Notes for Future Filmmakers

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
394
152
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Inevitably at some point in the next twenty, thirty or forty years, someone will have a bash at another film for either cinema or TV about the Titanic disaster.*

Let's hope it's someone who has a real passion for the whole darn story and the people involved. Someone who would find just the right balance. On one hand making a genuine effort to be historically accurate. And on the other hand meeting the commercial considerations that modern film-making requires.

In light of all the research done and discoveries made this century and at the end of last century, what do you believe that a future filmmaker who is committed to some degree of accuracy should include in his or her Titanic epic of the future ?

Being a hopeless amateur I'd be really keen to read what advice our resident experts Ioannis Georgiou, Dave Gittins, Sam Halpern & Bob Read respectively would have for the future James Cameron's of 2042 or 2052 ;)

This is what I'd like depicted or else in some instances not depicted

(I'm happy for any of this to be corrected by the professionals btw)
  • The near collision with the New York at Southampton.
  • With many people asleep at the time of the collision, the ship is not quite so ablaze with light as is often depicted..
  • A mild red glow at night on the promenade decks from the lanterns hung on the entrances to them.
  • The order “Full Astern” is never given.
  • No post-collision meeting on the bridge of all the deck officers.
  • The ship's list during the sinking.
  • Sockets being shown used for firing of the pyrotechnics as opposed to launching them from the deck like mere common fireworks as has previously been portrayed. Also, the results of their detonations being much brighter and louder than anything previously depicted.
  • Captain Edward Smith remains calm, confident and active throughout the sinking rather than the shocked, confused and defeated individual of past representations.
  • J. Bruce Ismay steps aboard Collapsible C not against the backdrop of a quiet, almost deserted boat deck. Instead, rather one that has dozens of people nearby, still on deck and in a state of sheer panic with orders being barked out and revolver shots being fired.
  • As the “final plunge” takes place, the poop deck and the aft well deck are not absolutely mobbed with hundreds of desperate people but perhaps as few as 50-100.
So what would you really like a future filmmaker keen to "get it right", to take into account ?

* Indeed, next year we will have the film "Unsinkable" to look forward too but from what I can gather it will be focusing more on the aftermath rather than depicting the events that took place during the April 10th to April 15th timeline which is what this post is about.
 
Last edited:

Tim Aldrich

Member
Jan 26, 2018
97
76
28
Wisconsin
I would like to see less focus on the first class (they got enough attention in life as it was) and more focus put on the crew who made things happen. Maybe a simple scene showing "Jo Schmo" steward trying to sneak off for a smoke only to be interrupted by some billionaire's complaint that the seams on his blankets weren't straight enough.

A boiler room scene that doesn't show all of the furnace doors wide open and belching flame.

The chef with the "thousand yard stare", thinking about the next time he'll see his wife, chopping his way through a 50lb bag of onions.

Not one, single reference to Titanic being a "ship of dreams" or anything more than an old version of a way to make money transporting people from point A to point B. Bums on seats as the airline industry likes to say.

Generally speaking, I would like the crew shown in the realistic context of "it's a job".
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
394
152
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Great post mate.

You make an interesting point about the boilers. Pretty much all the films depict them with the doors wide open and fires burning furiously. In reality wouldn't that have been extremely dangerous and the furnace doors had to be shut after stoking ?

I too want to see more focus on the ships crew and what they experienced. Fair play to the makers of the TV film "Saving Titanic" for trying to do that, but unfortunately they got so much of it wrong and that was meant to be a docu-drama ! :(

Fred Fleet delivering his famous message to the bridge in a broad Liverpudlian accent for the first time on film would be a good touch.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tim Aldrich

Kas01

Member
May 24, 2018
149
41
38
24
Fred Fleet delivering his famous message to the bridge in a broad Liverpudlian accent for the first time on film would be a good touch.
Having found out what a Scouse accent sounds like, perhaps there should be a black comedy bit where Murdoch or Moody joke about that being the first time they ever really understood what Fleet was saying.
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
394
152
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Having found out what a Scouse accent sounds like, perhaps there should be a black comedy bit where Murdoch or Moody joke about that being the first time they ever really understood what Fleet was saying.
That sounds like a Harry Enfield sketch that never made it to air ! :D

For all we know, James Moody may or may not have had quite a strong Yorkshire (North Riding) accent. I like to imagine him and Boxhall, who was also a Yorkshireman (East Riding), exchanged a few words in the famous Yorkshire dialect and puzzling the other officers.

Lightoller in reality sounded absolutely nothing like he did in the 53', 58', 79', 96' and 97' adaptions.

Part of me hopes that James Fraser (Jnr. Asst. 3rd Engineer) used a bit of the Doric when working in the engine and boiler rooms.

I don't know about dangerous, but leaving the doors open any longer than necessary would further reduce the efficiency of an already inefficient method of propulsion.
Ah ! Thanks.

