My name is Eric Madeja, I live with my wife Cheryl and my two daughters Andria and Alaisha in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We have been staying in Borneo for the past 12 years and considering it as our home.
What kind of films do you make? How would you describe what you do?
I’m the co-founder and owner of Treasure Images Sdn Bhd, an independent production company based in Borneo. I preferable work on films or projects portraying people living in and around the marine environment and the challenges and issues they are facing. However there are a multitude of other undertakings I do, from wildlife photography to location services for foreign crews and even managing CSR programs for large corporates.
Who or what inspires you in your photography and why cover nature and conservation issues?
I get my motivation from the people I meet while traveling through remote coastal regions, islands and atolls. Quite often it is their actions and sometimes even more their optimistic outlook on life that inspires me. Since my childhood I have a passion for the ocean and living in the heart of South East Asia has made me deeply understand how directly dependent on the sea a large part of the 7 billion people on this planet are.
What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?
Explaining people who make five dollars or less a day why I want to document their life. I feel miserable bringing thousands of dollars worth of equipment into a tiny wooden hut where a family with eight kids stays without electricity or running water. On the other hand the positive attitude and impartial hospitality I experience in exactly these situations is what keeps me doing it.
Has technology hindered or enhanced your photography?
Technology definitely has made many things easier and provided new ways of filming. Think about tiny cameras like HD Hero and the stunning angles you can shoot with it. Than who would have thought that cameras like the RED, fitting in a small backpack, will mark the beginning of the end for shooting on film. On location my Macbook Pro has become an irreplaceable tool to watch dailies, back-up data, edit footage and to keep track of the shooting schedule.
What bothers me is that we become more and more dependent on a ubiquitous power source to recharge all our new gadgets. Has anyone heard about a solar- or saltwater powered broadcast quality HD camera?
What is your favourite place in nature?
15 meters below the surface on a healthy tropical coral reef
From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?
In my opinion it’s wasting of resources. The corporate world is aware that only through deliberate wasting and discarding of surpluses they will be able to sustain the current system of having rapidly expanding and growing economies. It pushes many companies to close an eye towards the uncontrolled and inconsiderate depletion of our planet’s resources. Unfortunately most people don’t question the status quo and many more live in their own small world not aware of the bigger picture.
How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues?
I think its time for the media industry to take on more responsibility. Not only by reducing their own carbon footprint, but also by doing what they are really good in; promoting a certain way of living. Media producers of any genre should make sure that all their programs carry some kind of an “environmental awareness” message.
Soap operas for example are huge in my part of the world. Whole towns come to a standstill when a popular soap is aired on TV. Why not imagine cooperation between an environmental filmmaker and a drama series producer?
What are you working on at the moment?
One of my other passions is history and I’m currently researching some historical shipwreck stories around Borneo. Some “wreck hunter” friends of mine stumbled recently over a mid 19th Century British merchant ship in the South China Sea. If the shipwreck can be positively identified as what the explorers think they have found, than it’s an incredible story involving British aristocracy, pirates and large sharks. We are still looking for producers to get involved, please contact me if you are interested.
What advice to do have to someone wanting to break into the industry?
It really depends what the reason is you want to work in this industry. In most cases I would advice: “Set yourself a target but don’t have too high ambitions. Work hard and be happy for every step you reach”.
What would you like to be remembered for?
For being a good father to my children, teaching them that they don’t have to accept what is not right.