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Updates from Maritime Film UK’s Rob White, TV producer, reporter and camera operator with 30 years’ experience at the BBC, Channel 4 and ITN

Below decks in HMS M33

07 November 2014
Below decks in HMS M33

Now it’s our turn to get inside HMS M33. And what a sight she is. Some might say “what a mess” as she’s had so many different roles since her World War I battles, including minelayer, workshop, fuelling hulk and even office space. So many of the spaces are not in their original shape, that most of the fixtures and fittings are gone (like the “heads”, or loos!) and that there’s a heap of work to do to get her ready for visitors in August, the anniversary of the Dardanelles campaign. The upside is that what we can film is incredibly evocative, with dramatic rust patternings, shafts of sunlight like solid bars shining into enclosed spaces, and of course the visual drama of brazing and welding. (See picture.) Nothing like a shower of sparks to liven up a dark shot…

Away seaboat!

07 November 2014
Away seaboat

Day 2 of filming the opening work on HMS M33 – and now it’s the turn of the 6” Hotchkiss gun, the after gunhouse and mast, and the whaler all to take flight onto the dockside of Dock No. 1. Once again, immense skill and care is required. But Paul, Darren, Phil and the ML team know what they’re doing and the whole lot gets aloft and across and down onto a safe landing. Seeing the whaler, the ship’s boat (picture) being hoisted up reminds you how heavy these boats are – a lot of weight to get overside and then to pull with oars, especially in a running sea. But that was normal for the Royal Navy of that era – as were the whaler races, with fierce competition between ships in harbour to see who’d end up ‘Cock o’ the Walk’!

Camera running!

06 November 2014
Camera running

And running and running, as we cover more “lifts”: the searchlight and the main mast. But then the lifting has to stop: the team are worried about the wind crossing the site – if any of these big heavy objects starts to swing and catches people or any part of the dock M33 is sitting in, things will get nasty. Very nasty. Plus, there’s only so much space on the narrow dockside to put stuff. So the team are proceeding with great care – after all this is truly historic stuff they’re handling. No care however will allow for the fact that the crosstree of the mainmast, which stands just behind the bridge, has rotted right through over the years, and snaps during the operation. Luckily it’s held on by cables so no harm done, but its removal is clearly very timely.

M33 – Turning Over

06 November 2014
M33 Turning Over

“Turn over!” is the standard film industry prompt to run your camera, Refers to the mechanical running up of a film camera, and has survived even in the days of recording everything, in High Definition and with sound onto an SD card the size of a stamp. So… here we are with M33, in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, ready to film her transformation into a visitor friendly experience, with full access inside the ship and everything from hologram-style displays to restored 6” guns to help understand her story. Today the team from Portsmouth engineering company ML UK started lifting off parts of the veteran ship – the last survivor of the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 – in time for her hundredth anniversary and the centenary of the campaign too. First to go is the forward gunhouse (see picture) but there’s more… much more…

The 2014 Maritime Media Awards Part 2

06 November 2014
Maritime Media Awards 2014

But Sam’s achievement wasn’t the only one marked on the night. We hosted the ‘Fleet Award’ – the RN’s gong for the unit that’s done the most to promote the Navy. Winner this year was HMS Daring, a sister ship of the destroyer Sam sailed in. We had a new award too – the First Sea Lord’s Digital Media Award, which went the Aircraft Carrier Alliance for their website. The Countess Mountbatten book award went to Captain Richard Woodman, for his history of Trinity House, who keep our seas safe. The TV and Film Award went to ‘Ade at Sea’, an ITV series showing Ade Edmondson finding out stuff about Britain’s maritime life.  And Richer Sadler (see earlier blog) was made a Fellow, for his outstanding work at Lloyd’s Register. A lot. It over-ran of course but no-one seemed to mind much!

The 2014 Maritime Media Awards Part 1

06 November 2014
Sam Bannister

The Maritime Foundation’s big night – the annual Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Awards, set up in memory of the best naval correspondent that we’ve ever had (or as things are going) are ever likely to have. But wait! I take it back right away. Because the winner of our top journalism award is a young reporter called Sam Bannister of ‘The News’ in Portsmouth (see picture) who turned in a cracking series for his paper while at sea with HMS Dragon. A triple achievement – because as a reporter you don’t just have to write good reports, you also have to lobby your editors to get sent on such a trip, and then lobby again to get the space you need for your story. Same thing in TV news. So Sam sure earned his award. Coming up in next blog entry – more prizes…

254 and Counting

27 October 2014
Richard Sadler

To Lloyd’s Register in the City to film their Chief Executive Richard Sadler for the Maritime Media Awards. Lloyd’s are THE big guns in marine certification – setting standards for ships, vital for safe cargoes and safe deliveries of all the goods we need – but they also set many other standards worldwide, shedloads of other big stuff. In fact their marine business is now just over a third of what they do, which means their other business is booming. Richard is excited about the new Global Technology Centre they’ve set up with Southampton University, to get ahead of the curve in all new marine innovation. Lloyd’s ( they call themselves) are now 254 years old but still setting a worldwide standard – the phrase ‘A1 at Lloyd’s’ must be the only marine certification term to enter the English language!

'The Pendennis Way'

21 October 2014
Pendennis Adix

In Falmouth, at Pendennis Worldclass Superyachts – big name-claim but for once a company’s proud boast is 100% accurate. Just look at the picture to get an idea of the boats they build and service and rebuild. That is Adix, a spectacular 65 metre three-masted schooner, now undergoing a comprehensive refit. We’re interviewing Stephen Hills, Project Director for the company – which means he oversees all the work going on at Falmouth, for some of the most high-value clients you might ever chance to encounter.  So, no pressure then! Stephen tells us that Pendennis reckon their USP’s are that they can do all their work down to the last rivet in house, so keeping up their quality standards – and also because they take on a lot of apprentices and train them in the Pendennis way. Looks like it works.

About Rob

Rob is a TV producer, reporter and camera operator with 30 years of experience at the BBC, Channel 4 and ITN, in news, factual and documentary production. He is a four-time award winner, whose awards include a coveted Royal Television Society award for his work on Channel 4 News. His association with the Maritime Foundation goes back to 1995 when he won the first Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award for a series of reports that led to a major documentary on the loss of the bulk carrier Derbyshire.

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