Unmasking Monsters Below is a film that explores a passion for sharks discovered at a very early age by award winning filmmaker Justin Sago. Unmasking Monsters Below chronicles his journey to Florida and the people along the way that brought him closer to sharks and ultimately, to the terrifying realization of the troubles these majestic animals face today.
As a young boy growing up in a landlocked region of the country, Justin discovered his love for sharks through books, movies and images that gripped his imagination. In a moment within one of his earliest memories, he heard a mother describe sharks to her young child as “monsters”. The animals that had manifested such adoration within him, being described with a word so often paralleled with horror and fear, sparked a lifelong fascination and a yearning to discover for himself the truth about sharks.
Unmasking Monsters Below invites you along on a path of shark discovery and the truths to the most misunderstood animals patrolling our oceans. Be compelled to have your mind changed, as Justin joins his travel compadre and fellow filmmaker Ryan Mathews to document the lives of three people at the forefront, spending their days interacting with sharks and doing their part to change the dreadful future these great animals face. Be prepared to witness the spiritual side of sharks and the incredible life changing impacts they have had on these individuals and others. As the UMB crew explore the waters of the shark capitol of the U.S., they will come face to face with sharks and attempt to unmask the monsters below.
On average, human beings kill over 100 million sharks per year worldwide. In 2018, only one shark attack in the U.S. resulted in a fatality.
Justin Sago is a filmmaker, shark lover and constant adventure seeker from Rivesville, West Virginia. Justin’s love for film began at the young age of 5 when his parents took him to see Jaws 3-D at the Fairmont Theater. Films such as American Ninja, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and Point Break solidified that interest and made him dream of one day making his own movies.
Justin began his education into the world of filmmaking at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. There he studied 16 mm motion picture film as well as various digital formats of do it yourself movie making. While studying the fundamentals, history and theories of visual media, Justin completed two student films, The Anticipation of the Wait and Dilemma. The experience and knowledge he gained from the two films were invaluable and were the launching pad to his first feature length production, Hatchet Jack. His credits on the film include Writer, Second Unit Director and Executive Producer.
For his second act, Justin teamed up with fellow filmmaker Ryan Mathews to create the YouTube series A Brug’s Life. The ten-episode series focused on travel and seeking out the extreme and obscure adventures this country has to offer. It gave Justin an opportunity to combine his passions for travel and dare devilish activities to the world of filmmaking.
In March of 2016, Justin moved to Sarasota, Florida with an idea to explore one of his most intense passions since childhood…sharks. He came to the quick realization that shark awareness on the west coast of Florida was greatly overshadowed by the more lovable sea turtles and the gentle giant manatees. For act three, Justin created Unmasking Monsters Below, a documentary based on the passionate people he met within the shark world and the realization of the challenges sharks now face to simply exist. He hopes this new project will be an opportunity to make a difference, no matter how big or small, and to bring a greater awareness to the truths and the importance of sharks.
Justin’s greatest creation to date is his daughter Sydney, whom he is happy to say has inherited his love for sharks and the passion for their conservation.
Ryan Mathews is Co-Founder of List Productions and an emerging filmmaker from Pittsburgh, PA. His passion for film came at the early age of 12 where he shot and produced his first movie, The Hitman, which was a limited release to his friends and family. After college, he teamed up with fellow filmmaker Justin Sago to shoot their first travel mini-series, A Brugs Life.
Ryan’s passion for film along with his love for seeking out adventure has allowed him to capture some unique and extreme footage as seen in the mini-series. His love for film and exploration has taken him on some incredible adventures and is a life-long passion that he plans to continually pursue. Ryan also has a passion for music and has filmed promotional videos for upcoming artists.
Unmasking Monsters Below is Ryan’s first exploration into documentary film making and is one of many dreams he plans on bringing to fruition.