There’s no real way of knowing if you will be working on the Dambusters remake, but if you are a Matte Dept. Supervisor, a Matte Painter, a Senior Water TD, a Shader Writer, an FX TD, a Lighting TD or a Water TD then you might want to consider relocating to downtown Wellington in New Zealand. In the last month, Weta Digital has advertised for people to fill all these jobs. Please don’t ask me what the work entails, as I have no idea. Perhaps the ‘Water TDs” will be involved in producing the new CGI versions of the mines exploding against the dams, which are probably the most laughably amateur bits of the 1955 film.
However, you could just end up working on The Hobbit, Halo or Lucifer, all of which Weta also has in the pipeline.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight website has had a makeover, and is full of interesting information. There’s tons of detail about the Flight’s complement of five Spitfires, two Hurricanes, two Chipmunks and a Dakota, as well as the full history of its pride and joy, Avro Lancaster PA474. Propellerheads will sigh jealously as they read the biographies of the pilots, other aircrew, groundcrew and civilians who work for the flight – many of them regular RAF service personnel who give up their weekends during the flying season. And best of all you can download the entire season’s flying programme (in an Excel file) so you can plan your summer excursions around it. For instance, if you buy a ticket for the England v. Australia One Day International at Lord’s on Saturday 6 September you will be treated to a Lancaster flypast.
Of special interest to Dambuster fans is an introduction to the site written by Les Munro, the only surviving pilot from the Dams Raid. On his trip to the UK last year he spent some time with the Flight and he recalls it here.
Fascinating account of a day’s filming, sometime in early 1954, on location in bracing Skegness for the famous scene in The Dam Busters where Barnes Wallis watches his mine being dropped for the first time. The article, written by a junior reporter, was published in the Skegness Standard, and the journalist himself writes an afterword, telling how he got an exclusive interview with Richard Todd who drove him back to the town. No luxury trailers or personal drivers in those days!
(NB: A link I posted last May to an earlier version of this article now seems to have vanished.)
The Herne Bay Cultural Trail got off to a rocky start last autumn with controversy about a poorly-worded plaque describing the Dams Raid as ‘infamous’. The plaque had been placed on a new statue of Barnes Wallis, erected overlooking the Reculver area, where trials of the ‘Upkeep’ weapon were carried out in May 1943. The wording has now been amended, and the rest of the Cultural Trail is nearly complete. One of the items will be a large mural depicting the trials. This can’t yet be seen on the Trail’s own website, but the work in progress is shown on that of the artist, Penny Bearman.
I mentioned this BBC Radio Kent programme back in May last year, but it seems a good place to link to it again. It’s a first hand account of the Reculver trials, as witnessed by two boys who sneaked up onto the sand dunes.
UPDATE, 16 August 2014. We were even wronger! Best guess is now 2016 or 2017.
UPDATE, 24 September 2011. We were wrong! Best guess is now 2013 or 2014.
UPDATE, 16 December 2009: Jackson confirms shooting to start in 2010
While he was recently down under in New Zealand, filming a nature programme for the BBC, Stephen Fry gave an interview to the entertainment section of the Wellington newspaper, the Dominion Post. Most of this was about his travelogue, Stephen Fry in America, which was coming up on air down there, but at the end he spoke briefly about his work on the remake of The Dam Busters.
The article is not available on the interwebnet, but I managed to track it down via a library subscription, so I bring it to you here.
Interviewer: Is it true that you have rewritten The Dam Busters?
SF: Yes, well, I won’t say rewritten. The great New Zealand director, Peter Jackson, asked me if I would be interested in writing a screenplay on The Dam Busters. This was fascinating because – I yield to none my admiration to him as a film-maker; he’s astounding – I had no idea he’d be interested in this story.
It turns out, actually, that it was David Frost who had bought the rights to the Paul Brickhill book The Dam Busters and was desperate to find someone to direct it, and he was told by a friend that Peter Jackson had a huge poster of the original film on his wall in his office and David thought, ‘I’ll call him up’, and the deal was struck. Then Peter got in touch with me. Now the original film is a magnificent film – it genuinely is a masterpiece.
Interviewer: And when will we see your version?
Dominion Post, Wellington, NZ, 17 February 2009.
The great man says ‘2010’, but I still think he is being optimistic. IMDB Pro has a few people listed as working on pre-production visuals, but no one else, which would indicate that shooting is still some way away.