RTSea Productions provides media communications consulting and high definition video production services with a particular emphasis on nature and underwater subject matter.
The company is currently focused on assisting scientific research and conservation/environmental groups with more effective media communication strategies. Richard TheissProviding location and studio shooting along with stock footage ranging from magnificent sharks to sweeping vistas of the Arctic Circle to minute spiders and reptiles, RTSea Productions is dedicated to capturing nature and underwater images that will impress and move viewers to preserve and protect our precious natural resources – above and below the waves.
RTSea Productions was established by cinematographer/media consultant Richard Theiss who has provided marketing communications and video production services for major corporate clients and over 500 commercials. His documentary work has been utilized by National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Google Earth, Animal Planet, PBS, major aquariums across the United States, and many more. To support ecotourism and location filming, he also serves as a media consultant for Sharkdivers.com.
OCS Do you remember when you were first “hooked” on the production business?
Richard Theiss After about a dozen years as a professional musician and composer, at the urging of a friend who was an assistant cameraman I became involved in television commercials and motion pictures (35mm film), taking a break from the confines of a music studio or a smoky club and breathing a little fresh air again. While many of my assignments were on sound stages, much of it was in remote locations. Working with ad agencies, I slowly migrated towards corporate marketing communications and was on the client side for about ten years. But the creative sirens of production called me back and I turned to video production with a particular interest in bringing more effective media communications to issues like ocean conservation.
OCS Do one (or two) productions you’ve done stick out or that you are most proud of?
Richard Theiss When you’re a hired gun, you give 110% of your skills and hope that most of it comes through the editing process intact. Your pride in your work often comes from a job well done, regardless of what the actual finished product looks like. That said, what comes to mind as a personal favorite is my very first nature documentary, “Island of the Great White Shark” which I wrote, directed, shot, and edited. It has been well-received by many shark conservationists and researchers because of its accurate portrayal of these magnificent predators while also including the importance of ongoing research and the need for worldwide conservation of sharks.
OCS Most of your projects are for specific clients. Do you have any projects you’d like to do just for fun? Like a documentary or drama? Short of feature length?
Richard Theiss I have several proposals for 1-hour or multi-part documentaries that would address important environmental issues – not sure if they are what I would like to do “just for fun” but they would certainly be most gratifying and personally rewarding. You do the work that pays the bills and then you always keep your eye out for projects that can somehow make a difference, that harness the power of visual media for something other than just entertainment. The challenge is, of course, as a contracted crew member on a production, you’re not responsible for funding. When it’s your own project, then the responsibility is all yours and securing funding can be the most arduous part.
OCS What drew you to nature documentaries as a specialty?
Richard Theiss: Well, I’m more than happy to work on pure entertainment projects, commercials, or corporate video, but documentaries are probably what drew me back to production work. and for two reasons. One, they can be an exciting challenge, a real step into the unknown. With wildlife filming, you are dealing with many variables that are not totally within your control. The weather, location logistics, animal behavior – all can be a guessing game as to whether you are going to come away with some spectacular footage or no footage at all. Also, the idea of a “script” basically goes out the window. You approach a nature documentary with a concept or hypothesis and a general storyline at best and then see where that takes you. Your final result often comes together in the editing process, so you better have good editing skills or a good working relationship with an editor – he or she can make all the difference.
Another major factor drawing me to nature documentaries was my love of nature and the realization that conserving and protecting the planet and its natural resources is not just a warm and fuzzy, feel good cause for the moment, not in today’s world. It’s important for people to realize that while we are burdened with everyday problems that can consume most of our attention (and I don’t mean to diminish them in any way), the future of this planet, and all the ecosystems that support it, trumps them all. I think that many of us involved in this creative and powerful medium of video and film, want to leave some small imprint, some evidence that what we did had an impact on society. For me, if I can accomplish that through nature documentaries, I will be a happy filmmaker.
Editor’s note: Besides being incredibly talented, Richard has been active in local industry organizations such as MCAI Further, he authors a recognized nature blog and is a member of the distinguished International Explorers Club. Richard was just recently featured in May as Director of Underwater Photography, working with explorer Scott Cassell, on Squid Invasion, an hour-long episode of National Geographic Channel’s Hooked series. You can get a better picture of Richard’s projects and charitable work by visiting his website www.rtseaproductions.com. The link to his blog is: http://rtseablog.blogspot.com