I've just had a look around and found where I had originally read that leaving the furnace doors open was dangerous. The words belong to Dr Paul Lee.


"I am grateful to Titanic authority Scott Andrews for this: "The upper door was a long counter-weighted "mail slot" through which the furnace was fired, and through which the fires were "worked" with slice bars, rakes and other implements; this slotted firing door was mounted on a larger vertically hinged swinging door which could be opened for thorough cleaning when the boiler was shut down. (The working of the fires was one of those things that Cameron did not portray correctly in his movie, as he showed the entire upper half of the furnace front opened for stoking; this was both dangerous due to possible "blow-back" of superheated combustion gas into the firing aisle, and was also wasteful of the heat being produced -- hence the small, quick-closing flaps.)""
 
  • Like
Reactions: Roger Southern

robert warren

Member
Feb 19, 2016
178
58
38
Would like to see Margaret Brown portrayed as the cultured, well spoken woman she actually was. Also I would like to see more focus on the 2nd class passengers. SOS Titanic showed some of this , but 2nd class remains ignored, as it's always about the glitz of 1st and plight of 3rd. I know there are interesting stories and backgrounds among the middle class to make a decent flick.
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
394
152
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Oh, forgot to add.

A central propeller with three blades on it rather than four.

Would like to see Margaret Brown portrayed as the cultured, well spoken woman she actually was. Also I would like to see more focus on the 2nd class passengers. SOS Titanic showed some of this , but 2nd class remains ignored, as it's always about the glitz of 1st and plight of 3rd. I know there are interesting stories and backgrounds among the middle class to make a decent flick.
I wonder whether Margaret Brown herself would actually be embarrassed by the whole "Unsinkable Molly Brown" legend ?

Absolutely, there are some really terrific tales of the second class passengers that are just begging to be dramatised rather than focusing yet again on Astor, Guggenheim et al.

I'd like to see featured from second class Masabumi Hosono and the "Hoffman's" (the Navratil's) the latter being observed by a curious Bertha Lehman.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
714
108
53
I would agree with most of comments made.
We hear they are shutting down the boilers. Showing how the dampers door works to restrict the oxygen intake wouldn't go a miss.
The difference between the two types lifeboat davits a radial arm type and the quadrant davits as used on Titanic, showing the advantage between the two designs
I would like to see how 65 persons can seat in the large lifeboats! Much the same for the other types of lifeboat of 40 and 47. It just does not look like its possible that all can seat down!
 

Rancor

Member
Jun 23, 2017
259
153
53
I don't know about dangerous, but leaving the doors open any longer than necessary would further reduce the efficiency of an already inefficient method of propulsion.
I highly recommend reading Richard P. De Kerbrech's book 'Down Amongst the Black Gang' if you haven't already. Goes into great detail about the firing process. It really was skilled work, and shoveling the coal in was only a small part of the process.

Also gave me much more of an appreciation for how bad the conditions were in the boiler rooms themselves, especially in the days before assisted/forced draught fans. Stokers passing out due to the heat was not at all uncommon.

And yes you sure didn't want to leave the firedoor open the whole time unless you wanted the leading fireman beating you up because your boiler was short on steam!

Movie wise I'd agree with the other members about more focus on the crew. I'd love to see a high-budget version of "Saving The Titanic" with the errors patched up.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mike Spooner

Kyle Naber

Member
Oct 5, 2016
944
389
73
19
Or at least have the music set a scary and terrifying mood rather than an “epic” mood.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
714
108
53
For those who like shipping stories. The recent documentary in the UK on the DISCOVERY and MAYFLOWER ships were just amazing what the human race can take. From the extreme cold of the Antarctic for two years and over 60 days to sail the Atlantic wow.
The only thing that did slightly spoiled it was that dreadful background music again.
 
May 3, 2005
2,227
170
133
Not necessarily just Titanic in particular, but one of my gripes about some Navy movies is that crew members - enlisted men rather than officers - are depicted as ignorant, drunken slobs.
I would like to see a movie showing them as intelligent , sober human beings.
I was only in the USN for four years and only two years of that in active sea duty but I met many good intelligent persons in my shipmates .
 
Last edited:
May 3, 2005
2,227
170
133
Would like to see Margaret Brown portrayed as the cultured, well spoken woman she actually was. Also I would like to see more focus on the 2nd class passengers. SOS Titanic showed some of this , but 2nd class remains ignored, as it's always about the glitz of 1st and plight of 3rd. I know there are interesting stories and backgrounds among the middle class to make a decent flick.
IMHO Kathy Bates did this best as "Margaret Brown " in the 1997 "Titanic" and Tucker Maguire the worst in the 1958 "A Night To Remember".
From some things I have read it was said that she was fluent in several languages - including English - and was helpful in talking to Steerage survivors because of this. Maybe a scene showing her conversing with some of them with English subtitles.?
 
