RESPECT & HONOUR
Award Winning Scottish Filmmaker Lee Hutcheon has spent the last 9 months talking with some of the people from his home town in Aberdeen in Scotland who were directly affected by the Piper Alpha Disaster.
Lee Hutcheon on 'The Men Of Piper Alpha'
The sole aim of this project was to make sure that the world would never be allowed to forget about the brave men who suffered that night. I wanted to show exactly what they were forced to endure during those desperate hours as they battled endlessly to save their own lives
'Words cannot describe how difficult this project was to film both from an interview perspective and also from a reconstruction perspective. Raw feelings of hurt, frustration, bitterness and anger would often become clearly visible during the interviews with some of the survivors and the families of the victims. Having to sit behind camera listening to these unimaginable stories of their own real life devastation and tragedy was at times too much for everyone in the room to withstand. On more than one occasion I found myself getting up in the middle of the interview, stepping across and hugging the interviewee. At times it felt like it just wasn't right to be filming these very personal inner most feelings of the pain and anxiety these people have had to go through for so many years. The mental scars and nightmares still haunting them to this very day.
Many of the people who spoke on the film did so with the sole aim of reminding the world about the horrific events of that night 20 years ago. Like myself, they feel that 20 year olds today who weren't born when Piper happened should know about this disaster and the people it affected.
We spent so much time making sure that all of the reconstructions were done with the upmost respect and integrity. We certainly did not want to show any of the men suffering through the reconstructions yet at the same time we wanted to do justice to the survivor's stories and what they had experienced themselves. So it was finding that middle ground where we could tell the stories and provide the visuals to back them up withoutout necessarily alarming or traumatising anyone. So in essence we pretty much found ourselves setting the scene and the atmosphere and then allowing the interviewee to provide the viewer with the more unpleasant details of what they actually had to endure. This allowed us to convey the power of these remarkable tales in a very respectful, dignified manner without showing any graphic detail. To be honest, I think the real power of some of these stories comes straight from the men anyhow without any reconstructions. There were actually that many mind blowing stories told throughout the course of filming that the entire editing process became an absolute nightmare because we didn't want to cut anything out at all but we knew we had to trim this all down into a 1 hour film. At one point I think we were sitting with about 80 hours of footage.
I think everyone involved in this docu/drama did an amazing job, espeically the survivors as these lads are still trying to close the door and move with their lives after all these years. It's very clear to see when watching the film that they still have great difficulty talking about that night and I would just like to personally thank them for being so open and honest with us, both behind and in front of camera. The end result of which speaks for itself.