ADG Perspective

November-December 2015

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P E R S P E C T I V E | N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5 47 by Miles Michael, Production Designer Main image: This mural with its anti- hate message was commissioned for the film and painted on an existing building in Mangoase, Ghana. Bottom, left to right: A stalled government housing development in Koforidua, the capital of Ghana's Eastern Region, and the film's production headquarters. A local map is drawn on a wall in Mangoase. The rebel Native Defense Force camp, a set built in Huhunya, a village about 15 kilometers northeast of Koforidua. BEASTS NATION OF NO Beasts of No Nation is a film about child soldiers and civil war set in an unnamed West African country. Based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala and directed by Cary Fukunaga, it was shot in the jungles, old British colonial towns and provincial capitals of Ghana. As the Art Director working with Production Designer Inbal Weinberg, I spent three months in the intense heat, sun and torrential rain of Western Africa. For my first time in Africa, it was an extremely challenging and eye-opening experience. Under normal conditions, making a film is hard work. When you add the challenges of working on a new continent, it's a wonder that we finished the film at all. Scheduling, language, logistics, prices, materials; everything had to be relearned and adapted to a new country and culture. It was not an easy time but in the end, I'm glad we went through it. For starters, many materials I was used to working with were scarce or not available at all. Lumber was milled to our specs on large gas-powered band saws at the timber yard. Screws were scarcely used; instead, we bought nails by the pound for our carpenters who relied on hammers and handsaws. Paint was called emulsion and came in plastic pails and only in basic colors like brown, blue, green and tan. Corrugated metal sheets were ubiquitous, though we had to look harder for the used rusted pieces that we preferred. Labor was cheap, materials expensive, the opposite of what we're used to in the States. Trucking and logistics were always an issue. Finding someone to show up on time with a truck that worked was the first step. Next, there would be a long conversation about the price and then maybe the truck would break down or get a blowout or the liti wouldn't work. And the driving in Ghana was some of the hairiest I've ever seen. People, dogs, goats, chickens share the highway with bush taxis, motorcycles and buses spewing black smoke. With so many speeding cars, it was

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