MI6 guest writer Ben Williams was on duty at the Skyfall press conference in London last week and files his report...

Press Conference Report

8th November 2011

Last Thursday saw the official announcement of the 23rd James Bond production and MI6-HQ was fortunate enough to have a ringside seat at the press conference.

The details of the conference itself were shrouded in a veil of secrecy and the security was tight enough to give Bond himself a run for his money. Attendees had to undergo a rigorous security vetting from Sony and were required to bring photo ID, as well as promise to keep tight-lipped about the secret location until after the event.

The location was the Corinthia Hotel in London’s Whitehall, a building that was requisitioned for use by the department of defense throughout both World Wars. Indeed, the Corinthia was the first home to the SOE, the organization that was the forerunner of MI6. The hotel has since been fully refurbished and restored to its original purpose – a luxury five star hotel, fit for the most discerning clientele. So, it was hardly surprising that the Corinthia was chosen as the place to launch the latest James Bond adventure.

The security was obviously successful as, upon arrival, there was little to suggest that this was one of the most eagerly anticipated press announcements of the year. Other than a couple of white television vans and a cameraman whistling the theme to “Goldfinger” there was little indication that the producers, director and cast of Bond 23 would soon be gracing the hotel with their presence.

After checking in and affixing the all important press pass, we passed through the heavy, double doors and the heavy, double security guards, into the ballroom. The softly lit elegant room with high ceilings and ornate chandeliers could have been a set from one of the Bond films itself. The James Bond Theme played over the PA system, adding to the atmosphere, whilst at the far end of the room the dais and the large monitor behind it were adorned with the OO7 logo.

Perhaps because of the rumours that had circulated about the title and the cast, the level of anticipation in the room was lower than expected. Still, there was no doubt that this was more than the usual press call. This was, after all, a James Bond press conference, and an element of excitement and glamour will always accompany the announcement of a new adventure of the world’s most famous super spy.

However, despite all this secrecy and all their attempts to keep the title under wraps, when Michael G. Wilson officially announced the title with the words “the worst kept secret in London” as Skyfall, there was no electric current of excitement passing through the crowd, only the faintly guilty recognition at its confirmation. Indeed, this early revelation seems to have annoyed a few members of the production, with both Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes making a slyly comic reference to a Daily Mail journalist knowing all the answers to his questions already.

In spite of the leaking of the title, the claims of a reduced budget and cutting back on the action, the producers, director, cast and crew were in good spirits. They seemed content with the fact that, even if we might have seen a glimpse of their cards, they still were in possession of a winning hand. Indeed, this is arguably one of the best casts and crew that have been assembled for a Bond film, with several Academy Award wins and a host of nominations between them.

Above all else, the feeling of enthusiasm and dedication to the project were evident from all those at the table. There has been in the past a tendency to take on the Bond films with perhaps the same approach one might take to doing pantomime; fun to do, but not serious theatre. That attitude was certainly not evident amongst the cast and crew of Skyfall. Whilst they appeared to be jovial and light-hearted, we were left in no doubt that each one of them was dedicated to creating the best possible film that they could, each of them taking their roles and responsibilities extremely seriously.

With Barbara Broccoli confirming that Daniel Craig would be in the role for the foreseeable future, the conference was finally over and the panel left for the photo call, and from there to start filming on the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall.