Arts & Culture

Freed from copyright, James Bond comes home — to Ottawa

(Photo, cropped, by Graham Law. Left: Ian Driscoll, Quintana Taylor Jennilee Murray, and Lee Demarbre. In full, below)

Filmmaking duo Ian Driscoll and Lee Demarbre want to bring Agent 007 to the capital. And now they can. In advance of the latest blockbuster Bond movie, Spectre (which opened last Friday), Chris Lackner talks to the team about why it is a perfect time to bring For Your Eyes Only — based on Ian Fleming’s story, partially set in Ottawa — home.

Why can you make your own Bond movie in Canada?

Ian: On January 1 of this year, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels fell into the public domain here and in a number of jurisdictions around the world [including China], which means that anyone can take them and republish them, adapt them … or write new novels or scripts based on the material.

Lee: The simple fact that you can’t sell this movie in the United States or the United Kingdom [because of more stringent copyright laws] makes it a risk.It’s going to take a producer with guts and vision. But if you understand the market, everything is geared toward China right now.

What happens in your Bond movie?

Ian: It’s a period piece set in 1958, at the height of the Cold War. The villain, Von Hammerstein, is an ex-Gestapo officer  who tries to get his money out of Cuba [ahead of the revolution] by buying an estate in Jamaica. This elderly couple won’t sell, so he murders them. It turns out, they were friends of Bond’s boss, M, so he sends 007 on a personal mission of revenge … by that point, Hammerstein has a place in Vermont. M flies Bond into Canada, and he meets up with the RCMP here in Ottawa and then goes incognito on a hunting trip and walks across the border to kill Hammerstein.

What Ottawa locations would be featured?

Lee: The Parliament Buildings, Supreme Court, the old train station — everything on Wellington Street that existed in 1958.

Ian: Another big chunk of the story happens in the woods, so we’d shoot in the Gatineau Hills and surrounding area.

Left: Ian Driscoll, Quintana Taylor Jennilee Murray, and Lee Demarbre. Photo: Graham Law

What would your Bond film look like?

Lee: From Goldfinger [1964] and on, the Bond films are very big productions. We could never get that kind of budget. With a modest budget, we can make something comparable to Dr. No or From Russia With Love. Those are some of the best Bond movies. They are more about espionage and less about big action. That’s the look I would love to go for. Today’s Bond films are great, but they’re more of a Bourne Identity version.

What about the music?

Lee:  It would be fun to compose a whole new theme song with the NAC Orchestra and make it big and orchestral the way a Bond movie should be.

Do you have any dream actors in mind?

Lee: Everyone says Ryan Reynolds every time I bring this up. But I think you have to go with an unknown.

What are the next steps?

Lee: If we can get some sort of financing, it would be really great to announce our James Bond and who the actor is as Spectre is coming out. It would make a worldwide splash that another Bond franchise was launching in Canada.

Ian: I see it like Sony will keep making this big-budget, giant version of Bond, and we’ll be making this art-house version of the James Bond franchise at the same time. When I started, there was a risk I could just end up writing bad fan fiction, but people seem to be responding to what I’ve done.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 print edition of OTTAWA magazine.