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BP to Commission Film About Oil Spill

BP is commissioning a feature-length film about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill — but the company says it is not intended to scrub its reputation clean.

Fire boats battle a fire at the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.
Getty Images
Fire boats battle a fire at the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

Widely reviled for its role in the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this year, the company quietly responded with short Web videos that showed the myriad ways it was responding to the spill. The videos were produced by World Television, the same corporate video company based in London that is working on the longer feature.

“They are making a film of the spill primarily for an internal audience as an archive of a momentous event in the company’s history (not to mention those impacted by the tragedy and its aftermath),” Robert Wine, a spokesman for BP, said in an e-mail.

Mr. Wine said World Television had been BP’s main “internal video producer” for the last decade. World Television has started lining up interviews with journalists and other figures for the film; it did not respond to requests for comment. In total, World Television has completed about 190 Web videos about the oil spill this year, some of which are still available on BP.com.

In that respect, what BP is doing is scarcely different from other major companies that prefer to underwrite their own media efforts rather than work through the fourth estate.

One of the more recent videos, titled “A Community Fights Back,” is a 12-minute look at the recovery of the tourism economy in Florida, Louisiana and Alabama. BP’s Web site calls it a “mini-documentary.”

Included were frequent mentions of BP’s payments to the states and complaints from local officials about negative media coverage. BP says the Web videos in total have been viewed by about 10.6 million people.