One of our niche skills is marine filming – filming at sea whether drone filming, boat to boat, or even underwater filming. Working with Princess Motor Yachts gives us a great opportunity to showcase these skills.

Princess Motor Yachts  are one of the UK’s foremost builders of luxury motor yachts. The statistics are impressive. According to Wikipedia, “Princess Yachts operates in 119 countries and employs over 2,600 people worldwide. Whilst their shipyards cover a combined area of over 1.1 million square feet.”

2018 French Rendezvous

Based in Plymouth, they have been a client we have been keen to work with. Particularly as I own a Princess boat – Cecienne – albeit the very smallest of their range. Over several years Fionn Crow and I have taken her from Africa to the Antarctic, and on those voyages have developed a considerable expertise in marine filming – an expertise that I am happy to say Princess have recognised.

Each year they arrange a cross-Channel adventure for Princess owners. Last year was from the Solent to Guernsey, an event that we filmed for them. So I was delighted when we were invited to film this year’s event – from The Solent to Cherbourg and then on to …

With my crew of Elliott Harrison and Reef Slack, we headed up to the Solent River, where we had an overnight mooring arranged for us. We arrived in good time for the skippers’ briefing by Jon Mendez, who had led last year’s Guernsey trip. Then an early night ready for an early morning departure.

The crossing

To get our drone footage, we ran ahead of the rest of the flotilla. Conditions were perfect for drone filming.Jon organised the boats into an arrowhead formation passin

Fionn Crow and I have just been accepted to join ShelterBox’s global pool of freelance filmmakers and photographers.

This means that at as little as 24 hours notice we could be travelling to locations of natural or human disasters anywhere on the planet to record the work of the charity.

ShelterBox’s Work

It doesn’t promise to be an easy ride. Much of ShelterBox’s work is carried out in hostile environments. In the aftermath of disaster the last thing that people want is someone pointing a camera at them. However I believe we have both been selected due to our experience producing documentaries over the past 20 years. Because we have worked together in some incredibly remote places, and dealing with people as varied as hostile villagers in Papua New Guinea to Somali Pirates.

My interest in the work of ShelterBox came about as a result of two weeks spent sailing in The Virgin Islands earlier this year. The islands had been devastated by two category 5 hurricanes in September the previous year – Irma and Maria. ShelterBox as always had been one of the first charities to respond to the human crisis left in the aftermath.

But surely The Virgin Islands are wealthy? With their offshore banking and tourism industries you would have expected that  a clean-up and rehousing operation would have been speedily undertaken by the government and by Britain and the US who have interests here.

ShelterBox in action

Yet six months after the hurricanes we found people still living in the tents provided by ShelterBox. They were surrounded by the few possessions that they had managed to recover from ruined buildings or from mountainsides where the wind had taken them.

We become anaesthetised to stories of human misery on the News. Because there’s always something else, and people forget today’s headline story by tomorrow. Yet for the people suffering amd trying to get their lives back together there is no easy fix.

I spoke with those whose lives, homes and businesses had been totally destroyed.  Not wealthy folk with insurance and cash in the bank, but ordinary islanders who had been left with nothing. I came to understand how the emergency relief and temporary housing that the tents are meant to provide actually become the only lifeline that they have. Yet six months after the hurricanes the tents had become their permanent homes.

What I saw moved me. I was proud of the work of the Cornish charity. And both Fionn and I were delighted to be selected.  And to potentially be in the front line next time that ShelterBox respond to a disaster, natural or man-made. Anywhere in the world.

I hope that the images that we capture and the stories our cameras tell will help to raise awareness. And that our footage will help to draw attention not only to the work of the charity but to the plight of those that they help.