Pinewood Studios

August 1985

Pinewood Studios is a name well known to film and television buffs. Located approximately 20 miles outside of London in Buckinghamshire, Pinewood has been the home for many hit films, including "Superman", "Star Wars" and many of the James Bond films. Unlike the American studios owned by production companies, Pinewood does not produce any films of their own. Instead, the facility is available for rental only. This means that when a film wraps, the producers must remove any sets from the grounds, so Pinewood does not have a standing backlot like you will find at Universal, etc. Pinewood is not open to the public and tours are not available. About these photos: During my years with Warner Bros. I made several visits to Pinewood, for we maintained a small office out there for films in production or development. I have other pictures buried away somewhere, but these shots were taken during 1985 when "Little Shop of Horrors" was in production.

007 Stage

The large gray building in the back is the 007 Stage, which I believe is the largest stage in Europe. As the name implies it was built for the James Bond film series, and over the years it has housed many impressive sets, such as the submarine docks from "The Spy Who Loved Me". When I first saw the stage they were filming the mine scenes from "A View to a Kill". On this day the stage was filled with the main street from "Little Shop of Horrors".


prop warehouse

This is the prop warehouse, with the small jet used in the Bond film "Octopussy". There were loads of paintings, chairs, chandeliers, etc., but the jet was the only thing I saw in the warehouse that was easily identifiable to a specific film. As mentioned, Pinewood is a rental facility, so most of the props leave with the company that brought them in.


bumper cars

These models of football players had been used for bumper cars in "Supergirl".


filming tank

Pinewood boasts Europe's largest outdoor filming tank, seen here between productions. The concrete wall in the back can be covered with a variety of backdrops, and when the tank is flooded, it can look like a lake, the side of a ship, or other nautical settings.


props

Like other film studios, there was a odd variety of stuff just standing around. This cannon and the lifeboat behind it, for example, were standing next to the tank seen above.


gardens

Long before Pinewood became a studio it was a country home to a wealthy Englishman. The former estate's gardens have been retained, which really sets the place off from other studios. Besides just looking nice, the gardens can also be used for filming. This section, for example, was used in Gerry Anderson's series "U.F.O." when Ed Straker chased his double through the gardens in the episode "Mindbender".


manor house

This is the main building at Pinewood. Once a stately home, it now houses production offices, conference rooms and what has to be the most elegant dining room in any studio. It's quite a place, as it was the former ballroom of the estate. I remember watching a series of visitors dropping by Cubby Broccoli's table during work on the Bond films; as the biggest user of Pinewood at the time he was treated like royalty indeed.