30 Days of SPECTRE #002: The Pre-Title Sequence

This time we’re taking a look at the pre-title sequence of SPECTRE. We discuss the opening gun barrel (Yay!), we take a look at that glorious opening shot and cover every inch of film up until Sam Smith starts singing.

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18 Responses

  1. Be advised there are some SPOILERS on this comment.
    Here are some of some the best moments from working as an extra on the SPECTRE pre-title scene:
    -In order to improve my chances of appearing on the film I decided to get on Sciarra’s way as he runs towards the helicopter. That meant getting thrown aside by the actor who plays him, at least 10-15 times. This was all great except when another extra holding a flag stood behind me, Sciarra pushed the guy and the pole ended hitting me hard in the head, twice!!
    -Daniel walked in front of me and my friends several times. He was always in a happy mood and invariably curteous. After a couple of days filming he waved in my direction when he arrived at the parade set. I have no idea if the greeting was for me but I sure waved back.
    -The one person I got the chance to talk extensively between takes was Gary Powell who couldn’t be nicer. By then I had realized Bond and Sciarra where going to climb on the helicopter and there was going to be some kind of fight, but I just couldn’t picture anything happening that we haven’t seen in other action films so I told Gary (half kidding!) something the likes of “you can’t dissapoint us!” which he took to heart and told me he always aims to make the audience happy. Anyway, the next day they shot the scene with the characters getting on the helicopter and I noticed how several crew memmbers went out of their way to get their pictures taken with the pilot, it was at that point that I realized that this guy was somebody special and he had something big up his sleeve.
    -My most embarassing moment on the set, asking cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema if he was second unit director Alexander Witt. He laughed sarcastically and continued walking. (eventually I learned that Witt didn’t come to Mexico at all).
    -On the last day of filming, they got most of the extras out of the main plaza and only left 60-70 of us out there. The helicopter took off and started doing horizontal 360s about 40-50 feet above our heads with Bond and Sciarra fighting inside and outside of the vessel. What I found funny was that the assistant director asked us to look scared which, as you might imagine, wasn’t really necessary. By then I had full confidence on the pilot since, it was very evident, he was nothing short of a genius, what concerned me a little was picturing one of the stund doubles falling on top of us (though they were obviously tied up to the helicopter). At the end of the first take most of my collages burst out in applause and the assistant director admonished us all by saying “that’s the last thing your are suppossed to be doing!”.
    -We were suppossed to come back the following day but apparently they finished early and told us that was the end. A friend and I walked towards the helicopter and stuck our heads inside, we said goodbye to Gary Powell and ran into Chuck Aaron (the helicopter pilot), I kidded the latter by thanking him for not getting us killed!. Then I suggested to my friend that we walk towards the tent from where Sam Mendes directed the film, to check what was going on. It turns out several people tried to get his autograph but the mexican crew wasnt’ happy about that and tried to push everybody away (literally). They succeed it but not before I managed to get Sam to sign my ID badge! (photo attached).
    More on a later entry!

    1. Gerardo, some fascinating insights into your time on the film. Thanks for sharing with us. We’ll be sure to share it on one of our future podcasts!

      Glad to hear that you had such an unforgettable time! 🙂

  2. And a couple of notes you might find interesting. 1) Just down the street from Estrella’s hotel (about 50 meters away) you can find the building that they used in LTK for Sanchez’ Banco de Isthmus (photo attached), 2) Also, a couple of blocks from site where the building collapses you can find the Teatro de la Ciudad, used as the exterior for Sanchez’ office (photo attached as well). 3) As I mentioned yesterday, the elevator from the same hotel was used in LTK in the scene where Pam Bouvier pulls the gun from under her dress, 4) While filming SPECTRE inside the hotel, I noticed that the facade of Estrella’s room was actually a fake. They built a temporary wall and door right over a service elevator which I guess was convenient because it was the closest to the scenic elevator.

  3. Glad you seemed to enjoy most aspects of the ‘Spectre experience. The pre-title sequence of Spectre wouldn’t get into my top 5 but I did enjoy it (actually it would be number 8 for me, and after nearly two years of JBR I’m less self-conscious about making geeky comments like that!). I too laughed out loud at ‘the sofa moment’ and that was very much a sign of the lighter tone to come. Ironic that Daniel seems to have been at his grouchiest in the pre-movie publicity this time whilst being at his most ‘frothy’ on screen in this one. Spectre did seem to have been a very long shoot (8/9 months?) so I can well understand him being pretty tired of it all by the time of the premiere. I think it will be just one more for Daniel.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      Number 8 for the pretitles is a pretty solid standing so glad to hear you enjoyed it too. We both loved the humour in SPECTRE… it was done with just the right touch of subtlety and definitely worked with Craig’s style of delivery this time around.

