Skyfall: Locations–Scotland, China, Turkey

Scotland

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.

China

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.

Turkey

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 motorcycle.

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).

Adana

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 Turkish coastline.