Brad Pitt loses out to Halle Berry in Forth bridge battle
By Kevin Duguid
Film star Halle Berry won a battle with Brad Pitt and hundreds of flesh eating zombies to take over one of Scotland’s most iconic new bridges.
Scouts for Brad Pitt’s World War Z were desperate to see extras for the film about the living dead shuffle across the spectacular Clackmannanshire Bridge.
But for Transport Scotland chiefs the idea of seeing their country’s stunning Caledonian scenery committed to the annals of horror history was a bridge too far.
Officials refused permission to close the bridge amid fears traffic could be delayed.
Yet weeks later the crew of the Halle Berry film Cloud Atlas were allowed to close the bridge to shoot a high-speed car chase.
Officials from a rival Government department said the reasons for the decision to snub the zombie film were “unacceptable”.
Clackmannanshire Bridge was opened in 2008 after a public inquiry into the increasing levels of traffic using the Kincardine Bridge and cost £120million to construct.
Peter Gray, a location manager for World War Z, contacted road bosses in early July asking for traffic to be diverted and for the bridge to be closed over a weekend in August.
The producers wanted to flood the bridge with debris, cars and extras.
After an initial refusal by road chiefs the scout then offered £10,000 to councils to compensate the “surrounding community for the inconvenience”. It was a “great thing for Scotland to showcase on an international level”, he said.
Mr Gray even suggested flying from Surrey to Scotland to meet Transport chiefs to discuss the matter.
But road’s official Ruairidh Campbell said chiefs were too busy to offer anything other than a tele conference and even then it would only be to “allow Transport Scotland to explain the reasoning why we have not granted the closure of Clackmannanshire Bridge”.
He said the agency “could not agree” to close the bridge for filming over a weekend.
“The reasons for this are: it is critical for our network resilience, would cause excessive delay to the road users and would cause significant disruption on the diversion routes through Kincardine,” he said.
Officials warned the closures could cause delays of 30 minutes to an hour.
The decision sparked a terse response from arts promotion quango Creative Scotland. Official Belle Doyle even wrote to the office of cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs Fiona Hyslop. She said: “You asked to be kept informed of Transport Scotland’s reasons for not closing the bridge – here it is. I don’t think this is an acceptable answer given Peter’s research.”
But just weeks later Cloud Atlas crews transformed the bridge into a scene from 1970’s San Francisco.
A low-flying helicopter was used to capture footage of a high-speed car chase.
Clackmannanshire Councillor Eddie Carrick said he was “disappointed”. “If they allowed one film to be shot there they should have allowed the other.
“I know that the Cloud Atlas shooting was from 2am until 3pm on the Sunday and it didn’t cause a lot of problems.
“They didn’t think and they definitely didn’t ask our council. The bridge and the scenery around it is the jewel in the crown.”
Scenes for both films were shot in Glasgow city centre over the summer.
A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: “The Clackmannanshire Bridge carries over 13,000 cars on a daily basis and the impact of closing this to meet the specific requirements of the film maker concerned would have effected delays of up to one hour on the local road network while also bringing economic and environmental costs.
“When considering the request to close the bridge these impacts were measured against the potential benefits and, on this occasion, we were obliged to decline in the interests of the local community and the safety of the road network.”
Transport Scotland insiders claimed the bridge was only closed for for four hours to shoot the Cloud Atlas scene.
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