This exciting new series sees nine pairs of contestants face the ultimate test of mental and physical endurance. Inspired by the world of James Bond, the series follows the participants on an epic global adventure with a chance to win a life-changing million pounds prize.
We caught up with Series Director Julian Jones, Director of Photography Duane McClunie, Producer/Photographer Jemma Cox and Photographer Ellis O’Brien who shot behind-the-scenes images on the Leica Q2.
How did you try to re-capture the magic of the Bond films?
Julian Jones: Locations were key. Part of the Bond DNA is that 007’s adventures play out across a series of epic, exotic locations around the world, so we dropped our contestants into places where James Bond has been. And the deeper contestants made it into the game, the more incredible the locations became. We also wanted to re-capture the look of Bond films. We shot using the anamorphic format, which many of the Bond movies have been shot on and that gave us a more classic cinematic feel.
Duane McClunie: The magic of Bond films comes from their ability to blend action, intrigue, style and characters, often in exotic and glamourous locations taking viewers on a visual journey around the world. An incredible amount of planning went into paying homage to this.
Which day of shooting was the most memorable to you?
Julian Jones: There were many. The first day in Scotland was special. The nerves and anticipation of finally embarking on this journey so long in the planning and then at the end of that day came the relief and joy of thinking “wow, it’s actually working.”
Duane McClunie: It may appear dangerous, and it was quite physically demanding, but the opportunity to ride on top of a moving train is a memory that will stay with me forever. It was something I have seen in many movies and is something I will never forget.
How did you prepare?
Julian Jones: It was crucial for the authenticity of the series that our contestants didn’t see the locations before we filmed and that we, the crew, didn’t slow them down. Their reactions and decisions had to be real. We would prepare by using stand-ins to move through the environment – be that climbing a crane or getting out on top of a cable car – to rehearse the camera positions, figure out the complex logistics and safety aspects and tweak our plans if we had to. So once the shoot day came, which was always fast-moving and intense, we had it all covered.
How did you choose your locations?
Julian Jones: Our starting point for choosing locations was that they had to be places where Bond has been and that the journey through the game should have a sense of taking the contestants further and further away from home with each new location being radically different to the last. Like in any Bond movie, the journey through Road To A Million has many different flavours – remote, epic, urban, luxury, grit, glamour, snowy Alps, sun-drenched beaches – it’s all there!
One of the first ideas we had for this show was that the transitions between countries had to feel like a real reward, a dopamine hit for the audience. From the Scottish Highlands one second to sun-drenched Venice. Or from the Atacama Desert to a luxury Jamaican beach resort. So, we planned the contestant journeys with an impact in mind.
What were the biggest challenges of shooting?
Julian Jones: Logistics without a doubt. A big crew, many different locations and time zones, remote locations – a Producer’s nightmare! The production team making this happen behind the scenes were superheroes.
Duane McClunie: Every country brought up challenges, common amongst them was the amount of time we spent operating handheld in a wide variety of terrain from mountains to cities, deserts, boats, buses, with alligators etc. all as the situations we were filming played out in front of our cameras in real-time. Then there were also the challenges thrown up by the conditions specific to each country that applied more pressure; the heat and humidity in Naples; rain in Scotland (in summer); altitude symptoms in Chile; the world’s driest climate of the Atacama Desert with its sand that gets in everything and gave us the job of stripping down and cleaning all the equipment every night.
Keeping all the gear running smoothly all the time, in the right place and ready to go was a big job, but the team are highly skilled and super experienced and as most of us have worked together a lot over the years, the shorthand amongst us made everything flow a lot better.
How did you approach capturing BTS images of 007: Road To A Million with the Leica Q2?
Jemma Cox: Once I had accustomed myself to a new camera and learnt the focus system, I realised how fast and accurate it was and that the camera made superior image quality. It was also very customisable while being light and fast to use.
Ellis O’Brien: I started using it after five minutes of going through the menus and you just knew you were shooting with something that has an amazing build quality and feel. It felt different to any other camera that I’ve used but it fit like a glove in my hand. It’s a fantastic piece of quality kit that any photographer needs in their life.
Why was the Leica Q2 a good camera for this project?
Jemma Cox: Having the use of one lens fixed is liberating and also makes you think carefully about how you approach situations, depending on the task and the location. It was perfect for all the beautiful landscapes and the in-camera colours were beautiful. The silent shutter was the perfect choice for stills during filming and didn’t interrupt the shoot at all.
Ellis O’Brien: The night shoot at the Casino was my most memorable moment with the Q2. At ISO 6500 it was amazing and it blew my mind how good it was, making no noise and delivering completely clear images in such low light. I still don’t know how it can be that good, but it just is! I ordered the Leica Q3 straightaway.