Imagine my surprise when thanks to my amazing wife I got to watch, (all be it from afar), preparations being made for the filming of SPECTRE to celebrate my impending 36th Birthday!
It all started in the early morning on Monday 9 February when I read on James Bond Brazil that filming for SPECTRE would be taking place until 19 February at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
The night before my wife and I had planned that as an early celebration for my pending birthday we would go on a road trip. My mother and father in law had offered to have our children overnight to make this possible.
So that morning I asked my truly beloved if we could go Blenheim to see if we could spot anything and then perhaps have a meal out afterwards. She kindly said: "Yes!" and then very happily I went off to find my camera - excited as a kid on Christmas Eve!
After a 2 hour car journey, (including a Krispy Kreme pit-stop), we arrived in Woodstock, the small Oxfordshire town which is home to Blenheim Palace. We paid our admission fee, drove down the long drive taking in the breath taking views of the lake and Palace grounds.
And then we happened upon what I can only describe as a hive of film making activity! Any thoughts that we might overlook any 007 goings on was quickly dispelled by the huge scale of the operation before us:
A quick look around the car park showed the range of different film departments that were involved in the filming. I really had to resist the urge to try and get into the back of the truck labelled MAIN UNIT PROPS - I can only imagine what kind of goodies would have been in there!
The scale of the filming seemed huge - I don't know how long Blenheim Palace will feature on the big screen for when SPECTRE is released but there must have been in excess of a hundred different crew members busy at work - and this was just preparing the scenes ready for filming later that evening. Did I say that evening? Yes, after a brief chat with one of the crew members I did manage to find out it was a night shoot - but that was only because they told me there'd be nothing to see so it wasn't worth waiting round in the cold too much.
Seeing all of the people involved and the time and effort they are putting into the filming of these scenes gave me a new found respect for all of the hard work and dedication that hundreds, if not thousands of people must put into the making of a Bond film.
As you will have seen from the above photographs there were a lot of huge cranes on site. They were there to life giant lighting rigs above the ground so they could be used to illuminate the sets when filming commenced that evening. I couldn't believe the size of these things - you could probably have fitted at least 3 large sized cars underneath them.
Here's a few more photographs of them:
Anyway we went round to the corner to the Great Court and could see that was where the majority of action would be taking place. Unfortunately there were security guards at the main gate preventing us from entering the court, but I'm glad to say that my camera has a good zoom lens!
Inside the courtyard there were a lot of cars. And by a lot I mean a lot. And they weren't just your average family cars either. I'm no Petrol Head - I just about know where the petrol goes in our car - but I saw Mercedes, Ferrari's, Porshe's, Audi's Bentley's a Roll's Royce and Aston Martin's (unfortunately not the DB10).
Although the photo's that I saw the previous day showed the cars with UK Registration plates I could see that all of the cars were sporting Italian ROMA Registration Plates. That confirmed that the scenes were at least being shot to tie-in with the filming that is going to take place in Rome later in the year.
With a car park like that it's no wonder that SPECTRE is going to have the biggest budget of a Bond film ever!
I also noticed a rather special car. It is the Jaguar CX75 that will be driven by the villain in the film, (I'm not sure if it'll be the villain Oberhauser who will drive it or his henchman Mr Hinx. It looks worthy of the main baddie - but they usually pass on car chase duties to their Henchmen - so who knows?
It took me a while to realise that the car was the Jaguar CX75 for two reasons. First of all it was at the furthest point away from me - whether that was because that's where it will feature in the film or they parked it there to keep it away from prying eyes - who knows? The second was the photo's I'd seen of it before where when it was sporting a dark grey/black colour - but as you'll see from the below it's now sporting a new coat of metallic burnt Orange paint.
It must be a beautiful car as even the crew were stopping to have a good look at it.
I did spot a couple of the different crew from the film. First of all I saw the Director of Photography Hoyte Van Hoytema although it took me a minute to realise who he was and by the time I realised and had my camera ready he'd walked away.
I then saw Special Effects miracle worker Chris Corbould. Seeing him made me think that there must be some exciting stuff due to be filmed at Blenheim, perhaps a gun fight or some explosions? Guess we'll find out when SPECTRE is released
The thoughts of action and adventure were as good as confirmed when I saw Stunt Coordinator Gary Powell arrive.
And here's the last few photo's I took before we left at 5:30PM. It was starting to get dark, and the lighting was starting to show off Blenheim Palace to spectacular effect.
So looking back:
Did I find out a lot about the plot of SPECTRE? No.
Did I see any scenes actually being filmed? No.
Did I see members of the 007 crew in action getting ready to create more memorable cinematic moments? Yes.
Did I enjoy myself there? Absolutely!
Do I have an amazing wife who I want to thank for making the day possible and for giving me an excellent early Birthday present? Totally.
So thank you Darling very Much I hope that we get to share more adventures like this as the years go on