Entering Greengrass' Green Zone
Once again, Greengrass chose Double Negative to make it all look convincing with his own version of "shock and awe" (LipSync Post was also a contributor).
Indeed, since shooting in Iraq was obviously out of the question, the London-based studio was tasked with doing the next best thing: making it look exactly like Bagdad in 2003 by shooting in Morocco. This was ideal for all the urban scenes, back street houses and maze-like passages. In fact, in addition to meticulous research, some of the cast members were actually serving soldiers who had toured the real thing and the filmmakers were greatly reassured by how authentic these soldiers found the locations.
"There needed to be areas that were mapped out and fitted to the general footprint of the basic areas that Paul wanted to cover within the Green Zone in Bagdad," explains Peter Chiang, the overall visual effects supervisor. "And obviously using Google Earth and a lot of photographic reference that's available on the internet, there are the iconic buildings of Saddam [Hussein] that are represented. Right from the outset we wanted to do accurate representations of what those environments were like.
"So, working with [Production Designer] Dominic Watkins and [DP] Barry Ackroyd, we deliberately chose angles and views [that approximated] the shots that we wanted had we been allowed to go into Iraq. So it left Paul and Barry the freedom to move and shoot in the style that they wanted, which is obviously a very hand-held, yet controlled, frenetic, documentary kind of film coverage. There were times that we even had to stabilize shots and try and reduce some of it just because it was too frenetic and the narrative was kind of being lost. But generally we were able to seamlessly blend them in, really, with the existing architecture that was available and make it feel like you were there in Iraq."