Making of: Die Another Day

Die Another Day is the latest James Bond film. It came out on Nov. 22, 2002. It was shot at Pinewood Studios in England. Pinewood has been the home of the Bond series since Dr. No. Lee Tamahori directed Die Another Day. The Director of Photography was David Tattersall. He also shot Star Wars: Episode 2.

Pierce Brosnan again plays James Bond, having a multi-movie contract. His sexy female companion is Jinx, played by Halle Berry. The main henchman of Col. Moon is Zao, played by Rick Yune. James spends a lot of time fighting him. M is played by Judi Dench.

Behind the Scenes and Equipment (spoilers ahead)

The camera work was on the extravagent side. Die Another Day was shot anamorphically. They used primarily Panavision cameras and Primo (expensive) lenses. They used Kodak Vision 320T 5277 film stock for some of the chase scenes, they used a FlyingCam, a remote controlled 30 pound helicopter with a camera on board. They used three dimension stabilizing camera mounts for many of the chase and action shots. They also used laser rangefinders to focus. Rumour has it that the chase scenes are something very special this time around. Also, there are some specific tribute shots to Dr. No in the film.

Lighting was another huge issue on the set. The Icarus weapon, the doomsday weapon of the film, output 160,000 watts over Pinewood's backlot. It had to be started in banks, so it wouldn't overload the dedicated generator the crew had to rent. The Ice Palace (Col. Moon's, lair) scenes were all made of acryllic and other plastics. Constructing an actual ice palace would have been to Speilbergesque. The crew used a 200 foot long sound stage to make the set, and it had to be lit 360 degrees so that shadows and reflections could be controlled. There is a chase scene through the ice palace involving an Aston Martin and a Jag.

This is the first Bond movie to use CG extensively. It worked out quite well. Mara Bryan supervised FX. Especially impressive are the scenes from the Icelandic coast, as water is one of the hardest things to do well in CG, along with fire. Pixar and some of the other graphics houses sell some of their custom computer programs for upwards of $25 000. A lot of the other scenes were modified and tweaked with computers.

There are several interesting stories about the making of Die Another Day. Tamahori is quoted as saying "David (refering to David Tattersall) and I went all over the world scouting these locations, only to end up faking them at Pinewood." The computers played an important roll in that as well. Also, there is a kick ass shot of an experimental Boeing helicopter coming out of the back of an AN-124 Russian cargo plane. When the producers rented an AN-124 from the Russians, the Russian mafia seized it, and held it ransom. The crew then went to the Ukranians and rented a plane from them. The Ukranians were kind enough to deliver a plane with a special tail number: UR(for Ukraine)007. Also, the director of Panavision London came wondering into Pinewood. Tattersall asked "what are you doing here"? He replied "I figured you were shooting something interesting when I noticed you had 26 cameras booked out." The replacement cost for a Panavision camera and anamorphic lenses is between $50,000 and $150,000 per camera.

Yes, there are hovercraft in the movies. They went through 18 of the things filming the hovercraft chase scenes. Yes, there are cool cars. Ford supplied them all. Bond is back in his classic Aston Martin. The villans are stuck in Jaguars. Ford also converted the cars to all wheel drive, beefed up the suspension and powertrain and added snow tires. A chase scene takes place on a frozen lake in Iceland.

I got most of the info here from the November 2002 issue of American Cinematographer and The Nov. 18th Newsweek.