Behind the Scenes: Ep 9
December 20, 2018
Megan here! Again. Honestly you can expect all blogs to be written by Megan unless otherwise specified. So - Chasing Coral. Zack Rago. Hope for the future. Let’s talk about it.
I’m gonna be honest, I never expected we’d get a response from “the Chasing Coral people.” I still can’t believe we did. I remember first hearing about the documentary and what the filmmakers hoped to capture. I had just wrapped filming a tv series in the South Pacific and my brain was still swirling with memories snorkeling and diving in the Great Barrier Reef and marine protected areas off the coast of New Caledonia. (True story: I FaceTimed my old roommate Kacie while snorkeling in the GBR. Great reception! Who knew?!) Everywhere we went in the South Pacific, we met people fearful of more bleaching events. So even though I had exactly zero background in marine sciences and was only a freshly certified diver, I could tell Chasing Coral would have a massive impact on the marine community, no matter what the filmmakers discovered.
Flash forward two years and we’re gathered around Char’s dining table with cables sprawled all over the place, connecting computers to microphones & phones to microphones & microphones to bodies. I’m going to admit to you all here & now that I do have the self-awareness to know that waiting for a recording session to start is arguably when I am at my grouchiest. Mostly because it’s nerve-wracking talking to experts about stuff that you love but know way less about! This time I was grouchier than ever because we were waiting for Zack Rago to hop on the line and he was my favorite part of Chasing Coral. So I guess you could say I was starstruck.
Turns out he’s spectacularly fun to talk to and made us feel super comfortable even though we’re about as far from scientists as you can get! Even though the film was released in 2017, Zack continues to work with the production company, Exposure Labs, in a capacity he’s clearly perfect for: the Youth Outreach Manager for Chasing Coral’s Impact Campaign. In this role, he travels around the country speaking to students of all ages about the beauty of the ocean, as well as its biggest threats. The main goal is just to open the eyes of these kids and young adults to an environment they likely haven’t seen before in the hopes of instilling a curiosity. As we’ve heard before: you can’t love what you don’t know. Most likely the result of his press conferences and tours to schools across the country, Zack is on his way to picking up the Teacher Voice, which my mom STILL uses on me even though I am not seven, like her students. But his willingness to patiently and thoroughly answer all of our many many many many questions meant we learned so much from the hour we spent chatting.
One of the coolest things we learned is that the Chasing Coral Impact Campaign makes it so easy to set up public screenings of this documentary! For those who prefer getting educated from the comfort of their own couch (i.e. me), the film is available on Netflix. But if you are interested in setting up a viewing in your community - at a school, community center, church, office, etc - the Impact Team has TONS of supplemental resources to make your screening more engaging! Click here to find out how you can register a screening in your community! My resolutions for 2019 include getting more involved outside the comfort of my apartment, so once Safety Stop Scuba goes on recording hiatus, fingers crossed we can pull together a viewing of this documentary. In the meantime, it's a great Netflix & Chill for those of you trying to impress someone with how much you care about the state of our oceans.
peace love and educating the youth of tomorrow!
safety stop scuba
December 7, 2018
Hi friends!! Make no mistake - just because Char’s melodious laugh seems like a distant memory doesn’t mean we haven’t been hard at work! We’ve been busy recording with guests around the world and spending time in the pool for our Divemaster certs. Char’s nonprofits have appeared at festivals and trunk shows all season, Sara has acquired approximately 8,000 specialty certifications in the last few weeks, and - as for me (it's Megan - sup) - I’m letting my bank account recover from the damage I did at the dive shop on Black Friday.
So - status update. We’ve got a tonnnn of new episodes on our slate, and we’re set to drop the first of ‘em on December 17th! We’re about halfway through recording, and every episode so far has been a blast. Not to mention we’ve remembered to press Record every. single. TIME!! Growing and changing, you guys.
