Production on Skyfall was based at historic Pinewood Studios in
Buckinghamshire just outside London. Pinewood has become synonymous with the
James Bond films over the years, as all but three - Moonraker, License To Kill
and GoldenEye - have been filmed there. Thirty-one different sets were
constructed on eight sound stages at Pinewood, including the interior of the MI6
underground bunker, the interior of the Golden Dragon Casino, where Bond first
meets Severine, and the exterior of the Dead City, an abandoned island off the
coast of Macao, where Silva resides.
The 007 Stage was home to the spectacular underground train crash that occurs
when Bond is chasing Silva. For the crash, the crew built two full size train
carriages, each weighing seven tons. It was too dangerous to allow people to
stay on the sound stage, so ten remotely operated cameras were placed inside the
007 Stage to cover the crash from various angles.
The paddock tank doubled as the exterior of the Golden Dragon Casino. The set
was lit by three-hundred floating lanterns and two thirty-foot high dragon
heads. Twelve artisans were flown in from China create the authentic structures.
They were made from wound steel cables, silk fabric and lit from within by 400
Many exterior scenes for Skyfall were shot on location in central London.
Mendes found shooting in London to be a great challenge. "It's my home town," he
explains. "I focused on giving it a mythic scale - I tried to give it mood and
atmosphere and a sense of a threat. You could say we've shot in some of the
expected places, but I hope we've done it in unexpected ways."
Nine different London locations were used around the city. The Old Vic
Tunnels doubled as an MI6 training ground, an underground car park on Great
Suffolk Street near Smithfield Market served as the entrance to the new MI6
headquarters and the entrance to Broadgate Tower, London's forth tallest
building, was dressed and lit to look like an office building in Shanghai, the
location in which a fight ensues between Bond and Patrice (OLA RAPACE). The
Virgin Active pool in Canary Wharf doubled as Bond's Shanghai hotel pool.
The National Portrait Gallery was used as the setting for a covert meeting
between Bond and Ben Whishaw's character. The filming crew worked at night
during the museum's closing hours amongst a collection of the world's finest
paintings. At sunrise, the unit moved outside to shoot Bond entering from
London's landmark Trafalgar Square.
The opening of the teaser trailer shows Bond on the roof of DECC - Department
for Energy & Climate Change. The locations department scouted various locations,
but the view from the top of the DECC supplied the perfect backdrop for this
With the cooperation and assistance of the Mayor's Office and Transportation
For London, production was able to shut down both Vauxhall Bridge and Millbank
for a scene where M witnesses an attack on MI6 headquarters. The explosion was
represented by a few fireworks on the day, then an MI6 model was later rebuilt
at a third scale on the back lot at Pinewood where Chris Corbould, the film's
special effects and miniature effects supervisor, used twenty-eight explosives
to replicate the attack.
Over the course of four weekends, production filmed in the London Underground
station of Charing Cross. The unit were given access to an out of service line
to shoot a sections of the chase between Bond and Silva. The chase continued
through Parliament Square up Whitehall, arriving in Trinity Square where the
sequence comes to a climax.
Other locations in England that were featured in the film were the Old Royal
Naval College and Hankley Common in Surrey.
In the penultimate James Bond novel, You Only Live Twice, Fleming gave Bond a
sense of family background, writing that Bond's father was from Glencoe,
Scotland. Glencoe has one of the most iconic landscapes in Scotland - the
mountains contain some of the oldest sedimentary and volcanic strata in the
world. These mountains served as a beautiful backdrop for Bond and M's drive
through Glencoe's scenic roads in the iconic Aston Martin DB5.
John Logan describes how Shanghai plays an important role in the storyline:
"What we were looking for was opposition to London. We wanted exotic locations
that seem so unlike the world that he grew up in, the world that he functions
in, in a way trying to find places for Bond to be uncomfortable."
