About The Production (Continued)
MARTIN CAMPBELL: THE DIRECTOR CALLS 'ACTION!'
The perfect man to bring all this action to the screen is Martin Campbell, a
director with an impressive track record, including the first films for two
iterations of James Bond. Campbell first directed Pierce Brosnan's debut as the
legendary spy in 1995's Goldeneye. Then, over a decade later, he found himself
ushering in another new era of Bond with 2006's Casino Royale, to acclaim from
and fans alike.
Campbell's work has helped define and redefine the action genre and his
passion for filmmaking is evident. "Martin's a filmmaker's filmmaker," says
lives, breathes, sleeps, eats film. If you go to dinner with Martin at night, we
film. If you get up in the morning, and you go to breakfast, you talk about
film. If you talk
about this film, it's what shots you're going to do, it's about breaking it
down, and it's
completely meticulous. And what makes Martin the right director for this film is
genuinely thought through every element, every single step of the process, every
little bit of the story."
"When I first met Martin Campbell, I was astonished by how well he knew the
script," says Chan. "He knew everything about my character Quan - how he looks,
how he thinks. And when we started filming, what amazed me is how focused he was
on the set. That's exactly the kind of director I like. I've never seen a
director who is on
set for 18 hours and never leaves - he reads the script, eats, drinks, does
the set! I never even saw him look at his cellphone. I really respect him and
focused he is. On the set, he's like a man twenty years younger," laughs Chan.
"You could make up a question about a character, and he'll instantly have an
answer," continues Lumpkin. "He's that prepared. He adds a sense, to this
film, of darkness and of light, of humor and of the intensity that he brings to
behind the camera. And so, to me, there's really no other question this film is
be magic because of the vision that Martin is able to pull through the cast and
locations, and everything we've been able to put together to surround him with."
"Martin and Pierce have a fantastic relationship that spans the years - they
communicate via shorthand - and it's been a pleasure watching them work," says
Marconi. "It was a great learning experience being on the set and watching them
work together and seeing the way Martin listened to performances and the way he
communicated with the actors."
Says Brosnan, "Martin is a taskmaster. He is a man who comes to work fully
prepared. He knows the script inside out and he knows every angle that he wants
shoot. So, he's a grandmaster of the thriller, and his preparation is extensive.
the set with a delightful passion. You have to be on your game [and] you have to
prepared. But he's also a most gracious man and takes his time and will take as
time in the day to get the scene as right as possible, and as perfect as
An Actor Prepares, The Director is Prepared
"Martin is the most prepared director I've ever worked with," says Marshall.
"When he has a plan, he executes that plan - he tells you every shot he's going
who is going do it, the order he's going to do it, and 9 times out of 10, that's
how it goes.
He's a great decision maker, very supportive and rarely changes his mind. And
ethic is unbelievable. I wouldn't have worked for him for 19 years if I didn't
have a lot of
respect for him. He's a joy to work with and I have a huge amount of respect for
FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN
CREATING THE LOOK AND FEEL
The team spent three months in prep before the November 1
start date. After
scouting locations both in the UK and across the Irish Sea in Northern Ireland,
decided it would be a more effective use of the budget to shoot the entire film
in the UK.
London and Luton, a town just north of the capital, stood in for Belfast, with
second-unit work in Belfast for some key exterior locations.
"When the project finally got the go ahead, the decision was made to shoot it
the UK, so we started to tailor the script for the specific locations," says
had to move very fast because of our schedule. We wanted this kind of gritty
feel to the
movie," says Campbell. Achieving the desired look and feel required a mindful
collaboration between key behind-the-scenes talent, including Production
Alexander Cameron, Director of Photography David Tattersall, and Costume
Director of Photography David Tattersall (The Green Mile, Star Wars Episodes
II, & III) is no stranger to action. He also found himself in familiar
previously worked with Pierce Brosnan on Die Another Day, and he has been a
longtime collaborator of Martin Campbell's, dating back to Vertical Limit in
2000, so this
film didn't take much convincing; he joined up as soon as Campbell signed on.
"David was working with us in New Orleans on the other film which stalled and
when Martin read this script, he just said, 'All right, go ahead and call Tat,'"
Lumpkin. He continues, "David adds a real sense of texture. David and Martin are
great match. David has great suggestions and great ideas with framing, as does
so they work together as a really good team. It's fun to watch them both behind
camera, and then off of set too, outside of work, because they have the same
It's a really good dynamic."
