Saving Titanic – new 90 minute drama documentary on RTE1

Saving the Titanic, a 90-minute drama documentary made by Tile Films, will be broadcast for the first time on Irish TV tonight at 9.30pm on RTE 1. It was screened earlier this year at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and was broadcast on the German ZDF network last night.

It tells the tragic story of self-sacrifice by the stokers, firemen and engineers blow deck who struggled to keep the stricken liner afloat. This documentary provides and interesting insight to the fate of crew members like electrician Alfred Middleton from Sligo, assistant electrician William Kelly from Dublin, and 18-year-old Albert Ervine from Belfast. Deep in the bowels of the ship most of these men died fighting to hold back the sea and keep the power systems that propelled the Titanic going as long as possible in the vain attempt of a rescue.

Stephen Rooke producer of Tile Films said “I knew this film would be a real opportunity to bring this untold story of the Titanic to the screen for the first time,” Rooke who worked on the project for two years also said. “This story has never been told in drama documentary form, that’s what makes it unique.”

Using the latest ‘Red Cameras’ production began last August, filming in Kempton Steam Museum, London before moving to Ardmore Studios with the construction of  purpose built sets designed by Ray Ball (The Runway) within the tank on A stage. The production used extensive CGI to bring to life the last hours of  Titanic. This was one of the few productions to use the sound stages in Ardmore in 2011

The cast included leading Irish actors such as David Wilmot,(The Guard, The Tudors), Ciaran McMenamin (Primeval, One Hundred Mornings), Owen McDonnell (Single handed) and many others  including over 50 extras, portray the heroic men who fought to keep the “unsinkable” ship afloat.

Raising funds for any production has become increasingly difficult in recent years, as you can see from the number of companies involved here. Saving the Titanic is a co-production between Tile Films Ltd. In Ireland and GebruederBeetz Filmproduktion in Germany produced in association with RTÉ, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland – Sound and Vision Broadcasting Funding Scheme, BordScannánnahÉireann/the Irish Film Board, Windmill Lane Pictures Ltd., Section 481 – Ireland’s Film Investment Scheme, AETN / History UK, ZDF, and ZDF Enterprises.

My thanks to Patrick Toms who has bought my attention to the Shannon Ulster Titanic Society Please click on the link for more information or read Patrick comment on this post. Something that also has come to my attention was that the carpets for the state rooms on the Titanic were manufactured in my home county of Laois at a carpet factory in Abbeyleix.

Meanwhile Blood & Steel a new TV series in 12 parts, due to be aired shortly it has been sold to TV networks across the world. Based on the construction of Titanic in the Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast the €12 million series was produced in Serbia and at locations around Dublin including the former John Player Factory, Guinness Brewery  in the second half of 2011.

Blood and Steel will be screened, for preview by the members of the Irish Film and Television Academy on Tuesday April 10th 2012. The event will be followed by a Question & Answer session with Ciaran Donnelly (Director) and Paul Myler (Producer). A release date has yet to be set for Ireland and the U.K. but its unlikely it will be screened before August 2012.

Blood and Steel was produced using Section 481 monies, considerable doubt has been express over attracting particularly U.K. production companies into Ireland given the changes to UK tax laws to include TV production.

Speaking to the Irish Time last week James Hickey, CEO of The Irish Film Board said Obviously it does represent a significant change from the existing position and we are looking at various aspects of the competitiveness of Ireland, he also added. “The UK will do what the UK will do. Ireland has to be able to step up to the mark with all areas of competitiveness.

Meanwhile Barbra Galavan of Screen Producers Ireland has said that the British tax incentives could be “very damaging” for the business here in Ireland.

© Tom Dowling 2012

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Categories: Film and TV

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3 replies

  1. Tom,Uk will do what the Uk Will do.And Titanic did what it did sank.However My Titanic Society the Shannon Ulster Titanic Society,is still sailing after 20 years,named after my Grandfather Shannon from Co Cork,actually born and Christened in the St Colmans Cathedral.Unfortunately here in Bangor Co Down,where I live we do not get R.T.E. So I wont get that film about the Titanic,but of course maybe with a special Aerial I could.However with the film industry from England having some effect on the Irish film industry,I am sure that this might be the signal for Ireland to become more aware and lead to more Irish films being made.However just to inform you that you will not find Mr Shannon on any Titanic list,but you will find Lionel Leonard,and to make the story or some of it more amazing he was then a citizen of the U.S.A. and the Quartermaster of the SS.Philadelphia of the American Line.Also I am not Irish but English just to dispell any doubts,and further information is that the Shannon Ulster Titanic Society,is the only all Ireland Titanic Society With a permanent Titanic display in the Museum in Abbeyleix Co Laoise.Also a film of my Grandfather and his astounding life would make a good film especailly for Ireland.I would be glad if this could be done.

    • Patrick, thanks for your interesting perspective on the Titanic and I had no idea of the Abbeyleix connection. It is very unfortunate that you will not be able to relieve tonight’s screening of ‘Saving Titanic’ on RTE I would hope with today’s technology that that issue can be sorted out quickly. I have included a link to the Shannon Ulster Titanic Society in the post.

  2. further to your reply thanks for including my story,no doubt at some stage there will be D.V.D. about this latest film,also I have made a D.V.D. about a trip from the Mountains of Mourne Via Downpatrick Belfast and eventuall Cobh Co Cork it could be lead up to film I have tried to get film makers interested but so far it seems difficult for some reason.

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