Spectre film locations: 007 travelled the world
New Bond film Spectre shot in spectacular locations including Austria, Italy, Mexico and Morocco, in addition to Pinewood Studios.
Austria was the first international filming location in director Sam Mendes' seven-month shoot, and hosted a number of action sequences between December 2014 and February 2015. The key locations were Lake Altausee, Obertilliach, Kartitsch and, most importantly, a Tyrol ski resort called Sölden.
At the height of filming, it is estimated that Sölden was hosting 500 people connected to the Spectre shoot.
Austria is a favourite location among loyal Bond fans. It’s famous for Roger Moore’s iconic union jack parachute jump in The Spy Who Loved Me, and it was also the location of supervillain Blofeld’s lair in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which starred George Lazenby in his only outing as Bond.
Sölden was chosen for the distinctive glass architecture of restaurant Ice Q (pictured above), and for superb local scenery such as the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers. Obertilliach was also used as the setting for a spectacular plane crash stunt that showcases the skills of Spectre’s second unit.
Once Austrian filming was complete, Sony Pictures released a behind-the-scenes video giving a great insight into Austria’s appeal and to provide some beautiful scenic images.
Speaking on the video, the film’s associate producer Gregg Wilson alluded to the plane crash sequence when he said the footage shot in Austria would include one of the movie’s major action moments. “It’s going to be spectacular… a jewel in the crown. And Austria provided us with everything we needed.”
February and March saw Spectre shift to Italy for a five-week shoot centring on Rome and the Vatican. It’s not easy to get permission to film in central Rome, but such is the pulling power of the 007 franchise that Spectre’s production team was able to shut down swathes of the city for a high-speed chase along the River Tiber and past some of Rome’s iconic sites.
The car chase involved an Aston Martin DB10 and the Jaguar C-X75 and required a substantial amount of behind-the-scenes work to set up.
Filming shifted to Mexico City in March and April. Mexico is keen to attract international movie production and reportedly offered Sony an attractive incentive package to visit the country. But the images to come back from Mexico suggest that the decision to go there was not just about money. The film offers striking shots of a helicopter landing on the Zocalo in Mexico City and of Daniel Craig in character as Bond running across the city’s rooftops.
The Mexico City sequence was for the opening sequence of the film and involved creating a replica of Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead - seven months earlier than the actual event takes place.
Around 1,500 extras were used and, echoing the Rome shoot, large sections of the city were shut down during the production. Commenting on the Mexico shoot, producer Michael G Wilson called it the “biggest opening sequence we’ve ever done.”
While showcasing international locations in the best traditions of the Bond franchise, Spectre returned to its spiritual home at Pinewood Studios for stage work.
Filming also took place in and around London, with city locations including Camden, Stanley Crescent and Notting Hill. There was also a two-day shoot at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, in February 2015, which doubled for a Rome location for the start of the Italian car chase.
Aside from this, the bulk of UK location work took place from April to June. To hear Sam Mendes' view of the locations featured click here.
Mendes said the big challenge was “to try and find a way of shooting London that felt fresh and new and yet which was also a continuation of Skyfall. We tried to find a way to look at familiar locations and places within London from a different perspective.”
The film’s action focused on the South Bank, making use of London’s iconic City Hall, which appears as the movie’s fictional Centre for National Security. Other London sites featured include Lambeth Bridge, Westminster Bridge and the streets around Trafalgar Square, The Mall and Whitehall.
One of the most challenging elements of the production was an action sequence requiring six days of intensive shooting along the River Thames.
The shoot involved a number of organisations including Film London, the Port of London Authority, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, some local councils and numerous landmark buildings.
Emma Pill, supervising location manager on the production, says: “The river sequence was all set at night, and involved a high-speed boat and a low-flying helicopter chase. It raised many organisational challenges.”
The final stage of principal photography took place in Morocco in June 2015, in Tangier, Oujda and Erfoud. Filming here involved action footage that took four months of preparation and construction work, and marked the second visit for the Spectre team.
The Tangier leg of the shoot mainly focused on the old parts of the city with their rich historical backdrops, notably the bustling traditional market and the labyrinthine alleyways.
Oujda’s main involvement was a scene involving famous local train the Oriental Desert Express that travels through the desert, while Erfoud scenes involved the use of a large compound in the desert.
Key assistance on the ground came from production services company Zak Productions, working in conjunction with Charlie Hayes, the unit’s location manager in Morocco.
Explaining why the Bond film used so many locations for its action sequences, Mendes says it is part of the DNA of Bond movies: “The philosophy of the Bond franchise, and mine particularly, is to do things for real. So you have to roll up your sleeves and work it out.”
With thanks to Sony Pictures for the provision of extensive behind the scenes video and imagery from the Spectre movie.