On Location: Production Design
"We knew as soon as we met Alex[ander] Cameron that he was the one," recalls
Lumpkin. "Alex came with drawings, he came prepared, and he came with the idea.
He'd done his homework and knew about Martin. As soon as the interview was over,
Martin looked over at us and said, 'That's the guy!'"
One of the key locations used was the street in Pimlico, which stood in for
Knightsbridge location for the bomb that opens the film and kicks off the
action. This key
sequence took twelve weeks of advance prep, including negotiations with the City
Westminster, prior approval from all neighboring businesses, planning, and
construction. "We couldn't get permissions right in the center of London," says
Cameron. "We used the Migrant's Centre for the bank and next to it was an empty
that we turned into the boutique. The location was great for the kind of the
we were allowed to have. The two facades are very different - Martin wanted the
to be imposing and a real symbol of bureaucracy and the boutique to be very
and I was very pleased with the result. We had to build a facade for the bank
toughened glass which would shatter safely when the bomb went off." The finished
earned high marks from Lumpkin: "It looks spectacular. The team exceeded all of
expectations with what they've done."
Still, the biggest challenge was finding the farmhouse to stand in for
farm. "It had to have so many elements to it," says Cameron. "Eventually we
location that had all the out houses and barns that we needed." The farm
serves as the setting for several confrontations between Quan and Hennessy's
including a thrilling forest battle between Quan and Morrison, the former Royal
Regiment soldier summoned by Hennessy to flush out the elusive "foreigner."
two former military men square off, calling on their respective training and
in a brutal hand-to-hand battle with a surprising outcome.
From Quan's humble flat with its Spartan decor, to the contrasting luxury of
Hennessy's home and farmhouse, Cameron's attention to detail is evident. Still,
Cameron had to be flexible with his designs and be able to alter them according
exigencies of the production. "At the end of the film, the bombers are holed in
a flat and
the original script had the SO19 team entering the flat through the windows from
outside. But after consulting our security advisor, we had them coming into the
through the ceiling."
A key part of the creative equation was finding the right costume designer-
which was easy, once they met with Alexandra Bovaird. "Alex put together an
book and really impressed everyone right off of the bat," says Lumpkin. "She had
done her homework. Hiring her was a no-brainer. We knew that she was the right
for the job."
"It was great working with Martin Campbell," says Bovaird. "He was a very
inspiring director, he methodically thought through everything. When I had my
meeting with him, I took a lot of photos and sketches based on my research. I
a lot of photos of old Chinese men in New York where I live, and Martin really
responded to those references."
"Martin wanted a very authentic look for everybody. He didn't want to do the
of movie version if you like, the sexed-up version of these political figures.
to make it very real, which really excites me too - not just getting good
to look, you know, good looking. We actually had to go the other way with Pierce
take some of the suave out of him," she explains. "If you look at the footage of
northern Irish assembly, they don't look great, clothes-wise. Their suits are
out of date,
they don't fit them very well, and they don't put things together very well, in
terms of the
shirts and ties and suits. We tried to mimic that and - with a little bit of
-make sure they looked decent."
Bovaird wanted the same for Quan. "We wanted him to be real, so all the
are aged, they don't look new, and that's quite hard to achieve sometimes. But
made sure everything is broken down so it doesn't look like it came straight out
shop. I bought second hand pieces online or in thrift stores but the number of
meant that I had to buy off the rack so that we could buy multiples in case they
ruined during the takes."
According to Bovaird, Jackie Chan was a breath of fresh air. "The fitting was
something else like I've never experienced!" she says. "I felt like I was in a
movie in the fitting because he came in and he had all these ideas about the
One of the jackets had a hood, so he got the hood and thought of all these
things he could do with the hood and he acted them out in the fitting! He
someone with it, he pretended to pick up a stone and hurl it - it was a fun
removed a sleeve and used it as a weapon. He goes through the stunts and works
how he can use the wardrobe as props. He also had certain requirements for the
scenes. For example, he had to have wide legged trousers to hide the protective
The end result was a very specific color palette - greys, beiges, blues and
- giving the film a uniformly cool, muted tone that looks out of date rather
perfectly conveying the gritty, realistic feel Campbell wanted.
