007 Mission. Why James Bond has graced Tirol with his presence and where the action scenes were shot.
The excitement is increasing by the day. “Spectre” will be released on October 26, 2015 in the United Kingdom on the same night as the world premiere in London, followed by a worldwide release starting from November 6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 007 will take you to the icy heights of the Ötztal Alps in Soelden and to the East Tirolean mountain village Obertilliach.
The highest paved road in the Alps. A spectacular curved steel structure as gondola top station. A mountaintop restaurant that resembles an ice cube. In one word: Soelden. The internationally renowned ski resort in the Oetztal Alps, Tirol, was chosen as the setting for shooting action-packed mountain scenes for the 24th Bond caper.
In behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot in Soelden, associate producer Gregg Wilson says that producers have been talking about how they are going to top “Skyfall” with “Spectre”: “Above all we had to deliver an amazing sequence and this is going to be one of the major action scenes of the movie, a jewel in the crown so to speak. It’s going to be spectacular and Tirol seemed to offer everything that we needed to pull it off.” Production designer and location scout Dennis Gassner adds, “We are going to continue the history of the Bond films, making things that are exciting for the audience to look at and what could be more exciting than to be on top of the world?“
It was the first time the ultimate gentleman spy has graced the Tirolean mountains. He did so mainly because of the daring willingness of Jakob Falkner, head of the Soelden mountain railway company. In April 2014, while attending an event, Falkner had noticed that the production company considered shooting key sequences of Bond 24 atop Gaislachkogl Mountain in Soelden. This was when Falkner embarked on his own personal 007 mission, that is, to bring Bond 24 to the lofty peaks of Tirol.
The Mission: Top Secret
With the support of “Location Austria”, the Austrian Film Commission and central information agency for international film productions in Austria, he contacted the Bond production company and travelled to London. Instructed by tourism industry colleagues he went on the mission, “to show James Bond producers our definite interest by our presence.” His strong arguments in favour of Soelden: “The resort is readily accessible, the logistics are excellent, and the views are sensational.”
Participating in a language study tour, Falkner had first visited London as a boy—and this happened to be some kind of 007 mission, too: He had tickets for the world premiere of a James Bond movie. When he arrived at the cinema, there were so many people waiting that there was a queue to get to the queue. He and his friends thought “it wasn’t worth the wait in the incredibly long queue” – and went to see the movie a few days later.
The iconic ‘ice Q’ and Gaislachkogelbahn Gondola Top Station play the leading role in the Tirol sequences of “Spectre”, the 24th film in the James Bond series. Photo Credits: Ötztal Tourismus
This time, the Bond thing seemed to work out fine in London, though. Soelden was put on the shortlist of locations with most potential and Falkner returned to Ötztal Valley “with a good feeling”. Soon, arrangements were made for the Bond production crew to go to Soelden to finalise plans for location filming. They wanted to drive the switchbacks of the road leading up to the Rettenbach Glacier to an elevation of 2,829 meters themselves. They wanted to tour the spectacular steel structure of the gondola station, the amazing mountaintop viewing platform and the distinctive cuboid-shaped ice Q Mountaintop Restaurant in person to confirm the suitability of the locations in question.
One thing had to been taken into consideration, though: The road leading up to the glacier is usually closed in winter due to avalanche conditions. Heavy snow creates dangerous conditions for tourists, and as well for Daniel Craig.
Usually closed in winter, the Soelden Glacier Road is the highest paved road in the Alps and 1.8-kilometer long Rosi-Mittermaier-Tunnel is the highest road tunnel in Europe. Luckily, the road could be opened for filming “Spectre”. Photo Credit: Jörg Koopmann
Back in Soelden, Falkner gathered a small team of experts who were the only ones in the know; no one else was initiated into the secret of the “B 24” mission. Eventually, the producers confirmed their plans for shooting Bond 24 in Soelden. In December 2014, the production team was preparing for filming by scoping out the locations. “Safety first!” was the paramount rule but, luckily, the road could be opened. Spectre began filming in January 2015 with Daniel Craig, joined by Bond girl Léa Seydoux and a muscular henchman called “Mr. Hinx”, played by Dave Bautista. Shooting continued in February with stuntmen and extras.
