How to sink a battleship

DKM Bismarck was considered unsinkable. There was quite a mystery around the sinking – whether she was sunk by the British or if she was scuttled by her own crew.   We decided to revisit this mystery and see if we could come up with an answer.  One of the best ways to fund an expedition is to make a film about it.  Discovery Channel became our sponsor for this expedition.

Bismarck was a hard film to make.  Not only were we filming at 16,000 feet underwater,  we were also pioneering new bot technologies and a new HD, 3D Camera system (it was the only one of it’s kind in the world at that point (2002).

I think it turned out the best of the Earthship documentaries so far.   I probably feel that way because my work made up over 40% of the shots in this film.   You see, I found all the archival footage which wasn’t an easy task.   I also might add that this is the documentary that got nominated for 5 Emmys winning 1. I’m not saying that had anything to do with my work…….Okay it probably didn’t, but Discovery channel did pay me an enormous complement by saying that my work on the Bismarck was the best and most thorough archival research they had ever seen.

It’s a bit like being a detective.

I spent days and days at the National Archives in Maryland. I ended up scanning hours of unmarked canisters of films that just had war dept www II markings and nothing other than that.  A lot of the footage I was looking for was seized war footage. My huckleberry was when I ended up finding an unmarked reel with a propoganda film about Hitler Youth.   Turns out it, the youth had a replica of Bismarck and they were carrying it on their shoulders.  I couldn’t believe I’d found that reel.  I also did lot’s of research on 15 inch guns which sent me to the Naval Surface Warfare Center – and where they did a lot of ballistics tests on the big guns.

I also spent numerous hours searching for footage overseas. The Imperial War Museum was an amazing asset as was the the Bundesarchiv in Germany.   I even had a search at the Moscow Archives.

224 archival shots

“It was WWII’s most fearsome ship. A ship so powerful, it sank the pride of the British fleet with a single salvo. Hearing the news, Winston Churchill saw no choice. He sent nearly the entire Royal Navy to hunt and destroy it. But what really happened to this German legend? Was she sunk? Or was she scuttled? Now Titanic director James Cameron returns to the high seas to tell the tale and search for the truth. Leading a team of explorers, historians and Bismarck survivors, Cameron examines the wreck three miles down and discovers the answers that may finally end the debate. With revolutionary production techniques and high-tech Remotely Operated Vehicles, Cameron lights up this dark world and gives us the first glimpse inside the Bismarck in more than 60 years. Stunning high-definition footage shows underwater images with cinematic clarity. Cutting-edge animation and ultra-realistic reenactments bring the survivors’ stories to life. Join the expedition and relive the dramatic final days of the DKM Bismarck.”