Tanks vs Aliens - Let Battle Commence!

Finally, after 4 years of dreaming and planning, I am delighted to tell you that we’ve finally completed the one part of the movie I was truly terrified about doing. The tanks vs aliens battle scenes….

Check out this great little video put together by director, John Neil Park: 

In the story, alien ships attack the cities and abduct the people as they flee to escape. We’d already shot the main crowd scenes where we had rallied 700+ people to run through the streets of Birmingham. We had also shot people being blasted and appearing in alien pods which hang from the bottom of the spaceships. These scenes were working beautifully, but I’d always felt we needed the military – as in soldiers, tanks, jets and attack helicopters. The jets and helicopters can of course be added via CGI, but I had always wanted to do it with real tanks and soldiers.


This was something I had always dreamed of doing, since I first saw the original War of the Worlds when I was 8 years old. It was this scene in particular that blew me away:

I had a chance meeting with a chap called, Andrew Baker from Alvis Action Vehicles. He was displaying some of his vintage tanks at a World War 1 tribute event in Rugby and I asked him if it would actually be possible to film a scene like the one in War of the Worlds.

However, I wanted it to be right in the centre of a major city. I knew London would be a big no-no, but Birmingham on the other hand might be a possibility. He said he could certainly provide the modern tanks and would definitely be up for the challenge.

I put a call out to Sindy Campbell from Film Birmingham, an organisation set up to help film companies shoot in the city, and asked the question. “Could we bring a few tanks and armed soldiers onto the city streets for a War of the Worlds style battle scene? Oh, and can we actually fire the tanks…?”


The initial answer from Sindy was… ”Possibly…!”

The other striking bit of good luck was meeting the armourer, Jack Weston. He and his teamed worked their butts off to gather around 40 armed soldiers to come and take part in the shoot and I have to say, Jack and his business partner, Charlie Daniels, did an outstanding job – their guys were amazing!

We closed of Colmore Row and Victoria Square and being that it was such a large area and we only had around 5 hours to shoot in, I brought in Huw Bowen, a Second Unit Director, to help maximise the quantity of shots we’d get. Huw (director of the movie Triple Hit), took a small crew up to the far end of Colmore Row and directed more battle scenes with a group of soldiers and an armoured LandRover. This enabled me to focus on directing the rest of the soldiers and the tank scenes which we did in Victoria Square.

I had also engaged a friend, Lance Nielson (director of the movie, The Journey and the forthcoming, Pegasus Bridge), to play the Tank Commander which he took on with great joy and passion. Once we’d shot his scene, I also gave him a camera unit and he went off and directed a few more shots. This ended up being a VERY good decision on my part because the time flew by and I would have ended up getting behind schedule. 

The resulting footage was outstanding, the five cameramen who joined us, delivered some beautiful and powerful imagery.

The camera guys from Left to right: Tony Welsh, Robert Shaw, Ian Dangerfield, Simon Cox, Ben Thompson, Devon Rosenblatt, Dan Abrams and Lloyd Ernest. Sadly, DOP Gordon Hickie managed to miss being in this shot.
The camera guys from Left to right: Tony Welsh, Robert Shaw, Ian Dangerfield, Simon Cox, Ben Thompson, Devon Rosenblatt, Dan Abrams and Lloyd Ernest. Sadly, DOP Gordon Hickie managed to miss being in this shot.

I had invited our Indiegogo and Kickstarter backers and many of them came along. Some of our private investors joined us too and we did our best to give them all an explosive experience. The atmosphere on set was just a dream and I believe everyone had a smashing time. 

So, with the tank scenes finally done and dusted, we have just a few more micro scenes to shoot and these will be completed by the end of October. Then it’s a case of adding the new material to the edit and completing the mountain of special effects that are being worked on. 

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this happen. So many people came from all over to join us and it was a joy to meet everyone and finally see it all come together. I can’t wait to unleash the movie upon you all.


Simon Cox

Writer & director - Kaleidoscope Man




Many thanks to the wonderful Trish Holden and Brett Jukes for the amazing on set photographs and an extra special super thanks to John Neil Park for the documentary.

Write a comment

Comments: 9
  • #1

    Vera Mark (Monday, 03 October 2016 18:41)

    Amaaazing - it looks like you all had a blast. Three cheers for Film Birmingham and bravo to everyone involved. Can't wait for the premiere! ;^)

  • #2

    Herbert (Monday, 03 October 2016 19:07)

    Looks great! That scene will surely pop up the attack of the aliens, looking so much forward to seeing the finished film!

  • #3

    Jacob (Monday, 03 October 2016 21:30)

    Brilliant blog, going to share like crazy....all the best with finishing off an amazing Sci-Fi!

  • #4

    Jennifer Steel (Tuesday, 04 October 2016)

    Congratulations on a good night filming!

  • #5

    Adam (Tuesday, 04 October 2016 18:32)

    It was great to be part of the crowd scene. Thank you - looking forward to the film premiere :)

  • #6

    Sylvia dowling (Saturday, 08 October 2016 19:44)

    Awesome evening. Kids had the time of their lives xx

  • #7

    simon oneill (Wednesday, 19 October 2016 10:45)

    What an amazing feat Simon, no wonder you were scared, the logistics alone must've been daunting. Brilliantly done.

  • #8

    Ian Dangerfield (Sunday, 01 January 2017 22:52)

    Loving every bit of this journey

  • #9

    essayrepublic (Tuesday, 12 September 2017 14:13)

    Excellent work! Information about the tanks & aliens battle scenes is very interesting to read. Thank you for sharing filming details.