My 15 minutes of fame
JAMES BOND MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT – please stop reading if information about the film set and plot would affect your enjoyment of Skyfall.
Well don your tight blue swimming trunks and chase me through the heather! Yesterday took a most unexpected turn when I was contacted by a journalist, Marcus Barnes, to let me know that he’s quoted me in a MailOnline news article about Skyfall, and to ask to use some of my pictures of the set. He put me in touch with the pictures desk who wanted to use some of my shots – for a
surprisingly small fee. Here is the article, in which he’s been very kind about my blog. Most unexpected, and I think I must say a big thank you to all the Bond fans who have been visiting and publicising my blog, as I’m sure this wouldn’t have happened without you all talking about my pictures and linking to them.
As a result, I didn’t get the chance to update the blog yesterday, which is probably just as well as it was a slightly disappointing visit to Hankley photo-wise. We arrived in the afternoon to discover that they’d spent the whole morning filming Daniel Craig and Judi Dench driving through the gates and down the drive in the Aston Martin. Bugger! The only shots I could get were hampered by the very hazy light. The security is ultra tight now, although this didn’t stop some paparazzi breaching it and getting long range shots of Craig and Dench (see the article I linked to above). Apparently they were quickly apprehended and escorted offsite by the military police, but I guess they’d got their shots by then.
The lodge, outbuilding and chapel are all set within a large bowl of sandy heathland, surrounded by a ridge on all sides. The security guys (and gals) are stationed at intervals all around the ridges, linked by radios. They take their job very seriously indeed, and when you walk past one, they radio a description of you to the next guard in the chain, so that they are expecting to see you appear and realise very rapidly if you’ve attempted a lightning dash down through the woods to grab Daniel round the ankles. I think it must be my innate perversity, but the tightness of the security gives me the irresistible urge to try and breach it. I told one of the guards this, and he assures me that if I attempt to fulfil my plan of sticking heather and moss all over myself and wriggling commando style through the undergrowth, then they will take me down within minutes. Somehow that makes me want to do it all the more, and I’m not the only one with this strange urge; a runner I was chatting to today confessed the same impulse – she wants to sprint down to the lodge, touch it, then run away again, just to see if she can evade the chase that ensues.
There were lots of paps there today, trying to look like dog walkers who’d just temporarily misplaced their dogs. They stand out a mile, and there were a couple of amusing incidents where they disappeared into the woods, to be hotly pursued by security men – who take quite a gleeful delight in doing so, I must say. I guess that the job can get quite monotonous, standing in the same place for fourteen hour shifts, day after day, so the cat and mouse game with the paps must be one of the highlights. I’ve formulated a new plan to confound the system; to wear layers of clothing in radically different colours, then effect a rapid outfit change between guard stations, so that the “woman with a dog, wearing an orange dress, heading towards you now Jason” reappears as a woman in a turquoise trouser suit. Preferably I’d also reappear with a different dog, but I can’t see how this could be achieved; my cocker spaniel’s powers of disguise are, sadly, rather limited.
What I can do though, is solve the mystery of the plastic deer, which I photographed looking very incongruous on the back of a golf-buggy-trailer here. It has reappeared, in a much grander form, atop one of the gateposts. I know I keep saying it, but it really does amaze me what they can do – from plastic to aged bronze in the space of a week. The other gatepost is conveniently ruined, saving on the overall stag budget for the film.
Well the upshot of all this security is that, sadly, there’s no way whatsoever that I’m going to be able to get any choice shots of the action on set. Nor of the explosion, as far as I can tell, since you’d need to be at the gatehouse set to get a view of the side of the lodge that they’re going to blow up, and I’m positive that they’ll have it closed whilst filming. You’ll just have to read the tabloids for the pap pics of Craig et al doing their thang. With my camera, the most I can get is some distant shots of the set. At least you can see the Aston Martin parked outside.
We did a circuit of the perimeter of the site, as I’ve never seen it from the far ridge. As we walked back, we passed close to the chapel, which hasn’t seen any filming action yet – everything is concentrated on the lodge and particularly its outbuilding at the mo.
We varied our path a bit and strayed down across the hill above the chapel. There’s another headstone propped up against the wall of the back of the chapel (not on set), which I took a couple of pictures of. Unfortunately the lettering is, again, very faint. By magnifying it, I can make out that the name is something Davidson Bond, but I can’t see more than that. We wandered round to the front of the chapel to take a peek, and saw that the headstones have been removed from the railed area, and the stones on the wall of the chapel have been covered with bin liners so that you can’t see the names. The security guy hurried over at that point, and when I asked where the stones were, he said he thought they’d been taken away to be ‘finished off’. One of the other guards told me that they’d removed them because someone had taken photos of them and posted them on t’internet. Oh dear…
My suspicions about the names on the one of the headstones has been confirmed. The stone for Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix Bond had the inscription ‘tragically departed’, which implied to me that they’d died young and suddenly – Bond’s parents. They died in a climbing accident when he was a child, apparently; this is explained here by those far better versed in Bond history than I am.
They were filming a scene at the little building adjacent to the lodge today, as they were yesterday afternoon. It was the last structure to be built, and they got it from plywood shell to completed in less than a week. It looks like a stable block, or garage – it has full height double doors at the front.
Today they were taking endless shots of someone fumbling for some time to open the doors, and then the doors finally swing open, and the person enters the building. The figure seemed to be bizarrely dressed; baggy trousers and a long greatcoat, with blond or grey hair and a hat. At one point it seemed that someone was pointing a gun at the figure, but this might not be the case – I couldn’t get a very clear view and shortly afterwards we were ordered to come further away. They were shooting, reshooting and shooting again, which seems to be the norm. Was it blond-wigged (please say it’s a wig…he’s really not a good blond) Javier, disguised as a tramp?