1999 - Questions from David Williams
Background and Career
DW - Where were you born and is there a family history of involvement in films?
VA - Slough UK. My Father trained horses (Racehorses) for actors including Richard Todd.
DW - When did you first decide to become involved with stunts and filmmaking, and who were your main influences in the business?
VA - Jimmy Lodge, a stuntman in 1965 – I was always interested in the film business, especially stunts.
DW - What was the name of the first film you worked on?
VA - Arabesque 1965
DW - What type of stunt is the most difficult to set up and film?
VA - Horse work
DW - Have you suffered any serious injuries whilst performing stunts?
VA - A bit, broken shin/arm/collar bone/nose etc.
DW -Are there any stunt men/women who you would refuse to work with? (No names are necessary!)
VA - Yes.
DW - What is the most memorable stunt that you have performed, or been involved with?
VA - All have been memorable to me, but the Indiana Jones Trilogy and the Bonds have been memorable
DW - How did you first become involved with EON productions, and what was your first Bond film? How was the experience, and what are your memories of it?
VA – My first Bond was “You Only Live Twice”, it was awesome, it was so big.
DW - What Bond films have you worked on, and what was your involvement in each one?
YOLT - Stuntman
OHMSS – Double for 007
L&LD – Double for 007
NSNA – Stunt Coordinator and double for 007
TND – Stunt Coordinator and 2nd unit director
TWINE – 2nd unit director
DW - Whilst working on the non-EON Bond film ‘Never Say Never Again’, did EON show any displeasure on your working for a rival production?
VA - No
DW - What stories do you have of working with George Leech and the late Bob Simmons?
VA – Both were very expert coordinators with knowledge of film cuts and camera angles. Bob was the 1st Stunt Coordinator to be really recognized above the Americans
DW - At what stage of pre-production did you become involved with ‘The World Is Not Enough’?
VA – Pre-script, pre-director, which was August 1998 when I was on ‘Entrapment’
DW - What level of co-operation is required between the Director, and yourself in charge of the 2nd Unit?
VA - 100% communication plus trust both ways
DW - What parts of Post-Production are you involved with?
VA - Editing my sequences
DW - How close was the film unit to the tragic avalanche that occurred in the Chamonix region? Was the crew involved with the rescue?
VA - Right there-it was very traumatic and upsetting, our crew was involved in the rescue.
Pre-credit Boat Chase sequence
DW - In total, how many crew were involved in the filming of the boat chase?
VA - 150
DW - How many ’Q’ boats were used in the production?
VA - 16
DW - Who decided which locations on the Thames and in Docklands would be suitable/available for filming?
VA - Me
DW - In an early draft of the screenplay, a seaplane was to be seen landing on the Thames by the MI6 building. Was this sequence seriously considered for filming?
VA - Yes, I thought it would be great, and it was approved by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), but let go for story reasons.
DW - In an even earlier draft, Bond was to pursue the Cigar-Girl along the Thames with the aid of a jetpack. Was this ever seriously considered for real-action filming (as opposed to CGI)?
VA - No
DW - Since you had filmed in the Royal Victoria Docks before, for ‘Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade’, was it your idea to film in this location?
VA - Yes. I knew I had to get off the river ASAP for logistic reasons.
DW - How difficult was it to match the variations in lighting that occurred during the filming of the boat chase?
VA - Difficult, but I have a genius in my DP (Director of Photography) Jonathan Taylor.
DW - Did the changeable weather conditions present any other problems for the 2nd unit?
VA - No more than the usual, uncomfortable conditions etc. but we are used to that.
DW - Early on, the media reported that you had to halt filming due to complaints from some MP’s in the Houses of Parliament. Was this true, and were there any other complaints about the filming, from local residents perhaps?
VA – The MP’s were a pain in the butt, and were the only problem we had, everyone else gave us 100% cooperation. It is ironic really considering the tourist value it will bring London
DW - Where did the ‘Q’ boat training/practice take place?
VA - In Hampshire on a lake.
DW - Had you worked with Pierce Brosnan before ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’?
