1. Casino Royale Set Report: The Dunsfold Park Aerodrome

    By Guest writer on 2006-07-08

    Written by Mark Murphy recently received this set report from CBn forum user ‘marktmurphy’:



    Blow me down if a quick trip out of my office 40 mins drive out of London a couple of weeks ago didn’t get me all the way to Miami International Airport and back!

    That week I had the pleasure of that rarest of things—a sneaky peek at a James Bond film set! And, rather pleasingly, it happened that the crew had decided to shoot this particular scene—apparently one of the largest in the movie—just a few miles away from where I work in deepest, darkest Surrey at a small airfield many viewers around the world will already be familiar with as home to the BBC’s Top Gear motoring show: Dunsfold Park.

    IMAGE: 'CR' Sign

    A ‘CR’ sign

    IMAGE: Aerial image of Dunsfold Park

    Aerial image of Dunsfold Park

    For a few weeks now I’ve been getting glimpses of those little flurorescent signs film crews pin to signposts to direct other members of their unit to shooting locations: you’ve probably seen them but missed their use as they often use cryptic letters and words rather than stating their intentions clearly (presumably to stop gaupers like me getting in the way!), for example ‘UNIT LOC’ or ‘BASE’. But these particular signs have ‘CR’ written on them, and for us lot that can only mean one thing: James Bond’s here!

    After following the trail of CR signs from Guildford you arrive at Dunsfold Park, a smallish airfield but one whose celebrity status means a bit of security on the gate. Luckily I did actually have a valid reason to be there, so once past security a quick look around makes it clear quiet early on that there’s a film crew here from the proliferation of lighting lorries and stunt vehicles (‘Action Vehicles’ based out of Shepperton were present judging by their lorry) and moving over to the easternmost of the airfield’s three runways it becomes apparent that they’re shooting right here. For one, the runways is covered in lorries, lighting trucks and a couple of camera cranes—hopefully present to catch some more epic high angles on some thrilling action! The runway has grown a lengthy line of impressive halogen lampposts, each over 40ft high, which makes the whole area seem like a much more professional outfit; although you can tell they’re not real from the fact they’re all powered by generators on the ground and that they only run in a couple of spots. Plus I’m not convinced a large runway would actually have lampposts that near, but… This area has also been dressed with the sort of paraphenalia you see at the very end of large international runways—a V-section of lights raised on a frame to indicate to planes where the runway begins, plus large red and white barricades. Presumably there’s some action right on the edge of the runway for our man James! Other additions the crew have made include dressing what must be a bit of a bonus for making a small airfield seem like an international airport—Dunsfold’s own 747 Jumbo jet. They’ve given this fuel tanks to make it appear more functional than it actually is and added rather strange double engines where normally there’d be only one, plus the background is bolstered even more with the addition of an Air Atlanticque Douglas DC6—a relatively small passenger propeller-driven plane which feels in keeping with the Miami location. With these in the background the illusion should be helped somewhat.

    IMAGE: Boeing 'Prototype' IMAGE: Boeing 'Prototype' IMAGE: Boeing 'Prototype' and DC6

    The ‘prototype’ Boeing 747 that will be featured prominently in Casino Royale

    The previous week I’ve been lead to understand the crew were filming on one of the other runways, and vehicles had been tearing up and down the runway as part of the sequence: apparently they were at the time entering their third week of a five week presence. The most obvious item which told of the locations use was the line of baggage carts, each bearing the red ‘MIA’ logo, whose contents had been spilled across the runway, perhaps in the previous night’s action (a big part of making the place look realistic is apparently the fact that the scene is being shot at night—I was told it looked amazing when all lit up).


    Baggage marked ‘MIA’ of the runway at Dunsfold Park

    Event-wise a Virgin Airbus had made a landing the previous weekend (which ties with a similar plane arriving at the Prague Ruzyne Airport, also doubling for Miami, which had road signs and palm trees laid on) and, in a rather spoilerlicious bit of info, I was told they were planning to drive a Mercedes through an articulated bus of the type often seen ferrying passengers around an airport the week after. This week just gone saw the local residents warned about a small number of explosions and Chris Corbould, the effects supervisor, has recently been talking about blowing up a 757! Who knows what’s going on there!

    IMAGE:  IMAGE:  IMAGE: Aerail image of Dunsfold Park

    The runway at Dunsfold Park

    All in all a fun hour or two out of the office; you can’t imagine how hard it is driving past a sign telling you to go to see James Bond filming on your way to work every morning! I’ve included some pics, which aren’t terribly sexy and packed full of Aston Martins and 007 himself, but should give you an idea of the place.

    And incidentally, for all you Top Gear fans; yes we did drive down the runway as fast as we could!