A renowned filmmaker, writer, and producer who put together the first expeditions in search of the Titanic is hoping to carry on his exploration venture, this time in the Northern Marianas.
Michael Harris, who is renowned for his documentary films Deadly Fathoms, Search for Titanic, and In Search of Noah's Ark, arrived on Saipan Monday night to begin what would be the preliminary research work on the possibility of recreating into a film a significant component of the islands' history.
“I'm very interested on Saipan because of the marine invasion in June of 1944,” he said in an interview following the general membership meeting of the Rotary Club of Saipan yesterday at Hyatt Regency Saipan.
During his three-week stay on island, Harris would conduct research focusing on the Naval Construction Battalions, popularly known as Seabees, which were organized to build bases and bulldoze and pave roadways and airstrips tied with the nation's combat operations during the war.
He said his interest was piqued by the 1944 film The Fighting Seabees starring John Wayne.
“I'm here to see if we can try to recreate what the Seabees did and how they cleared the airfields and extended the runway later,” Harris told Rotarians during his brief remarks.
According to Harris, one of the top IMAX producers from Canada is “very interested” to turn his work into a film which hopefully would bring publicity for the islands.
Although he arrived by himself, Harris said he expects a film crew to arrive next week to assist in initial research and begin filming around As Lito and the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport areas, believed to be the site of Seabees' cleanup.
“It may develop into something else in the future but that's my initial interest,” said Harris, adding that he is looking at expanding his exploration work into the other islands of the Commonwealth.
After the Rotary meeting, Harris also met with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial to discuss his project.
“I have fun in what I do. I'm 77 years old and I'm still doing it and I'm still excited about doing it,” he added.