The Boys In The Boat
BETTER BY WATER
Directed by Hollywood legend George Clooney, The Boys In The Boat is a biographical sports drama that tells the remarkable story of the University of Washington rowing crew that represented the United States in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
Ed Livett was appointed as the film’s sole marine coordinator. From orchestrating incredibly complex regatta scenes and sourcing dozens of vintage rowing boats, he and the wider Livett’s marine filming team were crucial in bringing this inspiring story to life.
Here’s how we helped make it happen…
HOW LIVETT'S MADE IT HAPPEN
Although our world-renowned marine film services and coordination team have been involved in several hundred film and TV productions over the years, The Boys In The Boat is undoubtedly one of the most extensive we have ever been involved in.
Livett’s Managing Director, Ed Livett, played a pivotal role as the film’s marine coordinator, collaborating closely with George Clooney and the senior production team to make their vision become a reality.
Given the film is largely based on the water, the challenge ahead of us was immense. We diligently worked on the project throughout pre-production and filming, a period spanning over 12 months between 2021 and 2022. Ed himself was stationed at the studio for six months, leading a dedicated Livett’s team that worked exclusively on the production.
Vessel procurement: Row, row, rowing boats!
Our wide-ranging marine connections and expertise was critical in the sourcing of over 50 on-screen picture boats from across the country. These were not just any boats; they specifically had to be 1930s-style wooden rowing boats to authentically depict the regatta scenes.
As part of this, we were vital in the design and construction of the two authentic replica hero rowing boats used by the real-life heroes of the film: the Husky Clipper.
The film pays homage to George Yeomans Pocock, a leading designer and builder of racing shells in the 20th century, including the Husky Clipper. To do justice to his legacy, we sourced distinguished boat builder Mark Edwards MBE from Richmond Bridge Boathouses. He led the build of not only the two replica Husky Clippers, but also the rowers’ training barge, Old Nero. All of these were built from scratch exclusively for the production, ensuring historical accuracy and authenticity.
And action! Bringing New York to England
As sole marine coordinator, Ed and his team had the responsibility of ensuring all filming on water was carried out safely and efficiently in order to meet production deadlines. Despite the film being set predominantly in the US, filming actually took place across many different locations in the UK.
To enable this, Livett’s provided every single marine element required, such as providing a fleet of camera boats, safety boats, and drone platforms – including Bravo Lima GB, Charlie Lima, Echo Lima I, and Indigo Lima. A critical aspect of our coordination was also the management, storage, and strategic placement of over 50 rowing boats, ensuring they were always ready for filming – a major task in itself. On filming days, Ed’s role as coordinator also entailed managing up to 50 marine crew across various reservoirs and waterways.
Epitomising these logistical challenges was the filming of the film’s showcase Poughkeepsie Regatta scene. In real life this event took place on New York’s Hudson River, but filming for this actually took place on the Queen Mother Reservoir near Heathrow Airport.
With the skies above regularly filled with loud aircraft, scenes had to be filmed at specific quieter interludes, meaning precise coordination of dozens of vessels and marine crew was absolutely crucial. Our unrivalled experience in managing complex filming environments proved integral to the success in capturing these vital scenes.
You can find out more about the meticulous planning and execution that went into filming on the reservoir in this superb behind-the-scenes featurette:
After three years in production, The Boys In The Boat was released in UK cinemas on 12 January 2024, with reviews crediting it as an “inspirational true story with heart and solid craftsmanship.”
Speaking about Livett’s involvement in the film, Ed Livett said: “It was fantastic to be so deeply involved with The Boys In The Boat from the outset, working alongside a brilliant production team. We are immensely proud of our significant contribution to the production and we’re delighted with how the finished film looks. There were many challenges along the way, but our unparalleled marine coordination skills and knowledge ensured Livett’s delivered on every level. We’ve set ourselves new benchmarks in marine filming for future projects and we can’t wait to put our skills into practice again soon!”