Written by on Dec 17, 2014. Posted in Production News

Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper film American Sniper in Morocco and California

Clint Eastwood and star/producer Bradley Cooper recreated Middle Eastern settings at California movie ranches and in Morocco for their true-life biopic American Sniper. The drama tells the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who became the deadliest sniper in US history.

Eastwood and his team spent six weeks prepping for a 12-day location shoot in and around Rabat in northern Morocco, with local servicing from Zak Productions. The area offered suitable scope and was a good double for Iraqi locations, where Kyle served four tours following the US-led invasion in 2003.

“We were able to shoot full city blocks with action and the right look with minor changes,” explains Tim Moore, Line Producer and Unit Production Manager on the movie.

"The action sequences with tanks and gunfire were able to be shot with minor restrictions. The main reason was scale of the sets. From rooftops we could see for miles with limited visual effects enhancements.”

California was in fact the main filming location, with Eastwood making full use of a Middle Eastern Village standing set at the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita. Over two weeks of shooting, the set was partly used as a double for Iraqi locations.

“We made significant upgrades to the village set, changing the architecture to more reflect Iraqi architecture,” explains Patrick Mignano, the film’s Location Manager: “We also used the facility to create our Fire Bases for the SEALs in another section of the Ranch.”

From rooftops we could see for miles with limited visual effects enhancements.

Tim Moore, Line Producer / Unit Production Manager

Scenes were also filmed at the Paramount Ranch and Golden Oaks Ranch, while former Air Force base San Bernardino International Airport was used for scenes set at a military air facility.

Parts of El Centro California, a town near the Mexican border, became additional stand-ins for bombed-out Iraqi locations.

“There is a fantastic structure in El Centro California that used to be an old milk factory built in the 1920s and made of concrete,” Mignano recalls.

“It is all but abandoned and the look of the building and the surrounding environments were perfect to create the setting needed for another portion of the film that takes place in Iraq. Even the quality of the light in El Centro lent itself to a very Middle Eastern feel.”

California has struggled to attract studio features in recent years because of an uncompetitive filming incentive. Star Trek Into Darkness and Captain America: The Winter Soldier have been among the only big-budget features to be based in and around Los Angeles. This could change when the state’s film fund gets a big boost in 2015.

American Sniper is released in mid-January 2015.

Read more: Filming with Clint Eastwood.

(Photo: Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros. Entertainment)


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