Cruise ship worker film “The Crew” Premiering in DC

Mar 23, 2018

A Cinematic 360-degree Virtual Reality film entitled The Crew, will premiere at the DC Web Fest on Friday, April 6th at the AT&T Forum for Technology, Entertainment, and Policy. The film was produced using the latest Virtual Reality 360-degree technology as part of the Google Jump Start Program, and is based on the writer’s personal experience. The message behind this 8-minute story is very powerful. Jason Ferguson, the writer of the film and a former crew member hopes that this movie will get some attention, both for the film and for the larger story of crew member labor issues.

The Crew is a VR 360 short film about a Filipino cruise ship cabin cleaner who sings opera karaoke to help him escape from his difficult working conditions. The film was made in partnership with Google’s Jump Start program for VR creators. The story is based on Jason’s own personal experience working on cruise ships and seeing firsthand the unfair labor practices the crew, mostly Filipino, were expected to work under. The idea behind this film is not only an entertaining use of a new technology, but also that it sparks some conversations into how American cruise corporations treat these employees.

The Crew, will be showing at the DC Web Fest on Friday, April 6th from 4-5pm at the AT&T Forum for Technology, Entertainment, and Policy at 601 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington D.C., 20001.

  • The Crew main creative team:
  • Johan T. Anderson, Director
  • Jason Ferguson, Writer/Producer
  • Jeffrey Whitney, Executive Producer
  • Jeffrey Hernandez, Producer
  • Josh Goldsmith, Producer
  • Matt Britten, Co-Producer

Here is a short teaser of the film, which is currently up on the official YouTube page of Google VR. We recommend watching with a Google Cardboard, but you can also scroll in on the top left corner for a 360 degree view.

In an interview with Jason Ferguson, Writer/Producer of the film we found out more about his personal ship life experience and the making of “The Crew”.

Can you tell me about your work experience on cruise ships?

I worked as a production manager in the Entertainment department of Princess Cruises off and on between 2004-2006 (I’m pretty sure that’s right). I ended up doing about 9 months at sea total. Overall, I enjoyed my experience onboard, but the troubling part of my job was seeing how much more difficult life was onboard for the “lower rank” crew. I was told how in some cases, due to the logistics of how they are hired by agencies back home, they were effectively indentured servants who arrived on onboard already in debt and working in fear that if they were fired, they might not even be able to get home. I also heard from many crew that the medical care was almost nonexistent and most on-the-job injuries resulted in a prescription for painkillers so the crew member could keep working. There are numerous other stories like these, just do a Google search and you’ll find articles, but the important thing to remember here is that these crew are full-time employees of highly profitable American corporations, in most cases. 

Can you tell me about the script and idea behind “The Crew”?

The Crew is a work of fiction, just a short slice of life view into crew members, but by using an aria from the opera Pagliacci about the crying clown, it draws a parallel between the smiling crew member – who serves your drinks by the pool or cleans your cabin – and the pain those smiles often hide. The film isn’t itself a work of activism, it is just a human story told in a musical and fantastical way, but I do hope it stirs enough emotion to convince someone to dig a little deeper into the issue. And even more than that, I hope that once we are able to make the film public online later in the year, crew members will be able to watch their own story reflected back to them and know that there are people out there who care. 

Was the film made on a cruise ship?

The movie was not made on a ship, it was made in theatre in New York City. It is just under eight minutes long, but we hope even a short film packs an emotional punch.

The Crew VR movie cruise ship

What is your advice to the crew and people who want to work on cruise ships?

My advice to people who work, or want to work, on ships would be to try and fix things from the inside. I am not a professional advocate so I don’t claim to have all the answers. I am a storyteller and that is what I’ve done. But personally, I believe that in addition to labor advocacy and the formation of unions, the greatest impact may come from informed passengers. Consumers can vote with their dollars. That said, I don’t have much faith in free markets to solve labor issues, so I do hope that cruise companies become better regulated and are forced to provide the same basic employee rights to crew that they provide to their US-based employees.

You can find out more info about the film at www.jason-ferguson.com/the-crew 

For the latest updates make sure to visit their Facebook Page, and share "The Crew" posts in order to reach more people and rise the attention, of crew member labor issues on cruise ships. YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

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