Off to the Welsh Harp sailing centre this weekend to start filming for the Maritime Media Awards keynote film, ‘Boat Nation’. Welsh Harp, I hear you say? What the confibulation is that?! Well, the Welsh Harp was a Victorian pub in north London, close to what is now the North Circular Road in the London Borough of Brent. When a giant reservoir to feed the Grand Union Canal was built in the area the name stuck. It’s now a sailing centre in a country park, offering lots of sail and training opportunities. So, since our film for the Awards this year is all about the importance of the “leisure sector” to UK maritime we thought we’d film there – to show how you can get to sail in the most unlikely places, and don’t have to spend £££££ to do it.
First filming today for the Jubilee Sailing Trust at Greenwich in South East London – their sail training ship Tenacious is there for the Tall Ships event. We’re there to film a hello message from the Trust’s new Chief Executive Office Duncan Souster, who’s on board to meet and greet, and help host a visit by Sophie, Countess of Wessex. The ship is looking great even though the light for cameras is terrible – flat and grey, but still quite glarey, so everything kind of blands out. Think it’s all OK. Anyway Duncan Souster is good on camera, natural, relaxed and friendly – we film him with the bowsprit of the ship behind him. Later out on the river aboard the Iris, a former Dutch fishing boat, to catch shots of all the ships from the water. Good event, well organised by Greenwich.
Film planning meeting with the Jubilee Sailing Trust – they have two specially-built tall ships which can take anyone to sea to experience life under sail on the ocean, very much including the disabled, and indeed soldiers injured on active duty . Their two ships are Lord Nelson and Tenacious –beautiful, specially built square riggers.. You can pay or get support for a voyage, or part – so for example on Lord Nelson’s current two year round the world voyage there are voyage crew members backed by Help for Heroes. They can even take wheelchair users up the masts! Good story: a blind voyage crew member climbed the rigging, high up. When asked how on earth he managed that the crew member replied “Well you wouldn’t think I’d have done it if I could see how high up I was would you?!”
Southampton Maritime Festival Day 2 and we’re filming again for Associated British Ports, this time to catch a flypast by a Hurricane and a Spitfire. After a vain attempt to chicken out and get my Maritime Films UK colleague Andy Jones to do the aircraft while I do crowd reaction, I’m left holding the baby! Trouble with these events is that you have just ONE chance … no good asking the Battle of Britain flight for a retake. Plus, it’s a bright day so the viewfinder is hopeless for catching where they are in all that sky. Plus, they come from where I’m not expecting them. But manage to get some OK shots. Odd, though: as they come for their last pass I can see them clearly – quite close – but not hear them till they’re even closer. Weird!
Another Maritime Films UK day, another world full of great ships at Southampton Maritime Festival hosted by Associated British Ports in the city. Jubilee Sailing Trust‘s tall ship Tenacious, veteran steamship Shieldhall, even D-Day Motor Gun Boat veteran HMS Medusa. ABP Southampton want us to catch the atmosphere and there’s plenty of it, including majorettes, brill singer doing 40’s hits and even a wandering pirate singing sea shanties and telling groantastic jokes. Like “Why are pirates awful? They just arr, arr, arr!” He ought to walk the plank for that one. Tomorrow looks good with Spitfire etc flypast planned. We’re now off to sea courtesy the Captain of Shieldhall… it’s a hard life etc.
Rob is a TV producer, reporter and camera operator with 30 years’ experience at the BBC, Channel 4 and ITN, in news, factual and documentary production. He is a four times 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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