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No Time to Die: The logistics behind James Bond’s latest adventure

Within a challenging timeframe and across multiple locations worldwide, DHL’s logistics expertise kept 007 ahead of the filming schedule for his latest adventure.

In February 1951, at his island home Goldeneye, writer Ian Fleming started writing “Casino Royale”, a book that would become the world’s first glimpse of the British agent with a license to kill – Bond … James Bond. Now Daniel Craig’s final appearance as the suave superspy in “No Time to Die” brings Bond back to Jamaica, where it all began.

The 25th installment – known as Bond 25 – in the long-running series has been shot extensively in the same Caribbean locale that set the stage for the first James Bond film: 1962’s “Dr. No.” With a legacy spanning over half a century, each new addition to the franchise opens to high audience expectations – and this one certainly satisfies 007’s legendary wanderlust, with filming locations that include Italy, Norway and various destinations across the U.K. Now, after a lengthy absence since the last Bond film, “Spectre” – not least because of successive delays due to the pandemic lockdown – moviegoers are eager to see what lies ahead as director Cary Joji Fukunaga brings Bond into the 2020s.

The success of such an endeavor does not rest on the shoulders of one man alone – it is a team effort.

Enter John Meller of DHL Entertainment Logistics. Responsible for transporting everything needed in support of making the film, and sometimes the cast and crew themselves – Meller and his team of six industry experts are at the helm of everything required to bring a production from script to screen.

Based at Pinewood Studios, home to the legendary “007 Stage,” Meller describes his department as a “one-stop shop for anything a film needs: express, air, road and sea freight – all you need.”

Originally employed by DHL Danzas Air & Ocean, Meller’s expertise traces back to the 1989 production of “The Old Man and the Sea,” which was shot in the British Virgin Islands. He reflects that the logistical challenges then were comparatively easy.

The obstacles today, he says, are far greater: tougher restrictions on airfreight clearance, increasingly complex administration and the intensified workload that comes with it. Getting from A to B, in a world growing more and more interconnected, has become far more complicated.

On time and on target

With tighter shooting schedules demanding shorter intervals between retrieving and delivering equipment, Meller says that the most important thing is to stay ahead of the ever-changing requirements of international regulations. Faced with these challenges, he considers that, in many ways, “we’ve been fortunate victims of our own success”. Production companies are increasingly relying on experienced shipping coordinators, keeping the DHL team in demand but under pressure.

To balance the workload, Meller relies on a love for the entertainment business that runs in the family. His son Jonathon was the DHL project manager for much of Bond 25’s shooting schedule. “Our job,” Jonathon Meller says, “is to facilitate Bond 25’s requirements for shipping,” ensuring that everything is delivered in prime condition and on time. 

Nothing was too massive or mundane for this global logistics challenge. To achieve the requirements, with the help of DHL, Meller and his team utilized more than 30 airplane charters, an unusually high volume of flights for a film. Ranging from private jets, such as Legacy and Falcon 14-seater planes, to larger cargo vessels, Bond’s every move was serviced by a spectrum of airborne transport, including an Airbus A340-300, which simultaneously carried a large freight haul and the cast and crew to Jamaica. The team logged 907 entries covering everything from shipping clearance documents to weaponry and prop firearms.

 “No Time to Die” marks the fifth consecutive 007 adventure for which DHL has provided its logistics expertise – and the team certainly hit the ground running with their first collaboration, 2006’s “Casino Royale.”

Bond’s code name is no less famous than his exotic travel tastes – and neither look set to change any time soon. “No Time to Die” marks the end of Craig’s one and a half decades in the role and cements his legacy as the Bond of a generation. But it also keeps the door open for a new chapter in the longest-running film series in history. —  Liam Heitmann-Rice

Published: October 2020, Updated: October 2021

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