BP Shipping wanted to create a documentary to capture what life on board a BP vessel is like. Our brief was to capture the culture on the ship, the communications between the crew, and the factors that contribute to a successful One Team mentality. Filming on ships is never easy, not to mention a ship that carries oil and can change direction at the touch of a trader’s button. We had a film crew on stand by for over a month. After a few false starts, we finally managed to get the crew on board. Health and safety is always a concern when filming in live environments. We were limited to a two man crew, with a kit that fit into two large backpacks. Ultimately, this dictated our creative approach of filming in a ‘fly on the wall’ and lightweight style.
To help us create a truly engaging film that felt authentic and real, we suggested that we limit the pre-briefing to the contributors. No questions were sent over in advance and no agenda was set. This resulted in two outcomes: 1 – no corporate messaging came through in the answers and 2 – we captured real opinions and real voices. On arrival, we decided to base the narrative around the Chief Engineer, who provided a lot of background about the operations and goings on on-board the vessel. We then filmed separate scenarios with other contributors to compliment the narrative. The voyage we documented was a 48 hour journey from the Sheltand Islands to the Rotterdam Port. This meant we were able to tell the story between ‘anchor up and anchor down’. In the final edit, we bookended the film with a stylised intro and outro, some of which was shot in slow motion to add to the drama of the piece. We had to be agile with lighting since filming in the bowels of the vessel meant lots of low light. By using a RED camera – which is known for handling low levels of light well – we were able to film anywhere around the ship. Capturing the audio was also troublesome, the environment was noisy and at times wild, so we had to be selective when capturing interviews.