We chat with Special Effects Wizard Chris Corbould about James Bond, Mendes, Nolan, his favourite Bond effects scenes, get to the bottom of the Skyfall helicopter emblem & tease Bond 24 at the Bond in Motion Exhibition, London Film Museum – In Conversation

Thursday, March 20, 2014 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Chris Corbould in conversation Bond in Motion London Film MuseumHis first listed production credit on IMDB is "Special Effects Assistant" on Ken Russell's Tommy, Chris Corbould has since then he has added 52 more credits with the most recent being "Special Effects Supervisor" on J.J. Abrams's Star Wars: Episode VII. 

In between he has worked with almost every major talent in the film industry, he has worked on almost every film worth mentioning and most definitely the ones we rate, we aren't the only ones who think so as he (and his team) have been nominated for many awards and he went home with an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects on Christopher Nolan's Inception. He has worked on 13 Bond films, overseeing the special effects from GoldenEye onwards, he has worked on the Superman series, The Dark Knight Trilogy, a Highlander film, Willow, Nightbreed, Alien3Lara Croft, ShadowlandsJohn Carter, X-Men: First Class to give some depth to the breadth of Chris Corbould's work. He is very well known for pulling off impossible effects in camera, that is without the use of computer generated imagery. So you will understand if I was daunted going in to chat with man himself.

I could talk and probe Corbould's mind for a whole day discussing just one of the films he has worked on, how on Earth was I going to fit a salient conversation, with one of my heroes into a couple of minutes, with the world's press breathing down my neck surrounded by legends from across the Bond films?

Bond in Motion at The London Film Museum

This exciting family exhibition will transform the entire London Film Museum space in Covent Garden and will allow Bond fans and members of the public to see the most up to date collection of  James Bond cars

London Film Museum Covent Garden

45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7BN 

Exhibition Dates:
Fri 21 March 2014 +

Opening Hours:

Mon - Sun : 10am - 6pm
Sat: 10am – 7pm

For tickets and more info:
head here or here

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Bond in Motion at The London Film Museum
As it turns out Chris Corbould epitomises that thing that people, in the know, talk about when they discuss why they want to work on quality productions - like the Bond films, that is past the gloss and glamour and why the relationships and friendships developed between crew are so tight - part of what makes the Bond legacy so enduring - Chris Corbould is very present whilst being easy to talk to, soft spoken and humble without a hint of the arrogance that comes to weaker people when success or personal recognition is attained.

Our chat took place at the breathtaking Bond in Motion Exhibition at the London Film Museum and I could not have wished for a better location as Chris was able to point to relevant props and pieces whilst chatting and I have to say it is pretty mindblowing being in the middle of the Bond in Motion exhibition surrounded by film and Bond history within arms reach.

This is how our chat went down.

Video: Chris Corbould [SFX Supervisor]

I'm blown away, how wonderful is this exhibition?
Chris Corbould: It's lovely isn't it. For me it's a great walk down memory lane. There are some bits in the collection that I remember working on when I was 17. There was a moment when I thought I did that weld 30 or 40 years ago. A real walk down memory lane. These guys deserve every success they have done a lot for the industry.

Chris you have such a vast career and have worked with almost everyone in the industry at some point on any film that is worth mentioning - but can you choose one special effect from across your career that you are particularly proud of?
Chris Corbould: Ha, ha I have missed a few films. Wow! I don't know You know I'm proud of everything that my team, and I must emphasise the fact that it is a team and it's not just me. My team are incredible with great engineers, electricians and many others.

There are so many great moments that tank chase in GoldenEye, stands out as it was my first James Bond film as overall supervisor and I was very instrumental in the tank chase. I have very fond memories of that.

Video: BOND50 GOLDENEYE St. Petersburg  T-55 Tank chase

From Tomorrow Never Dies the whole BMW 750 sequence I am very proud of.

Video: BMW 750 Chase Scene from Tomorrow Never Dies

From the The World Is Not Enough the helicopter with a saw blades right up to Skyfall and the underground train crashing through the ceiling. There are so many great moments.

Video: The World is Not Enough Movie CLIP - Helicopter Saw (1999) HD

Someone are great moments because of the country they are in, others are spectacular one-offs that you've lost a lot of and then when it happens it all works well and you can sleep again.

