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2014 LIDA Film Festival

Presenter Bios

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Becky Kagan Schott

Becky Kagan Schott

Becky is an Emmy Award-winning underwater cameraman, photographer, and technical diver whose work can be seen on major networks including National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and Weather Channel.

She is co-owner of Liquid Productions, LLC, specializing in bringing back video from challenging aquatic environments. Her projects have taken her all over the globe from exploring virgin wrecks in over 300 feet of water in Japan and the Great lakes, rappelling into caves, filming under ice and even diving cage less with Great White sharks.

Becky is extremely passionate about sharing the underwater world with others through her video or teaching diving. In her spare time she’s participated in several exploration projects that earned her a place as a Fellow in the Explorers Club and in 2013 she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Presenting: Exploration of Phantom Springs Cave – Deepest Natural Cave in the USA

Deep in the desert of West Texas lies the Phantom Springs cave system. Exploration divers Brett Hemphill and Andy Pitkin have hit a record depth of 462ft/140.8m making it the deepest natural underwater cave system in the United States! This is a closed site and only those with a scientific permit are permitted to dive. The team set up sediment traps, collected water quality data, surveyed over 8000ft of the cave, and shot hours of high definition video and stills both topside and underwater. The site is a biological preserve set aside for the endangered pup fish that lives in the pools outside of the system.

To learn more about Becky's work, link to:


Evan Kovacs

Juuso Mettälä

Evan Kovacs owns and operates Marine Imaging Technologies, LLC, a company formed in 2010 that specializes in imaging the underwater world for documentary, science, and survey purposes. Evan works with the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab ("AIVL") at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ("WHOI") and has filmed with the deep submersible Alvin, Pisces submersibles and numerous ROVs around the world. He is currently working with the AIVL to develop the next generation of 3D and 2D cameras and shooting techniques for topside and underwater imaging. During the past 10 years, Evan has helped build and operate numerous imaging systems to film both above and below the water for broadcast television, museums, archaeologists and institutions across the world.

Evan Kovacs started his filming career in 2002 on the History Channel’s underwater adventure series, Deep Sea Detectives ("DSD"). Evan worked on over 30 episodes of DSD, starting as assistant cameraman and working up to lead underwater cameraman. His underwater and topside work can be seen on National Geographic, History Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS, CBC, NHK and elsewhere. In 2009, Evan was nominated for an Emmy in videography for the NOVA program "Lost and Found: Legacy of the USS Lagarto."

Evan has been diving for over 18 years and technical diving for more than 15. During that time, he has had the opportunity to dive and film wrecks, caves and archaeological sites across the US, along the islands of the South Pacific, the English Channel, the jungles of Mexico and the Dominican Republic, the D-Day beaches of Normandy, the Mediterranean, Thailand and other locations. Evan was fortunate enough to be one of the few people to film both the R.M.S. Titanic and her sister ship, H.M.H.S. Britannic, in 3D.

Presenting: A Journey Under the Sea

Evan Kovacs, Director of Photographer at The Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will highlight some famous and not so famous shoots from the past 5 years. He will present select footage from wrecks, underwater volcanoes, reefs and everything in between, much of which has not been seen in public before.

To see more of Evan’s work, link to:


Michael Salvarezza & Christopher Weaver

Chris WeaverMichael SalvarezzaMichael Salvarezza and Christopher Weaver have been diving the waters of the world since 1978. In that time, they have spent hundreds of hours underwater and have accumulated a large and varied library of photographic images.

In 1994, Salvarezza and Weaver formed a company called Eco-Photo Explorers, a New York based organization to help promote public interest in protecting the underwater environment through knowledge and awareness using underwater photography. Their photo and freelance writing are all utilized to achieve this goal.
They have presented their work in many multi-media slide presentations, and have appeared previously at Beneath the Sea, the Boston Sea Rovers Underwater Clinic, Our World Underwater and the Long Island Divers Association Film Festival.

Mike and Chris have been published in numerous magazines, including National Geographic Adventure, and have authored many articles for the majority of the dive publications the world over. Their work has also been used to support a number of research and educational programs, including the Jason Project for Education, the Atlantis Marine World Aquarium in New York and the Cambridge University and the University of Groningen Arctic Centre work on monitoring the transformation of historic features in Antarctica and Svalbard.

Presenting: Iceland - Diving in the Land of Fire and Ice

Imagine diving in a fissure in the Earth’s crust, the separation point between two continental plates, flooded with decades old glacial melt water filtered through 50 miles of lava stone to produce the purest, clearest water on Earth. This is Silfra, one of the most awe-inspiring dives on the unique island of Iceland. Geologically active with hundreds of volcanoes, Iceland presents unique opportunities and challenges for divers.

Join Eco-Photo Explorers as they visit the only diveable hydrothermal vents in the world, explore rivers of hot water and photograph the colorful marine life that inhabits these mysterious waters.

Visit Eco-Photo Explorers at:


Kathy Johnson & Greg Lashbrook

Greg Lashbrook and Kathy Johnson

Over the years, Greg Lashbrook and Kathy Johnson have worked with scuba certification classes, on search & rescue operations, for commercial hardhat companies and assisted researchers across the Great Lakes basin. Their work with the US Fish and Wildlife, DNR's and Fishes & Oceans Canada, among other organizations, has established them as Freshwater marine life experts.

In 1990, Greg and Kathy published their first book on Great Lakes diving and have since published articles for publications such as – Michigan Natural Resources Magazine, Sport Diver Magazine and USA Today Newspaper. From the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to SHEDD Aquarium in Chicago and National Geographic, Greg and Kathy are committed to raising awareness about the importance of freshwater marine life.

