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menu2, Artists, Musicians, Photographers, Film Makers, Campaigners, Experts, Writers

Film Maker: Robert Stewart

Species: Homo conscious



Rob Stewart Biography

Rob Stewart is an award-winning biologist, photographer, conservationist and filmmaker. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Stewart began photographing underwater when he was 13. By the age of 18 he became a scuba instructor and then moved on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, studying in Ontario, Jamaica and Kenya.
Before making Sharkwater (2007), Stewart spent four years travelling the world as chief photographer for the Canadian Wildlife Federation's magazines. Leading expeditions to the most remote areas of the world, Stewart has logged thousands of hours underwater using the latest in camera and rebreather technologies. Stewart's highly sought after images have appeared in nearly every media form worldwide.

While on assignment to photograph sharks in the Galapagos Islands, Stewart discovered illegal longlining, indiscriminately killing sharks within the marine reserve. He tried promoting awareness through print media, but when the public didn't respond, Stewart decided to make a film to bring people closer to sharks. At the age of 22 he left his photography career behind and embarked on a remarkable journey over four years and 12 countries, resulting in the epic Sharkwater.

When Stewart boarded Sea Shepherd's ship, Sharkwater took a turn from a beautiful underwater film into an incredible human drama filled with corruption, espionage, attempted murder charges and mafia rings, forcing Stewart and his crew to become part of the story. During filming, Stewart encountered life threatening obstacles, including diseases such as West Nile, Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever and flesh eating disease.
Sharkwater has been hugely successful, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival and winning a "Canada's Top Ten" award. Sharkwater made history with the largest opening weekend of any Canadian documentary, and was the most award-winning documentary of the year, winning over 35 awards at prestigious film festivals around the world. As of 2012 it is the third highest grossing Canadian documentary in the last ten years, next to the high budget films, Nascar and Oceans.

Stewart's hardcover book, Sharkwater: An Odyssey to Save the Planet, was released in October 2007 by Key Porter Books. His book Save the Humans will be released in the Fall of 2012 by Random House.
Stewart continues to work towards conservation and environmental education, speaking at the University of Victoria, Yale University, Vancouver Aquarium, ROM, various TEDx events, and others.
Stewart is on the board of numerous conservation groups including WildAid, Shark Savers and the Shark Research Institute, and recently founded his own charity, United Conservationists, based in Los Angeles and Toronto.

He has made featured appearances on numerous high profile TV shows including Larry King Live, The Today Show, Tonight Show, The Late Show, Nightline, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, ET Canada, Bloomberg, The Hour, BBC1, MTV and others.

In a 2011 The Grid Magazine survey, he was voted top living resident for making Toronto a better place.

Stewart is currently completing work on his second film, Revolution, due in theatres in the Fall of 2012, with a companion rich digital media component, and How-to Guide to save humanity.

Whale of a Time Interview with Robert Stewart

19 October 2012

Welcome Whale of a Time visitors watching Sharkwater.
Welcome Whale of a Time visitors and thank you for watching Sharkwater. Part of the battle is getting the message out there and by taking time to watch this film, you’re helping us do just that!

Out of all animals why did you chose sharks?
I have been fascinated with being underwater ever since I was a kid and when I was eight, I saw a Caribbean reef shark for the first time in the Cayman Islands. I was amazed to discover that the shark was actually more afraid of me than I was of it. I continued to spend as much time as I could underwater just to be able to be around sharks. A few years later, I ended up in the Galapagos Islands on a photography assignment and discovered that illegal fishing practices were being used to catch and kills sharks for their fins. It seemed as though no one cared, probably because everyone was afraid of them and no one realized it was happening. So, I made it my mission to try and educate people about these creatures that I’ve always loved. Sharkwater grew out of that desire to save them from extinction.

You took a huge risk, 5 years and you risked your life, what did it take to do this film?
This film took us over four years and through 12 countries to put together and there were definitely challenges along the way. We encountered some pretty terrifying obstacles but I wasn’t going to let any of that stop me from finishing what I started. It ended up paying off because we know people are listening. Sharkwater has won over 35 awards, changed laws, and started over 100 NGOs and charities to save sharks.

Tell us the most important thing that people should know about sharks and their importance to the ecosystem?
Sharks are absolutely extraordinary animals. They’ve existed for over 400 million years, which means they predate even the dinosaurs, and they’ve survived five major extinctions, having evolved into one of the most highly adapted creatures on earth. Because they’re the foremost underwater predators, they help shape marine ecosystems by controlling the populations of other marine life that are below them on the food chain.

What can people do to support shark conservation?
We’ve been so fortunate to have so many big names that are joining the fight to preserve shark populations. Gordon Ramsay, for instance, risked his life confronting a gang in Costa Rica that was trafficking illegal shark fins and Sir Richard Branson has openly praised Sharkwater for exposing him to the dark world of shark finning. Our next film, Revolution, takes it one step further and looks at how not only sharks, but our ecosystem and even humanity are in danger unless we take action now. Revolution took us four years and through 15 countries and audiences will be able to travel with us from the coral reefs in Papua New Guinea, to the deforestation project in Madagascar, to a destructive environmental project in Alberta. It’s not me telling you what I learned, but about you discovering it with me. It was an incredible journey for me and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

One of the biggest things you can do from home is help spread the word. Talk to your friends and family about Sharkwater and the issue of shark finning. At www.sharkwater.com/savesharks.php, there’s an email that you can send that explains it all. You can even host your own local Sharkwater screening in your city. Donations are also welcome at www.unitedconservationists.org or www.therevolutionmovie.com to help fund initiatives to make the planet fin free!

Useful Links
Revolution: www.therevolutionmovie.com
Sharkwater: www.sharkwater.com
United Conservationists: www.unitedconservationists.org

Sharkwater (trailer)


For filmmaker Rob Stewart, exploring sharks began as an underwater adventure. What it turned into was a beautiful and dangerous life journey into the balance of life on earth.

Driven by passion fed from a lifelong fascination with sharks, Stewart debunks historical stereotypes and media depictions of sharks as bloodthirsty, man-eating monsters and reveals the reality of sharks as pillars in the evolution of the seas.

Filmed in visually stunning, high definition video, Sharkwater takes you into the most shark rich waters of the world, exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world's shark populations in the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

In an effort to protect sharks, Stewart teams up with renegade conservationist Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Their unbelievable adventure together starts with a battle between the Sea Shepherd and shark poachers in Guatemala, resulting in pirate boat rammings, gunboat chases, mafia espionage, corrupt court systems and attempted murder charges, forcing them to flee for their lives.

Through it all, Stewart discovers these magnificent creatures have gone from predator to prey, and how despite surviving the earth's history of mass extinctions, they could easily be wiped out within a few years due to human greed.

Stewart's remarkable journey of courage and determination changes from a mission to save the world's sharks, into a fight for his life, and that of humankind.