With this new selection of episodes, we've been very fortunate to expand our guest list from our dive family to include members of the larger marine community who have all provided us with great insights on trying to protect our oceans on local and global levels. One of the themes that keeps coming up is how change starts one step at a time. I don’t know about you guys, but I get overwhelmed SO easily by all the calls to action: ban plastic bags! also straws! use reef-safe sunscreen! save the turtles! save the corals! save the sharks! save the whales! save the ocean!!! save the planet!!! It's paralyzing. But talking with some of our guests made change feel so much more tangible.
Zack Rago, who played an instrumental role in the 2017 documentary Chasing Coral, traveled with the film crew to install underwater timelapse cameras attempting to capture images of coral bleaching events. Since completing his work on the doc, Zack has continued to spread ocean awareness as Chasing Coral’s Impact Campaign’s Youth Outreach Manager. He travels around the country educating students of all ages about the wonders of the ocean - something I think I took for granted as a kid because I’ve lived at most 45 minutes from the water my whole life. What struck me most about how Zack approaches these students was something I will paraphrase the crap out of (check out Episode 9 “Throwing A Better Party” for his direct quote): you don’t have to be a top researcher or a filmmaker or a coral nerd to work on something for a cause you're passionate about. Chasing Coral had lawyers and accountants and careers of all sorts - people working within their career of choice in support of a greater cause. I can't imagine how rewarding that must be - and what a great lesson to start instilling in the next generation.
Speaking with Cy Scammell and Snow McCormick, who founded an activist group based out of Washington State called PNW Protectors, we learned a ton about grassroots organizing. These two angels on earth saw the devastating effects of human interference on the Salish Sea's population of Southern Resident orcas and instead of simply mourning the losses of these beautiful creatures, they asked a question: why is this happening? So they took it upon themselves to learn about the species, their habitats, and food sources. They spoke to environmentalists, marine biologists, and fishermen. After piecing together a clear picture of what was going on in their area, Snow and Cy took the next step: telling everyone else. As Snow and so many others have said, "If they don't know, they can't care." Through encouraging others to get educated and make their opinions heard to local and state legislators, PNW Protectors have started a movement in Washington State and beyond. All stemming from their passion for their home and the orcas.
These are just the first two episodes we've got for you but our list of upcoming episodes is long and features POWERHOUSE women working around the globe in support of their specific passions. We here at Safety Stop are so excited to start sharing these episodes with you all. We'll be posting more in-depth blogs about each guest/episode in the weeks to come - we are in such awe of these folks! Each one has truly inspired us to take more ownership of the changes we want to see in the world. We hope they inspire you, too.
peace love and baby steps to 4:00!
- safety stop
Behind the Scenes: Ep 6 & 7
October 9, 2018
A rare weekend recording session allowed us to capture two episodes back to back and gave us a chance to experiment chatting with guests remotely! Because a recording session without adding a new element into the mix just sounds too easy. We used a pretty user-friendly program to help record audio from our guests calling in from the UK and midwest which was so cool! It was the first time we got to expand our reach beyond Char’s living room - being able to connect with people worldwide really broadens the horizons for Safety Stop!
We were SO excited and a little nervous to have our first guest we didn’t already know personally - Saoirse Potte! Sara used her network of dive pals to get in touch with Saoirse, who is a biosciences grad student based in the UK! Saoirse talked to us about her thesis - tracking the population habits of the zebra(/leopard) shark in Mozambique, where she spent a whole year accumulating data in partnership with Marine Megafauna, All Out Africa, and Zavora Marine Lab. She explained to us that - like manta rays, jaguars, and many other species - zebra sharks can be identified as individuals by their unique patterns! So one of the cool facets of Saoirse’s research was developing a citizen science program called “ID the Leopard Shark” which provides a forum for recreational divers to submit underwater photos of leopard/zebra sharks to see if those individuals have been previously identified! Any additional information submitted with the photos helps drive Saoirse’s research creating an index of population data for this endangered species. And - if you're lucky and you submit a photo of a previously UNidentified shark - you get to name it! With great power....