Last edited:

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
394
152
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Not necessarily just Titanic in particular, but one of my gripes about some Navy movies is that crew members - enlisted men rather than officers - are depicted as ignorant, drunken slobs.
I would like to see a movie showing them as intelligent , sober human beings.
I was only in the USN for four years and only two years of that in active sea duty but I met many good intelligent persons in my shipmates .
Aye, they were human beings too. The stories of the crew are just as important as those of the passengers.

A good realistic depiction of the ship's crew could involve a scene at 23:30 on the night of April 14th 1912.
  • In the seamen's mess room there is a discussion about whether a big European war is likely or not.
  • As he pours them both a cup of tea in his cabin, Purser Hugh McElroy explains to Assistant Purser Reg Barker why he made the difficult decision not to become a Roman Catholic priest.
  • The saloon stewards detailed to be night watchmen pass the hours talking about what books they have been reading lately - X is an H. G. Wells devotee, Y is keen on Arnold Bennett, whilst Z adores G. K. Chesterton.
  • Over a pipe and a cigar in the engineer's smoking room, the off duty engineer's and electricians wonder what the future holds for these "flying machines".
Well, something like that anyway.

Another point I've made before and I'll make again because it irritates me is that the majority of the crew wouldn't have sounded like the flipping cast of "Eastenders" like so many film productions think they must have. Although some Londoners signed on, the majority of the crew were born and bred in Liverpool or Hampshire and would have had the very distinctive accents of that particular city and county respectively.

That's not to say that the crew was a wholly English one. We should remember too that there were also quite a number of Irishmen serving aboard. A handful of Scots and Welsh too. I didn't realise until recently that there were also several Australians among the Titanic's crew, particularly among the stewardesses.

I didn't like the way the crew were portrayed as basically a bunch of cowardly, sadistic bullies in the 97' film. Which brings me to another point I forgot to mention earlier.

Let's hope we never again see any fictitious scenes of countless, randomly placed locked Bostwick gates in third class with helpless women and children screaming and begging for help.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Harland Duzen
May 3, 2005
2,227
170
133
Aye, they were human beings too. The stories of the crew are just as important as those of the passengers.

A good realistic depiction of the ship's crew could involve a scene at 23:30 on the night of April 14th 1912.
  • In the seamen's mess room there is a discussion about whether a big European war is likely or not.
  • As he pours them both a cup of tea in his cabin, Purser Hugh McElroy explains to Assistant Purser Reg Barker why he made the difficult decision not to become a Roman Catholic priest.
  • The saloon stewards detailed to be night watchmen pass the hours talking about what books they have been reading lately - X is an H. G. Wells devotee, Y is keen on Arnold Bennett, whilst Z adores G. K. Chesterton.
  • Over a pipe and a cigar in the engineer's smoking room, the off duty engineer's and electricians wonder what the future holds for these "flying machines".
Well, something like that anyway.

Another point I've made before and I'll make again because it irritates me is that the majority of the crew wouldn't have sounded like the flipping cast of "Eastenders" like so many film productions think they must have. Although some Londoners signed on, the majority of the crew were born and bred in Liverpool or Hampshire and would have had the very distinctive accents of that particular city and county respectively.

That's not to say that the crew was a wholly English one. We should remember too that there were also quite a number of Irishmen serving aboard. A handful of Scots and Welsh too. I didn't realise until recently that there were also several Australians among the Titanic's crew, particularly among the stewardesses.

I didn't like the way the crew were portrayed as basically a bunch of cowardly, sadistic bullies in the 97' film. Which brings me to another point I forgot to mention earlier.

Let's hope we never again see any fictitious scenes of countless, randomly placed locked Bostwick gates in third class with helpless women and children screaming and begging for help.
In Shaw's "Pygmalion" "Professor Henry Higgins" remarks that there must have been many regional dialects that he could identify , " Even down to the street " so there must have many different ones amongst the crew of the Titanic.
I found this to be true in the USN in my first experience in "Boot Camp". In the "Boot Camp Company" were there many - from the "youse guys" from the North-East to the "y'all's" of those from the South.....and several others.

Another "Navy Movie Gripe" is a scene from the movie "The Caine Mutiny.". A crew member is delivering a message to Captain Queeg and is rather sloppy looking in his uniform. The Captain remarks about this. But in real life in the USN that conduct would have never been tolerated in the first place. This one scene (perhaps the only one ! LOL ) in which I am in agreement with the Captain's remarks. LOL.
You always tried to look your best when you were in the presence of the Captain. Just another incidence of how Hollywood portrayed the ordinary sailor. The Division Officer or Petty Officer would never have permitted a member of his Division looking like that.
From personal experience I was the Senior Petty Officer in charge during the end of my enlistment. I never would have sent one my men to the Captain looking like that !
 
Last edited: