Sharkwater Extinction From Award Winning Director & Renowned Activist & Conservationist, Rob Stewart

An eye-opening, epic new feature documentary Sharkwater Extinction from Rob Stewart, the award-winning director of Sharkwater and Revolution takes us on one man’s mission: to protect sharks from extinction and save the oceans before it’s too late.

More than 150 million sharks are being killed every year. The oceans are in danger. Sharks play a hugely important role to the environment. Who is the real enemy: shark or human?

We join the courageous filmmaker and renowned activist on a hugely inspirational, thrilling but hazardous journey, as he dives deep into oceans and travels across four continents to investigate the eye-watering scale of corruption, destruction and danger that the multi-billion-dollar pirate fishing industry and vast illegal shark fin trade bring.

Sharkwater Extinction stands as Rob Stewart’s legacy as he was tragically killed in a diving accident, in the final stages of shooting the film in January 2017. His parents Brian and Sandy Stewart have dedicated themselves to completing the film.

REVIEW

This thought-provoking, stunningly filmed documentary captured my interest from the get-go. My fascination in conservation and admiration for activists such as Rob has heightened in recent years. The damage we’re doing to our planet and the oceans have been highlighted and continue to be brought to our attention. Rob’s film digs deeper and plunges us into an underwater world where extinction is so horrifically imminent. As a film-maker he shows empathy, determination and overwhelming enthusiasm. I feel like I have watched everything first hand through Rob’s eyes as the perspective combined with his energy enhance the viewing experience. This film will shock you with seemingly endless revelations and heart-breaking truths. If you’re like me, it will also spark an admiration for a creature whom I usually associate with the signature tune from the Jaws movies. A fitting tribute to Rob Stewart, thanks to his parents, whom I have an interview with which they kindly gave their time to me, for:

What was it that prompted Rob’s interest in conservation? Was it a passion of his from a young age?

Rob always loved the outdoors and exploring. He was captivated by the underwater world from a very young age – and a self proclaimed “fish nerd”…! We were so fortunate to have traveled a lot as a family and every new location offered new wildlife to explore.

He was always first into the water! And was always trying to catch everything he saw….we once had to pull him out of a beautiful fountain with koi fish that he jumped into trying to catch them. 

He saw his first shark at age 9 and instantly fell in love with these majestic creatures that seemed, to him, like the last of the dinosaurs.

Not surprisingly he studied biology in university, started his photography career there and went on to become an underwater photographer.

On an assignment to the Galapagos, he discovered illegal longlining, indiscriminately killing sharks with the marine reserved and became determined to bring awareness to the issue….when traditional media didn’t work, he decided to make a movie believing that if people knew what was happening it would bring about change.  Sharkwater was the result – and from there Rob became a filmmaker, activist and deeply committed crusader for protection of sharks and the planet.

You’ve released the film in his memory, was this an easy decision and how did you decide when the right time would be?

Rob had shot over 400 hours of footage and left very detailed notes on his vision and plan for the film.  Wanting to complete the project was never a question but we had to make sure we had enough footage with Rob and could find the right editor to pull it together.

Once we went through all the footage and saw what we had – we knew it was possible – and from that point,  Editor Nick Hector began work assembling the film. 

How has the film been received? Are you pleased with the response?

We’ve had an amazing response to the film – it celebrated its world premiere at TIFF to an audience of 1800 people and a 10 minute standing ovation. From there – it has gone on to premiere at over 30 international film festivals garnering numerous awards and rave reviews. It still maintains a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!

It opened in theatres across North America and has just started its theatrical release in the UK. It will release on ITunes and platforms and on Amazon Prime Video in July.

What is most rewarding is that people leave the film excited,  wanting to know how they can help…how they can continue Rob’s mission.

What do you think of the work that your son has done and the progress he has made in raising awareness?

We are, of course, so proud of Rob and all he has accomplished. He changed the world. He brought the issue of shark finning to the world stage and taught people that sharks were important – not menacing dangerous predators. The film changed public policy and launched numerous non-profit organizations. He continues to inspire a new generation of conservations, filmmakers and biologists.

REVOLUTION was the first film to talk about Ocean Acidification and the risk to coral reefs and the oceans.

Rob also had the most infectious, inclusive approach to his work – he believed that conservation should be fun – that fighting for what you believed in was something cool – and that eveyone was capable of  making a difference.

Is there a personal highlight for you in the film?

The fact that we were able to get the film completed and get Rob’s message out is really the highlight. Even people that didn’t know his work loved the film and even shark people learned something they didn’t know before. It’s an important film that Rob wanted everyone to see.

Also – people don’t know the many ways they are unknowingly consuming shark – through mislabeled fish products, pet food, cosmetics, fertilizers, and livestock feed. It was important to Rob to get that out – to encourage people to ask questions and to insist on more full disclosure and accuracy in labeling.
At every Q&A we do – people ask how they can check their products and what they can do to ensure they are only using those that are shark free….

What had he planned to do following the release of the film? Are you continuing with the work in his memory?

Rob always had several projects going  in various stages of development.  We plan to get them completed.

We have established the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation which will ensure Rob’s mission continues – in addition to projects Rob had started, the foundation will support and encourage other filmmakers doing work inspired by Rob, continue to advocate for the protection of sharks and the oceans and launch a  “Shark Free” campaign to ensure that consumer products do not contain shark.

Huge thanks to Rob’s parents for this wonderful and insightful interview. The movie is available to download digitally today and all the info you need can be found here: Sharkwater Extinction

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