Based on CNN reporter Jake Tapper’s nonfiction book of the same name, Rod Lurie’s new film “The Outpost” recreates the Battle of Kamdesh – a bloody 2009 showdown in Afghanistan between 53 U.S. soldiers and more than 400 enemy insurgents – with startling authenticity.

When the time came to mount his re-enactment of this dramatic conflict, Lurie, a West Point graduate, knew he’d face an uphill battle enlisting the Department of Defense for assistance. “I worked for a little while in the office that approved or disapproved movies that the army was
going to cooperate with,” Lurie tells Variety. “And I know that really in your best-case scenario, the military does not assist you because they do assert some level of control to force your cooperation, and you lose flexibility in changing the script along the way.”

Lurie instead worked closely with military-technical advisor Jariko Denman to ensure that he distilled the events in Tapper’s book to their essence without betraying the truth. “On ‘The Outpost,’ they hired me a couple of months out, and I was doing page turns and messing with the
screenplay, just little things and dialogue and stuff like that,” Denman says. “When you’re an advisor, you have to kind of pick your spots, because you don’t want to be the boy who cried wolf on a set when it comes to authenticity stuff. But Rod made it very clear from the
beginning like, hey, tell me everything.”

Denman’s previous experiences, including on TV’s “The Long Road Home,” taught him how to balance basic operational concerns with the cinematic tweaks needed to tell the story most effectively. “Pre-production is about 50% practical, tactile things like drills and stuff, but then
another 50% of that is building a mindset to make the cast walk a few feet in the shoes of the people they’re portraying. And then during principal photography, it’s daily checks of props, wardrobe, weapons, and then putting together the firefight scenes so that they’re in realistic
formations while also being able to get the director the shot he needs.”

Meanwhile, production designer Erik Carlson attempted to be as detailed and yet unobtrusive as possible in recreating Combat Outpost (COP) Keating. “I wanted it to feel as though there was no production designer on this film, as though that we just happened to have access to a
military base in Afghanistan,” Carlson explains. “This was unique in that it was a true event and the people I spoke to and got stories and references and photos from are still alive.  I was able to take direct images and direct research from them.”

Shooting the film near Millennium Films’ studio in Bulgaria proved to be a challenge – and opportunity – for Carlson to maintain the level of verisimilitude Lurie required. “We built every single thing from scratch in a quarry outside of Sofia,” he says. “One of the benefits
of filming in Bulgaria is they have a pretty amazing crew of artisans that I definitely could not have done this show without, and they are sort of old-world craftsmen. Every book on the shelf, every DVD, everything was built from nothing for the film. Even the Humvees.”