Jon and Matt to share a bit more about what drew them to this collaboration.

How did you first meet Joe?

We’ve known Joe for a long time through various dive shows and film festivals. He and his partner Bill Fisher have been creating their own short films about sharks that we love and have featured on DivePhotoGuide.com. Through the years we’ve often talked about collaborating on a film, but the more we got to know Joe, the more we realized his story was the one we wanted to tell.

What was it about his story that was so compelling for you?

Short films about sharks are typically focused on the animals and their behavior, but we were interested in telling the filmmaker’s story. It takes a unique personality to devote the major part of your life to filming sharks in their natural habitat, and we wanted to explore what motivates Joe and drives this passion. Joe is not simply a wildlife cameraman. He is an artist with an extraordinary passion for sharks and a powerful drive to tell their stories.

 

Filmmaker Joe Romeiro with shark taken from video by Jon Betz and Matt Weiss.
Filmmaker Joe Romeiro with shark taken from video by Jon Betz and Matt Weiss.

 

Do you have any plans for this to be part of a larger series?

Yes. We plan to continue profiling individuals who have unique relationships with the ocean. Like Joe, there are others with deep connections to areas of the ocean and marine wildlife that most people fear or don’t understand. For example, we would be interested in telling the stories of ice divers or marine cave explorers and anyone with a compelling passion for the underwater world. Our goal is to investigate how they forged relationships with these extreme areas of the ocean and what keeps them coming back.

How do you divide up the work for projects?

We work together through the entire production, co-directing and producing the films together. We became friends while studying biology together at Skidmore College, and quickly learned that along with interests in wildlife, science, and travel, we share a passion for visual storytelling and innovative media. As a creative team, we enjoy collaboration, and our complementary interests and professional backgrounds mean we often bring diverse ideas to the table during the brainstorming process. Through DivePhotoGuide.com, Matt has strong connections in the dive world and access to characters and their stories. Jon is an established documentary and commercial cinematographer and the chief editor on our projects.

Links

More of Jon Betz’s work can be seen here and on Instagram.

Learn about DivePhotoGuide.com and the DPG network.

See more of Joe Romeiro’s shark videos.

The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos selected by National Geographic’s editors. We look for pieces that emphasize National Geographic’s mission of inspiring people to care about the planet. The content presented here was created by the filmmakers themselves. The opinions expressed are those of the filmmakers, and not those of the National Geographic Society. To submit films for consideration, please email SFS@ngs.org

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of the world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the Author

Rachel Link
Rachel Link curates content for National Geographic's Short Film Showcase. Each week she features films from talented creators that span a range of topics. She hopes that this work will inspire viewers to explore the world around them and encourages filmmakers to keep pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling.