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About The Production (Continued)

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 different 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 critics 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 Lumpkin. "He lives, breathes, sleeps, eats film. If you go to dinner with Martin at night, we talk about 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 he's genuinely thought through every element, every single step of the process, every back 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 everything on the set! I never even saw him look at his cellphone. I really respect him and how 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 particular film, of darkness and of light, of humor and of the intensity that he brings to life, even behind the camera. And so, to me, there's really no other question this film is going to be magic because of the vision that Martin is able to pull through the cast and our 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 all 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 to shoot. So, he's a grandmaster of the thriller, and his preparation is extensive. He rules the set with a delightful passion. You have to be on your game [and] you have to be fully prepared. But he's also a most gracious man and takes his time and will take as much time in the day to get the scene as right as possible, and as perfect as possible."

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 to do, 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 his work 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 him."


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, they 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 just minor 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 in the UK, so we started to tailor the script for the specific locations," says Marconi. "We 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 Designer Alexander Cameron, Director of Photography David Tattersall, and Costume Designer Alexandra Bovaird.


Director of Photography David Tattersall (The Green Mile, Star Wars Episodes I, II, & III) is no stranger to action. He also found himself in familiar territory, having 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,'" says Lumpkin. He continues, "David adds a real sense of texture. David and Martin are a great match. David has great suggestions and great ideas with framing, as does Martin, so they work together as a really good team. It's fun to watch them both behind the camera, and then off of set too, outside of work, because they have the same banter. 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 the 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 of 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 shop that we turned into the boutique. The location was great for the kind of the access that we were allowed to have. The two facades are very different - Martin wanted the bank to be imposing and a real symbol of bureaucracy and the boutique to be very elegant - and I was very pleased with the result. We had to build a facade for the bank with toughened glass which would shatter safely when the bomb went off." The finished shot earned high marks from Lumpkin: "It looks spectacular. The team exceeded all of our expectations with what they've done."

Still, the biggest challenge was finding the farmhouse to stand in for Hennessy's farm. "It had to have so many elements to it," says Cameron. "Eventually we found a location that had all the out houses and barns that we needed." The farm location also serves as the setting for several confrontations between Quan and Hennessy's men, including a thrilling forest battle between Quan and Morrison, the former Royal Irish Regiment soldier summoned by Hennessy to flush out the elusive "foreigner." These two former military men square off, calling on their respective training and combat skills 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 to the 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 the outside. But after consulting our security advisor, we had them coming into the flat through the ceiling."

Costume Design

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 amazing book and really impressed everyone right off of the bat," says Lumpkin. "She had really done her homework. Hiring her was a no-brainer. We knew that she was the right one 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 first meeting with him, I took a lot of photos and sketches based on my research. I had taken 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 sort of movie version if you like, the sexed-up version of these political figures. He wanted to make it very real, which really excites me too - not just getting good looking people to look, you know, good looking. We actually had to go the other way with Pierce and take some of the suave out of him," she explains. "If you look at the footage of the 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 artistic license -make sure they looked decent."

Bovaird wanted the same for Quan. "We wanted him to be real, so all the clothes are aged, they don't look new, and that's quite hard to achieve sometimes. But we made sure everything is broken down so it doesn't look like it came straight out of a shop. I bought second hand pieces online or in thrift stores but the number of stunts meant that I had to buy off the rack so that we could buy multiples in case they were 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 Jackie Chan movie in the fitting because he came in and he had all these ideas about the stunts. One of the jackets had a hood, so he got the hood and thought of all these different things he could do with the hood and he acted them out in the fitting! He smothered someone with it, he pretended to pick up a stone and hurl it - it was a fun fitting! He removed a sleeve and used it as a weapon. He goes through the stunts and works out how he can use the wardrobe as props. He also had certain requirements for the action scenes. For example, he had to have wide legged trousers to hide the protective pads." The end result was a very specific color palette - greys, beiges, blues and blacks - giving the film a uniformly cool, muted tone that looks out of date rather than modern, perfectly conveying the gritty, realistic feel Campbell wanted.


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 a tiny kitchen- these are just some of the scenes that employed the skills of the special effects and stunt teams.

Jackie Chan sums up the style of the fight sequences in the film with four simple words: "Quan is not Superman." Campbell was keen that Quan use his fighting skills as a defense rather than attack and for the action to always be tough, real and believable. Quan is, after all, a man in his sixties, so a slower pace is only to be expected.

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 near Hennessy's farm, and Quan's battle with the bombers near the end of the film. Chan and his team were heavily involved with the choreography of the fights with guidelines from Campbell.

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 small area and packed with people, crew, actors and stunt people," says Stunt Coordinator Greg 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 involvement 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 - he 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 the team and I showed Martin, then we showed the crew. We had to take into account that Quan was an older gentleman and had to adjust the fight sequences accordingly. At first the small space made it difficult but my team handled it expertly. They can handle anything."

Campbell explains that, due to Quan's military background, the fighting style had to be adjusted, "We didn't want to fall into the karate techniques we've seen in the past, you know, pulling the table cloth out and wrapping it around someone's head. None of that at all. We had to focus more on military techniques and hand to hand combat."

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 explosion, the team planned meticulously with the assistance of London's Transport authority and the Metropolitan Police Service. "To be able to do the shot on Lambeth Bridge with the 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 footage from 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 cars, on motorbikes and pushbikes on the road next to the bus and on the bus as well. The large explosion was on the upper deck and there were smaller explosions on the lower deck so there was falling debris on our people there. Obviously, they were all wearing fire 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 from the final position, making sure the choreography was right and everyone knew what they were doing. We saw a test shot of the explosion to see how far the debris goes and that 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 the explosive on cue and to keep an eye on the extras outside to ensure they weren't in places of danger. Along with the mortars, the bus was rigged with wet sand to help blow the roof and the side panels off; Kelt explains: "it's the sand that blows the thing apart and pushes the roof up into the air and splatters everything. It looked amazing and Martin and the producers were very happy."

For the Knightsbridge bombing, Powell and his team mingled in with the 300 plus extras on the pavement, in cars and on push bikes in the street and sitting in the coffee 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 long time 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 single person on both sides of the street before the local authority would let us do the explosion. It was a big ask, especially with the political climate at the time. We were 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 fantastic, exceeding all our expectations. They did tests and incorporated our notes and on the day, they broke it down into parts to reduce disruption to the neighbors as much as we could. Cut together it looks spectacular."

Amidst all this action and intrigue, when asked what the audience hopes to feel when they leave the theatre, Martin Campbell sums up, "I just want them to enjoy it. I want them to be thoroughly entertained and emotionally moved as well. For me, that's really the criteria."


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