USS Indianapolis: The Legacy


10 Years of Filming... 104 Interviews... 1 Story

Based on the largest collection of original source material available on the subject, The Legacy Project is a complete re-telling of the story of the

USS Indianapolis, told first hand, by those who lived through the experience. You can check out our Facebook Page, and the YouTube link to see the trailer, and find out about upcoming events, screenings and release dates.



The survivor’s organization has enthusiastically endorsed filmmaker Sara Vladic, giving her their full trust, and their unconditional support. With 30+ survivors assigning her their life rights (there were 70 plus who had given their life-rights to Sara, but many have died in the last few years), this is considered to be the first fully supported documentary, told almost entirely from the perspective of the USS Indianapolis survivors themselves.



I became intrigued by the USS Indianapolis story when I was about 13 years old. I couldn't believe it was a real event when I heard about it, so I immediately went to my local library, and started searching. There was little information to be found, but it was indeed a true story. I thought it would make a great movie, and I couldn't wait to see it come to the screen. After graduating college and realizing nobody had told the story yet, or at least not done it justice, I began reaching out to the USS Indianapolis survivors--and the journey began. That was nearly 15 years ago. I never imagined that the research materials I gathered in order to write a screenplay would someday turn into a full-length documentary. At the start, I simply wanted to get the story right, and I knew I had to interview the men that lived it.


Going through so many years of filming (over 170 hours and 104 interviews) proved to be quite the challenge, especially with technology changing so much over time, but by providence, and a little serendipity, it all came together. This film tells the true story of the USS Indianapolis with only first-hand accounts by those who lived it. Throughout this incredible adventure I have made some of the best friends I've ever known, and have been adopted by the survivors and their families as a granddaughter and keeper of their legacy. It was for them that I made it through this rocky roller-coaster of a process, and for them that I'll keep fighting to make sure the story is told as it should be. It's so much more than just a cheap thriller about a massive shark attack. My hope is that when viewers finish watching this film, they will have a complete understanding of those final days of the war. I want them to know the survivors, and to understand how ordinary 17 and 18 year old kids fought and paid the price for their freedom.



A lot has changed since we started this project...When Sara began filming these interviews, George Bush was president, the first iPhone was still two years away from being invented, and there was no such thing as HDTV.


9 Different cameras were used to capture the interviews over the years, and similar to TVs, HD was not yet an option for filming. We used:

AVCHD: Canon, Panasonic

MiniDV: Canon GL2

DVCPro50: DVCPro50 A, DVCPro50 B

P2: Panasonic HVX100, Panasonic HVX200 A, Panasonic HVX200 B

SxS: Sony PMW-200



When the interviews began in 2005, there were more than a hundred USS Indianapolis survivors still living. As of April 2016, there are 24 living survivors across the United States. The youngest survivor today is 89 years old.



The states we traveled to (mostly via road trip) in order to visit the survivors and rescuers at their home and conduct the interviews:





Collected as research material for a feature film screenplay, over 170 hours of footage sat on a shelf, waiting to be noticed. After 10 years of work, it was time to put it all together into one incredible story.


There is still more than 160 hours of interview and reunion footage not seen in this documentary. Films by Serendipity is working to get that footage into museums and schools for the next generation to learn about the ship's great history.



USS Indianapolis: The Legacy

Quotes from Educators, School Administrators & Military Cadets


Prior to watching this documentary, I knew very little about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and sad to say that the little knowledge I have about it was not even so much about the history of the ship itself and its role in WWII but the story of the aftermath of the infamous shark attacks. Partly to blame is perhaps the lack of coverage in our existing history books and the attention and focus given to the shark storyline.  I frankly don’t even recall reading anything about it in my history classes nor do I remember any of my history teacher mention it.


This documentary not only did a great job in educating me about the ship’s history and the roles that its crew members played but more importantly, it gave me a greater appreciation of the sacrifices each of the crew members made.  It was so impactful to me that I found myself searching the Internet for more stories and articles about the ship and its crew immediately after watching it.


As an educator, we always want our students to learn more than what’s printed in our textbooks or what’s written on our boards.  We always try to supplement our teaching with activities, projects, and field trips to make learning more engaging and meaningful. When we can, we often strive to make history come to life.  Watching this documentary is the closest you have to having the story of the USS Indianapolis come to life without leaving the classroom.  The firsthand account of its survivors tells the real story of that ship and every generation, young and old, should see it.  The crewmembers‘ amazing stories left a long lasting impact on me and I’m sure it will do the same for anyone who watches it.  It’s now history I’ll never forget!


Nemie Capacia

Professor, Co-Chair

Mathematics Department

Grossmont College


I thoroughly enjoyed the lunch viewing of the USS Indianapolis documentary. Prior to watching the film, I had no idea what the sailors of the ship had gone through to survive. Hearing and seeing firsthand accounts of the survivors transformed my knowledge of the USS Indianapolis from just a memorized fact, to an incredible story of people enduring hardship and surviving the odds at sea."


US Air Force Academy Cadet


USS Indianapolis: The Legacy is a stirring and empowering documentary that illustrates why it is important to remember the past. It’s a story about war, the military, leadership, compassion, sacrifice, honor and justice. For educators, the film provides jumping off points for discussion and further investigation. Every school and institution which values American history should show this film and integrate it into their programs.


Scott Holmgren

Filmmaker & President

West Point Parents Club of Central Florida



I was amazed how moved I was by the Legacy documentary. I have been in education for 12 years and this was one of the most insightful, engaging and academically enriching stories visually told.


The Indianapolis Story should be in schools across the country. The way you have conveyed this powerful story will not only educate our students on a topic not known by many but it will move them! Truly move them. It's a must see for our students and school systems. Thank you for sharing!


Dr. Shalen Bishop


Timothy Christian Academy



The USS Indianapolis Legacy film creates a bridge to our forgotten historical past that is not in any school textbook. The film shines a light on this lost history so it can finally be known, embraced, and acknowledged.


The legacy film should be shown in every classroom in this remind us all that some of the gifts, blessings and freedoms that we all have today were paid for by the 880 USS Indianapolis boys lost at sea, and the 317 survivors who miraculously survived five days at sea.


Legacy film has something to teach all of us, especially the younger Millennials of today, if they are willing to watch, listen and learn.


Michael Emery

Teacher, afterschool coordinator, and tutor

Boston & Connecticut


I truly did gain a lot of information from the viewing and discussion session. I definitely enjoyed both the viewing and the discussion, as the discussion brought the experience full circle, making me realize how young some of the sailors on the ship were, and how they were faced with extreme leadership roles once the ship was hit.


US Air Force Academy Cadet



Finally, a documentary that reveals an accurate account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis as told by the men who experienced that fatal night.   Show the USS Indianapolis: The Legacy as an introduction of WWII to inspire an in-depth study.


Marilyn Northcutt Henry

Principal, Memphis City Schools - 31 Years

Educational Consultant - 9 Years



In this amazing documentary, old sailors and old Marines become great teachers. In a collective voice, punctuated with laughter and tears, they tell the story of their ship; their home. The stories of the Indy and her crew, the stories of service, courage, loss, faith and hope continued. The story tellers, the survivors, are old now, though, and their numbers are few. Thanks, however, to this documentary, the stories will live for generations to come. Schools that incorporate USS Indianapolis: The Legacy into their curriculum will provide their students with the voice of the ship that was instrumental in changing the course of history.


Sharon Morgan

Weatherford, Texas

Teacher - 26 years



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