samedi 8 août 2015

Growing up with James Bond ...

( Warning : this is a semi autobiographical piece , where the writer fondly looks back at some of his 007 related memories ) . Kind of trip to Nostalgia lane .

I discovered James Bond at Christmas 1971 in Paris . The film was , of course , Les Diamants Sont Eternels ( D.A.F ) .
And to an 8 years old kid , this was a universe quite different from the usual Disney pictures my parents usually took me to see at the cinema .
A couple of days later , I managed to cajole my godfather to buy me two Corgis models issued from the movie , the awesome Moonbuggy – which I still have and still functionning – and the Aston Martin DB5 ( which , unfortunately , has suffered much more from being too often played with … ) .

Anyway , two years later Lord Brett Sinclair suddenly became James Bond .
I was then much more aware of the ongoing saga .
And started to read the original Fleming novels . The French movie tie-in edition of ' Vivre et Laisser Mourir ' had the superb Robert McGinnis film poster on its cover - which was the main reason why I bought the book ( to be dreadfully honest , I was disgusted not to find ANY direct relation with the movie bearing the same title , apart from some character's names . That was my first lesson in movie making : never trust a film poster claiming story is inspired by a precise book ! ) .

My interest in Bond then took two directions . First , following all the news appearing in magazines related to the shooting / release of a new movie and second , discovering all the original novels written by Ian Fleming ( and then trying to imagine what could have been done with a completely faifhfull adaptation of any of his novellist work . ) .

As fate would have it , I was then living in the small town of Vence , nearby Nice , on the French Riviera .
And the then current actor portraying 007 on the screen at that time ( the ever amiable Sir Roger Moore ) had a villa less than 15kms from my own home . Little did I knew then ( damnit ) .

When I decided to publish my very first own movie Fanzine in 80', it was then natural to have 007 on the cover of the very first issue . The Curse of Journalism had made another victim .
I then followed a Journalistic Course at la Sorbonne – and finally obtained a Master in Journalism & Communication in 90' .
A decision which was ( in all modestly ) largely inspired to try to follow Ian Fleming footsteps .
I figured out that his life as a Globe-trotter was one which could be rather interesting , visiting new countries , making friends everywhere , acting like an irresitible playboy , being his own Boss . That sort of things .
Hell yeah , Journalism was some kind of dream job indeed .

I had started writing film reviews by then , attending Press screenings , meeting actors & directors for promo interviews , etc, etc .
But always a Bond fan, I was still a member of several 007 Fan-Clubs around the world – best of them being without doubt the James Bond ( British ) Fan-Club .
Under the formidable input of its Président , members had the chance to visit the mythical Pinewood Studios , attend conferences with cast & crew from the movies , etc.,etc …

I even used one of those Convention ' open day ' in october 92 to film part of my first James Bond TV documentary there , ' Les 30 Ans de James Bond ' ( who knows , it may be on YouTube these days ) . I was still a trainee in the SFP ( French national TV Production company ) then, and managed to convince them to let me film there a 30 minutes doc – which was produced by Canal + Philippe Gildas company .
Oh and I got to interview Terence Young himself – in one of his very last TV appearances – for that documentary too ...

Over the years , I met many people in the movie business  , made a few friends too and continue to closely follow each new James Bond adventures ( be it on celluloïd or paper form ) .

I interviewed many of the key production members too ( Cubby Broccoli , Michael G.Wilson ,Guy Hamilton, etc. ) , and have always been impressed by their own modesty .

My interest never weakened through the years .
For me , quite simply , the Bond productions were – ARE – what Europe can offer as Best in terms of movie production and artistic value .
Their creative teams are truly international , their casts dazzle for each new movie . They trust the very same persons to work with them from film to film .
There's definitly some kind of ' Family business ' warm feeling when you have the chance to be introduced into the Eon house …

So I've ' grown up with James Bond ' - sort of .
And have been lucky enough to earn my living doing a job which was directly inspired by the very creator of agent 007 ( I often wonder what Fleming would have thought of our current ' Media frenzy ' times , though … )

And I'm not the only one , far from it .
Many current film directors have been inspired by the Bond saga .
Some famous prolific 007 screenwriters have also started their litterary career producing some James Bond inspired fanzine in their teens …
I was having lunch the other day in Paris with a friend who had been lucky enough to be picked up as Spectre Stunt arranger in the upcoming movie .
We're roughly about the same age .
First unit Shooting had finished some weeks ago , but he still had that broad grin when talking about the movie , and still did not quite realized he is now part of the Bond family . It was a dream come true ( his words ) … Lucky guy .

Maybe one day , they'll need a French writer to join their ranks ?
I should send pronto boxes of Chocolate to Barbara & Michael ...

Et merci à Harry , Cubby , Barbara , Michael et Ian Lancaster Fleming of course

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