Film Work

All Nigel's involvement in film flying came as a result of his association with the Old Flying Machine Company. A visit to the OFMC film, TV and video credits pages shows the amazing scale and scope of their experience in the industry.

Here Nigel gives an insight into what it was like working on these films.

Dark Blue World

An amazing film for Robs Lamplough and I to work on. Two flying Spitfires, two fibre-glass full size models with small motors and spinning propellers and three polystyrene models for the background. The Czechs are incredibly energetic, innovative and positive.

NOTHING seemed impossible. When first an all night shoot went wrong and then the film of the entire, hugely expensive train attack was damaged in the development laboratory their sense of humour never faltered. Amazing people. The Director, Jan Sverak though not a pilot was brilliant at knowing what might be possible with a Spitfire. A $7 million movie which is a ‘must see’ not just for those with a passion for flying or Spitfires!


Harts War

With Lee Proudfoot and Robs Lamplough and two P51’s. When it was not your turn to fly, you were on set as the co-ordinator. What a pity MGM did not have one camera dedicated to capturing nothing but the Mustangs. Wonderful fun low flying ..the best technique was to keep the speed around 200 kts with 10deg flap to help dodge the trees, a small powerline and plenty of lamp posts. A big budget movie which would have been MUCH better if they’d used more of the Mustangs and a little less of the actors.. sorry Bruce!


Waiting for Dublin

A pleasure once again to work with Lee Proudfoot. Operating Ray Hanna’s priceless P40 (cunningly disguised as an Me 109!) off a short, inclined gravel strip in the middle of a bog in western Ireland in February was a nerve wracking challenge. It will be great if the movie makes it beyond the ‘still in production’ phase. Well worth keeping an eye on the IMDb link above - it could be fun.


Flyboys

An Independent big budget US production. Despite working with a great bunch of pilots this was, by far, the toughest film assignment. With access to only a few excellent machines (like John Day’s beautiful Nieuport) there was a desire to reduce the CGI and have more real flying machines. Before the heirarchy ordered two US built aluminium ultralight replicas (with lots of power but very little control authority) we warned them that they would be severely limiting (cross wind and turbulence) and that we might refuse to fly them. In the end they were ordered and subsequently we were lumbered with some pretty inadequate equipment. For my first (and hopefully last) time, this resulted in a most unfortunate relationship with the US producers. The actors and the UK production team were great to work with; real professionals. But job satisfaction was killed by those responsible for providing the tools .. perhaps having bought them, they were always bound to see the pilots as the limitation rather than the barely flyable machines!

Not surprisingly, the aluminium Nieuports were eventually grounded and CGI became the king. A huge amount of real flying ended up on the cutting room floor. Those who have seen this film will probably have winced at the amount of CGI and the performance bestowed upon the Nieuports and Fokkers. Oh how the pilots of 1917 would have loved the roll rate of a modern carbon aerobatic machine and the power to draw a vertical line thousands of feet long!

Anyway, whatever you do, don’t blame the Old Flying Machine Company! We did the best we could and in my personal view, one of the greatest achievements of the aerial unit was that none of the ultralight replicas were written off!

I have met lots of people who enjoyed this film so don’t let my grumpy opinion deter you!


In Steven Grey’s superb MK V EP120. Descending to attack the train.
Lee Proudfoot drops a ‘bomb’ on target. Are those flames on the stuntman’s overcoat?
Watch the obstacles!
Testing the stuntman’s nerve.

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