Industry Veteran Raising Funds for Deepwater Horizon Documentary
For Greg Williams, Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was his home away from home. During his six years on board, he got to know many of the 115 survivors of the 2010 Macondo incident, as well some of its victims.
Williams now is telling the stories of Macondo’s “real heroes” with a documentary film project. Williams, a former Transocean employee who in 2014 founded Houston-based consulting firm Contechnix LLC, is seeking to raise $75,000 to make the film.
While the Macondo incident will be featured in film Deepwater Horizon, which hit theaters Sept. 30, there are still many survivors who have not told their stories, Williams told Rigzone in an interview.
“Ultimately, the documentary project is about ensuring that the survivors stories are heard, and don’t end up as just a footnote on a broken Wikipedia page,” said Williams, who worked for Transocean from 1999 to 2012.
The documentary – which will feature five key members from the Deepwater Horizon’s surviving crew – will attempt to dispel rumors and false information that has surrounded the Macondo incident, according to a Sept. 23 press statement from Williams’ company, Contechnix LLC. Williams owns and operates the consulting firm, which he founded in 2014.
Williams first started approaching some of the families in 2012 about making the film. At that time, it was still a painful conversation for people.
“Now that there has been more time, more elements have come out and memories that people are willing to share,” Williams said. “The world needs to know these stories, not just the Hollywood sensationalism. They need to understand that one person’s perspective doesn’t tell the true event.”
A commemorative memoir book also is planned for the crews who worked on the Deepwater Horizon in its decade of service. The documentary part of the project became important when Williams realized they had to condense things to get to more of the heart of the story. He is seeking involvement from the more than 480 people who worked on the rig to gather their memories.
If Williams can raise half the funds, he can put a producer and crews in place to make the film. Williams said he has been in contact with the SCAD Film Institute in Savannah, Georgia, and has talked with someone interested in acting as a producer. Williams also has contracted Houston-based Henderson Enterprises to assist in technical writing for the project.
Williams said he hadn’t caught an early screening of the film.
“From what I see from the trailers, there is much left to be desired,” Williams told me. He didn’t see much interaction from the survivors except for one person’s perspective.
He has spoken with some of the families who lost loved ones and were able to see an early screening of the film. They told Williams that it paid tribute to their loved ones, which made them happy.
“The movie added a bit of closure for those who couldn’t place in their mind where their loved ones were at the time of the incident,” Williams said. “But the world needs to remember the survivors as well.”
Williams, Macondo Victims Shared Good Times on Deepwater Horizon
The 115 survivors of Macondo are not the only familiar faces to Williams. Four of the 11 victims of Macondo also worked as part of his drill crew on board the Deepwater Horizon. Williams said that he and the four – Donald Clark, Karl Kleppinger Jr., Shane Roshto, and Roy Wyatt Kemp – shared a lot of good times together.
Williams described Clark – who he worked with during his entire time on the Deepwater Horizon – as a very charitable, likeable and approachable person.
“Donald was someone who not only put other people before himself, but made sure that the job was completed and that he followed up behind the guys who worked for him,” Williams stated, adding that he also served as a mentor and father figure to a lot of people on the rig.
Like Clark, Kleppinger was a mentor to other crew members. Kleppinger and Williams were both hired by Transocean in 1999, and were just one employee number away from each other – Kleppinger was employee number, 18755; Williams was 18756. The two didn’t meet until 2002, when Williams came on board the Deepwater Horizon. Williams got to work with Kleppinger one-on-one when Williams took over Jason Anderson’s crew as driller.
Williams got to watch Roshto grow from his start as a new hand on the rig. Roshto – who was teased for his blond hair and blue eyes – become a solid, well-liked employee who “would have gone to be a huge asset to the rig later in his career” had he lived.
Ironically, Kemp decided to start working on offshore rigs because he felt he would be safer than working on land rigs, Williams said.
Williams grieved for all the Macondo victims, but especially Anderson, his closest friend on the Deepwater Horizon. Anderson had just been promoted to assistant driller when Williams first came on board the rig in 2002. As Anderson moved up, Williams moved up behind him. Williams ended up working for Anderson as a driller when Anderson was a toolpusher.
“There was a huge hole in my life when Jason was gone,” Williams commented. In 2009, the two had talked about opening up a consulting business. Williams and Anderson held “long-drawn out fairy tales about what we would do,” but it was always a question of whether such a business would be sustainable.
Williams noted that a lot of irony is associated with Anderson. The day after the Macondo incident, Anderson was supposed to transfer to Transocean’s Discoverer Spirit (UDW drillship) as a senior toolpusher. Williams would take that same role on the same rig two years later. In late 2008, Anderson considered going to work at corporate headquarters onshore to teach well control. Ultimately, he decided to stay offshore because of the long commute he would have to make and the impact on his family, Williams said.
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