Terry Bamber has been working in the film industry as a production manager, location manager, assistant director and actor for nearly forty years now, on TV and film productions domestic and international, small and large. His resume includes seven James Bond films including SKYFALL (2012), LARA CROFT - TOMB RAIDER (2001), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (2004), and THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (2005). I talked to Terry about his extensive and fascinating career, and about his experiences with the man we know as Bond, James Bond.
Read Part 1 here.
How did you get involved with the Bond films?
As my Dad was an employee of Pinewood Studios, he worked on the first five Bonds as a prop man. I worked on THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974) as a production runner, and also as a runner on a pick-up unit at the studio. On my first day I had to get Roger Moore's sandwiches. I was so nervous that when he opened the door I dropped the sandwiches on the floor. He was very kind and joked that he had to watch his figure anyway! Some time later I worked on TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997) as the model unit production manager in Rosarito in Mexico. I have worked as the 2nd unit production manager on all the Bonds since, and have also been able to first assistant direct on the 2nd unit on recent Bonds.
The credits we get on films can be very misleading at times. Sometimes one is called a location production manager because one has been in charge of a particular country. Trying to put credits together for everyone at the end of the film is very convoluted. People are sometimes disappointed by their credits. I know the majority of second unit credits are very upsetting because they tend to get placed over the end credits of the film after many supporting crew. This is due to the way unit lists are laid out and does not always reflect the input and value that second units or 'splinter' units contribute to the film as a whole. So often the main unit director of photography will get a glowing tribute for work the second unit director of photography has contributed.
I was the 2nd unit production manager on SKYFALL and did occasional work as assistant director. My first love after acting is first assisting. I got to work in that capacity on the 'splinter' unit for a day on the film. On that day we shot Bond running in Regent's Park, which was used in the trailer but left out of the final film. Not only do my acting scenes get cut out of films but so do my scenes that I have first assisted! On that day we also shot inserts and I had a lovely chat with Rory Kinnear about his father, the great comedy actor Roy Kinnear. I had been a runner on THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES' SMARTER BROTHER (1975), in which Roy acted.
Why was a 'splinter' unit required for SKYFALL?
It is often a scheduling issue that means additional units have to be deployed. There are often 'splinter' units or pick-up or insert units at the end of a film to help mop up additional photography that is required. On SKYFALL there were several 'splinter' units. One went to Shanghai for the establishing shots and the shooting of plates. My wife, Susie Jones, was the script supervisor on that unit, which was headed by Alexander Witt. We had a 'splinter' unit in London headed by Gary Powell, and when the second unit got tied up in Turkey, Chris Corbould headed a unit in London, which was the one I first assisted on.
Would you describe yourself as a Bond fan?
I have been a Bond fan since a child. My earliest memory is of watching THUNDERBALL (1965), but my dad had been working in Spain and he bought me the 'Goldfinger' single earlier. That song just transported me to another dimension. THUNDERBALL was just like Christmas Day for me after that. I am like a child again working on the Bonds. Even in the worst moments, I am an eight year old staring in wonder at the YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967) volcano set that my Dad showed me at Pinewood. The next film, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969, which I saw at the Granada Cinema in Slough), just blew my socks off! Great story, scenery and great, great music. I have to pinch myself that I am in a meeting with Barbara and Michael.
As a child I also loved the 'Carry On' films, the 'Thunderbirds' TV show and even 'Coronation Street'. My Dad worked on the first 'Carry On', and I worked on the last one. I worked on the live-action THUNDERBIRDS (2004), and also a 'Coronation Street' TV special. I've had the most amazing luck.
How would you describe Barbara and Michael as producers?
If I had to choose one word it would be 'phenomenal'. They make decisions and they stick by them. They totally support their director and team. They do it with kindness and really care for the wellbeing of everyone involved. They are superb ambassadors when working abroad. They will always listen to problems and be as constructive in their help or criticism.
Are you now considered part of the Eon Productions family?
