Monday, 7 May 2012

Meeting an Oscar Winner: Peter Lamont

Lamont with Sir Ken Adam
My Dad fixes computers for a living.  Why does that matter here?  Because he fixed the computer of Oscar winning production designer Peter Lamont recently!  This is the guy who has worked on 18 Bond movies from Goldfinger in 1964 right up to Casino Royale in 2006.  

Not only that but Peter Lamont has also worked with the legendary James Cameron on three films; Aliens, True Lies and Titanic, the latter being the only film Lamont has won an Oscar for, despite other nominations.  

So my Dad gave me Mr Lamont's number so I could arrange to have a chat with this titan of film production.  And this Thursday I sat down with him and spent two hours questioning and worshipping him.  I wanted to do a formal interview but thought that might be a bit pushy for a first meeting so settled on just asking him questions for my own personal pleasure.

I spent a couple of days researching everything I could about him and here's some of the cool stuff I found out:

1. Both his brother Michael and son Neil work in the industry.  His son Neil Lamont worked as an art director on all the Harry Potter's, a couple of Bonds and recently War Horse.  His brother Michael sadly passed away fairly recently.

2. 'Peter Lamont worked as a print boy runner at Pinewood Studios and returned after military service as a junior draftsman to ascend through the art department ranks. Art director Peter Murton introduced him to the James Bond series in which he would establish his reputation, first as a draftsman on "Goldfinger" (1964), making drawings of the famous set for the interior of Fort Knox. Lamont then worked closely with two-time Oscar-winning production designer Ken Adam on another fantastic set construction--the incredible volcano rocket base in "You Only Live Twice" (1967). He earned his first Academy Award nomination for his set decoration on Norman Jewison's "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971)'|124090/Peter-Lamont/

3. Lamont graduated to production designer on "For Your Eyes Only" (1981)|124090/Peter-Lamont/

4. James Cameron said "I always assumed that the style I had shot Titanic in would work well in 3D because I tended to use wide lenses and I let the environment - the ship, the sets, the beautiful production design that Peter Lamont did - kind of wrap around the characters and inform the story at every step"
 5. Some of his work is on show at the James Bond Art and Design Exhibition in London from July-September alonside others work.  'Highlights include gadgets and weapons made for Bond and his notorious adversaries by special effects experts John Stears, Syd Cain and Chris Corbould; artwork for sets and storyboards by production designers Sir Ken Adam and Peter Lamont and costume designs by Bumble Dawson, Donfeld, Julie Harris, Lindy Hemming, Ronald Patterson, Emma Porteous, and Jany Temime',-LONDON,-JULY-SEPTEMBER.html

6. 'Lamont has only missed three Bond films in total – the first two, Dr. No and From Russia With Love were made before he joined the team and he was absent from Tomorrow Never Dies because he was already committed to another film'

7. The reason he missed Tomorrow Never Dies was for James Cameron's Titanic.
8. Peter Lamont said about his time on the Bond films 'they are nice people to work with and we do get a free hand. And there’s a great feeling that we are all on the same team trying to do the very, very best. My edict is that when I do second best I’ll give up'

9. He also worked on a film I loved as a kid called The Taking of Beverly Hills.  Anyone else seen this?

10. He's also featured quite a lot in the opening 30 minutes of the feature length Making of Aliens.  I've put the video below.  You can read a full interview with Peter Lamont here.

That is an ACTUAL Oscar and I held it!
Anyway this means that I got to see my first Oscar in the flesh!  I sat in front of it absolutely gobsmacked!  I got to pick it up and everything!  And it's so heavy!  Peter Lamont's name is engraved on it at the bottom.  This means that Mr Lamont is a member of the Academy and gets to vote on all the art categories and also the Best Picture each year.  He told me he got 72 'screener' DVD's this year to wade through!  How sweet is that???

He also showed me his copy of a brand new Titanic book that has been published to tie in with the 3D release.  The he showed me a 2 inch thick folder of photos, plans, and paperwork from the production of the speedboat chase in Live and Let Die.  Absolutely amazing piece of cinema history!  I was in awe!

I can't embed the chase scene but if you don't remember it, check it out here:

Engraved bit of Oscar- poor photo sorry!
I even asked about the time he was in a plane hijack which I had read about on Wikipedia.  That was when he was working on Octopussy and sounded a bit bloody scary! 

I asked him his favourite Bond film and he said The Spy who Loved Me but his favourite Bond was Pierce Brosnan.

I had also noticed that he was quoted repeatedly in this month's Empire magazine in the article about the famous dam-jumping opening of Goldeneye and so took that along with me to get him to sign it.  Mr Lamont seemed so interested in the article that I left my copy of the magazine with him so that he could read the article in his own time.  A small price to pay for getting to meet such a legend!  And anyway I got him to sign my 4-disc Titanic special-edition DVD instead!

I leave you with a quick video featuring Peter Lamont talking about the Grand Staircase set from Titanic.

What a legend!