BOMBS AND BLOWS: THE STUNT TEAM MAKES IT HAPPEN
A bomb in Knightsbridge, a bus explosion on Lambeth Bridge, a mano-a-mano
fight in the dense forests of Northern Ireland, and a four-against-one fight in
kitchen- these are just some of the scenes that employed the skills of the
effects and stunt teams.
Jackie Chan sums up the style of the fight sequences in the film with four
words: "Quan is not Superman." Campbell was keen that Quan use his fighting
a defense rather than attack and for the action to always be tough, real and
Quan is, after all, a man in his sixties, so a slower pace is only to be
There are three key fight sequences: Quan's escape from Hennessy's henchmen
in a Belfast bed and breakfast, Quan's brutal fight with Morrison in the woods
Hennessy's farm, and Quan's battle with the bombers near the end of the film.
and his team were heavily involved with the choreography of the fights with
The main fight sequence is the final showdown between Quan and the four
bombers in the small confines of the flat in which they are holed up. "It was a
and packed with people, crew, actors and stunt people," says Stunt Coordinator
Powell. "It was an incredibly fast paced fight and we also had gunfire. It
started as quite
a short scene but once we got going, it grew. That was partly Jackie's
because we wanted it to last longer. He's got such a wealth of experience and
knowledge and when you're doing a fight scene, his input is incredibly helpful -
knows the moves more than anyone, so it made it a lot easier for us."
Jackie credits his action team for helping bring realism to the scene, "First
team and I showed Martin, then we showed the crew. We had to take into account
Quan was an older gentleman and had to adjust the fight sequences accordingly.
the small space made it difficult but my team handled it expertly. They can
Campbell explains that, due to Quan's military background, the fighting style
to be adjusted, "We didn't want to fall into the karate techniques we've seen in
you know, pulling the table cloth out and wrapping it around someone's head.
that at all. We had to focus more on military techniques and hand to hand
Bombing London...With Permission
If the Knightsbridge bank bomb that opens the film was complicated, then the
Lambeth Bridge bus explosion proved to be even more intense. For the bus
the team planned meticulously with the assistance of London's Transport
the Metropolitan Police Service. "To be able to do the shot on Lambeth Bridge
Houses of Parliament in the background was an incredible opportunity. They also
allowed us to film from a helicopter above the scene, so we got some good
the air too," says Marshall.
When the day came 12 cameras were put in position and Powell sent his team
into action. "It was a big job for us," he explains: "27 stunt guys driving
motorbikes and pushbikes on the road next to the bus and on the bus as well. The
explosion was on the upper deck and there were smaller explosions on the lower
so there was falling debris on our people there. Obviously, they were all
suits and their faces were covered in protective gel, but there were no flames
and it was
just debris. The preparation for the shot took a couple of hours, working back
final position, making sure the choreography was right and everyone knew what
were doing. We saw a test shot of the explosion to see how far the debris goes
dictated where I put our team. We had one take and it went very well."
Special Effects Supervisor Mike Kelt had two men aboard the bus to detonate
explosive on cue and to keep an eye on the extras outside to ensure they weren't
places of danger. Along with the mortars, the bus was rigged with wet sand to
the roof and the side panels off; Kelt explains: "it's the sand that blows the
and pushes the roof up into the air and splatters everything. It looked amazing
Martin and the producers were very happy."
For the Knightsbridge bombing, Powell and his team mingled in with the 300
extras on the pavement, in cars and on push bikes in the street and sitting in
shop next to the bank. "Because the scene is on the streets of London and it's a
weekend, it has to be done in a day and you haven't got the luxury of having a
to work on it," explains Powell.
"We only had two days to do everything for the Knightsbridge bombing scene,"
says Lumpkin. "We had to build the facades as well and get approval from every
person on both sides of the street before the local authority would let us do
explosion. It was a big ask, especially with the political climate at the time.
lucky and happy that the City of Westminster and London were so cooperative and
helpful because they could've easily said no. Mike Kelt and his team were
exceeding all our expectations. They did tests and incorporated our notes and on
day, they broke it down into parts to reduce disruption to the neighbors as much
could. Cut together it looks spectacular."
Amidst all this action and intrigue, when asked what the audience hopes to
when they leave the theatre, Martin Campbell sums up, "I just want them to enjoy
want them to be thoroughly entertained and emotionally moved as well. For me,
really the criteria."
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