Of course I really loved directing Warship - In the first series
that I directed
we filmed in HMS DIDO a Leander class frigate - Douglas Borriman was the
commanding officer. He was a navy flier - Phantoms - which was a happy
coincidence as the character Brian Marshall was playing, the CO of HMS HERO, was
also a phantom pilot.... Really enjoyed working with both men - Douglas
was interesting and clever - I suspect very much in the Nelson mould. Brian
was a wonderful actor - although a real east-ender he portrayed a RN officer
superbly. Such a clever actor. The 2nd series took us to Hong Kong, new
actors, new RN Captains and different stories.
One morning I found my self with the cameraman Ken Willicome up
in a Wasp helicopter with a Leander class frigate below and a millionaires yacht
to one side and a Nimrod (military version of Comet) aircraft all working to my
plan and instructions!
My first shot was for us to be hovering at 200 feet above the
frigate and the nimrod to fly exactly between us in the helicopter and the
frigate - so the shot went LS Nimrod to CS pan down with it and as it wipes
frame reveal the frigate beneath. The Nimrod pilot said 'his employers would not
approve of him flying though so small a gap' - I said I wouldn't tell them if he
didn't and bless him he agreed if we made the gap 250ft.
It was a great shot but after this huge aircraft flew only
125 feet below us - Ken gave the thumbs up to say the shot was OK, then
the up rush of air hit the Wasp helicopter and the world turned upside down -
great flying stabilised the situation but I was glad we didn't need take 2! It
is still a good shot!
Working with the Royal Navy was a pleasure - they are very good
at what they do. I think the senior officers felt that the vagaries of a
film unit were good training. We would have a firm plan for each hour, day, week
of shooting but if problems arose - weather - technical - whatever we were capable
of changing the plan in a blink. The sort of immediate schedule changing that
only comes in operational situations and not in training.
There is a really good site intended for ex-crew of Dido
well worth a visit....
Interesting that a new series called MAKING WAVES is now running
and looks very like the old WARSHIP. Shows that the Admiralty thought they got
as much out of WARSHIP as they put in. Now in March of 05 I see that Making
Waves is no more -
It was during the production of Warship that I purchased my
first boat - a 22ft long keel sloop called JEMA JAN which my wife insisted on renaming
MIGNON because it was so small - having done a winter RYA navigation course
(long before GPS) 3 weeks after I purchased her I sailed her to Cherbourg from
the Hamble - an intrepid voyage of 72 miles and 36 hours! There was almost no
wind and Mignon only had a little outboard motor and a 2 gallon fuel tank!
The sea and sailing have probably stopped me having a heart
attack and dieing young - directing can be quite stressful and I am pleased I
had another great love Sailing
to change my lifestyle - Directing in television is the art of the
possible - in the time for the money - over running or overspending is
not acceptable. Sailing is totally dependant on wind, tide and the
condition of your boat - for the lack of a nail the ship was lost. You
have to accept that the control of the situation is governed by forces far
greater than anything mankind can produce.
I have sailed around the world, been in some heavy weather, Attacked
by pirates had an emergency operation in Thailand, been hit by Lightning
in the Chesapeake and had crew injured in heavy weather but none of these are as
stressful as getting into a serious 'over run' situation in the studio!
This should go to my IMDb page