Written by on Sep 1, 2010. Posted in Production News

Kandahar Break doubles Pakistan and Tunisia for Afghanistan

A new feature has doubled Pakistan and Tunisia for Afghanistan. Kandahar Break: Fortress of War is set in Afghanistan in 1999 and follows a British mine-clearing expert who falls foul of the Taleban Government he is working for.

Writer/Director David Whitney chose to shoot in Kanak and Quetta in Pakistan due to their proximity to the Afghan border and because of the production’s low budget. He said: “It’s quite a dangerous place to shoot - I wouldn’t do it again! - but the regional [Baluchistan] Government provided a lot of free security. The infrastructure’s not great and there was a lot of driving involved over dirt roads.”

Generators were hired locally as the shoot locations only had mains electricity for three or four hours a day. The production flew in department heads and local crew were hired from Karachi and Lahore. Hameed Sheikh, a Producer with Peanuts Independent Films in Quetta, said strained relations between Pakistan and India mean international productions generally import their equipment from Dubai instead. He added: “The international crews simply have to stamp their equipment list while leaving their country from their Customs. While entering in Pakistan they have to give a copy of the same list to Pakistani Customs and get a stamped copy.”

As a graphic indicator of the region’s volatility the production was attacked by Taleban gunmen towards the end of the shoot. Four crew members were shot – luckily none fatally – and the Baluchistan Government arranged a hasty evacuation. The team relocated to Tunisia to capture the final scenes they needed.

Whitney said: “Tunisia’s the place to go if you have the budget. But for a low-budget production it’s difficult as you have to spend more money getting the right look, with costumes and dressings, to make sure it becomes Afghanistan. There was also a language problem in Tunisia as nobody spoke [the Afghan language] Pashto.”

In Tunisia the production shot in the town of Tozeur and Chott el Jerid in the west of the country. These places closely matched the footage that had already been filmed in Pakistan. Much of the equipment was sourced locally, while weapons needed for the shoot were sourced from the Tunisian military.

Philippa Day, of Sindbad Production in Tunisia, said: “There were no big changes to the location to look like Afghanistan - just set dressing. The only thing was that there was a continuity issue with some of the actors so they brought a few actors over from Pakistan. This was the biggest challenge - to find male extras that looked the part as men from this part of the world are very identifiable.”

Kandahar Break: Fortress of War will be showing at selected cinemas from September 10th 2010 and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from September 13th 2010.

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