Some of the indoor scenes were finally shot at the London Studios in a replica of the “ice Q” restaurant. Falkner flew to London to view the set. “That was really awe-inspiring,” he said. Of course, you won’t be able to notice the difference between original and replica in the movie.
Filming for the new James Bond 007 movie took three weeks in Soelden overall, including spectacular car chases and fighting against the white snow, mixed with a beautiful deep blue sky and the stunning scenery of the mountains. Falkner knew from the first second that the resort of Soelden and the British spy were the perfect couple: “Bond is action and adventure. Soelden is action and adventure! They go together like hand and glove.”
“Like a Lottery Win”
Filming for “Spectre” continued in January, with the action moving to Obertilliach in East Tirol. The crew arrived from the Austrian Province Styria with ‘film snow’, a plane and a wooden Alpine house.
The timber building was carefully reconstructed on the Obertilliach set, on the upper edge of a ski run at Golzentipp Ski Resort and aptly named “Bond House” by the residents of Obertilliach. Shooting for “Spectre” took place at four locations across Obertilliach. Daniel Craig was on location for three days in the middle of January 2015, filming scenes at the so-called “Bond House” and ski run. The filming sites were abuzz with Bond fever. A farmer in the village named two baby calves that were born on the first day of shooting “Daniel” and “Léa”.
A timber building was carefully reconstructed on the Obertilliach set, aptly named “Bond House” by the residents. Photo Credits: EXPA – Johann Groder
Another shooting location was the listed center of Obertilliach. “The historic village center is the main reason Obertilliach was chosen as the setting for the film’s mountain scenes,” explains Mayor Matthias Scherer. In March 2014 he was informed that Obertilliach was on the shortlist for a Spectre film shooting. Soon the production company told us if the community gave their OK, they would not look for other locations anymore. Scherer knew he had to seize this opportunity: “A film shooting of this kind is like a lottery win for a tourist resort.” The film crew began preparing the area in anticipation of the arrival of the main unit in early September 2014. Snow was trucked in to top up the snow on the set, the historic village center.
687 Residents and one Secret Agent
The main filming in Obertilliach commenced in mid-January 2015. The ski lift was closed for two days to allow the film crew to record the movie’s intense action scenes. Daniel Craig’s 007 was seen on set aiming at a target with his handgun, and he shot various scenes involving the badly damaged wreckage of the cockpit of a crashed plane. “As a result of woodland clearing in the previous winter, when power lines were laid underground, there had been an open strip and that turned out to be quite useful for the film shooting,” explains Mayor Scherer.
Watch out for the action-packed scenes involving the badly damaged wreckage of the cockpit of a crashed plane. Photo Credit: EXPA – Johann Groder
As was the case in Soelden, Scherer says that working with the production company and the film crew was very pleasant and less complicated than imagined. He adds, “In a rather unusual step on the part of the Bond production team, Obertilliach residents have officially been informed about the filming in a town meeting in which the veil of secrecy was finally lifted. The friendly owners of a home situated close to the so-called “Bond House” in Obertilliach invited members of the cast, crew and security to warm themselves up over homemade delicacies in their lovely panelled parlour. ‘Villainous henchman’ Dave Bautista felt so much ‘at home’ that he enjoyed a nap on their sofa, next to the cat.
The production company ensured a regulated everyday life for the people in the village during filming. They acted very professional and took time to answer all questions. Needless to say, there has been a great deal of excitement in the village at the news that 007 has been present among the 687 residents… Obertilliach was definitely abuzz with Bond fever.
Daniel Craig’s 007 was on location for three days in January 2015, filming scenes at the 687-resident village of Obertilliach. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing GmbH