We also got to spend some time chatting with Sara’s dad, Frank! Frank is one of our biggest supporters, and, as the main influence behind Sara’s interest in diving, we loved getting a chance to hear his stories! - though we’re sure Sara has heard them countless times before. How cool would it be to live in a remote bungalow with a pod of dolphins as your next-door neighbors spending your days searching for sunken treasure? What a life - we can only imagine how differently Sara would have turned out if Frank and his team had located any. But the stories live on! We are grateful to have had the chance to dive with Frank in Belize, and look forward to many more dives and stories to come!
As for the ladies of Safety Stop, we mayyyyyy have started planning a trip to Mozambique while still on the phone with Saoirse…. How could we pass up the opportunity to dive in tropical waters and name some sharks?!
peace love and dessert for breakfast!
- safety stop
Behind the Scenes: Ep 5
September 27, 2018
In true Safety Stop fashion, there’s no such thing as a dull recording session, and ohhhhhhh boy(s), was this week a doozy! We knew it was coming. Call it intuition, maybe it was the evil grins stretching across two bearded faces, or the impassioned high five that followed, but we knew instantly that asking our pals Fred Haemker and Ian Wells to be on the podcast would be entertaining - for themselves, at the very least.
Ian showed up with..... more mics!!! Can you imagine how much Sara regrets taking on the task of editing with four mics fired up? Our resident tech guru pulled some sound equipment out of his Mary Poppins bag of filmmaking gear and got to work testing audio levels while we laid down some ground rules for Dumb & Dumber (said with the utmost fondness).
The episode got off to a bit of a rocky start (we still haven’t mastered the art of hitting “record”) but fortunately for us, these gents are good friends of ours so they didn’t mind…. just gave us a lot of good-natured shit! Fred and Ian are both PADI & SDI Instructors and became great friends through getting most of their certifications together. Their unique bond is part of what nearly made us retract asking them to be on the podcast - when they’re together, you never know what’ll happen! Thankfully, short of a few too many “go deep” jokes, the boys behaved long enough to get through the episode and had fun with it! Dare I say... we may have even learned something!
peace love and baklava!
- safety stop
Behind the Scenes: Ep 4
September 20, 2018
Never a dull day recording for Safety Stop! This recording we celebrated a birthday, added a microphone, and chatted with our very first guest! Big day. Biiiiiiiiig day. After fully committing to the sugar coma of birthday cake, we settled into our seats at the table (you guys - we graduated from floor to table! What’d I say - biiiiig day) to figure out how to record to two microphones, set levels, and prep our first guest!
We asked Shannon to be our first guest because on top of having a cool job as a scuba travel agent and side hustle as a dive instructor, she is ALSO a good friend to us and we figured having a familiar face would make everyone a little more comfortable. Shannon was a little less enthusiastic about the idea than we were but after being subject to our combined forces of guilt trips and constant texts, Shannon agreed!
One of the things we struggle with in laying out our episodes is whether we’ll have enough to talk about. What do we want to cover? What makes this person particularly interesting to us? Where’s the balance between scripting out questions and just letting this be a fun chat? What if our guest gets mic-fright and clams up? Should we think of more questions?? WHAT HAVE WE GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO?? ...and then we pour our glasses of wine, and we know we won’t have any trouble filling time.
The three of us met Shannon through our dive shop, where she has both worked in the store and as an instructor, so hearing she almost became a world-renowned canoe-builder instead of a scuba diver was a little bit of a shock! Fortunately for us and the hundreds of divers she’s certified, Shannon is a diver for life. She gave us the scoop on popular and up & coming dive spots - and in doing so, also gave us the travel bug!! Immediately after we finished recording, we resolved to get a big ol’ world map for the wall so we can start pinning dream dive trips! - all of which we’ll have our friend Shannon plan for us.
peace love and mermaids!
- safety stop
September 14, 2018
So if you haven't picked up on our blatantly unsubtle references to Belize in our episodes and on social media... we love Belize diving!! In addition to being a renowned dive destination, Belize is particularly special to Safety Stop because it just so happens that this little podcast of ours was created as the result of a few too many cocktails under the Belizean sun! Towards the end of June, our friends at Eco Dive Center hosted a week-long trip to Ramon's Village Dive Resort on Ambergris Caye. Altogether, our group was around 30 strong: though mostly divers, we had several non-divers as well, including Sara's mom!