VA - Many times over the years
DW - Were you impressed with his handling of the ‘Q’ boat? (We were!)
VA - Yes, he was fabulous
DW - Have you used the remote controlled mini heli-cam before? Do you recall the name of its operator, and was he able to ‘see’ the view from the helicopter’s camera in the goggles he was wearing?
VA - I have used the model chopper many times here and in the USA. His name is Emmanuel Prevenaire from Belgium. No, he could not see the view. He is the best in the world.
DW - Did you manage to salvage the film from the Scuba-Cam, which was on board the ‘Q’ boat that sunk in Millwall Dock?
VA - Yes, we salvaged it and used the film.
DW - Were there any sequences in London for which you were unable to get permission to film?
VA - No.
DW - Were you surprised by the size of the crowds that came out to watch the filming, and did the public ever cause a problem (in London or elsewhere)?
VA - I thought they would be bigger, but they were no problem.
DW - When Pierce Brosnan appeared in the Royal Victoria Docks, Michael Apted and the main unit filmed him. Why was the 1st unit involved on this occasion, when on his previous excursion in the ‘Q’ boat on the Thames the 2nd unit performed the same task?
VA – I have no idea. I think they needed time to kill.
DW - I was unable to gain access to the Millennium Dome site, so can you tell me if the 1st unit was involved with the filming on that site, or was it just the 2nd unit? And did Michael Wilson or Barbara Broccoli visit the London locations at any time?
VA - No, the 1st unit did not go to the Dome. Yes, BB (Barbara Broccoli) and MW (Michael Wilson) did visit me a couple of time – which shows confidence in me or else they would be around all the time.
DW - Can you estimate how much actual film (in minutes) was shot for this boat-chase? Have you been involved at all with the editing of this sequence?
VA – Hours of film for a chase of 15 minutes.
DW -As far as you know, was this sequence ever considered as being too long for showing before the credits? (We heard rumours that the boat-chase was being put back in the film until after the credits)
VA - Yes it was, but after requests from a preview audience it was put back as a pre-title. It suffers a bit because it is shortened.
DW - What was your most memorable day on the Thames/Docklands shoot?
VA - The helicopter day – it was magnificent – and I really stuck it to the MP’s!
DW - Do you have a strong wish to direct a Bond film, and if you were given the opportunity do you have firm views on what direction you would take the series? (More action, more characterisation or a mixture of both?) Who you would choose to direct the 2nd unit or act as stunt coordinator?
VA - I would kill to direct the next Bond – a mixture of action and character. Andy, my brother, would direct the 2nd unit and Simon Crane would coordinate the stunts.
DW - Would you be interested in involving a ‘Green’ theme in a Bond film, to tie in with Pierce Brosnan’s recent statement to that effect?
VA - Yes I would very much.
DW - Would you be happy if any of your children became stuntmen/women (or are they already interested)?
VA - My Daughter Nina has just become the 1st 3rd generation stunt person in the UK. My youngest daughter Georgie is interested and my oldest Bruce was SFX on this Bond and TND, and my youngest son wants to do stunts/SFX
DW - Who, in your opinion, are the up-coming stuntmen and women we should look out for?
VA - They are all pretty good.
DW - What film are you going to be working on next, and what exciting action sequences can we look forward to seeing?
VA - I am on Charlie’s Angels at the moment and I start shooting in December. I am still writing the action.
DW - Have you any further news about the condition of Sarah Donohue? The last I heard she was still in an Italian hospital after suffering serious injuries in an offshore boat accident. If you are in contact with her, please convey the best wishes for her speedy recovery from all Bond Fans grateful for her sterling work on TWINE.
VA - She is home with a broken jaw and ribs. She was clinically dead for 2 minutes I believe, but she is tough and talking of racing again. She did a brilliant job on the movie.
Charlie’s Angels Production Office. Los Angeles, November 2nd 1999
Many thanks to Vic for his help and co-operation
In June 2001, STUNTS magazine editor Jon Auty and myself were invited to visit Vic at his home west of London. Photographs and an interview will appear here soon.
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