Peacock Original ‘Hell of a Cruise’ Produced by NYFA Alum Mehdi Darlis

October 28, 2022

You’re stuck on a cruise ship for fourteen days. A mysterious illness is spreading as fast as the Motaba virus in the movie Outbreak (1995). Sounds like a nightmare–except it really happened. 

In February 2020, off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, the Diamond Princess cruise ship became ground-zero for the spread of the COVID-19 virus among its passengers and the countries in which they returned. 

Documentary Hell of a Cruise (2022) on Peacock Recalls the Nightmare

The top-performing original documentary Hell of a Cruise (2022) on Peacock follows the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its passengers after one passenger tests positive for the coronavirus. After the ship is forced to dock and its passengers to quarantine, the documentary shows the U.S. government’s response and immediate attempt to return American passengers, resulting in the rapid spread of the virus en route. 

Peacock Original ‘Hell of a Cruise’ Produced by NYFA Alum Mehdi Darlis
Poster for the successful original documentary ‘Hell of a Cruise’ (2022) on Peacock

The documentary features interview footage from passenger’s experiences on-board during the events, and after they returned home. Footage includes the tight quarters in which passengers were required to quarantine and the medical attempts to save and treat those aboard who tested positive. For anyone who followed the story as it happened in 2020, you’ll remember that there were a reported 700 confirmed cases and over a dozen deaths. The result was considered a premonition of what was about to take place on a global scale. 

Watch the trailer for Hell of a Cruise (2022) available to stream on Peacock:

The documentary, directed by Nick Quested, was produced by NYFA’s very own 1-Year Producing Conservatory program alum, Mehdi Darlis. Darlis is producer to a multitude of documentary and short films including BeLoved, Embryo, Vida, Claire, DIVERT LEA, All The Things You Are, Over the net: Dream or illusion? Darlis is also the head of MATTE Films, which is the original content division of MATTE Projects studio.

NYFA 1-Year Producing Conservatory program alum, Mehdi Darlis
NYFA 1-Year Producing Conservatory program alum, Mehdi Darlis

Original Documentary Hell of a Cruise on Peacock Noticed by the Internet

The documentary, now one of the top-performing movies on Peacock since its release, gained instant popularity. Hell of a Cruise has been acclaimed for its storytelling in Mehdi Hassan’s MSCNBC Show, USA Today, E Online, CNN, and touts a 100% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes

In an interview with USA Today, director Nick Quested discussed using passenger footage to tell the story of the restrictions placed on the ship. According to Quested, “I’d like the lessons not to be specifically about cruising, but about, you know, government response. It’s like, you need to have a coherent response to this and people need to get away from politicizing it.” 

Watch Hell of a Cruise (2022) available on Peacock was discussed on The Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC:

When asked by USA Today about the initial project and the activity that happened on the ship, Quested noted “…We were fascinated because the Diamond Princess was the first superspreader event outside of China that we had any type of knowledge of and, you know, it’s interesting, the doctors that went on the boat said, ‘We knew everything we needed to know about COVID at the end of the Diamond Princess.’”

Neal Weisman, Chair of NYFA’s Producing Department in New York City, and one of Mehdi’s instructors says, “Creating an unscripted television pitch deck and sizzle reel is one of the major production components in the 1-Year Producing Conservatory program. Mehdi was a star student in the program and it is so gratifying to see him using his talents to create popular, yet meaningful content for one of the premiere streamers operating today. I can’t wait to see what Mehdi will produce next!” 

We want to congratulate the team of the hit documentary Hell of a Cruise and NYFA alum his role as producer on the project. You can watch the documentary, available to stream on Peacock.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mehdi and his upcoming projects, be sure to follow him on LinkedIn or Instagram.