Due to the size of our group, we were split onto two separate dive boats - the Miss Nina and the Lady Grace. What we didn't know was that whichever boat we set up our gear on for our very first dive would be our boat assignments for the majority of the week! Which meant Megan found herself on the Miss Nina waving goodbye to Char and Sara on the Lady Grace for most of the trip. Fortunately, most dive sites were just 10 minutes from our beach resort, so we were never apart for very long, and it gave us a great opportunity to bond with other divers we didn't know very well!
Because there were so many divers on the trip and tons of activities to part in, it felt like everyone had such a unique and individual experience. Over the course of the week, members of our trip took a special boat out to dive the Blue Hole, danced all night at Jaguar's Temple, completed advanced and specialty certifications, spent surface intervals rooting for Colombia in the World Cup, raced golf carts to Secret Beach for an afternoon of lounging, coconuts, and cold beers, hiked to Mayan ruins on the mainland, taste-tested some local dishes of San Pedro on a food tour, and cheered on chickens playing bingo. Here are some of OUR favorite moments!
SARA: I was super excited for this trip because it not only was it a much needed break for me, but for my parents too! They met us in Belize for a long overdue vacation, which meant I would finally get to dive with my dad! - the man who got me interested in diving in the first place. Being in the tropical jungle as it felt in our bungalow by the beach was very relaxing. I truly enjoyed being disconnected from the “real world” - no tv, no internet, no cell service. I never was worried about being on my phone - the beauty of the island was more than enough to entertain me. My favorite dive of the trip with my dad to see the nurse sharks. It was amazing to see these creatures swim around us just inches away. Any time I am in the water and see marine life, I get so in awe and I hope that more people will get to experience all the beauty that the ocean has to hold.
CHAR: Ambergris Caye is an island about 40 miles north of Belize City, so to get to our resort, we took an island hopper from the Belize Airport up to San Pedro! Seeing the teal-blue water and the reefs below from above was AMAZING - and that tiny plane made it feel like we were in an Indiana Jones movie heading somewhere completely off the grid and magical. When we landed, we realized it was the last night of Lobsterfest, so our entire group walked down the beach to a town center bursting with life! Vendors sold grilled lobster tail, beautiful bracelets, handmade goods, and lobster hats, students from a Belizean high school played steel drums, and we all went in search of the elusive and mysterious lobster ice cream! I love being completely engulfed in the local culture, music, and food! If you want to travel and love to explore I am definitely your gal!
MEG: I only had two objectives going into this vacation: enjoy diving in 80-degree water and come home with a great tan (I am so pale, you guys). One of my favorite memories came on our last dive - a night dive in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. I had become pals with our Divemaster, Chris, the day before when he taught me to hunt for invasive lionfish, and he invited me to be his dive buddy on the night dive! Sounds like kind of a lame thing to be excited about, but it meant I got first look at all the amazing wildlife Chris spotted: spider crabs, lemon sharks, eels, a squid, a little octopus hiding in a rock, TONS of southern stingrays, corals feeding on bloodworms, and my personal favorite - a pair of huge green turtles settling into their cave for the night. It was a truly special last dive of the trip for me, capping off a week of incredible moments I won't soon forget. For all you inquiring minds - I did in fact come home with a solid tan.
We came home from Ambergris Caye with thicker dive logs and memories we won't soon forget. Heading into fall in Southern California fortunately means warmer water temperatures, but nothing compares to the absurdly comfortable bath water of the Belize Barrier Reef. With incredible wildlife, great friends, and experiences that made each of us better divers, you can bet we will be signing up for another tropical trip VERY soon!
peace love and belikan!
- safety stop
And then there were four...
