Bond 25 questions: The production designer edition

Rami Malek on a No Time to Die set designed by Mark Tildesley that certainly appears inspired by a Ken Adam set from Dr. No.

Mark Tildesley, production designer for No Time to Die, has gone public with some tidbits from the 25th James Bond film. Naturally, the blog has some questions.

Homages? Again?

So it would seem.

Tildesley, in a Masterclass video interview, said “we’ve heavily lent on previous films and the designers of previous films for some of the shapes and stuff…We went through all the films. Let’s take everything we love.”

It’s not like we haven’t been down this route before. Die Another Day (2002), Quantum of Solace (2008) and Skyfall (2012) all had their share of homages to previous 007 film adventures.

There were already signs it was happening again with No Time to Die.

One of Tildesley’s sets had a circular grille in the ceiling, similar to a Ken Adam-designed set for Dr. No. Stills emerged with Rami Malek’s villain Safin at the set.

And, of course, the Aston Martin DB5 is back, which gave the production designer a chance to tweak its design.

The car is actually a replica of the DB5 (with a carbon fiber body and BMW engine) and the designer moved the placement of the machine guns to the headlights. That’s been a prominent part of No Time to Die trailers and TV spots.

What was Danny Boyle up to?

Tildesley said a rocket and a Russian gulag were among the things being built for a Danny Boyle-directed No Time to Die.

He didn’t give away a whole lot more. But his comments suggesting various reports that Boyle wanted to cast a Russian villain were correct. Also, the MI6 James Bond website reported in February 2019 Bond was imprisoned by the villain for much of the Boyle version of No Time to Die.

So it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that a Russian villain would imprison Bond in a gulag.

Boyle’s hiring was announced in May 2018 and he left because of “creative differences in August 2018. Cary Fukunaga was hired to replace Boyle.

Fukunaga also is listed as one of the writers of No Time to Die. His version of the movie is a sequel to 2015’s SPECTRE, even bringing back Lea Seydoux as Madeline Swann.

Anything else interesting?

In parts of the interview, Tildesley talks about how having a low budget forces the creative team to be more creative.

No Time to Die doesn’t have a low budget. The estimated production outlay is $250 million.

The designer said the challenge with a large budget film is to stay creative.

“The thing about doing a bigger film is to try and keep light on your feet,” he said. “I’m always trying to think of. like, arresting images that will burn onto your retina.”

NTTD production designer spills a few secrets

007 Stage after the June 4, 2019 explosion.

Spoilers, of course.

Mark Tildesley, the production designer for No Time to Die, described some of the work he did for the 25th James Bond film. Among the topics: Set built while Danny Boyle was slated to direct and how an accident occurred that damaged the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios.

Work he did when Boyle was director

“I started working with Danny Boyle,” Tildesley says during an interview in the Masterclass series of videos. “I’ve been working on that film for two, two-and-a-bit years.

“We started to build sets. We had a rocket, a 350-foot rocket being built in the Bond stage. We had a gulag, a Russian gulag going up in the mountains in Canada.”

The announcement of Boyle’s hiring was made in May 2018. But in August, Boyle departed because of “creative differences.”

In February 2019, the MI6 James Bond site reported that for much of the script written by John Hodge (Boyle’s writer), Bond is imprisoned by the villain. There were also reports that the Hodge script had a Russian villain.

Cary Fukunaga was hired as Boyle’s replacement and he saw the project through completion of filming and post-production.

The June 2019 007 Stage explosion

Hiring the 007 Stage is expensive, Tildesley said. So the production team sought to get the most out of the time the stage was hired. “We had to use it to start making it pay,” he said. Half of the space was used as a construction workshop so another workshop didn’t need to be hired.

In addition, “we built a really tiny set inside this enormous space.”

The small set was blown up on June 4, 2019. Problem: the 007 Stage contains an enormous water tank encased in concrete.

“What we didn’t account for was the explosion would ricochet off the concrete walls of the tank,” the production designer said. That sent the force of the explosion upward and taking off the roof of the 007 Stage, he said.

“So, yeah, there were some miscalculations.”  The accident also took off some exterior side panels from the 007 Stage. The explosion soon became big news.

