ADG Perspective

November-December 2015

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Page 49 of 91

flat-out scary sometimes and there were a lot of near misses. We always had drivers. Finally, everything we purchased was negotiated for. No prices were set. Haggling over the cost of things added twice the time to every transaction but had to be done. Clearly being foreigners, we automatically got the high price. We would then talk our way down to 20%–30% of the starting point. Haggling is a skill and we all got to be pretty adept but it ate up a lot of time. We entered Ghana through the capital Accra but the majority of our time was spent hours away in small, small towns and backcountry: a rebel camp in the jungle, a water-filled defensive trench, a coastal mission. Putting together a rebel camp in the middle of the jungle was my first task; a sprawling encampment with low shelters for soldiers, a priest's jungle camp and a commandant's HQ. Production Designer Inbal Weinberg had extensive photo references from the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone that we worked from and we hired a group of local cassava farmers for labor. The locals were familiar with the land and used their machetes to make simple structures out of branches, vines and grasses that were perfect for rebels living in the bush. These guys worked with us every day for three weeks and we became friends despite our initial apprehension. It was strange for us to be in the African jungle and I don't think any of them had worked on a movie set before. I remember how surprised they were when 100+ crew, actors and extras showed up to shoot. They all seemed proud of what they built and it was exciting and a litile sad to watch it burn down at the end of the shoot. With one set behind us, my unit moved on to building a network of trenches. Based on Cary's references from WWI and other 20th century engagements, they needed to be deep and I was afraid they were going to have to be dug by hand. Doing the work by hand would have given them a different look but we were short on time and after about a week of trying, I was lucky to find a backhoe to do most of the work. With shovels and wheelbarrows, our guys lined the floor with cement and gravel to hold water. We scorched the surrounding field and a water truck was hired to fill the trenches with waist-deep water. The set is featured in the trailer and is one of my favorites. The shot of Agu coming down the ladder into the red trench and standing in water really looks surreal, hellish and exhausting. Throughout my time in Ghana, I was impressed by how hard people worked and how strong everyone was. Everything was carried by hand or—more often—on someone's head. Cement, logs, lumber, stones, generators; people would carry almost anything on top of their heads with only flip-flops on their feet. From old men carrying firewood home at the end of the day to women carrying five gallons of water on their heads with babies strapped to their backs; it was really humbling, inspiring and illuminating. Infections, dehydration, mud, sickness, snakes, malaria; no one on our crew had an easy time over there. Still, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I'm thankful to Cary Fukunaga and Inbal Weinberg for bringing me along for the ride. ADG Inbal Weinberg, Production Designer Miles Michael, Supervising Art Director Katie Hickman, Set Decorator

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