About The Production Design
Oscar -winning production designer Dennis Gassner returns for his second Bond
film, his third collaboration with Sam Mendes, and his seventh collaboration
with director of photography Roger Deakins. "I believe that story always comes
first when planning to design any given set for any given character," he says.
"Throughout the process of Skyfall, I considered Bond's emotional journey and
how each environment affects him and vice versa. We built thirty-one sets, but
the unsung environments are the locations and London played a big role in this
"The opportunity to shoot in London was like a red rag to a bull with Sam,"
says Daniel Craig. "We wanted to see parts of London that we hadn't seen before,
to use the city in ways that would be impossible in most movies - but Bond's
name opens a few doors! London has a real character and that excites me because
I love this city and I think it is so rarely represented well on film. We were
aiming to capture the madness, the mystery, the danger, and the glamour of
London. I think it's a brave and wonderful thing to focus very tightly on the
A sizable amount of the story also takes place below London's street surface,
an environment that is based on what was historically referred to as the
Churchill bunker system. During World War II, many government offices were
relocated underground for protection; similarly, in Skyfall, after the
headquarters at MI6 are attacked, M makes the decision to relocate.
"It's the kind of question every government has to think about - in an
extreme emergency, where do you go?" says Gassner. "In London, during World War
II, they went underground, under the city. That is what M decides to do, and
this is where they go."
In this way, even a plot device like moving headquarters beneath the city
gives the film a distinctly British feel. Craig says, "In conversations with
Sam, we wanted to make Skyfall ingrained with core British values. Making this
movie unmistakably British was a dream of ours."
Gassner illustrates the juxtaposition between a location environment, such as
the Old Vic Tunnels, and sets built on sound stages, including the underground
MI6 bunker. "We need the sound stage to control the major scenes and accommodate
Roger Deakins' brilliant lighting. The Old Vic locations were a pleasure to work
in and our recces of usually red taped underground London inspired the sets that
we built back at Pinewood. This is the great fusion between locations and set
build, one informs the other and they become a unit."
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