In 2007, they worked on "Mysteries of the Great Lakes" the only IMAX film featuring the Great Lakes region. National Geographic TV’s 2010 "Monster Fish" series premiere included their Lake Sturgeon footage. In 2011, their videos were presented to the U.S. Congress by a Great Lakes Fisheries Commission congressional delegation. In 2012, they worked with Michigan's longest running PBS series "Michigan Out of Doors." And in the summer of 2013 Greg and Kathy worked with a production company from the United Kingdom on a new series for the Discovery Channel.

Presenting: "Rub-a-Dub" a Girl in a Tub

From hundreds of six foot lake sturgeon to a spider mite walking across the eyeball of a snapping turtle this program brings to light the largest and smallest critters that thrive in the Freshwater realm. Join hostess Jenna as she considers the question of whether the importance of Freshwater is truly limited to a plastic bottle and a long, hot bath.

To see more of Greg and Kathy's work, link to:


Captain Ralph Towlen & Ed Seckeler

Ed SeckelerRalph Towlen

Captain Ralph Towlen was certified at age 12 in 1972. His father made his first scuba tank out of a fire extinguisher and taught him to drift dive for lobster in the Block Island Sound off Montauk. These early adventures helped create a love for the ocean, which led to a career as a commercial fisherman.

He is married to Andrea Nydegger (AquaWoman alumni) and runs a diving and fishing charter business in Shinnecock called CoastalWG Charters. They both have been diving rebreathers for the past 3 years.

Towlen is also currently in the process of producing a new diving/cooking show called Seafood Safari.

No other series combines the excitement of wreck diving, spearfishing, and light tackle rod and reel fishing with a professional cooking class dedicated to promoting sustainable seafood. The show maybe picked up by Create TV, but in the meantime, viewers can see upcoming episodes on the YouTube channel called Seafood Safari.

Ed is the owner of ES Ironworks Inc. Born and raised on Long Island, he has enjoyed many outdoor and aquatic activities from a young age. He is a lifetime angler and was scuba certified in 2005. Since then, he has developed a passion for scuba diving, underwater photography and most recently spearfishing.

Presenting: Diving Eastern Long Island, New York

Join Captain Ralph and Ed Seckeler as they take the audience on an exciting underwater tour of Eastern Long Island drawn from a collection of video shorts they have created over the past few years.


Juuso Mettälä

Juuso MettäläJuuso Mettälä lives in Oulu, Finland and is a Civil Engineer by trade. He has been a certified diver since 1992 and bought his first underwater camera in 2004. Unfortunately, it flooded while diving in 2008. Soon after he decided to pick up a video camera and it has been with him on every dive ever since. His certifications include: Diving Instructor (CMAS, NAUI), Cave Diver (NACD), Trimix Diver (IANTD). He mostly films underwater scenery and life underwater, but soon decided to make a very unique type of dive video with his dive buddy. The result was the video called "Fishing Under Ice."

Because of their notable contributions to promote good publicity for the sport of diving, Juuso and his diving group (Oulun Vesimiehet) was selected as the 2012 "Divers of the Year" by the Finnish Dive Federation.

In addition, Juuso and his dive group have made other humorous under ice diving videos and there are more to come. This is Juuso’s first introduction to the OWU audiences and he is excited to share what we hope you will agree is a unique perspective on the underwater world.

Presenting: Human Balloon

Join Juuso as he shows the audience even in the dead of winter, while under the frozen ice, diving in frigid conditions can still be fun and exciting!

View Juuso's work on YouTube at:


John Bricker

John BrickerCaptain John Bricker was certified in 1983 at the age of 17, and made his first wreck dive in 1988. He was immediately hooked. Since then, Bricker has dived over a 100 local shipwrecks, which includes the Andrea Doria, RMS Republic and the tanker Norness, but still loves to dive his two favorite wrecks, the RMS Oregon and USS San Diego.

In 1993, Bricker became a crewmember on the Sea Hunter III, later earning his Captains license in 2001. Captain John has worked on many local dive boats including the Adventuress, Lockness and now the Tempest.

Presenting: Collapsing Giant

Having logged hundreds of dives on the wreck of the USS San Diego, Captain John Bricker has a unique perspective to the ongoing collapse of its superstructure. As time has taken its toll on this spectacular wreck, Bricker has noticed that the deterioration has accelerated over the last few years, especially after Super Storm Sandy. In his presentation, "Collapsing Giant," Captain John gives the audience a brief look at some of the decaying wreckage as the Atlantic slowly consumes this once proud warship.

Visit John on Facebook at:


Alex Lipsky & Paul Lipsky

Paul LipskyAlex Lipsky

Alex Lipsky is a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, has 450+ dives, trained over 200 students, likes using acronyms, and is really good at underwater High Fives.

Paul Lipsky is a  NAUI Scuba Instructor, has 350+ dives, trained over 150 students, and understands the ways of The Force. Does anyone have change for a dollar?

Presenting: Lipsky Shark Dive

A long time ago, on a dive boat far, far is a period of high tides. Dive boats, striking from a harbor in Montauk, have won their continuous victory against the perceived evil Pelagic Man-eaters.

During the voyage, underwater adventurers managed to sneak into a small cage to protect themselves from the ultimate weapon, the Blue Shark, a predator with enough power to lift a school bus off a burning baby.

Pursued by the beasts of the deep, The Lipsky's race to the depths aboard The Sea Turtle, custodian of the GoPro Camera that can save their people and restore freedom to the galaxy.

Join Alex and Paul as they take you on a unique shark cage diving adventure off the waters of Montauk, Long Island and show how Sharks, once feared as bloodthirsty man-eaters, really are beautiful creatures worth protecting at all costs!

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Last modified: November 29 2019