Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould talks about creating the big bangs for Bond in "Quantum of Solace"...

Chris Corbould On 007's SFX
16th December 2008

Chris Corbould is a stalwart of the 007 franchise, “I first started on The Spy Who Loved Me as a trainee when I was 17, after that I left the company I was working for and got my first freelance job on Moonraker, I’ve been with them ever since!”

Corbould explains how he works out the logistics of organizing the special effects on an action film like Quantum of Solace, “When I first get the script, I go through it and identify where all the effects are, then I split them between the first unit and the second unit. This film has been particularly difficult because at one stage we had two units filming in Panama, another unit prepping in Chile, three separate units prepping in Italy whilst working on six stages back at Pinewood Studios in the UK. Logistically, it has got to be one of the most difficult films I have done in terms of the geography and making sure the right crew are in the right place with the right equipment. I have a team of about 80 on this film but I always want to try to be there to see as much of the testing and the shooting as possible, so it has meant a lot of travel for me.”

Corbould and his team would usually start on a Bond film at least five months before filming begins, “This one was different because I had a commitment to another film, so I only got two months to prep but I had a team working on it and reporting back to me.”

During pre-production Corbould is part of the team that work together to make the script come alive on screen, Corbould explains, “When you are presented with a script, what we actually end up shooting is a lot different. The writers do their bit and then the creative people come on board and it can change quite radically in the few months before you start filming. I will pitch ideas for the special effects so we try to do things that haven’t been done before. Often I need to steer the team in a different direction if they want to do something that I know has already been done before and we would just end up copying.”

It is the first time Chris Corbould has worked with director Marc Forster, “It has been interesting working with Marc. I think one of the most interesting things is that Marc hasn’t done much action before. It is nice to get him involved and try to give him a liking and an understanding for it. Marc has very definite ideas of what he wants to see but at the same time he is very open to ideas. He’s a good guy, I like him a lot.”

Corbould talks about his department’s involvement in the boat chase sequence shot in Colon, Panama, “We were heavily involved in tricks like hidden drivers. Daniel did a lot of the driving himself but there are certain times where, for insurance reasons, it would have to be a stunt driver. We needed to hide a driver to do a particular stunt with Daniel at the wheel that might have been a bit risky. We had boats going over other boats and explosions knocking out out-boards. One of the boats somersaults which took quite a while to get right; we had a big cable under the water which, when the boat hit a certain mark, had a huge twist in it and it pulled the cable back which pulled the front of the boat down forcing it to flip over – there were a lot of mechanics under the water and on the bank for that particular sequence.”

To shoot the interior of the DC3 plane, when Bond and Camille are attacked by gunfire, the special effects department had to build the rig from scratch to simulate the effect of the plane losing control. The rig was then shot against a blue screen on Pinewood’s paddock tank. Corbould explains “We tried to give the illusion that the DC3 was going through a dog fight. The rig had the ability to go from horizontal to vertical and revolve around within itself - that was a lot of fun working with the hydraulics, I really like that sort of thing. Initially we got a museum piece for the body of the plane which we were going to mount within the rig but very soon it became apparent that we were going to have to put lots of bullet holes in it and cause other damage so we decided to build it from scratch and it actually worked out better that way.”

The Quantunm of Solace production filmed all the interior Perla De Las Dunas scenes back at Pinewood and Chris and his team had a heavy schedule of explosions to achieve in the final four weeks of filming, “We had a lot of explosions on a lot of different sets. On the 007 stage there are five different sections of the interior so quantity wise, there was a lot of explosions and a lot of fire.”

However, Special Effects is not just about explosions as Chris explains “It’s explosions, atmospheric; wind, smoke, rain, fog, snow. It’s gadgets; watches that fire darts, bag-pipes with flame throwers, adapting cars like the Jaguar and the Aston Martin in Die Another Day – we adapted them to 4 wheel drive for the chase on the ice lake – and rigs, really small rigs to four story sinking house rigs!”

Thanks to Sony Pictures Releasing UK.