Rotha made the film while he was based at Gaumont-British Instructional. For almost a year, he made monthly visits to Barrow-in-Furness, staying at “a fly-blown commercial hotel which had no hot water and poor food”. On these visits, he filmed the progressive construction of not one ship (which the film conveys), but took advantage of the simultaneous construction of two identical vessels, one three months ahead of the other.Although the film is simply the building and launching of a liner it is a great example of Paul Rotha’s way to mastering his documentary craft.
Paul Rotha was born in 1907 under the name Paul Thompson. His book The Film Till Now, published in 1930, was the first English-language history of silent and sound cinema and established Rotha’s reputation as a film intellectual. In 1931 he met John Grierson and Basil Wright and began making promotional films for the Empire Marketing Board documentary unit.