I have a good relationship with the folks at Eon and Danjaq, but I would never say I'm part of the family. One is lucky to have employment on a film to film basis. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are fantastic as people but I am only an employee and I would only ever see myself as such. When my wife was seriously ill a few years ago, the first flowers in the hospital were from Barbara and Michael.
As an Englishman, is it a real kick and a source of pride to be involved with Bond?
I am incredibly proud, and it is a fantastic kick to be involved with Bond. The fact that the James Bond character is British is wonderful, and very important to me as my other heroes are American or from the Planet Krypton - Batman and Superman!
That said, the UK side of things is not such a huge consideration nowadays as there are more and more non-UK crew members employed on the films. To be honest, sometimes I am embarassed at being English because the rules and agreements are constantly changing. Also, there is sometimes an arrogance about American and English film crews who seem to think they are the only ones who know how to make films. The real kick for me comes from meeting and working with wonderful foreign crews.
Is it true that Bond crews are full of people dedicated and honoured to be working on Bond films?
In the main, yes. But sadly there are also people who are in it 'just for the money'.
How was working with different directors on your Bond films (Guy Hamilton, Roger Spottiswoode, Michael Apted, Lee Tamahori, Martin Campbell, Marc Forster and Sam Mendes)?
If I like and get on well with the director, then there is more banter and a greater freedom. Michael Apted (THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, 1999) was a gentleman and realised how proper planning was integral to the film's success. He was very calm and a delight to work for. (And he supports West Ham!) Martin Campbell (CASINO ROYALE) is a hundred miles an hour director whose energy is just fantastic to be around. I adore his energy and drive. I tripped over once in front of Martin and he just stared at me and called me a rude name. Once we were in a production meeting and I thought I had put forward a very good suggestion but it was met with silence, which was broken when Martin turned to Barbara and Michael and asked "Tell me again. Why do we employ this man?" All said in great humour. There are those who have been more quiet and subdued in their personalities on set. There have been some where I simply remember my position and 'keep a low profile'.
How do you feel about the media scrutiny of film shoots, and the way they describe some productions as troubled shoots?
I am afraid I usually despise the media. They report nonsense. They don't try to understand how TV and film productions are made and just want to make a quick buck story. Usually they cannot even get the names of individuals and their responsibilities correct. The media love bad news and revel in it and never let the truth to get in the way. Every film and TV production has issues. As I was on the model unit and away from the main and second unit on TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997), I can't really comment on any issues we might have had. We had several accidents on QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) in Lake Garda that had everyone pulling together. SKYFALL had some sad and difficult moments to contend with in Turkey that weren't really to do with filming but because we got to know the local community. When we were filming in Istanbul we endured a freak wind storm which completely destroyed the market set (where Eve and Patrice's cars are side by side just before Bond flips Patrice's car). The same with THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH when we filmed in Chamonix and avalanches claimed so many lives. We all helped out, and it's hard not to be part of a community and not be affected by local events.
All are great to work with. All of them need large entourages that have to be looked after and with the logistics of moving them and planning travel etc it can be time consuming and sometimes 'difficult'.
For example, I first worked with Daniel on I DREAMED OF AFRICA in 1998, directed by Hugh Hudson, and then on LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER (2001). He has always been very kind to me, and always aware of the backup that is needed to make these films. He treats everyone with respect. The main difference is the protection afforded by his entourage on the Bonds. It was much easier for one on one interaction on the first two films we did together. Mind you, as a production manager, one can work on films and have nothing to do with the cast at all. On ALL YOU NEED IS KILL, which I am working on now, I have not even said good morning to Mr Tom Cruise!
Pierce is also great to work with. He is a kind man who would give up his time to fulfil a youngster's dream to be photographed alongside 'James Bond'. Roger is simply a great man. My Dad worked with him on THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF (1970) as the second assistant director. Whenever Roger did something clever or made a joke, Dad would remark "It hasn't gone unnoticed". At the end of the film, Roger presented him with a wonderful pewter mug with "It hasn't gone unnoticed" on it!
