Share an entertaining look at a part of maritime history and hear some fantastic sea stories Once upon a nuclear ship...
Once Upon A Nuclear Ship, a new documentary by filmmaker Thomas Michael Conner, tells the story of the NS Savannah the world’s first nuclear powered merchant ship that was once the diamond in the crown of the US merchant fleet.
My name is Thomas Michael Conner an independent filmmaker and fine art photographer located in Howell Michigan. The name of my production company is TCL Communications, Inc. and I recently completed my second documentary, “Once Upon A Nuclear Ship”. The film was self financed and now I’m trying to raise $5000.00 to cover the cost of promotion, marketing, distribution and manufacturing. The film is complete, retail ready and has it’s own website http://nssavannahdocumentary.com and is also available on Amazon.com.
Finishing a film project is one thing but marketing and distribution is quite another. Currently the distribution is DIY and probably will be for the future as well. There is a limited market for documentaries; mainly the academic arena, libraries, schools and museums. Our plan is to enter film festivals to create awareness and get the film placed on VOD sites like Netflix, Amazon VOD and other online platforms.
Your contributions will help us get the word out about this great film by allowing us to:
1. Purchase mailing lists directed to specific markets like academia and the library market and museums.
2. Cover the cost of printing, design and mailing of mailers, flyers, postcards, brochures, posters and the like.
3. Mail out review copy DVDs to film reviewers and bloggers
4. Cover the cost and delivery of perks from the campaign.
5. Cover manufacturing costs of DVDs and other promotional activites
Synopsis of the Film
Imagined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955 and built by the New York Shipbuilding Corp in Camden NJ from 1957 to 1962, the Savannah sailed the oceans of the world for 9 years before being taken out of service in 1971. In her brief lifetime she visited 77 ports of call hosting 1.5 million visitors and proved that a nuclear powered merchant ship carrying cargo and passengers was a viable option to smokestacks spewing soot and other contaminants into the air and laid the groundwork for a future that never came to be.
It’s a story best told by the men who “were there when it happened” and although many of these pioneering seamen have sailed into the sunset, Conner tracked down some key players and let them tell the story in their own words. It’s a story he too knows well because he was a member of the health physics (radiation protection) staff and was there from the day the reactor split it’s first atom then sailed on the ship until the end of 1964. The NS Savannah was the only merchant ship requiring a special department for the assessment of radiological hazards.
Once Upon A Nuclear Ship follows the Savannah through all of her trials and tribulations from her keel laying to her decommissioning and abandonment to her resurrection in 2006.
Today, the NS Savannah sits beside a dock in Baltimore MD while a small group of passionate people led by Erhard Koehler and Jon Stouky of the US Maritime Administration are busy preserving the history and technological know how that produced the Savannah in the first place. Future plans include using the ship as a Maritime Museum.
The film came out of an idea I had for a book of the same name that I began to write in 1977. The book was never finished, however; various chapters had been shared with old shipmates who liked it and found it rather amusing since it had been written by a "wide eyed" kid point of view. The idea and an incomplete manuscript languished until 1999 when I was invited to the1999 NS Savannah reunion at the US Maritime Academy at King's Point NY where most of the ship's officers had completed their nuclear training. It was great to meet up with old friends and shipmates and to share some "sea stories" and once again remind them that someday I was going to make a film about the ship. Eyes rolled like a ship on an uneasy sea.
I sent the unfinished manuscript to John Robinson my old boss and mentor. I had talked to him on Christmas day in 2003 and he told me he had cancer but it was no big deal and it was under control. I sent the manuscript in January and in March I received a letter from his wife, Marie, who told me John had passed away but she had read the manuscript and enjoyed it.
Once again the idea lay dormant until 2008 when I received an invitation to attend a Maritime Day Celebration aboard the NS Savannah that had been recently rescued from the James River mothball fleet. It was then that I decided in earnest to take advantage of the situation and start planning the film based on the uncompleted book. I went to the celebration and was able to interview some of my old shipmates but the main job was finding historic footage and artifacts. Luckily, I had a lot of stuff from my tenure on the ship and in the course of making the film I ended up selling a lot of it on Ebay to finance my effort.
I made a second trip back to Baltimore to interview Stan Wheatley who was the Chief Engineer on the ship during the same period as me. Stan has always been a great story teller and didn't disappoint me this time around.
POST PRODUCTION STORY
With all the elements in hand, it took about 3 more years to compile the archival material, do new interviews, get a music score and do the final edit.
Four years later, the film is completed. And now with your help ..out into the world
Your support will help spread the word and create a public awareness of the peaceful uses of nuclear power in a maritime venue. You will help preserve the memory of the world's first nuclear powered merchant ship and all the men who sailed her.
If you can't contribute, please help us spread the word about our campaign AND our film!
Tell your friends about the project:
- Share the video at the top of this page with a link back to this campaign
- Post a link to our indiegogo campaign page on your Facebook and Twitter accounts
- Visit our website
- Link to our website from your blog
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Thomas Michael Conner