“I love to shoot anything outside the comfort zone.”
PADI AmbassaDiver™ Claude Evangelista

Claude Evangelista is a filmmaker who’s both a PADI® Diver and a USPA Skydiver (United States Parachute Association). His unique skill set makes him an in-demand videographer specialising in adventure sports and exotic travel. Learn more about Claude and the similarities he sees between his favourite sports, scuba diving and skydiving.

Want more? Check out Claude’s 2019 highlight reel.

From Open Water Diver to Professional Videographer

In 2016 I had a meeting with Cebu Pacific Airlines (a Philippine Airline company) about creating travel destination videos. They asked me if I was a PADI Diver because they wanted underwater shots. At that time, I didn’t know how to dive, but was eager to learn and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to shoot content for them.

Immediately after the meeting, I asked my brother to introduce me to his dive instructor so I could learn how to dive right away. I completed the Open Water Diver course® and spent most of my weekends diving, learning from my instructor, and working on my buoyancy. 

Here’s the video Claude shot for Cebu Pacific.

Watch the video that caught Cebu Pacific’s attention in the first place.

The more I dived, the more awesome marine life I saw. I was slowly falling in love with the ocean, its creatures and the art of underwater cinematography.

My first underwater videos were filmed with a GoPro, but pretty soon I invested in more serious underwater camera equipment. I got my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, and today I specialise in underwater cinematography for brands/companies that need underwater content such as liveaboards and scuba companies.

What was your most memorable scuba dive and why?

I’ve had so many memorable scuba experiences, so it’s really tough to choose. If it can only be one, it has to be my first visit to Tubbataha.

I was shooting for a liveaboard and hoping to see a shark; just one shark would have made me happy. We went to a site called “Shark Airport,” where I saw a school of 37 blacktip sharks. They headed right towards us, so I aimed my camera at them and watched in awe as they passed by.

I will never ever forget that life-changing moment. I felt overwhelmed, happy, stoked, amazed and truly connected with the ocean. It made me want to learn more about sharks and dive with more species of them and bigger ones!

How are scuba diving and skydiving similar?

Skydiving and scuba diving are similar and very different at the same time. Both sports give you that “high,” but in a different way. If you want loud, heart-pumping, adrenaline-fueled adventure that gives you a sense of awe, amazement and a feeling of serenity, then skydiving is the way to go. If you want to experience discovery, exploration and wonder in quiet solitude, then scuba diving is the go-to.

Scuba gives you slow-motion adventure, while skydiving gives you fast-paced adventure. Falling from the sky at a rate of 220 km/136 miles per hour, to be exact.

Skydiving has an organisation similar to PADI called USPA (United States Parachute Association). If you decide to do your first skydive, make sure the dropzone is a USPA accredited skydive centre to ensure your safety, since all USPA instructors follow a high level of standards and safety practices.

Just like scuba diving, you can’t be complacent. Anything can happen in the sky or beneath the ocean, which is why you always need to be aware of your surroundings and have training in emergency procedures.

Scuba divers should try skydiving because…?

You get to experience the best of both worlds. You don’t get to see majestic creatures in the sky like you do when you’re scuba diving, but you get that same feeling of adrenaline and awe like when you see a shark or a manta ray.

To be honest, it’s really hard to explain, but just like scuba, skydiving is something that you need to try to truly understand. You will not regret it!

When you jump out of a plane, what does your self-talk sound like?

My first ever skydive was in Dubai on my 21st birthday. I didn’t feel nervous or scared until I was in the plane and we were already taking off. I remember saying to myself, “don’t back out and regret it on the way home!”

I told myself that if skydiving was really as dangerous as people made it seem, then this activity wouldn’t have been open for the public. People skydive every day and these instructors have been skydiving professionally for years and taking people on thousands of jumps. So I should be in good hands.

After that first jump, I couldn’t stop thinking about the experience. I had to know what it felt like to skydive by myself. My curiosity went out of control and, after a lot of research, I did my AFF [accelerated freefall] training and eventually earned my license.

What was your most memorable skydiving experience and why?

Just like with diving, choosing just one experience is hard. Once I went skydiving over the island of Mati, Davao with some friends. We jumped out with only our boxers (underwear) on, soared through the island and landed on a stretch of white sand.

It was such an epic moment, to jump out at 3,962 metres/13,000 feet, soar through the sky, then land and hit the water. It felt so surreal, like a dream. I never ever thought I would do something so crazy and awesome in my life. I landed in between the waves and the beach and it took me three days to clean the saltwater out of my parachute and dry everything up, but it was so worth it.

The best of both worlds…

Both scuba diving and skydiving make life truly worth living. When you combine both of these sports, it makes you feel like the world is literally your playground, and you get to experience the best of both worlds. Soaking in all the joys and wonders life has to offer.

Knowing both skydivers and scuba divers also expands your perspectives can inspire you to create your own amazing stories. As a PADI AmbassaDiver, I’m looking forward to sharing stories with other PADI Divers.

I’m also working with a liveaboard company filming expeditions to Apo, Tubbataha, Visayas and other destinations. I want to use my skill set to raise awareness about the world’s oceans, and inspire people to protect and preserve the incredible animals that live there.

Connect with PADI AmbassaDiver Claude on Instagram @evangelistaclaude, Facebook, or YouTube and check out his work on Vimeo. Visit PADI.com to learn more about our PADI AmbassaDiver programme.

Bonus content! In case you thought this article was going to be about a guy who jumps out of a plane and goes scuba diving, here ya go:

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