Homages to previous Bond films

“We haven’t copied but we’ve heavily lent on previous films and the designers of previous films for some of the shapes and stuff,” Tildesley said. “We went through all the films. Let’s take everything we love.”

The interview is below. The No Time to Die material starts around the 35:40 mark. h/t @NO_TIME_TO_DIE

Bond 25 questions: Awaiting principal photography Part II

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s gunbarrel

Earlier this month, the blog had a few questions while awaiting the start of Bond 25 principal photography. If Variety is correct, the wait won’t be much longer. But, in the interim, here are additional questions.

Who will be Bond 25’s composer?

David Arnold has a five-film run as 007 composer. But that ended when Sam Mendes directed this decade’s Skyfall and SPECTRE, bringing along his choice of composer, Thomas Newman.

We’ve had disclosures about production designer (Mark Tildesley) and director of photography (Linus Sandgren). But there’s been radio silence concerning Bond 25’s composer. Having Cary Fukunaga as director perhaps will bring a new 007 musical voice. We’ll see.

Will there be some crew turnover in other departments?

The Eon-produced 007 film series is known for having crew members who work multiple films. But nothing lasts forever.

Peter Lamont began work on the series as a draftsman on Goldfinger and worked his way up to production designer. He worked on the series into his 70s, departing after 2006’s Casino Royale.

Terry Bamber worked on a number of Bond films, with jobs such as second unit production manager. But he hasn’t been on a 007 film since Skyfall.

We already know of turnover in the production designer slot. Dennis Gassner had a three-film run in the job but was replaced by Tildesley when Danny Boyle was named director. Despite Boyle’s departure, it appears Tildesley remains in place.

Which writers will get a Bond 25 credit?

The blog asked this in a previous Bond 25 questions post. Since then, the writer count has gone up again.

At least six writers have been associated with the project: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Hodge, Paul Haggis, Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Writing credits can be subject to arbitration by the Writers Guild of America.

“In certain cases, the proposed credits are subject to automatic arbitration, and in other cases, writers are given an opportunity to protest the proposed credits to trigger an arbitration,” according to the union’s website.

There are limits to the number of credits. A writing team such as Purvis and Wade is counted as a single writing entity, as it were. Regardless, it doesn’t appear likely all six will be in the movie’s writing credit. Hodge, for example, was Danny Boyle’s guy and left the project when Boyle did.

What happens with the gunbarrel in Bond 25?

The first three Daniel Craig 007 films moved the gunbarrel logo around. It appeared just before the main titles in Casino Royale. And it was at the end of both Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. It finally placed at its traditional start-of-the-movie position in SPECTRE, though there were a few quirks.

When last we saw Craig’s 007 at the end of SPECTRE, he appeared to have departed Her Majesty’s Secret Service. If that’s part of the plot of Bond 25, does it make sense to have the gunbarrel at the start? Or does it get moved again?

Bond 25 has new production designer, fan publication says

Bond 25 will have a new production designer, with incumbent Dennis Gassner not returning, James Bond-magasinet said, citing comments made at the opening of the 007 Elements museum in Austria.

“Dennis Gassner is not doing the production design on Bond 25,” the publication said in an Instagram post. “The new production designer is Mark Tildesley. The news was confirmed by art director Neal Callow at the opening for @007elements.”

Gassner told International Cinematographers Guild Magazine last year that he was “about to do my fourth James Bond film.” Gassner took over from Peter Lamont starting with 2008’s Quantum of Solace through 2015’s SPECTRE.

However, that was before Danny Boyle emerged as Bond 25’s director earlier this year. Tildesley has been production designer on Boyle-directed movies such as 28 Days Later and T2 Trainspotting.

When the 007 film series began, Eon Productions had regular crew members such as Ken Adam (production designer), Peter Hunt (film editor) and Ted Moore (director of photography). When Adam was unavailable for From Russia With Love, art director Syd Cain essentially took over.

In recent decades, Eon has deferred selections for key posts to the directors it hired. That has been the case with directors of photography for years. Now, that trend is spreading to other posts. Thomas Newman, for example, scored Skyfall and SPECTRE because he was director Sam Mendes’ choice.

UPDATE (3 p.m. eastern time): Other fan groups have posted on social media while not mentioning the production designer news. Apparently, today was a press event at 007 Elements. The actual opening is July 12.