Project. Eleni P.
Duration: 32 minutes (colour)
Original idea – Challenges of implementation – Evaluation
How do you direct a film in which the main character is a wooden boat? Especially when it’s not only not seaworthy but no longer exists as a boat. How do you tell a story of years where behind captains, sailors and goods hide the entire modern history of a place?
These and many other questions arose in the phase of production of the documentary “Helen P.”, a film documentary about the history of the wooden boat of the same name that marked the life of the inhabitants of Hydra. The film was produced in the context of the “SaveWoodenBoats” project and was completed within a demanding 6-month schedule.
Consequently, “Helen P.” is more a story about Hydra Island itself than about one ship. This means that the stories behind the name “Helen P.” are many and somehow had to come to the surface. For this reason, it was decided to make two trips to Hydra within a few months. Recording the testimonies of people who lived through the ship was extremely important for the film, in order to make a solid presentation of people’s experiences rather than a mere paraphrase, a “sterile” record of historical events.
The documentary avoids the simple narration of events through interviews. For this reason, the film includes decades of archival footage to illuminate the history of the ship through the years.
But as much as the Eleni P. marked Hydra at the end of the 20th century, this film could not be limited to the historical context of the vessel. The documentary had to start from the history and end with the present and the future of the Eleni P. Therefore, the production team filmed the actions of the group under the title “Save Wooden Boats”. The main focus was to capture on screen all those initiatives to preserve and digitize parts of the boat.
The short production period and the need to interview many members of the creative team and people of Hydra, were undoubtedly the two biggest challenges of the project. Within a short period of time, two trips to Hydra, one shooting in Samos, one in Thessaloniki and four days of shooting in Athens were completed, while in the following period the transcriptions were completed, “tools” necessary for the editing process.
The documentary presents in a clear and understandable way not only the story of the Eleni P., but also the problems with which this special boat was confronted. The film also shows the efforts of the whole team to preserve and digitize the vessel. Most importantly, it presents human stories and experiences directly related to the vessel and its operation as a “logistic vessel of Hydra” for several years. At the same time, the film also “touches” the future as it shows the great potential of digital VR, AR and MR technologies, which provide older and younger generations alike with the contact with the historic ship.
And if sometimes the film gets a little emotional, the production team asks for the viewer’s understanding. As Ms. Vasso Hatzipetrou, co-founder and General Director of ReadLab, aptly states in the documentary, “we were dealing with an Eleni with a very strong point of view”. An Eleni who has been searching for years for the vindication, promotion and visibility she deserves. And all of us who participated in the making of the documentary, hope that she now feels vindicated…
Konstantinos Georgopoulos Director – Director of Photography