September 4, 2018
This has been a big week for us and it's only Tuesday! Episode 1 was released yesterday and we are honestly just so relieved it's up and working. Bless her heart, Sara spent most of Labor Day weekend figuring out RSS feeds, submissions requirements for our various platforms, and polishing up the episode to get ready for launch! Sara doesn't usually have to take on 100% of the responsibilities - we're not monsters - but boy did she step up this weekend! As an added bonus, today's the first Tuesday of the month, which means we've got West LA Dive Club tonight so we can finally share our pdcast with our dive community!
If Sara is this week's MVP, last week's was most definitely our pal Ian Wells, our multitalented dive buddy (and future podcast guest)! While we know Ian through scuba, he has pretty extensive experience working as a professional camera operator both in the water and on land. Bribed with tacos, Indian food, and homemade chocolate chip cookies, Ian spent quite a few nights helping us nail down our podcast's intro package.
So here's the thing. If you've never tried to find the perfect song for something incredibly specific (like, say, the theme music to lay under the intro package for a podcast about scuba diving and marine awareness), let us be the first to tell you that it is absolutely exhausting. After awhile, everything starts to sound the same, you swear you've listened to this track already, and you go slowly nuts. (That's dramatic but not far off.) We whittled down the list and were resigned to picking from our not-so-great top contenders, but Ian wasn't sold... so we kept searching. He was right, of course. Not long after, we found THE ONE! We all knew it instantly - our eyes lit up, we smiled, we cheered, we danced badly... and then the real work began.
Once the right track found us (because as we know - the wand chooses the wizard), we pulled sound bites from episodes we'd already completed, recorded some new clips, and got to work! Well ok - Ian got to work. Within 48 hours, he had created an intro package that set the perfect tone to kick off our show. In addition to food, we repaid him with countless texts bugging him to help us with other stuff. He's so glad he agreed to this! In all seriousness - thanks Ian! You're one of us now.
peace love and curry!
- safety stop
Behind the Scenes: Ep 2 & 3
August 29, 2018
They say that practice makes perfect... and it's gonna take a lot of practice before we really nail it, but we're getting there! We assumed our spots on the living room floor and talked for much longer than we planned. Recording our second episode felt so much more natural than our first, so hopefully Sara won't have to work so hard to edit together a coherent show!
There is definitely a learning curve as we practice our way to perfect... Here's what we learned this week:
Megan cannot for her life record sound bites without turning a deeeeeeeep shade of red.
Having an episode outline can be very helpful to get the group back on track once we get derailed (a common occurrence).
Mermaid cupcakes and a little pinot definitely set the party off right.
Background noise such as puppy whining, wine pouring, and furious typing should be avoided for best audio quality.
Plugging in the microphone usually helps.
That last one might come as a shock to you guys, and to be honest, it shocked us too. We were so eager to get started that we spent15 minutes podcasting before we noticed the mic was unplugged............ not our best moment! But after a moment of horrified silence, a collective facepalm, and several minutes of nonstop laughter, we plugged that bad boy in and realized we'd laughed away all our nerves. It's a lesson learned in Open Water class: you're not gonna do anyone any good if you're anxious. Take a deep breath. Let go of the fear.
peace love and progress!
- safety stop
Behind the Scenes: Ep 1
August 22, 2018
On a Monday night in Sherman Oaks, three ladies sit around a table: Char pours the wine, Megan tries to find the perfect ratio of brownie bite to strawberry, and Sara monitors her puppy as he runs amok underfoot. We discuss our game plan - What is Safety Stop? What do we want it to be? Where will it go? Where could it take us? How do we get there? - and realize there's so much to do! Every question adds something to our pretty extensive To Do list. But with our complementary skill sets and varied backgrounds, the three of us know we're up to the task.
After refilling our wine glasses and some off-the-record gossiping ("The mic is off....right?!"), we move over to the floor to record our first show! Yes, you read that right - Safety Stop is recorded on the floor. Once we get used to hearing ourselves talk, our first episode goes by quickly. Turns out, it's not so tough to sit with close friends and talk about your passions. Now for the hard part: editing, promoting, and hoping people will listen. But for now we will toast the success of turning a drunken idea into a reality! Baby steps and mini-victories are all we need to gain momentum and encourage us to keep going!
peace love and bubbles!
- safety stop