Talking about spectacular one-offs that you have lost sleep over, can you recall a particular special effect that was a real challenge?
Chris Corbould: Well they are all challenges but something like the train crashing through the ceiling, we could have done it more than once but that would have meant a two or three week re-build of the set.


It's always challenging blowing up the villains lair, similar to the Skyfall mansion. Those are one-offs you don't get two gos at that it's a pile of burning rubble at the end. They'll always a bit of a worry but we have to test and test and test and make sure we tested every single element and ensure that if one part doesn't go right that there are other elements to cover over it. I have learnt to deal with that as part of the job.


Having started out when most effects were done in camera or with practical effects whereas these days CGI has proliferated almost every film. Can you tell us a little bit about how your approach to the planning and execution of effects may have changed over the course of your career?
Chris Corbould: I'm passionate about my craft and try get onto films where the director has a fondness for doing practical effects on film, hence my relationship with Christopher Nolan he is a great advocate of doing things for real as are the Bond films.

My relationship with Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli is that they have hired me many times and I would like to think it is because I bring something to the table as far as trying to do things for real.

Can you tell us a little bit about the difference in style of directing between Sam Mendes and Christopher Nolan?
Chris Corbould: Well they are both very, very clever individuals. Chris Nolan is a great filmmaker who I have a tremendous amount of respect for.

Sam has a very theatrical background and I think that is the strength of Skyfall that it had a character driven part to it and it was not just a special effects stunt driven extravaganza. It was about the people, the characters in the film. What we did, just melded into them.

Are there any special effects that you haven't done yet? Or you you would like to redo?
Chris Corbould:  Oh! There are lots and lots. You know whenever I start a film and I go scouting for locations I sort of wander around thinking wouldn't it be great to blow that bridge up? Or for a car to go off there? Wherever we go in the world my mind is constantly working on how we can do things.

I know it's very early days still Ben is wondering if you could tell us anything about what we can expect from Bond 24?
Chris Corbould:  Absolutely not.

Have you advanced to a stage where you know something and can't tell us or is there nothing to tell yet?
Chris Corbould:  Ha, ha, ha I do know a few things but we won't be discussing them

Finally I was hoping you could shed some light on something that has been bugging me since seeing Skyfall, what does the upside down triangle in the orange circle emblem on the side of the AgustaWestland helicopter mean?
Chris Corbould:  Oh! which one? [we adjourn to the 1/3 scale model of AgustaWestland’s AW101 helicopter from Skyfall situated high above the entrance of the London Film Museum] Oh no that has no particular or secret meaning we were just trying to dress the helicopter as authentically as possible.

The London Film Museum and EON Productions are delighted to announce that the BOND IN MOTION exhibition, the largest official collection of original James Bond vehicles, will be on display for the first time in London from 21 March.

This exciting family exhibition will transform the entire London Film Museum space in Covent Garden and will allow Bond fans and members of the public to see the most up to date collection, including for the first time in the UK, the 1/3 scale model of AgustaWestland’s AW101 helicopter used whilst filming 2012’s Skyfall. BOND IN MOTION will also feature a wide range of vehicles, miniature models, action sequence boards, vehicle concept art and props from all of the James Bond films.

Tickets are now available from www.londonfilmmuseum.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk.


Bond in Motion Exhibition at The London Film Museum
21 March onwards

The London Film Museum Covent Garden is located at 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden London, WC2E 7BN.

Exhibition will be open 7 Days a Week* 10am - 6pm (last entry 5pm) Saturday - 10am till 7pm (last entry 6pm).

The Museum Shop and Cafe is open during Museum opening hours. Tickets can be purchased at the venue on the day but to avoid the queues, we recommend purchasing your ticket in advance from www.londonfilmmuseum.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk,

Telephone 0207 202 7043.

Tickets priced as follows: adults £14.50; child £9.50, family ticket £38 (2 adults 2 children under 16) and under 5's go free.

Shaken not Stirred
Craig is a retired superhero, an obsessive hobbyist, comics fan, gadget lover & flâneur who knows an unhealthy amount about Ian Fleming's James Bond.

When not watching or making films he takes pictures, eats, drinks, dives, tries to connect to nature whilst mentally storyboarding the greatest film ever made. He also  & sometimes utilises owl-themed gadgets to fight crime. 

A list of his 133 favourite films can be found hereIf you would still like to contact Craig please use any of the buttons below: 

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