      Definitely at least one more for Daniel, although I could possibly see a SPECTRE trilogy of sorts… I guess only time will tell.

      Thanks,
      JBR

  4. Hey guys, you’ve got us pumped up to see this movie in the States- just a few more days. I’m living on the edge by listening to your analysis of the pre-title, but I think it’s fine. I might have to listen to Day 3, then it’s silence until Friday night. Thanks for all of your hard work. L

    1. Hi Langford,

      It really is a banger of a movie… I’m pretty sure you’ll love it!

      Not too long to go now! 🙂

  5. I interpret the continuous four-minute opening shot as a smackdown of the ADD editing in “Quantum,” which probably had more cuts in its first four minutes than “Dr. No” did in its first half-hour.

  6. The 4 minute (or whatever) shot was actually filmed during 3 separate days. On Friday March 20th. they shot the very opening with Bond walking through the parade with Estrella while noticing Sciarra, the next day (Saturday) they filmed Bond coming out of the window and walking on the roofs. Sunday was an off day. On Monday they shot Bond and the girl walking inside the hotel, getting into the lif and walking towards her room (the hotel bit was the only part of this sequence that I was able to attend).
    Some interesting facts, as I’ve mentioned before, the hotel exterior & interior are two different buildings located about 6 blocks apart so there is indeed some CGI trickery with the shot of the poster to join both sections. The exterior of Estrella’s room was aactually a fak door & wall mounted on top of a regular, service elevator (chosen as such because of its proximity to the scenic lift). My guess is that the interior of the room was shot at Pinewood Studios which means there is an additional cut (disguised, of course) when they enter it.
    And finally, no rooms actually lead to the roof where Bond initiates his walk. All they did was add a small section of a fake wall where 007 actuall emerges and the rest is a fake CGI wall.

    1. Excellent job on the field Gerardo! It’s great to hear your experiences on the shoot. How did you manage to get right up to their path toward the helicopter? Did they choose people specifically or did you just have to scramble your way in there?

      1. On the Saturday filming outside the helicopter there was so much shoving/pushing to be close to the helicopter when Bond and Sciarra climbed inside, my guess is that the production people realized the following Monday that these was a motivated group of extras so they allowed us to stay for the helicopter out of control scenes Curiously, very little of that material made it to the final movie.

  7. ‘A fuck off skeleton chewing on a cigar in your face.’
    I burst out laughing when Chris described the opening shot.

  8. Excellent job on the field Gerardo! It’s great to hear your experiences on the shoot. How did you manage to get right up to their path toward the helicopter? Did they choose people specifically or did you just have to scramble your way in there?

    1. Sorry for taking so long in answering your comment which I (obviously) didn’t see until today. The filming of the pre-title sequence here in Mexico took a little more than a week. All the stuff outside the helicopter was filmed on the next to last day (a Saturday) and it was a real struggle because the production people insisted that only the first three rows of extras should look towards the helicopter while the rest should keep an eye on the stage located at the center of the plaza. You wouldn’t believe all the pushing and shoving to get closer to the helicopter (some tempers flared quiet a bit). I remmeber a rather nasty lady becoming really upset with me when she noticed all the progress I made little by little! Unfortunately for her own sake, she was too short so she didn’t end up making it on the final film. I remmember that during that afternoon they filmed the exact same shot of Sciarra aproaching the landing helicopter with the camera following him from behind while we were all pushed backwards by the stunt guys in the first row. They filmed that shot time and time again and yet it didn’t make it to the screen. Instead they opted for a high shot of the helicopter landing with small CGI extras backing away from it.
      Sunday was an off-day and the next day we all simply took our places from Satuday, only to be told by the production people that they were moving on to the next part of the filming. They asked most of the extras on the square to leave the set and a few dozens of us were left there. We suddenly found ourselves witnessing the fight between Sciarra and Bond’s stunt doubles just a few feet above our heads. They most have filmed around a dozen takes. Looking back,becoming involved in what I find to be one of the most exciting Bond action sequences ever, not only was this the best part of the filming but truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I ended up being involved in quiet a few of the shots and even though I only ended up appearing in a couple of them, I wouldn’t trade anything for the experience of having being present under that out-of control helicopter.

      1. That’s really amazing, such an awesome experience! I imagined the whole thing while reading your story. Thanks a lot!

  9. This comment might be a little late but…..the building behind Sciarra (when the pre-title chase sequence starts) actually does looks like that in real life without the explosion! Some vegetation can be seen growing in its facade, which is something I’ve never seen before.

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