A two-hour National Geographic documentary filmed off the coast of Kinsale, Co Cork, at the wreck of passenger liner RMS Lusitania is to be broadcast this Sunday (July 15) at 7pm.
‘The Dark Secrets of the Lusitania’ was filmed last August on a budget of €1.5m and co-produced by Cork-based M3 TV Productions and US production company Creative Differences under the banner of Lusitania Productions.
The highly-skilled 10-day shoot involved a mix of locally-based Irish and international crew using highly-advanced equipment as they dived 300 feet down into the Atlantic Ocean and used mini-submarines, cutting edge ROV’s (Remotely Operated Vehicles), specialised cutting crew and an underwater space suit known as a Newtsuit, which has its own atmosphere and allowed the diving team more time to examine the wreck.
The passenger liner RMS Lusitania sank on May 7, 1915 when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. 1,198 lives were lost aboard the ship, which took just 20 minutes to sink. The speed at which it sank prompted rumours of a second explosion on the ship and led to speculation that there may have been ammunition on board the passenger vessel.
Eighty-three year old American businessman Gregg Bemis bought the wreck and gave the go-ahead for the documentary, which aims to discover why the ship went down 13 miles off the Irish coast in such a short time and with a massive loss of life.
The documentary was co-produced by Aidan Mulcahy (From Here to Maternity) for M3 TV with Dave Harding (Cave of Forgotten Dreams) executive producing. Cork Screen Commissioner Niall Mahoney was the production manager on the shoot and provided production support for the project.
Speaking to IFTN, Mahoney told how conditions for the shoot were tough with the crew spending 10 days and nights living on one of Ireland’s largest Merchant vessels, the Irish Lights Granuaile, during rough conditions at sea.
However, he added: “This was an incredibly exciting programme to make for everyone. A huge amount of time, money and resources had been put in to what was really an expedition with an unknown and uncertain outcome, and even the logistics of getting all the equipment and people together from all over the world at the right time was a massive undertaking.
“We were also combining an incredible array of different teams, from divers to specialist submariners from the US and cutting technicians from places such as Brazil and Norway and putting them together with a TV documentary crew on a ship for 10 days without any real idea of how they would cope, never mind what we might find.
“The decision by LA-based production company Creative Differences to co-produce the documentary with M3 TV and employ a Cork-based production crew was a key factor in making the expedition a success.
“Cork has a rapidly growing film and television industry with highly skilled technicians who brought a wealth of experience to this production. Everything that was needed to make the production run smoothly and efficiently could be sourced without the delay of having it couriered from Dublin or the UK. On a production of this scale, with all of the logistical problems that needed to be dealt with, local knowledge proved to be of huge benefit.”
The documentary was directed by James Younger (Through The Wormhole) with Johan Perry (Nature) as the director of photography. Among the key crew who worked on the shoot included Ed Godsell as camera operator; Peter Stach as camera assistant; Donagh MacCarthy-Morrogh as data supervisor; Greg Mulcahy as runner; Danny Crowley as on-location sound and Guillaume Beauron as boom operator. Waterford diver Eoin McGarry led the dive team and also carried out some filming.
The documentary was shot on GoPro HD cameras mounted to the crews’ Newtsuits and processed on-location using a Panasonic disc system.
‘The Dark Secrets of the Lusitania’ will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel, Sunday July 15 at 7pm on the Sky platform.