Defense Training and Movie Making: Behind the Scenes of ‘1917’

By Kerry McGinley

Scenic landscapes across 120 locations totaling 190,000 hectares in the United Kingdom make up one of the largest  defense training locations in the world. The U.K. Defence Training Estate includes varied terrain across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales managed by a workforce of 1,300 to ensure the ranges and training areas are ready to host foreign and U.K. defense forces that log 7 million training days per year. 

It’s also a great location for filming movies, including the 2020 Academy Award Best Picture nominee “1917.” The World War I epic about two British soldiers racing on foot through trenches and enemy territory to save their comrades recently won Best Film from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Best Motion Picture at the Golden Globes.

“We’re immensely proud that Landmarc played a part in making this film happen”, said Mark Neill, managing director of Landmarc Support Services. “Our team works hard to champion the commercial use of the Training Estate when it is not being used for military training, to generate an income that helps improve facilities for our Armed Forces. 1917 and many other great films have taken advantage of the unique and diverse landscapes for location filming.” 

Landmarc is a joint venture between Interserve, an international support services company based in the U.K., and PAE. For over 15 years, the two companies have worked together to manage the U.K. Defence Training Estate for its military clients and other estate users. 

“We’re really fortunate to have such a great group of professionals who understand what it takes to manage the estate for such a wide range of users,” said PAE Vice President of Infrastructure and Logistics Jim Sands. “These training areas aren’t just for military training – they’re also open to the public when live firing isn’t taking place, so our employees work to make sure everyone can enjoy and make full use of some of the Estate’s most stunning landscapes.”

Randy Overstreet, director of strategic range capture, recently returned from a site visit that included locations caught in the Golden Globe-winning film. 

“It was an exciting two-week visit and a great opportunity to learn more about the important work that our dedicated Landmarc personnel perform in support of the (Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s) critical work,” Overstreet said. “We’re really proud of the work our team does to ensure these sites stay mission- and camera-ready.”