×

How Location Manager Found the Best Places to Shoot ‘Lost City of Z’

For location manager Andrew Wilson, the toughest part about working on director James Gray’s biopic of explorer Percy Fawcett in “The Lost City of Z” was finding early-20th-century aesthetics in modern-day Northern Ireland.

“It’s exciting when you see the 1800s or 1900s in a script, but it’s always a challenge when it comes to finding the right locations,” admits Wilson, who was shooting “Morgan,” starring Kate Mara — also in Northern Ireland — when he learned he’d gotten the Amazon Studios’ project as well.

With just days to prepare, Wilson scouted Belfast and the surrounding countryside to fulfill the unique settings of “Lost City.” “On a practical level the script is fine, but it doesn’t give you the mood or the style or the emotion of the piece,” he observes. Wilson got a better idea of what was needed when he confabbed with production designer Jean-Vincent Puzos, who arrived shortly before shooting started. “Traveling with Jean-Vincent, who’s a very vocal and descriptive person, I was able to tap into the type of tone, the feeling, and the character — the complete backstory — so when James came we could scout right away.”

The Northern Ireland part of the shoot illustrated the life of the British solider-turned-explorer played by Charlie Hunnam. “Being a period film, we had to change everything — the color, the décor — anything modern had to be removed and redressed,” explains Wilson. Gray’s decisiveness made things easier. “He had one of the clearest visions of any director I’ve worked with,” says the location manager.

Gray grounded the narrative using very little CGI, so Wilson had to hit upon a place to re-create the French battlefields of the Somme, one of the bloodiest clashes of WWI. “It was a difficult location to find because we needed an area where the camera could move 360 degrees,” Wilson says. They settled on the rolling valley of Antrim Hills, and dug trenches.

When the story journeys into the Amazon, the action takes place deep in the jungle near Santa Marta, a city in northern Colombia. Gray and his team filmed on the Don Diego River of the Tayrona National Park. Producer Anthony Katagas, part of the team overseeing the Colombia locations, says the tight budget required a quick turnaround. “When we landed from Belfast, we started shooting six days later,” he notes.

The crew, including many locals, traveled by foot and by boat. At times the water rose to 12 feet, washing away sets. But the location — and casting of three ingenious tribes — lent the story authenticity.

“Important to us besides the jungle and the river and the great locations were the people,” says Katagas. “I think we did a really good job casting actors who played a significant role in a picture that keeps the exploration of Percy Fawcett real.”

More Artisans

  • Chile's Production Incentives Include New 30%

    Chile Incentives Pilot Program Aims to Draw Producers With 30% Rebate

    With over 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, the long and narrow South American country of Chile encompasses a remarkable variety of weather patterns and landscapes. Filmmakers traveling there will discover that the Chilean Economic Development Agency in alliance with nation’s film commission recently launched what it calls a Pilot Program for High-Impact Audiovisual Investment [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 3", regia di

    'My Brilliant Friend,' 'Gomorrah' Show Different Sides of Naples

    When Saverio Costanzo, the director of HBO and RAI’s “My Brilliant Friend,” started to plan how he would depict the grand but gritty city of Naples — one that’s so vivid in the imaginations of millions of Elena Ferrante readers, he quickly decided that the working-class neighborhood at the core of her four Neapolitan novels [...]

  • (L to R) SAMUEL L. JACKSON,

    How a Costume Designer Brightened M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass'

    Paco Delgado’s costumes are as varied as his films. Contrast the drama “The Danish Girl,” the futuristic fantasy “A Wrinkle in Time” and the period musical “Les Misérables.” Now he’s in comic-book territory with M. Night Shyamalan’s newest superhero/supervillain thriller, “Glass,” which Universal releases Jan. 17. The costume designer’s career began in Barcelona and London, [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]

  • READY PLAYER ONE

    How Writer-Crew Collaborations Are Changing the Script for the Creative Process

    In traditional filmmaking, once a script is written, the director and department heads break it down and figure out the costs and logistics of production. But if the screenwriter collaborates during the creative process with key crew members, the entire production can benefit.  Such collaboration offers the prospect of help on many fronts. For example, [...]

  • avengers infinity war

    'Avengers,' 'Lost in Space,' 'Ready Player One' Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations

    The Visual Effects Society announced nominees for the organization’s 17th annual awards on Tuesday. Leading the way in the film and TV fields, respectively, were Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and Netflix’s “Lost in Space.” Each picked up six nominations. Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” received the most nominations among animated feature contenders with five. “Ready Player One” [...]

  • Dynasties BBC Vundu Pack

    Bush Guides, Night Cameras Help BBC America’s ‘Dynasties’ Catch Unique Moments

    Just getting to one of the locations of BBC America wildlife documentary series “Dynasties” — presented by David Attenborough and following the lives of endangered animals — requires an 11-hour flight from London to Johannesburg, a two-hour connection to Harare, Zimbabwe, an hourlong chartered Cessna 206 trip to Mana Pools National Park airstrip and an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content