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.

that famous aston martin

that famous aston martin

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.

towards the lodge

towards the lodge

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.

remember that plastic deer... looks a bit different now!

remember that plastic deer… looks a bit different now!

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.

chapel with graves covered

chapel with graves covered

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?

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21 thoughts on “My 15 minutes of fame

  1. I really enjoyed reading this.. quite funny with the guard telling you about “someone” who took pictures and posted them online πŸ˜‰
    I also can second the thing with breaching the security system… i’d love to try and see how far I would get πŸ™‚

  2. Lumix is a great camera! The photographer is way more important than the camera, as you know.
    I am convinced that your articles and pictures will set a new global security standard for the film industry πŸ˜‰
    Charles, Netherlands.

  3. I shot the ‘Skyfall’ helicopter leaving it’s base today and live near Henkley Common. Would you be able to drop me an email? I have some info that you may be interested in and hopefully you have a few answers to my questions?



  4. Pingback: Aston Martin photographed on set

  5. Pingback: Blogger ceases taking photos of Skyfall set (SPOILERS) « The HMSS Weblog

  6. What an absolute tool. There is nothing enthralling about what you have done, other than get a lot of people in trouble & endanger their much needed jobs, as well as go some of the way to spoiling what is one of the most anticipated films of the year continuing a 50 year heritage.

    You cannot seriously think that what you have done can be seen as anything other than an opportunist taking advantage of unsuspecting crew for a chance at 15 mins of internet fame.

    Along with Bond Brasil she should be tarred & feathered.

    Faithful Bond fan

    • I’ve approved your comment because I think it’s important that all viewpoints are represented – you are my very first negative comment. I’m sorry that you feel that I’m a tool – I do feel awful that people got into trouble over what I did. When it comes down to it, though, I did not take any photographs that were not available for anyone to take. I did not at any point breach any security barrier, do anything that I had been told not to, nor photograph anything that I’d been told not to photograph. I very much hope that the crew realise I did not intend to get them in to trouble. Frankly, if the gravestones were so top secret, then the production team should have made the construction team very well aware of this, and put security around the site – there was none, no security on duty at all on Monday – to ensure that noone was perfectly within their rights (as I was) to walk right up to the chapel and take photographs with permission of the headstones.

      I also feel that fans who wish to avoid spoilers would not seek out information about the plot. What I have observed on the forums that I’ve been reading since all this kicked off, is that those who don’t want to know stuff, don’t look at it, and those who do want all the available information, feel that it whets their appetite and enhances their anticipation and enjoyment of the film.

  7. We wanted to apologize about the comment from “Faithful Bond Fan.” That was in response to a post on our blog about your photographs. Other James Bond fan Web sites had already cited your work. When you felt you had to stop, that got our attention. We initially approved the comment from “Faithful Bond Fan” but we edited it to remove the “tarred and feathered” comment. Just so you know after that comment, we got three more in support of you. We have now stripped out all the comments while providing an explanation that the initial comment was over the line. We’re sorry if this upset you. We think you’ve dealt with this situation with much grace and good humor.

  8. Pingback: Mendes confirms Skyfall delves into 007′s `personal history’ « The HMSS Weblog

  9. Hi!
    Those are very beautiful shots πŸ™‚ One question: On the picture named “the bowl of hankley common, lodge in centre”, at the top of the hill left, we see Skyfall entrance, what you have photographed also? You walked that much? Impressive πŸ˜€
    I saw the movie a couple days ago, i liked it, imo, that was the best movie from the Craig-era, especially liked the music and the landscape after Bond says to M: “The storm is coming”. Too bad, that Skyfall is not really in Glencoe, Scotland, i was shocked, when i read about, it was filmed not far from London…

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ Yes I’ve walked around that bowl many times – it’s a beautiful walk! Some of the shots were filmed in Scotland, but they discovered that they could imagine that they were in the Highlands when they were actually in Hankley; it saved them a lot of money I expect. It isn’t as beautiful as Scotland, but hey – we don’t have any midges and it’s much easier to get to… πŸ˜‰

      • You’re lucky… I live in Hungary, i think i will not get to that bowl ever… I don’t even know where to go exactly πŸ™‚ When i type in Google Maps “Hankley Common” i found only the Golf Club, which place is very similar to me in overview to the Skyfall’s place, but i did not find the place where the entrance was….
        p.s.: Sorry for my bad english, i’m learning it now πŸ™‚

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