Sci-fi movie is shot in Heyford bomb bays
A thrilling science fiction movie starring Oscar Isaac, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh is about to begin around the Cold War bomb bays at Upper Heyford.
The film, called Annihilation, is being backed by Paramount Films but being shot by Pegasus Group over three days between now and the end of June.
But before the stars arrive, set designers will cover the old bomb storage buildings with lichen and moss, roadways are being covered with gravel, mud and bark and fake fences and guard towers are being put up.
Senior planner for Pegasus, Kerry Pfleger told Cherwell District Council: “The site will be used to create the vision of an abandoned military site in the southern United States.
“The scenes to be filmed are predominantly night scenes with the lighting to be supplied by the moon, a single overhead key-light and a collection of torches.”
“There will be no effect lighting or searchlights.
“Filming will be dialogue only and will not involve any amplified sound, pyrotechnic effects, simulated gunfire or similar theatrical activities.”
Annihilation is written by Jeff VanderMeer and adapted by the director, Alex Garland who is known for his work on 2015 psychological thriller Ex-Machina, which won an Oscar for best visual effects.
Actor Oscar Isaac is also currently filming Star Wars VIII and starred in Ex-Machina. Natalie Portman is best known for her role in Black Swan and Jennifer Jason Leigh – who plays a psychologist in Annihilation – was seen in last year’s Quentin Tarantino movie The Hateful Eight.
Film company Pegasus Group has put in a planning application for use of the base’s bomb bays and surrounding land for temporary use for the filming.
Several of the old Cold War buildings at Upper Heyford have been placed on the English Heritage list of scheduled monuments.
A bid was made in 2011 for the site to receive World Heritage Status but it did not make the UK shortlist.
The base has appeared in several film and television productions, portraying various fictional military sites. It appeared as a USAFE base in West Germany for the James Bond film Octopussy in 1982 and as the fictional RAF Baywaters (intended to invoke RAF Bentwaters) in The Fourth Protocol.
The abandoned base also appeared as RAF Heyford in the television series Lewis, series five episode Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things, first broadcast in 2011, playing an important role in the development of the plot. It was also used in the film World War Z, released in 2013, with scenes featuring a supermarket and a large number of American cars.
In a letter of support to Cherwell, Creative England said: “A medium feature film such as Muppets Most Wanted (2014), which recently filmed at Heyford Park, is estimated can spend in excess of £22,000 per day on local employment and services, whilst a television production can spend in the region of £17,000-£19,000.
“Film tourism is a growing industry and an increasingly profitable one.
“Heyford Park has provided film locations to some of the biggest productions to shoot in the UK over the recent years such as Muppets Most Wanted (2014), The Woman in Black: Angels of Death (2015), Fortitude (2014) and World War Z (2013). Heyford Park will be able to accommodate future important filming opportunities as well as be part of the Film Friendly Ethos in the English regions.”