French graphic artist, filmmaker and producer, Allix was responsible for putting together the five-part documentary for Flammarion, in partnership with Grands Reportage, Renoma, Mont Blanc, Meima, Audemars Piguet and Société des Explorateurs Français.
Joining Allix on the project was the cameraman possibly most renowned for his work on the Academy Award winning “March of the Penguins”, Jerome Maison and, together, they set out to capture the 107-day voyage from behind-the-scenes.
Featuring the stories of passengers, crew and the characters they met in the myriad of ports visited, the series is set for release in France later this year with worldwide release soon after.
This is what the two Frenchmen had to say when they sat down with Cruise in Review midway through their voyage.
Cruise in Review: Jerome, you were in Antarctica for thirteen months when filming
“March of the Penguins”, how did it feel winning an Academy Award for something that you put so much of your life and passion into?
Jerome: Laurent Chalet, my friend, was with me on the ice and we went to shoot the film. We didn’t think at any time about any awards.
We had no pressure on our shoulders when we were filming. We tried just to do the maximum, to bring back amazing footage and a very nice story as a legend for an animal quite unknown.
We wanted to bring back a story that parents could say to their children before they go to sleep. That was the only reason we stayed thirteen months on an ice shelf.
About awards and all this stuff, it became important after the shooting.
We were back six months after the end of the trip and it started to be more and more important to sell the movie for release everywhere in the world and it became a big, big
But first it was just a meeting with the director, two guys who were about to go on the ice shelf and six thousand penguins.
That was already quite a big thing!
When it happened (the Academy Awards), I was in the middle of the mountains in Italy filming wolves and bears for another documentary. The director called me and said, we’ve got an Oscar, and I said, “Ok but now I cannot talk, I’m filming wolves and bears!”
Cruise in Review: So you weren’t even at the Awards?
Jerome: No, I was not there. My job was to film.
Then I came back to the shelter and I thought about it and I said, “Wow! We did that. We stayed thirteen months. We showed that film to everybody in the world!”
It was a big shock! I still can’t believe that they called me to tell me that and I told them not to disturb me because I was filming!
Cruise in Review: Talk about focus!
Jerome: Yeah! That’s our job. So for us the big reward was the footage of wolves, bears and penguins. That is my favourite award, when I can get the footage.
Cruise in Review: Do you have an Academy Award at your place? Did you get one?
Jerome: No, we get only one, so we gave it to the director. We had a party and each of us had a moment with the Oscar.
Cruise in Review: So now you’re on the Queen Elizabeth filming a five-part documentary. Simon, tell me a bit more about your plans onboard.
Simon: We are making a five-part documentary on the world cruise. My “character” is a travelling writer.
We will showcase the people working on the ship, how everything happens here, where the water you drink is from…all the secrets of the ship.
We also interview a few passengers about why they are doing this kind of voyage and we try to focus on history because each segment of this trip has deep history.
For example from Europe to the U.S., we speak about the immigration in the early century, in the Pacific Ocean we speak about the Polynesian culture…
We try to make portraits of the both world and of the “traveller”.
Cruise in Review: Why the Queen Elizabeth? Why did you choose this ship out of all of the ships in the world?
Jerome: It was the only one that was doing a real ‘world cruise’.
Cruise in Review: So it was based on the itinerary more so than the ship itself?
Jerome: It feels like we are in the 1930s when we are on the ship!
Simon: Also to link with the story of Cunard.
Cunard was the first line to make a trip with passengers.
Cruise in Review: And she’s a beautiful ship of course!
Jerome: Oh yeah, it’s perfect. First, the body of the ship is dark blue and white – it’s perfect for filming. I don’t like completely white, it’s boring to film!
Simon: We have been hired by a production company and my role is to find good talent, good characters to be in this documentary and then, with the production company, I have to find the best director/co-director and cameraman.
Of course, I knew Jerome by reputation and many friends of mine know him and his work so we met and immediately I knew I wanted to make it with him.
Cruise in Review: Simon, you’re the person who is embarking on the journey and “experiencing” it in the documentary, will it be mainly based on your experiences personally then?
Simon: Yes, but at the same time I don’t want to be in each frame, I am just here to introduce passengers, I’m here to be the link and to make the dream come true.
Cruise in Review: Has it been picked up? Or is there still the process of selling it once it goes through production?
Jerome: No it has been sold already to French TV and then it will be released overseas.
Cruise in Review: What’s your favourite thing about the ship? You were mentioning you love the lines, the style. Is there a particular thing about the Queen Elizabeth that really captures you?
Simon: For me, the way everything works…the crew.
Jerome: Yes, the crew. Maybe, mostly, people we don’t see. The waiters are really nice, but they have to be nice. It’s like in a hotel. I like the waiters, but, the ship works thanks to people we don’t see. So I like that very much.
Simon: I am very happy to have this balance, I can be a passenger, I can be crew and so it makes our trip very comfortable and fascinating.
Cruise in Review: Is there anything you found interesting about the style of passenger on Queen Elizabeth in particular?
Jerome: The style changed from sector. From Europe to the U.S., it was very British; you can see by the dress code…the way the ladies dress. Afterwards, it became more American, and then more Australian!