Second Unit Director Alexander Witt and the second unit traveled to Shanghai
to shoot establishing shots and driving sequences. The crew worked nights in the
busy week leading up to the Chinese New Year to capture the exhilarating,
ever-changing metropolis that is one of the most dynamic cities in the world. An
aerial unit piloted by Marc Wolff was granted rare access to the skies above the
city to shoot from a helicopter on loan from the Chinese government. Dennis
Gasser and the art department worked to create the rest of the Chinese
environment at Pinewood Studios.
The highly anticipated pre-title sequence for Skyfall was shot in Istanbul
and Adana. When Bond realizes that vital information has been stolen from an
injured MI6 agent he chases the assailant Patrice with the help of Eve through
the crowded and vibrant streets of central Istanbul. Bond races through Eminonu
Square, one of Istanbul's oldest and most magnificent squares, which is
surrounded by the ancient Spice Bazaar and the fabulous Yeni mosque. The art and
props department created an enormous market area within Eminonu Square housing
over two hundred and fifty dressed market stalls that Bond passes through on
The high-speed pursuit continued on the rooftops and then inside Istanbul's
famous Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered
markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over three thousand shops
attracting up to 400,000 visitors daily. Due to the hazardous nature of the
sequence, access to the location for the film unit could only to be granted on
Sunday, when the bazaar is closed. Through a combination of efforts from the
locations department, set decoration, art and props teams, the bazaar was
dressed overnight on preceding Saturday nights to look like the hive of activity
that the one would expect from the location. 500 Turkish extras and stunt
background were brought into the Grand Bazaar to provide the location with its
usual crowded and buzzing atmosphere. The rooftops of the Bazaar served as a
spectacular platform to view Istanbul's ancient and dynamic skyline. The
production went to great lengths to protect and preserve the Grand Bazaar's
historic architecture, which included floating reinforced steel roof panels over
the existing tiles to protect the original structure.
The chase required a fleet of twelve Land Rover Defenders and sixteen Audi
A5's, all modified and reinforced in different ways to the requirements of the
stunt and camera departments. Two of the Defenders had driving 'Pods' fitted to
the roof of Eve's car, allowing Naomie Harris to concentrate on delivering
dialogue while being driven by former 'Stig' Ben Collins at 50 mph through the
packed streets of town.
Skyfall marks the third Bond film to be shot in Istanbul. The first was From
Russia With Love (1963) where Ian Fleming himself accompanied Cubby Broccoli,
Harry Saltzman and the shooting crew on location, and the second a brief visit
on The World Is Not Enough (1999).
From Istanbul production moved to Adana to continue shooting the chase where
Bond follows Patrice onto a speeding Turkish passenger train.
Adana is a modern city in the agricultural heartland of Turkey, close to the
Eastern border. This was to be the setting for a major beat in the chase
sequence featuring one hundred speeding cars and vans, a high-speed lorry crash,
a show stopping motorcycle stunt performed by motorcycle aficionados Lee
Morrison and Robbie Maddison, and of course the train sequence.
The chase on the train presented a number of challenges for the production.
Working on a moving train was one of the most complicated and technically
demanding parts of the opening sequence.
The climax of the stunt sequence took place at the breathtaking Varda Bridge,
an hour outside of Adana. Varda Bridge was built in 1912 and is five hundred and
seventy feet long and three hundred feet high. The fight comes to an end when
Eve accidentally shoots Bond instead of Patrice, sending Bond flying off the
train into a river below. Bond stunt double Andy Lister preformed the stunt.
Riggers set up a crane on a train carriage to hold a safety line. Andy reacts to
the shot by limply diving backwards off the three hundred foot drop.
Fethiye, a coastal town in the south of Turkey, was used as an off the beaten
path seaside setting where Bond finds himself at his lowest ebb.
Associate producer Gregg Wilson accompanied production designer Dennis
Gassner on extensive location recces to find a beach with the correct
geographical assets that director Sam Mendes envisioned. The decided location
was Calis Beach, a remote beach that was a great challenge for the locations
department to secure. They had to negotiate with the six hundred and thirteen
part owners of the beach to allow filming to take place on this beautiful
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