Ken Loach films on location in Liverpool, Manchester and Jordan for Route Irish
Ken Loach has filmed his new feature Route Irish in Liverpool, Manchester and Jordan, doubling the latter for Iraq. Jordan offers similar terrain and weather without the obvious security risks. The film tells the story of a private contractor investigating a colleague’s Iraq death.
Jordan won out over Morocco as the filming location and the production got a lot of assistance from the Royal Jordanian Film Commission, which helped connect the crew with local production service companies. Amman-based International Traders was eventually hired.
We shot the Iraq sequences in Jordan, mainly in a town about 30 miles from Amman called Madaba. We did our stills shoot in a Palestinian refugee camp near the airport.
Rebecca O’Brien, with production company Sixteen Films, said: “We shot the Iraq sequences in Jordan, mainly in a town about 30 miles from Amman called Madaba. We did our stills shoot in a Palestinian refugee camp near the airport. We chose Jordan because it’s so close to Iraq: the landscape and climate is similar, the language (Arabic) is the same and there are many Iraqi refugees living there – so it was possible to cast Iraqis in the roles we needed them for.”
The film involves Iraq-set combat scenes and the production faced a challenge importing firearms and explosives into Jordan, but the only other major issue was attracting crowds during the filming. Reem Bandak, a Unit Production Manager with International Traders, said: “[We faced] the reaction of a few people following the shooting scenes who got annoyed from the shooting since the action was within a residential area. Having said this, as long as the process of obtaining the necessary permissions was done right, we had the full support of the army and the police.”
In the UK the production filmed in locations including apartment blocks in Liverpool and at Manchester Airport, with Loach’s preference for filming in sequence proving a challenge.
Claire Newton, the Location Manager, said: “Fergus' penthouse flat and Rachel's flat were required for a period of approximately ten weeks to dress, shoot and de-rig. To rent properties and persuade owners to allow the use for this length of time can be difficult and costly. Filming at Manchester Airport amongst the general public was challenging as we were unable to have any control of the areas we needed to film and had to keep equipment and crew as inconspicuous as possible.”
Newton recommends working through the Liverpool Film Office to sort out permits and permissions for filming in the area. They can also help with notification of any special events that could affect the shooting schedule.
Referring to the Jordan leg of the shoot, O’Brien concluded: “Go to the Royal Jordanian Film Commission. Find out about export and import issues. Meet two or three alternative production service companies before you commit.”
Images by Joss Barratt.
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