Tower Bridge from HMS Belfast

“Truk Lagoon – Japan’s Pearl Harbour”

We’re working to deliver Shark Bay Films latest documentary “Truk Lagoon – Japan’s Pearl Harbour”.  National Geographic have expressed interest in the film. However they wanted a stronger historical thread. So we enlisted military historian Saul David to help us out.

Saul is Professor of Military History at the University of Buckingham, so ideal for our requirements. He is also a well respected historical author of both fiction and non-fiction. In fact his latest book – not yet released – focuses on a campaign in the Pacific War. So Saul was definitely the man for the job.

The classic interview with an expert “talking head” is sat in his study in front of his bookcase. Add a tweed jacket and a pipe and you have the cliche complete! But that is not Saul. He suggested filming on board HMS Belfast in London. The ship, moored by Tower Bridge, is an iconic London landmark, and was involved in the Second World War. Just the type of vessel that we were diving on in Truk Lagoon.

Filming Saul David HMS Belfast Truk Lagoon Documentary

Filming Saul David on board HMS Belfast

The Plan…

It’s not often that we have to pull a 24 hour day, but this week was an exception. The alarm went off at 4am and by 5 Fionn and I were on the road from Porthleven to London. We had the ship booked from 5pm, but needed to get there well early to get our equipment on board and scout for the best filming location. What we hadn’t planned for was the difficulty and expense of parking in London. £6.20 per hour! A little more than Cornish prices…

…comes together

After exploring the ship the engine room was our choice. An intriguing and authentic space. Very similar to the engine rooms of the Japanese ships on board which we had filmed in Truk Lagoon. Greg Luscombe, London based camera operator, arrived at 4 to help Fionn set up. And Saul arrived shortly after so we could discuss the shoot together. Chris Fletcher, our television sales agent  from Earth Touch, who also Executive Produces our films, also arrived to help with the filming. Chris has already got lost of broadcaster interest in the Truk Lagoon documentary.

Film crew Greg John and Fionn Truk Lagoon Documentary

Film crew Fionn John and Greg

The shoot

Filming in such a unique space is not easy, but once Greg and Fionn were set up Saul delivered his lines to camera like the true professional that he is, and we were finished by 8. We then break down the gear and head home.

And the long road home

While Fionn was fetching the car from a distant car park, I had the whole of the ship to myself. Apart from night security of course. What a magical half hour! And London looks amazing from the river at night. We finally managed to load the car. And after a drive home on a night so brightly lit by the full moon that we didn’t need high beam, we arrived home at 4am. A very long day.

And thanks…

… indeed special thanks to Jeni Leatherby at the Imperial War Museum for all her help in making this happen!

Alone on HMS Belfast - Shard above guns Truk Lagoon Documentary

Alone on HMS Belfast – Shard above guns