Saturday, April 18, 2009

Location, location, location

As the saying goes in Real Estate: "Location, location, location", so it goes in film (unless you have the budget and resources of George Lucas, haha!) This couldn't be more true in our case.

To Rest in Peace is set in 1990 Kuwait, a very unique urban landscape which, as I have had to constantly keep explaining to various location support personnel, is not at all like the mud huts in Kandahar, but more like the mansions in Beverly Hills. However, even Beverly Hills is only a close approximation and still has many problems. For one, the vegetation, generally speaking, is all wrong: it is far too green and has too many trees.

Currently, we have been able to find a house interior for the film, but Malek's neighborhood has proven to be a lot more difficult, and is something which we are still searching for.

The process of scouting and securing these locations has been a movie in itself. For the climactic burial scene in the film, where Malek is confronted by an Iraqi soldier, we needed to find an area that could work as an urban highway and where we could control traffic. We approached the California Film Commission and they recommended we look into something called the US Air Force BRAC list: Base Re-alignment and Closure. The list is comprised of non-active Air Force Bases which are often used for film shoots, car commercials and the occasional episode of "Myth Busters." We approached a few of these bases and ultimately found one in Orange County that seemed to work.

Around the time we found this base, we were given word about a US Air Force Base in Los Alamitos that might work as well. I called the base and ended up being referred to a National Guard Colonel, who as it turned out loved student films and had two grown daughters who were members of SAG — huh? The most bizarre part for me was that it turned out Los Alamitos was actually an active National Guard Base, but they would be more than willing to let us film there. We were all quite stunned. Within a week, we were able to set-up a scout of Los Alamitos and Fawaz, Cat, Brad and I soon found ourselves talking to Gene, a retired Vietnam Vet, about where we might be able to film on the base. He was an incredibly decent guy, but since we needed to be able to dig a grave — which was an absolute "no" for them and the Army Corps of Engineers — it turned out the base would not work out. Either way, it was an awesome experience for us, and part of me would love to go back and film something there one day.

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