Magazine article American Cinematographer

Staging the Helicopter Sequences with "007"

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Staging the Helicopter Sequences with "007"

Article excerpt

Some of the most spectacular flying and adroit camerawork ever seen on the screen start this James Bond film off with a resounding bang

On returning from photographing a film in the U.S.A., I received a telephone call from the James Bond office, telling me that John Glen would like me to direct the FOR YOUR EYES ONLY sequence for him. I had the year before directed the battle scenes on INCHON for Terence Young, one of the earlier Bond directors.

As is usual on all Bond films, to make the unbelievable look believable was a challenge. I set off with the location manager to recce the place chosen by John Glen and the Director of Photography, Alan Hume, with Production Designer Peter Lamont, before they left for Corfu.

We arrived at Becton Gas Works, which is situated on the banks of the River Thames in East London. There I met the helicopter pilot, Marc Wolff, and Al Werry, who was the aerial cameraman. They have worked on many films and commercials together and have a unique understanding of each other's job.

All four of us walked over the course I wanted them to fly and was guided by Marc Wolff on the possibility of flying under and over superstructures, turning on a pin-point, or diving through into buildings. We were using a Bell Jet Ranger for Bond's Helicopter, and for the camera platform an Allouette fitted with a Helimount. This could be fitted either side or anywhere on the skids. Marc and Al had also given me mounts underneath, and a chair on which Al Werry could sit outside of the helicopter. It took some expert flying, with all the drag on one side.

We took about three weeks in all to shoot the sequence, after the first unit and the model unit left. Derek Meddings was in charge of building and shooting the foreground models. Also, he built the mock helicopter inside one of the large derelict buildings on approximately 1000 feet of rails, powered by a small engine. He was able to simulate the flying by moving the helicopter up and down and to either side by means of a hydraulic system which he controlled himself.

I had two cameras on the ground and an Arriflex with a 10-to-1 zoom on the Allouette. The first weekend I shot all the front projection plates, so that John Glen and Alan Hume could have time to choose the plates and shoot the close-ups on Bond in the studio in case we were held up by bad weather. As it happened we were extremely lucky and had 75% good weather. …

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