spotlight

Meet James Bond Archivist, Meg Simmonds

In 1995, Meg Simmonds began the process of digitising and archiving original artwork from the early Bond films.

Soon, the catalogued collection expanded into costumes, cars, props, concept art, technical drawings and scripts. We caught up with Meg to find out more about the archive, including the rare poster collection we have in our exclusive range.

Bond in Motion, touring exhibition

Q: Hi Meg, it’s a pleasure to talk to you about all things James Bond. How long have you worked for the Eon Productions Archive, and how did you first get started?

A: It’s about 28 years now, I started working on the archive in 1995 and before that was working for our producer Michael G Wilson. He has a wonderful private photographic collection of non-Bond photographs, and I worked as an assistant to his main curator.

Years before in 1987, I had been working in the publicity office for ‘The Living Daylights’, so I was also familiar with the Bond photographic collection too and we were just chatting one day and I said, ‘It’d be really good to get digital copies of the really old 60s material before they deteriorate, they need to be kept together in a digital archive’. So that was the beginning and then we created a physical archive of all the costumes, cars, props, concept art, technical drawings and scripts.

Q: Were you always a big James Bond fan?

A: I wouldn’t call myself a super fan, but I always appreciated the Bond films. I appreciate them so much more now, knowing them intimately and seeing the amount of expertise that goes into every single detail. 

EON Productions archivist, meg simmonds

Q: With 25 films to date, the archive must be ever expansive. What is the usual process for accessioning items into the archive?

A: Well, ‘accessioning in’ is quite straightforward because you’ve already decided what you want to retain from the film production, it gets delivered, you unpack it, re-pack it into archival packaging, place it in the relevant section and input the item into the database. 

We are story-makers and my job in the archive is to preserve a collection of inanimate objects and you want those inanimate objects to come to life and to tell the story. So the real process starts with the script, the words on the page. You get an idea of the story arc, you get an idea of which props are going to be key props and what helps move the story along – the plot points – and you take notes on the items you’re most interested in. 

Then when production begins, I visit the different departments and watch how the words on the page become real. I find out how, why and who is creating at every level whether it is the art department, costume or special effects as I need to be able to understand the whole process.

Q: We recently visited the EON archive, where we were lucky enough to view your rare poster collection. Could you tell us more about the history and evolution of the Bond poster?

A: The poster design has certainly evolved over the 60 plus years. I love the older posters, back in the ‘60s it was predominantly poster artists creating these images. The final images were illustrated rather than photographic which we see nowadays.

Q: As the archive isn’t open to the public, you curate special exhibitions to showcase the collection. What is your usual process behind choosing a theme or selection of objects for each exhibition?

A: We collaborate with the venues or touring exhibition companies. For our 50th anniversary, we worked with Barbican and toured an exhibition called ‘Designing 007, Fifty Years of Bond Style’. It was a large, successful exhibition which covered different design and style aspects of the filmmaking from the costumes to gadgets, locations and the characters.  

‘Bond In Motion’ is a touring exhibition which puts our vehicles centre stage. We have all kinds of interesting gadgetry and glamorous vehicles – from the classic Aston Martin DB5 to a stealth glider. As we complete each film, new vehicles are added. The vehicles are the alter egos of Bond and the villains. ‘Bond In Motion’ is currently in Saratoga USA and will shortly be in Europe.

Home to 007 Elements, designed by architect, Johann Obermoser

We have a permanent exhibition in Austria in Söelden called ‘007 Elements’. This is built on top of the mountain where we filmed ‘Spectre’ – the scene where Bond visits Madeleine Swann’s place of work. The property was built specifically to be an exhibition space by German architect Johann Obermoser who was very inspired by Ken Adam, the legendary production designer. It looks like a villain’s lair on the top of this mountain. The exhibition’s name reflects the visitor’s journey through a series of galleries, each distilling the craft of the signature elements that define a James Bond film.

Q: If you had to pick one item from the archive, which would be your favourite and why?

A: This is a difficult question to answer but I’d have to hone in on one group which would be my favourite - it’s the designs we have from Ken Adam, our first production designer. I particularly like his concept art for ‘Dr. No’, the very first 007 film in the series because it looks so modern, and it influenced the future of the series. 

They are beautiful sketches and he raised the bar for all the films to follow.  He inspired the other department heads at the time to be experimental and take risks and the producers backed him all the way.

‘Dr. No’ concept art by Production Designer, Ken Adams
‘dr. no’, reactor room concept art by Ken Adams

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