Location manager Ilt Jones put a little too much of himself into getting a Bahamian filming location.
The “After the Sunset” shoot required a jetty with a specific sun orientation, and Jones and his crew had searched New Providence, the Bahamian island where Nassau is located, to no avail.
“My brother happens to live on the island,” recounted Jones, “and, having visited him there many times, I vaguely recalled that there was a jetty in the bay on the south side of the island that the so-called Bahamian Defense Force shared with civilian watercraft.”
The military ships occupied the east side of the bay while the rest were berthed on the west side.
Jones presented himself at the gate of the BDF base, asking if he could scout their jetty. He was firmly told to go away and apply in triplicate at their headquarters downtown and that he might be able to return in a week. This was no good — they needed the location quickly.
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An alternate plan was hatched. Jones, using his knowledge of the locale, decided to sneak through the woods on the other side of the bay in hopes of snatching a peek of the jetty. After bumping through the trees in his jeep, he came upon the beach across the bay from the ships and “ta-dah! — there was the perfect jetty.”
“I got my camera out and used my long lens to get the requisite shots,” said Jones. “Bear in mind that there was no fence or signage forbidding admittance or photography.”
You can sense where this is going.
Jones, emerging from the woods onto the main road, gleefully began his drive toward Nassau when his rearview mirror was suddenly filled with flashing lights. A military police car roared up behind him and waved him over, and four very unhappy MPs jumped out of the car, yelled at him and escorted him back to the base.
“Judging by their disposition, I knew it was going to be a long afternoon,” recalled Jones. “So before exiting the car, I grabbed my copy of Vanity Fair.”
During a three-hour interrogation, Jones was accused of everything from spying to drug smuggling despite his suggestion to call his office for confirmation of his innocence.
After the authorities decided Jones should be deported, he was allowed to call his office, and someone there, in turn, called the Bahamian Film Commission. The protests were in vain, however, despite the knowledge that the production company would drop a few million dollars on their island.
Still clutching his Vanity Fair, Jones was driven to the police station near the airport. He was then booked and asked to turn over his belt and shoe laces. An astonished Jones asked if they seriously thought he was going to hang himself for trespassing.
“We can’t be too careful, mon,” was the desk sergeant’s reply, per Jones.
“I was escorted to a 6-foot square, piss-stinking cell, which was also home to about 50 million mosquitoes,” described Jones, who used the magazine as a pillow on his wooden bench and a bug swatter as well as reading matter. Six hours later, the surreally farcical nature of Jones’ adventure had faded along with his spirits. Decidedly underwhelmed by the wild goose chase to locate him, Jones’ brother arrived, accompanied by his then-business partner, who’d been something akin to a Bahamian attorney general, along with 15 ex-pat friends who found the situation hilarious. Jones’ release was secured.
The next day Jones was summoned to the headquarters of the BDF for a very strange meeting wherein it was unclear whether he was apologizing to the BDF or they to him.
“Meanwhile,” said Jones, “my adventures had been recounted to my producer, whose first words were not ‘Oh my God, is he OK?’ but ‘Hmmm … we need a police cell for the movie. Do you think Ilt’s cell is big enough to shoot in?’ “