The Making of 'Launch'

  • Description

    "It was a case of looking around at what was going on and seeing a ship being built at the end of the street. It was visually staggering." (Peter Roberts, co-director, 'Launch') Shot in and around Swan Hunter's busy shipyards at Wallsend, North Tyneside, 'Launch' (1974) depicts the building and christening of two ships, the 'World Unicorn' and the 'London Lion'. As members of the Amber Collective and art graduates, Roberts and co-director Murray Martin were struck by the incredible imagery and sculptural quality of the shipyards and the surrounding industrial landscape, and decided to film them. They were given unlimited access to the ships and the yards, and arrived there with no greater ambition, at first, than simply to record what they saw. But having started work on a collective riverside project several years later, they found in the film's rushes an eloquent eulogy to a lost community and to Britain's industrial past. In this short film, the BFI's Poppy Simpson and Gemma Starkey took Peter Roberts back to a very different Wallsend and asked him to reminisce about his experiences of making 'Launch' almost 40 years ago. Extracts from 'Launch' by kind permission of Amber Films: Read more about 'Launch' at BFI Screenonline's new Shipbuilding tour can be seen at 'Launch' is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Tales from the Shipyard', over five hours of rare documentary footage charting the rise and fall of Britain's shipbuilding industry from 1898 to 1974: All titles on the BFI Films channel are preserved in the vast collections of the BFI National Archive. To find out more about the Archive visit
  • Owner

  • Source

    BFI (Youtube)
  • License

    What does this mean? Standard Youtube License
  • Further information

    Resource type: Video
    Last modified: 5 years, 5 months ago
    Viewed: 563 times
    Picture Taken: Unknown
  • Co-Curate tags


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Co-Curate is a project which brings together online collections, museums, universities, schools and community groups to make and re-make stories and images from North East England and Cumbria. Co-Curate is a trans-disciplinary project that will open up 'official' museum and 'un-officia'l co-created community-based collections and archives through innovative collaborative approaches using social media and open archives/data.