SCUBAPRO Deep Elite Team - Neil Andrea

Neil Andrea

Over the past 15 years Neil Andrea has worked as a photographer, cinematographer and team member on marine units for major motion pictures. His list of credits is as long as your arm and includes National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Miami Vice, and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. But as the owner of Neptunic Sharksuits, what Neil really likes to do is climb into one of his Next Generation stainless steel mesh suits, find a bunch of sharks, and go diving. Apparently, nothing gets his adrenalin pumping faster than engaging in a little real-world Sharksuit testing by offering his arm to a shark for lunch and seeing if it hurts. It's an extraordinary way to spend your underwater time, but Neil is an extraordinary individual, and his gear brand of choice is SCUBAPRO.

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An Interview with Neil Andrea:

Tell us a little bit about your background.

"I was raised in Miami Beach and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Journalism. After college I concentrated on staying in the water. Surfing, freediving, scuba diving, whatever the weather dictated, I found any excuse I could to keep myself in the ocean.

 

"During this time I was lucky enough to have some friends who took me under their wings and got me started in the film business. Thing grew pretty quickly from there, and eventually I found myself in Los Angeles working side by side with underwater cinematographers like Pete Zuccarini, James York, Bob Talbot and Wes Skiles, and then each day after my in-water camera work was done I'd get out of the water and get to be around some of the best directors in Hollywood running massive studio film projects. It was an incredible opportunity and I took full advantage of it -- I just tried to soak up as much information and technique as I could. It was a great learning experience.

 

"Now I'm back to living in Palm Beach, Florida, and developing Neptunic into a water-based lifestyle brand with a major emphasis on giving back to the environment, not only in using materials with a better eco-footprint, but also giving back monetarily through our partnership with One Percent for the Planet (an international organization of environmentally aware businesses that have pledged to contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to causes that protect the environment, with the goal of creating a healthy planet).  Sharksuits are still very much our business, but global and product expansion are definitely on the horizon. So now my life has become a balancing act between my film career, which has developed more into still photography and commercials, and running Neptunic."

 

It sounds like still photography has taken center-stage in your film repertory.

"Still photography has become a real passion of mine in the last few years. There's been a devaluation of creativity in Hollywood lately in terms of cinematography, which has become a tool for a larger machine driven by money. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's a business after all, but for that business an element of risk has been lost and imagination stifled for the sake of safety. The digital revolution and access to a quality DSLR camera or even an iPhone has uncovered tons of great photographers who now have the tools, and outlets such as Instagram and Facebook, to display their work. In still photography creativity is king, and good ideas and skills like the interpretation of light - these are what now separate everyone playing on the same field. It's an exciting time to be in photography, and I'm inspired daily by all of these anonymous people around the world creating amazing imagery."

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Why did you decide to take the giant stride into the oceans?

"My family got me into diving. My father was a diver and he got me face down in the water at an early age. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' place in the Florida Keys. Summerland Key was still really pristine back then, so it didn't take a lot of encouragement for me to spend all day in the water.

 

"My diving career really developed as a faction of my film work. The work I'm required to do varies from day to day. There's a lot of prep that goes into a movie before the actual shoot days and it's really diverse. Like, for example, lift bagging and precision placing 12,000-pound anchors off the coast of Oahu, or building elaborate sets in a two million gallon tank at Universal Studios in LA. I do a lot of different types of diving, working on different projects in different environments. To be able to have a career on and under the ocean is something that I'm very grateful for."

 

How has diving changed your life?

"Diving in particular and the ocean in general have had a tremendous impact on my life. Together they've shaped my personality, changed my outlook, and provided both a life and a living for me."

 

What kind of diving do you like to do?

Freediving is my passion. Wreck diving would be my favorite on SCUBA.

 

Where are some of your favorite places to dive?

"The Bahamas. Bimini to be exact, and a little south off Cat Cay as well. I consider that my backyard."

 

If you had to pick your most amazing experience under water, what would it be?

"The large animal encounters are always special, but for me having to bite test our latest Neptunic Sharksuit with larger sharks is surreal, and quite humbling."

 

f you could make one statement about the oceans, what would it be?

"There's a beauty to the ocean, a simple truth uncomplicated by the realities and rules of modern man."

What would be your advice to someone considering getting into diving?

"Don't wait, do it now. Diving will change your life."

 

Why do you think we should encourage more people to dive?

"I think we need to encourage more people to just get in the water with a mask on and experience what the ocean has to offer. There's no substitute for education through first-hand experience and exploration. Those positive experiences will ultimately lead to a healthier ocean."

 

What is the favorite item in your dive bag?

"My chrome A700 regulator. Its design, both aesthetically and artistically, is flawless."

 

Why is SCUBAPRO your choice for dive equipment?

"I have SCUBAPRO gear that's 20 years old and still going strong.  I'm serious, I just checked. I have a hooded vest that I bought in 1995 and have used as much as my pillow and it's still a 'go to' piece of gear for me.  It's quality, it's reputation, it's professional gear that accessible to