BoPaul Media Worldwide: Behind the Scenes of One of Our H-Bombs Is Missing

May 7th, 2024

It’s a story that began decades ago with a highly dangerous Cold War mission that to this day remains shrouded in secrecy. One of Our H-Bombs Is Missing, represented by BoPaul Media Worldwide, charts the search for a missing H-bomb lost off Palomares, Spain, when two U.S. military planes collided in 1966. This feature documentary has all the elements of the best Cold War thrillers, with action and adventure, a cover-up, high-stakes diplomatic negotiations and the U.S. race to safely retrieve a lost nuclear weapon ahead of Russia’s efforts to do the same.

John Scheinfeld

“It’s all about the story for me,” says John Scheinfeld, an acclaimed director, writer and producer of documentaries who is behind One of Our H-Bombs Is Missing. “Is it strong, compelling and multilayered enough to be worthy of a feature-length documentary film or multipart series? Does it challenge my storytelling skills? And just as important, do I have a passion for the subject? Making a film is a lengthy and challenging process, so you want to devote your time, energy and creativity to something you are really passionate about.”

Following the success of his 2023 critically acclaimed film What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?, a political thriller about the iconic band’s controversial 1970 tour behind the Iron Curtain, Scheinfeld was “in a Cold War state of mind” and wanted to find something in a similar vein. Not only did the subject fit the bill, but it also had enough thrills to make him passionate about telling this story. He enlisted his friend Tim Naftali, CNN presidential historian and senior research scholar and adjunct professor at Columbia University, and together, they fleshed out their vision for this film.

“I got my start in the business as a studio executive developing comedy and drama projects,” Scheinfeld explains. “After that, I began writing my own scripts, eventually being hired to create and write pilot scripts for ABC, FOX, NBC and UPN. It is this scripted background that strongly informs my documentary storytelling. Each of my documentaries employs a three-act dramatic structure, and I prefer not to use narration of any kind, allowing the interview subjects and visuals to drive the narrative. To me, this is a more powerful and cinematic way to tell a story.”

Scheinfeld and his team cast a wide net around the world in search of audio and visual material to tell this story. “We’ve found hours of rare and never-before-seen film footage, reams of declassified documents, hundreds of rare photographs and some relevant audio recordings,” Scheinfeld says. “And the hunt continues as we track down more and more material to make this film the definitive account of a nuclear weapons disaster with dangerous ripple effects that are still felt today.”

“This is not just an adventure involving a missing weapon of mass destruction or simply the story of a terrifying near nuclear accident—either one of which would make for a stirring documentary,” Scheinfeld says. “Tim Naftali and I created a structure that presents three compelling elements dramatically intertwined: the crash of two aircraft in mid-air and the immediate military and political fallout; the hunt for the missing H-bomb; and the technological hubris of mid-century America, especially regarding nuclear science and the resulting human cost that continues to reverberate today.” 

These narratives will be told through the stories of individuals, both American and Spanish, who were affected by the crash and involved in the recovery and clean-up in the 1960s and who, today, are living with the effects of that experience. The team endeavors to interview living witnesses to the events, including residents of Palomares, as well as journalists, historians and U.S. and Spanish government officials.

Scheinfeld says the audience will be immersed in a Cold War thriller “with amazing twists and turns. With nuclear weapons at the forefront of people’s minds, thanks to the blockbuster success of Oppenheimer, viewers will come to understand in a visceral way the terrifying consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and the irresponsible nuclear threats made by some world leaders then and now. I absolutely believe this story will resonate with contemporary audiences in a powerful way.”

He and Paul Rich, CEO of BoPaul Media Worldwide, began as professional colleagues before becoming good friends, and Scheinfeld knows the company is the perfect fit to take the title out globally. “We share similar world views and enthusiasms and very much enjoy working together,” he says. “Over the years, Paul has developed an impressive list of worldwide contacts and is incredibly wise and well respected. Together, we will produce a first-class feature documentary.”

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