ometimes just ‘reading’ about things isn’t enough to satisfy ones curiosity" ...this was the case for me regarding Opals and Pearls.
Since I first became interested in gems in the late ‘60s I’ve loved these materials. When I thought about them I wondered what it would be like to actually find some. Over the years my curiosity grew as did a personal dream to one day try my luck hunting for Australian opal and, at some point, dive for pearls. Thus the seeds were planted... to one day see for myself what I’d only read about in books! 
How the first documentary project began: Some other interests of mine are amateur (ham) radio, photography and film making. Over the years I’d met, ‘on-the-air,’ many ham radio operators in Australia. Occasionally, when we talked via our radios, the subject of opal mining would come up as would offers of accommodation should I ever get to “VK” land. (VK are the letters at the beginning of Australian ham radio operators call signs.)
Eventually, several things came together. I had become increasingly interested in film making and wanted to do a project that included my background in the jewelry field. The medium of video, as opposed to film, was becoming acceptable for documentary style work and computer video editing had become affordable for ‘independents’ like myself. I’d been acquiring video & audio gear plus assembling an editing studio and was learning the medium of video production. Additionally, several ham radio friends in Australia were encouraging me to visit. One day it dawned on me... why not make a documentary on opal mining! 
A couple of my American friends shared similar interests to mine; gemology, ham radio, audio engineering and travel. I guess my excitement was catching as I laid out a vision for the documentary. We would explore the remote ‘outback’ of Australia and film opal mining the way it was really done. Before long I had a crew. Now the detail planning began. Our return would take us to the Cook Islands, another place we wanted to explore because Black Pearl farming was emerging.
Our trip was scheduled to take 3 months. With lockers of video, audio and lightning gear plus what seemed like a small office of travel documents, itineraries, shooting scripts, release forms, etc., we headed “Down Under” with big plans and an openness to new experiences which lay ahead.
The images on this website are just samples of what was filmed. The “Didjeridu” music we recorded in remote caves near Alice Springs, opal miners singing late into the night in a pub and the ‘opal strike’ we were lucky to film one afternoon in Mintabie (a remote mining area) are just a few of the highlights we experienced as were the colorful miners we spent weeks alongside as they searched for opal. This documentary was entitled, “Fire Down Under... The Hunt for Australian Opal.”
On return to the US we stopped in the Cook Islands. The Cooks are a self governing country consisting of 15 islands approximately 500 miles west of Tahiti. (Read the ‘About Me’ page to learn how that Cooks stop-over changed my focus in the jewelry business.) During later trips to the Cooks I became involved in pearl farming and, with another crew, over the course of a month, we shot a second documentary entitled, “A Gift From Neptune... The Black Pearls Of Manihiki.” 
Today pearls are my primary focus although I use many opals and other colored gems too. My involvement with farming in the Cook Islands was a second dream come true allowing me to experience the thrill of diving for Black Pearls. As exciting as later trips to the South Pacific have been I’ll never forget the magic of that first trip, our months in the Australian outback and the unexpected journeys that followed from those experiences.   Click on the documentary titles above to see more.Opal_Mining.htmlManihiki_Atoll_.htmlManihiki_Atoll_.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2

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