EXCLUSIVE REPORT & PHOTOGRAPHS
BY CHRIS JOHNSON
James Bond took London by storm when filming of SPECTRE took place on the Thames River - and I was there to see some of the action taking place!
Acting on intelligence I had obtained I arrived in London full of excitement and wondering what I might see as some scenes were due to be filmed between Vauxhall and Westminster Bridges featuring low flying helicopters.
The first thing that I did was to travel over to Vauxhall Bridge to see if there were any signs of the film crew around the MI6 Headquarters that featured in the SPECTRE teaser trailer. When I got there it appeared that the building was going to feature in the filming as spotlights had been set up and were being guarded by security men wearing hi-visibility jackets. I even saw one of them reading a SPECTRE call sheet - but I couldn't get close enough to read any of the details on it.
Now one of the things that I noticed when being that up-close to the MI6 building was that there were no signs of any special effects being used to create the damage cased by Sylva's explosion in Skyfall - that is so clearly evident in the trailer. Sometimes when things are added later you might see some kind of marker on the original to indicate where the effects need to go. So I can't help but wonder if the building is repaired during the course of the film or is the damage just added without the use of such markers?
It was at the MI6 building that I met up with Morten Steingrimsen, a Bond fan who had travelled all the way from Norway to see the SPECTRE filming that was due to take place. Morten and I had a look round the MI6 Building, and agreed that you couldn't help but feel that you were being watched not only from the film security guards but also by the powers that be inside the building.
We also saw a lot of different lighting rigs and crew vehicles along Millbank as we walked down towards Lambeth Bridge. There were also a lot of lights that had been set-up on buildings on both sides of the river. At one point I heard a member of the location crew tell someone that they had been setting up the lighting on the various buildings since January. This just goes to show how much planning must go into preparing to film in such a location.
I didn't realise at the time but by walking down Millbank we also passed Thames House - which is home to MI5. This might be because Thames House is a bit more in keeping with its surroundings than its MI6 counterpart.
I accompanied Morten on a walk back to his hotel, as he needed to collect his camera. We had a nice walk taking in a lot of places that I'd not seen on previous visits to London before including St. James Park and I thought that one of the nice things about London is that for a capital city there are a lot of parks and 'green' spaces.
Once Morten had gathered his belongings we took a taxi ride back to Vauxhall Bridge and Keeping The British End Up we had fish and chips in a pub as we thought it could be a long night and it would be best that we ate before the filming started. As we sat waiting for our meals to be served at a table near a window, the ever vigilant Morten noticed Greg Wilson walk past. Greg is the Associate Producer of SPECTRE and the son of legendary Bond writer and producer Michael G Wilson.
We were then joined by another Bond fan who had travelled across Europe to see filming taking place - Remmert van Braam. Some Bond fans probably know Remmert as the man behind the excellent James Bond website James Bond Lifestyle.
As Remmert had not eaten he ordered himself something to eat, (I think he had Fish and Chips too - I guess it was a case of When In England). As I was starting to feel restless and excited I excused myself and as Remmert and Morten finished their food and drinks I went for a walk to see what was happening and planned to meet up with them later in the evening.
On leaving them I went for another walk along Vauxhall Bridge. I then noticed a group of people walking on the opposite side of the bridge. I recognised them as Associate Producer Greg Wilson, Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould OBE, and Director Sam Mendes. So I quickly took the photo's that you can see below.
Not long after this is when the action started. First of all a few different boats were seen going up and down the Thames. The boats appeared to have different members of the crew onboard and I got the feeling that they were busy checking filming conditions and possibly camera angles before the filming started.
Not long after this another boat appeared on the scene. Driven by the man himself. Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux were seen bombing up and down the Thames as Bond and Madeline in a somewhat military looking craft.
Each time the boat with Bond and Madeline went past it was followed by a camera boat. The camera boat was then followed by a third boat which I believe was a Safety Boat there to offer support in the event of an accident.
Looking at the boat I think that it is one of the boats that appeared in the Official 'Clapper Board' photograph that was posted on 007.com on 9 May 2015.
To me it looks like the boat is housed in some kind of building before or after Bond and Madeline take it for a spin down the Thames. I can't help but wonder what this building is.
Not long after that a helicopter was heard flying overhead. Throughout the course of the evening the helicopter was filmed chasing the boat up the river between Vauxhall and Westminster Bridges. The helicopter was flying very low over the river - and the noise was quite loud too.
Towards the end of the filming I went and stood at the end of Lambeth Bridge. Lambeth Bridge remained closed for the duration of filming, whilst Vauxhall Bridge and Westminster Bridges were intermittently opened to allow traffic and pedestrians to cross, only closing when the helicopter was nearby as a safety precaution.
The reason Lambeth Bridge was closed appeared to be that there was a numbr of cars parked on the bridge. I guess these will appear in the film in a scene where the helicopter goes over the bridge. I wonder if any of the cars will swerve or crash as the helicopter passes?
So just around midnight the helicopter made it's final flight (I'm sure to the relief of some local residents who'd have to be up for work on Monday Morning), and the boat went into it's dock. I said Goodbye to Morten and Remmert, thinking that this visit to London had been made all the more special by making new friends and being able to share experiences with fellow Bond fans.
It was great to have a chance encounter with Sam Mendes and Chris Corbould. And being there and seeing the huge amount of effort once again has given me a hue amount of respect for the hundreds of dedicated men and women in the film industry who work so hard to keep us the cinema-going public entertained. And long may they continue to do so.