Filming with the Shark Wrangler
Ken brings many different fields to bear on his work in the film industry. His experience in emergency services as well as field research gives him many advantages that benefit a production. Ken has the abilities to take charge instantly and protect his crew as well as sit back and follow the director's instructions. He understands the need to get the job done whether it means camera time or staying out of the shot. He has trained many team players. Ken is also cool under fire. He is careful and does not preach safety first, he lives it. This does not stop him from pushing the envelop to get an exciting shot. His work in feature films includes combat and basic stunts. He loves action and knows how to shake things up.
When wrangling sharks, he has exhibited a sixth sense about them. He often knows how far he can push a shark without a problem. He also knows what not to do in order to protect his crew from an attack. While Ken does not advocate "indiscrete" handling of sharks on camera (because he feels the public should not feel safe handling wild animals), he has no fear of animals. His direct handling of some of the most dangerous species has tempered his edge. He works hands on with sharks over ten feet in length. Ken's "hand release" technique used in releasing sharks after surgical tagging is unheard of in the industry. The only available footage of this technique is in "Jim Fowler's Life in the Wild". (You can see clips of this technique shown with a couple small sharks upon request.) Ken understands that footage, even documentary footage, must (in his words) "grab the audience and shake them like the jaws of a great white shaking seal carcass". He knows they must feel the excitement and feel glad that they can see something scary in the safety of their arm chair.
Given his "hands on" approach to working with large sharks out of the water, more than one renowned shark researcher trusts Ken's hands to protect them. Ken has not had a crew member under him receive a bite or serious injury. This record will hopefully be preserved as long as crew listens to his guidance and follows any direct instruction about safety. If Ken yells to a crew member, it is because they are about to be in serious danger.
He knows what is possible and still attempts the impossible to get the shot that you want. Ken has a feel for the camera, but, not a magnetic attraction to the lens. He functions as well in front of the camera as he does behind it. Ken's eager to please attitude makes him loved by production crews. He also has the discipline of "get it right the first time". He likes to get it in one take whenever possible and whenever absolutely imperative. You may never get a second shot at something incredible.
Ken's experience and training in boats and water rescue come in handy when a producer needs experienced veteran divers. Unlike many "safety divers" on set, Ken has done emergency and non-emergent body recoveries, complete water rescue and has been "proven under fire". In one mission he performed a recovery of a drowning victim at 2AM in a dirty river with zero visibility in water that was 45 degrees F with just a wet suit. He is qualified to train rescue squads in diving for boat races and other dangerous water activities as well as in drowning victim recovery and resuscitation.
This goes back to the finely honed edge his experiences have forged. He has a hard edge with a warm smile. Ken is light-hearted in spite of what he has seen in the field. He loves to make people laugh. As a medic in the field he learned that levity preserves sanity.
His SCUBA and boating abilities allow him to adapt to any location. He can handle the insects of the everglades and does not whine too much in the cold. He can supply snakes and other wild animals for shoots and has yet to find out how unusual or rare an animal he can find that he cannot handle. He has great energy balanced by a level head.
MOST OF ALL, Ken is a REAL Shark Wrangler. By this we mean, he handles sharks, transports sharks, keeps them alinve in aquariums and releases them LIVE back to the wild. He is not just a diver conducting shark dives. He can transport them ALIVE AND INTACT to a film studio shooting tank and maintain them during a shot not just catch them or dive around them. Though he works hands on with the sharks, he always says, "Don't feed a shark by hand, unless you have one too many hands." He learns from all new experiences on top of his current knowledge that carries him through the most unique shark wrangling situations. Some of the leading researchers for NOAA stake their fingers and their safety on Ken's ability to wrangle by hand seven foot plus animals on a boat deck.
Ken's film experience includes basic stunts and fighting for such features as The Patriot (with Mel Gibson) and The Black Knight (with Martin Lawrence). He did his first independent feature in 2009, Barry Levinson's The Bay (released 2012). In this film he not only performed in an animal attack sequence but was the production's animal wrangler. Animals ranged from Isopods and fish to fowl. As seen in the pictures on the site, Ken has performed in and with sharks on commercials and documentaries. One note though, Ken passed on a reality TV series about his work this year as he does not work for free. So, please, bring up front money if you want to do a real reality series on Shark Wrangling. It takes money to make a small crew (sometimes Ken by himself) and make it camera ready. Ken's work with sharks is pragmatic not wasteful. Therefore, equipment must rot away before it is discarded. And, boats and gear cost money. Also, Ken's handling techniques are proprietary. He is not willing to give up trade secrets for nothing.
Ken isn't the best thing since ice cream, but, he knows his field being a pioneer of the trade. Take advantage of the Shark Wrangler's skills. Book him for your next project.
AUGUST 17, 2010 - Search and Rescue
Ken has had to resume doing the Emergency Diving for in his home county. He is providing a first response dive team to protect the public free of charge. His team has already responded to a drowning in Georgetown County. This marks a return to one of Ken's loves, SAR. His concern for his community and family compels him to fill this much needed gap in local coverage. He continues volunteering for a national Search and Rescue Organization and was recently promoted to national director of that SAR Team. With that program he is conducting courses in tactical search and rescue, basic water rescue and his original courses of Emergency Diving: First Response and Non-emergency Recovery (for Fire, Rescue and Law Enforcement SCUBA programs).
Ken is available as an Underwater Wrangler and Standby Diver for marine or aquatic shoots. He can supply most of the equipment necessary for that service. He tends to be low-key and professional rather than a macho crew member. Nevertheless, he has never had a person lost or injured that he has protected as a Rescue or Safety Diver. He is, for the first time, offering in-house training nationally in Emergency Diving: First Response and Non-emergency Victim Recovery to emergency services and event rescue teams.
UPDATE: DECEMBER 15, 2012 - Crew Services Addition
Ken is now offering basic crew training for divers and crew that will be working or filming around sharks and river animals. If you want to an orientation for actors or crew that will be working with various types of marine life or aquatic life like alligators, you can hire Ken on to prep them. He can provide everything from a one orientation or a week long boot camp to give them sea legs and experience with the animals. This is seasonal available unless you want him to travel to the area that has sea life or river life in accordance with your shooting schedule.
Also, along with his volunteer work, he is updating his emergency medical certifications. This gives you a crew member that can handle diving or animal emergencies not just chat up the crew with war stories.
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