Which of the other Bond cast members have you enjoyed working with?
A very difficult question! Desmond Llewelyn ('Q' in seventeen films) was just the most fantastic person, as is Judi Dench. Maud Adams was just so kind to an eighteen year old who had a huge crush on her during THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. I actually manage to avoid the actors as I deal more with the stunt doubles!
Have you felt a much different approach and emphasis whilst working on the Craig films?
Yes, the emphasis on Daniel's Bonds has been for a grittier feel and reminds me of Bond from the novel of 'The Man with the Golden Gun' (1965).
Is it typical on Bond films and films in general for casting and locations to be tied down very late in the schedule? it must be very stressful, but is it now part and parcel of the job?
Sadly, nowadays it is. We had real problems with the Iceland location on DIE ANOTHER DAY as it seemed the ice would not be thick enough for us to work on, so we were searching everywhere for an alternative. I got to spend a weekend in Alaska recce-ing a possible alternative. Last minute decisions do create a great deal of stress with the booking of hotels and locking down of permissions and so on.
How do you feel about the mixed response to QUANTUM OF SOLACE?
I was very disappointed by the reaction to the film. I often watch it. I hated the ending, though. Strangely enough, it is often the endings that are my least favourite parts of the films. I loved the endings to YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) and GOLDENEYE (1995), but generally I tend to wish for something a bit more 'special'.
Can you talk about your love of the music of John Barry, the arranger of 'The James Bond Theme' and composer of eleven Bond scores?
I was eight when I saw ZULU (1964). The music blew me away. John Barry's music has been a part of my life ever since. What is it that makes us enjoy one person's work and not another's? A new John Barry score was more important to me growing up than the film itself. I have recently had the pleasure to buy so many of his re-issued scores. ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE is outstanding. The arrangement of the '007' theme in the underwater scenes in THUNDERBALL takes my breath away. The various arrangements Barry did of 'The James Bond Theme' are without equal. I had dinner once with John Barry and his wife Laurie. It is one of my greatest ever memories.
Are you also a fan of David Arnold's Bond scores?
I love David Arnold's songs and less hectic music for Bond. 'Surrender' (the end titles song from TOMORROW NEVER DIES) is terrific. His 'Night at the Opera' cue from QUANTUM OF SOLACE is superb. I am so disappointed in the score for SKYFALL (by Thomas Newman) but that is just me. I hope David Arnold or Hans Zimmer does the next one!
SKYFALL is a great film, and deserves all it's success. It's the biggest Bond film since LIVE AND LET DIE (1973), inflation adjusted. How do you account for the increased popularity of this particular film?
It's been four years since QUANTUM OF SOLACE , and the advertising campaign has been brilliant. It's the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the series. The cast line-up is impressive. Like the whole series, it's entertainment on a grand scale.
What are your personal hopes for the direction of the franchise?
I'm 56 now, so I am sure my wishes are all related to selfish dreams. When I saw THE ROCK (1996) with Sean Connery, I thought "Wouldn't it be great to have an older Bond who could appeal to my ageing generation?". The great thing is that when Daniel retires he has helped ensure the series will continue and I know that the producers will read the 'current trends'. I would like to see more swagger and more of those 'that has never been done before' moments. Oh, and a great musical score.
Who do you think would make a good replacement for Daniel Craig?
Daniel is terrific. I would love Idris Elba to be the first black Bond. He has the ruggedness, danger and charm of Sean Connery. I worked with him on the first two seasons of 'Luther' for TV.
I interviewed Terry by email and telephone throughout December 2012. I would like to thank him for his generosity and candour.
Paul Rowlands is a Japan-based writer. After completing a BA Humanities course (majoring in English and Science) at the University of Chester, he moved to Japan in 1999. He writes for the James Bond magazine, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has had articles published on Press Play and has had an almost lifelong obsession with cinema, something the advent of DVD only increased. Paul is also a writer of so far unpublished short stories and novels, and is planning his first short film.