Deepwater Horizon: spinning a disaster into an action flick

Peter Berg, the director of “Deepwater horizon” decided that the $62bn paid out by BP was not enough money spent on this environmental disaster. Instead of using Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) he undertook a $156m budget to completely re-enact the whole event. It took 85 welders eight months to construct the 33,000-tonne replica of the rig (85 per cent the size of the original platform) in an abandoned amusement park in New Orleans.

Like many other films that are based on real events, Deepwater Horizon, is a trade-off between accuracy and drama. Hollywood is not renowned for its committed adherence to facts. Thus simplifications are included in the film as well as showing some invented moments of heroism, such as Mr Williams’s rescue of the navigator Andrea Fleytas.

Berg reported that BP had been “a very effective disrupter” to the production of the film, blocking access to any equipment and to people involved in the disaster. The filmmakers didn’t receive any cooperation either from BP or from the drilling company Transocean. Therefore Berg and his team had based the framework of their story on 72m pages of court documents generated by BP’s wrangling with US authorities and other litigants.

Unsurprisingly, all the blame is pinned on BP (with John Malkovich as snarling BP representative Don Vidrine), despite US government report emphasizing that Transocean and Halliburton were also partly responsible. However after six draining years of litigation, BP would be reluctant to pursue another round of courtroom arguments to establish what exactly happened on the day. “Filing a lawsuit might end up attracting more attention to an allegation and causing more reputational damage than would have happened otherwise,” said Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California.

BP said the depiction of the company and its employees “does not reflect who we are today, the lengths we’ve gone to restore the Gulf, the work we’ve done to become safer, and the trust we’ve earned back around the world”.

Nevertheless, the film conveys a profound message - safety comes first; even the slightest concerns need to be addressed and investigated. The film was also a sincere tribute to the eleven men who died in the event; it is our hope that this tale will ensure Deepwater Horizon type accident never re-occurs.

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Reuters: Business News